Is it my eyes, is it in focus?


Graham Reed TV-Bay Magazine
Read ezine online
by Graham Reed
Issue 100 - April 2015

Is it me or as I get older, and my eyes not as good as they were, are viewfinders getting smaller and less sharp?

When I started as a cameraman the cameras were large (EMI 2001's) as were the viewfinders. They were large format cameras with a 30mm 4x3 sensors and the normal aperture was f 3.5, so a shallow depth of field, and it was easy to see focus. They had 6 inch black and white viewfinders with great contrast and good peaking controls, even though being what is now called standard definition, 625 lines, you could really see when the picture was sharp.

Then along came ENG cameras (SD) with small black and white CRT viewfinders but they did have a lens so you could see a nice sharp picture so you could put your eye in the eye cap when in bright light and have no problems when using them outdoors.

One of the earliest handheld cameras was the Ikegami 75D with small pick-up tubes but they were great cameras! Then came HD cameras, remember DigiBeta at around £22k per camera? At first they also had black and white viewfinders, really sharp, but very soon the manufacturers brought out new models and put a colour monitor on the side of the camera which could either display the sound levels, time code etc., or be switched to camera output. But apparently users demanded colour viewfinders whilst at the same time the cameras became smaller and cheaper. But why do we need colour v/f's? Is it that the camera person of today can't do white balance and needs to see the picture in colour? Apparently according to the manufacturers, yes. So we now have low resolution colour ones. Some cameras do not even have an eye piece so seeing the v/f outside in sun is impossible!

The eye sees sharpness because of contrast and a black and white image will always appear sharper than a colour image. This is because in the retina there are two types of photoreceptors, rods and cones. The rods are more numerous, some 120 million, and are more sensitive than the cones, it is because of these we see the black and white image and because there are many more it is these that give us the sense of sharpness.

The cones which are far fewer give us a sense of colour, but because they are less sensitive it is why we do not see colour at night.

There are camera operators who do not know how important it is to set up the v/f correctly so as to judge exposure properly, I was talking to one recently who just adjusted the brightness depending on how bright the prevailing conditions were! This is why the ITTP, Institute of Training in TV Production, is setting up the 'Approved Skills' initative so that those entering the industry can be evaluated on their skills and knowledge, like setting up a v/f!

Modern camcorders, for example, have a v/f of 640 x 480 almost half of the resolution that we had 30 years ago, but because this is made out of 'dots' nothing ever looks sharp. Not only that but the picture area is tiny, checking focus in a wide shot when the subject is small is impossible.

Some more advanced camcorders offer a v/f of 960 x 540. This is for an HD 1920 x 1080 picture so half the picture resolution, but no problem, you can magnify the image to check focus, but you are still seeing a picture of small dots. Is there really time to do this, especially if you are running around hand held! I want to really see the focus just like the old days of DigiBeta, not just a low resolution colour picture made up of lots of little dots! But how will we fare with 4K?

Will the v/f be twice as sharp? What I have seen so far is that they are mostly the same v/f's, so we now have images with twice as much resolution but with v/f's displaying only a 1/4 of the resolution. The problems of focusing becomes even harder with 4k because we have halved the depth of field so we need 4K viewfinders. I have a suspicion that some camera manufacturers may have just put a 4k sensor in a 2k camera body leaving much of the basic camera the same, same lens and same v/f.

If you look at the specification for 4k cameras they will go in to great poetic description about how great the camera is and how it can 'deliver stunning cinema quality recording' and how it can record in many different compression systems, but down at the end of the specification list it will say it has a 3.5 inch v/f with 920,000 pixels, sounds alot, right? I get the idea that as the resoultion is so low they they don't actually want to give it! So that is only just over 306k pixels per colour and you will be able to see focus in 4K?!

So question, do we the user really want low resolution colour viewfinders, why not just very sharp black and white ones - they may even be cheaper!


Tags: iss100 | ittp | in focus | camera | viewfinder | bbc tv | Graham Reed
Contributing Author Graham Reed

Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Article Copyright tv-bay limited. All trademarks recognised.
Reproduction of the content strictly prohibited without written consent.

Related Interviews
  • Training and education within the broadcast industry

    Training and education within the broadcast industry

  • GY-LS300 Camera from JVC at NAB 2017

    GY-LS300 Camera from JVC at NAB 2017

  • Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera BMPCC 4K at IBC 2018

    Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera BMPCC 4K at IBC 2018

  • JVC 4K Connected Camera GY-HC550 and 500 at IBC 2018

    JVC 4K Connected Camera GY-HC550 and 500 at IBC 2018

  • Marshall Electronics Miniature Cameras at NAB 2018

    Marshall Electronics Miniature Cameras at NAB 2018

  • Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K at NAB 2018

    Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K at NAB 2018

  • Front Row Camera with VER at NAB 2018

    Front Row Camera with VER at NAB 2018

  • IDT O10 Camera at BVE 2017

    IDT O10 Camera at BVE 2017

  • Antelope Camera Systems at IBC 2016

    Antelope Camera Systems at IBC 2016

  • Ikegami 8k camera at IBC 2016

    Ikegami 8k camera at IBC 2016

  • Ikegami UHK-430 camera at IBC 2016

    Ikegami UHK-430 camera at IBC 2016

  • Miller Camera Support at IBC 2016

    Miller Camera Support at IBC 2016

  • CameraCorps at BVE 2015

    CameraCorps at BVE 2015

  • Den Lennie considers what kit and cameras to buy for 2015

    Den Lennie considers what kit and cameras to buy for 2015

  • Sonys new cameras at IBC 2014 - including the FS7

    Sonys new cameras at IBC 2014 - including the FS7

  • Cineline Fluid Head from Miller Camera Support at NAB 2014

    Cineline Fluid Head from Miller Camera Support at NAB 2014

  • Blackmagic Studio Camera at NAB 2014

    Blackmagic Studio Camera at NAB 2014

  • Hireacamera at BVE 2014

    Hireacamera at BVE 2014

  • JVC GY-HM600 series camera updates at IBC 2013

    JVC GY-HM600 series camera updates at IBC 2013

  • Lighting cameraman Jonathan Harrison shows the Celeb and Tegra at IBC 2013

    Lighting cameraman Jonathan Harrison shows the Celeb and Tegra at IBC 2013

  • Hireacamera at BVE 2013

    Hireacamera at BVE 2013

  • Hireacamera at BVE North 2012

    Hireacamera at BVE North 2012

  • Hireacamera at BVE 2012

    Hireacamera at BVE 2012

  • Hireacamera at ProVideo2011

    Hireacamera at ProVideo2011

  • Hague Camera Supports at ProVideo2011

    Hague Camera Supports at ProVideo2011

  • Hireacamera at BVE North 2011

    Hireacamera at BVE North 2011

  • Camera Corps at IBC2011

    Camera Corps at IBC2011

  • Skyline 90 from Miller at NAB 2017

    Skyline 90 from Miller at NAB 2017

  • JVC at BVE 2017

    JVC at BVE 2017

  • Videosys at NAB 2016

    Videosys at NAB 2016

  • Miller Cineline tripods at IBC 2015

    Miller Cineline tripods at IBC 2015

  • Miller Compass tripods at IBC 2015

    Miller Compass tripods at IBC 2015

  • NewTek at IBC 2015

    NewTek at IBC 2015

  • Sachtler Bags at BVE 2015

    Sachtler Bags at BVE 2015

  • LCA - Inteca products at BVE 2015

    LCA - Inteca products at BVE 2015

  • LCA - LITEGEAR at BVE 2015

    LCA - LITEGEAR at BVE 2015

  • BeyondHD - Drones at BVE 2015

    BeyondHD - Drones at BVE 2015

  • LCA - Snapgrid lighting control - BVE 2015

    LCA - Snapgrid lighting control - BVE 2015

  • BeyondHD - Letus Helix Gimbal System at BVE 2015

    BeyondHD - Letus Helix Gimbal System at BVE 2015

  • JVC at BVE 2015

    JVC at BVE 2015

  • Grass Valley at BVE 2015

    Grass Valley at BVE 2015

  • Gearhouse Broadcast at BVE 2015

    Gearhouse Broadcast at BVE 2015

  • KITPLUS rig setup at IBC 2014

    KITPLUS rig setup at IBC 2014

  • Air Alloy Tripod System from Miller Fluid Heads at IBC 2014

    Air Alloy Tripod System from Miller Fluid Heads at IBC 2014

  • CueScript EMC prompter and control surface at IBC 2014

    CueScript EMC prompter and control surface at IBC 2014

  • JVC GY-LS300 prototype at IBC 2014

    JVC GY-LS300 prototype at IBC 2014

  • MultiDyne SilverBACK at IBC 2014

    MultiDyne SilverBACK at IBC 2014

  • Hitachi at IBC 2014

    Hitachi at IBC 2014

  • NewTek TalkShow at IBC 2014

    NewTek TalkShow at IBC 2014

  • Softron MovieRecorder updates at NAB 2014

    Softron MovieRecorder updates at NAB 2014

  • JVC GY-HM850 and GY-HM650 at NAB 2014

    JVC GY-HM850 and GY-HM650 at NAB 2014

  • Libec ALLEX slider system at NAB 2014

    Libec ALLEX slider system at NAB 2014

  • Blackmagic URSA at NAB 2014

    Blackmagic URSA at NAB 2014

  • Cintel Film Scanner: Blackmagic Design at NAB 2014

    Cintel Film Scanner: Blackmagic Design at NAB 2014

  • BeSteady on the Production Gear stand at BVE 2014

    BeSteady on the Production Gear stand at BVE 2014

  • Videosys Wireless Transmitters at BVE 2014

    Videosys Wireless Transmitters at BVE 2014

  • Sony Camcorders at BVE 2014

    Sony Camcorders at BVE 2014

  • NewTek TriCaster at BVE 2014

    NewTek TriCaster at BVE 2014

  • Camdec at BVE 2014

    Camdec at BVE 2014

  • Dejero on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Dejero on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Atomos with the Samurai Blade on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Atomos with the Samurai Blade on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Polecam talk accessories on BroadcastShow LIVE 2013

    Polecam talk accessories on BroadcastShow LIVE 2013

  • Cobham on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Cobham on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Multidyne SilverBack, BullDog and Spider at IBC 2013

    Multidyne SilverBack, BullDog and Spider at IBC 2013

  • ChyronHego Paint at IBC 2013

    ChyronHego Paint at IBC 2013

  • ChyronHego Virtual Placement at IBC 2013

    ChyronHego Virtual Placement at IBC 2013

  • Holdan on BroadcastShow Tour May 2013

    Holdan on BroadcastShow Tour May 2013

  • Gearhouse Broadcast on Tour May 2013

    Gearhouse Broadcast on Tour May 2013

  • JVC GY-HM70 at NAB 2013

    JVC GY-HM70 at NAB 2013

  • MultiDyne: SilverBACK at NAB 2013

    MultiDyne: SilverBACK at NAB 2013

  • Blackmagic Design: Products at NAB 2013

    Blackmagic Design: Products at NAB 2013

  • Cobham: Mini RF Transmitters at NAB 2013

    Cobham: Mini RF Transmitters at NAB 2013

  • Cobham: RF Transmitter at NAB 2013

    Cobham: RF Transmitter at NAB 2013

  • Thear Technology at BVE 2013

    Thear Technology at BVE 2013

  • Tiffen Steadicam at BVE 2013

    Tiffen Steadicam at BVE 2013

  • Lemo at BVE 2013

    Lemo at BVE 2013

  • DJI Innovations at BVE 2013

    DJI Innovations at BVE 2013

  • Cambo at BVE 2013

    Cambo at BVE 2013

  • VideoSys at BVE North 2012

    VideoSys at BVE North 2012

  • Featured Clip: Geoff Boyle comments on NAB 2012

    Featured Clip: Geoff Boyle comments on NAB 2012

  • Vinten Radamec at NAB 2012

    Vinten Radamec at NAB 2012

  • JVC at NAB 2012

    JVC at NAB 2012

  • Bexel at NAB 2012

    Bexel at NAB 2012

  • IMT Broadcast at NAB 2012

    IMT Broadcast at NAB 2012

  • Blackmagic Design at NAB 2012

    Blackmagic Design at NAB 2012

  • LiveU at NAB 2012

    LiveU at NAB 2012

  • Atomos Samurai at NAB 2012

    Atomos Samurai at NAB 2012

  • Anton Bauer at NAB 2012

    Anton Bauer at NAB 2012

  • JVC at BVE 2012

    JVC at BVE 2012

  • Thear Technology Limited at BVE 2012

    Thear Technology Limited at BVE 2012

  • Vision Research at BVE 2012

    Vision Research at BVE 2012

  • Editec at BVE 2012

    Editec at BVE 2012

  • Real Life Kit at ProVideo2011

    Real Life Kit at ProVideo2011

  • JVC Professional at ProVideo2011

    JVC Professional at ProVideo2011

  • Thear Technology Limited at ProVideo2011

    Thear Technology Limited at ProVideo2011

  • Audio Developments at ProVideo2011

    Audio Developments at ProVideo2011

  • JVC at BVE North 2011

    JVC at BVE North 2011

  • Holdan and DaVinci at BVE North 2011

    Holdan and DaVinci at BVE North 2011

  • Holdan and Panasonic at BVE North 2011

    Holdan and Panasonic at BVE North 2011

  • FOR-A at IBC2011

    FOR-A at IBC2011

  • Brickhouse Video at IBC2011

    Brickhouse Video at IBC2011

  • Argosy at IBC2011

    Argosy at IBC2011

  • Sony at IBC2011

    Sony at IBC2011

  • Marshall Electronics at IBC2011

    Marshall Electronics at IBC2011

  • Bradley at IBC2011

    Bradley at IBC2011


Related Shows
  • ITTP at BVE 2016

    ITTP at BVE 2016


Articles
Ruth Matos Interview - A Career Unfolds
Ruth Matos We first met Ruth when we employed her as a student to help with our live studio at BVE in 2013. We were struck by her determination, passion and ‘I’ll do anything to help’ attitude. We became friends of Facebook and have since seen her career in the industry develop and unfold. We thought it was about time to catch up and share her inspiring story of where she is now, how she got there and the challenges she has faced along the way.
Tags: iss133 | interview | filmming | career | education | Ruth Matos
Contributing Author Ruth Matos Click to read or download PDF
Perimeter LED screens management
Nicolas Houel Opened in January 2016, Parc Olympique Lyonnais, also known as Groupama Stadium, is the new home of Olympique Lyonnais football club, one of the most popular clubs in France. Since its inauguration, the stadium was a host of UEFA Euro 2016, and was also chosen to stage, among other important events, the 2018 UEFA Europa League Final and football at the 2024 Summer Olympics.
Tags: iss133 | 3dstorm | graphics | groupama stadium | liveexpert | livecg | deltacast | Nicolas Houel
Contributing Author Nicolas Houel Click to read or download PDF
Peli Air 1507 Review
Phil Vinter Originally named after a bird that carries its precious cargo through the skies, it was, perhaps, only a matter of time before Peli released its Air range.
Tags: iss133 | peli | peli air 1507 | trekpak | Phil Vinter
Contributing Author Phil Vinter Click to read or download PDF
The Biggest Toy Shop in the World
Emma Morrison When Nigel Woodford started his career at BBC Wood Norton in 1962, television was black and white and BBC Two had not yet been launched. In 2018 Nigel will retire, and Richmond Film Services, the pro-audio equipment rental company set up by Nigel in 1973, can count numerous contributions to iconic moments in British cultural, sporting and film history over this time.
Tags: iss133 | richmond film services | audio rental | auction | liquidity | go-dove | Emma Morrison
Contributing Author Emma Morrison Click to read or download PDF
How todays technology platforms can make AMAZING seem mundane
Bruce Devlin - new Some things never change. It's September and it's time for another IBC. Maybe I'm getting old and maybe I have selective memory about the past, but recently there hasn't been the buzz of years gone by. Sure, as you wander around the vast halls there will be lots of enthusiastic sales people trying to give you the best demo possible, but something has changed and to survive, I believe that vendors and customers need to change too.
Tags: iss133 | ibc | class | vulture | imf user group | Bruce Devlin - new
Contributing Author Bruce Devlin - new Click to read or download PDF