Wednesday, March 23, 2011

HDMI cables arrived...

Finally we were able to sucessfully test and confirm the production of our exclusive EVF cables.
Two cables are included:

1. HDMI to Mini
2. HDMI to HDMI (either for loopthrough or if you happen to have a regular HDMI equipped camera)

Cable OD 3.7mm
50cm length

Sunday, February 27, 2011

How fast is the HDMI signal switching?

Quite a few people have asked us on how long is the blankout when HDMI signal changes when toggling between rec and preview...

Framebuffer disabled with color bars enabled to show the actual HDMI switching delay when used with a Canon 5D MKII and T2i/550D. If the framebuffer is enabled it looks quite seamless but it's kind of fooling the operator for some 5-15 frames. Anyhow when compared to any other device this is quite fast as the blankout on the only other HDMI viewfinder we can compare to is about 90 frames. And the other one claims just under 60 frames (two seconds).

Our solution works faster on Nikon DSLRs as Canon has some funky-i-frames (you can see 5 of these in the video) before the signal itself stabilizes. So it's camera specfic and Canon DSLRs with 480P rec output are the worst. The cameras with normal HDMI output exhibit no lag at all.

The EVF overall startup time however is under 1000 milliseconds so we can't implement any cool startup animations, loading bars, logos etc ;)...

For the LCD screen brightness reference: This was filmed with ISO dialed way down not to overexposure the screen when compared to daylight.

Check out the better quality version from > here

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

EVF IQ survey!

>> Take 30 seconds to participate in the finalization of the LCDeVF design. <<

The more sesponses we have the more you can count it will be implemented just before the launch at NAB 2011.

Be sure to check back here to see the outcomes of this little survey.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tilt Drag Trim...

... via grub screws.

Execution A: ball for applications requiring a single point contact.
Add two at 90deg angle and et voila!

Under further consideration.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The lens samples for the new optical system arrived at last!

I'm happy to report that we have the production ready lens samples for our new focusable optics module.
Vacuum laminated double element achromatic lens construction utilising Ultra Low Dispersion glass, 51mm in diameter common from broadcast EVF desgn.

As our original LCDVF was designed around this type of lens we couldn't lower the level here desipite the huge price difference for the optical construction. It's so sharp from edge to edge, you don't have to look into dead center and it can be viewed from distance without edge blurring or CA.
Now we have 51mm lens for LCDeVF instead of 40mm that is still used in LCDVF products. Some info can be found here: Achromatic lens

Happy day.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Exposure assist

As per MThomas suggestion:

Signal from the HDMI port of Canon DSLRs is brighter by 10 IRE at the white point, but is accurate at the black point.
So it should be about 5 IRE too bright around 50 IRE.

Thank god we are using true color/detail evaluation for exposure evaluation.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

On-board batteries or not?

EDIT (09.12.10): On-board batteries + DC input it is then

From the beginning of the LCDeVF project we have had the idea of using on board batteries but (unfortunately?) testing so far has shown that if no on board battery or batteries are used the overall durability is increased.

Considerations for moving to external power only:
  • Most professionals use external and universal powering via external batteries already instead of multiple (HDSLR) camera batteries.
  • External V-Mount type battery for example offers day(s) of continuous operation.
  • More durable, rugged
  • Weight reduction by ca 75% offers greater balance (to reduce leaning to the left, minor).
  • 50% more compact (shorter).
  • Can implement a really good and universal power supply unit that could accommodate very different voltage supplies.
  • One external battery can power all the  system componets from camera to light to external audio recorder not to mention external LCD monitor and of course the electronic viewfinder - one charger, few batteries and off we go.
  • Requires external battery (additional cost if customer doesn't already own a one).

So, the question remains wether or not customers are willing to use external power?

External batter/charger options start from $30 and in case of complete IDX V-Mount production system might cost up to $900 or more.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Custom 24 bit screens for LCDeVF

On Friday 5th we managed to sucessfully assemble and test few custom LCD modules for the upcoming EVF. These unique high resolution hybrid displays will be modified and assembled in-house by our staff.
These are at the time being unique on the market.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Suggestions and requests (ext)

All the feature, functionality and mechanics suggestions and requests will be grouped to this post.

1. Peaking, followed by  Zebras are the most requested features.

Q: I'm assuming this will be a small 3" LCD monitor that it will be sold separately as well as in a kit with an LCDVF so that those of us that already have an LCDVF don't have to purchase again?
A: We will try hard to offer all the interfacing options for the existing LCD viewfinders, be it ours or some other popular one.

R: Fast switching HDMI signal from 1080 to 480 when you hit record (for 5D MKII and 550D/T2i)?
A: we are working on it to be as fast as technically possible.

R: HDMI passthrough or was it called loopthrough?
A: We will call it loopthrough and it will be there. Albeit we will not recommend using our LCDeVF as HDMI splitter whenever possible as it will consume some extra power and the HDMI cabling and sockets are not the most durable due to the nature of the HDMI standard (19 threads in a cable!).

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

CNC milled parts are now only 10 minutes away

Finally, all our CNC prototyping and small scale quality manufacturing will be done in a facility only 10 minutes drive away from our office/assembly in Tartu, Estonia.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Official announcement soon.

Unfortunately current popular 4:3 and 3:2 aspect ratio 3" viewfinders do not fit onto 3.2" LCD widescreens. Even a 3" 16:9 screen will have some compromises.
As we get close to the official announcement we just had to lock down on sub 400 PPI 24 bit 3" LCD.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

3" ish LCD modules and existing LCD viewfinders?

My concern is that obviously we can not use all the native 800x480 pixels of a 3-3.2" LCD widescreen.
For example on a 3" widescreen (3.2" actual) LCD with 800x480 resolution the viewable area measures 67-68mm wide (depending on manufacturer and model). Now if we measure the inner width of the "Finder" mounting frame - it is 62mm. So if the width of view of a mounted finder is 62mm and even a 3.2" screen is 67mm we lose 5mm total on sides that translates to 740 pixels of usable horizontal resolution even on this 3.2"ish screen.

It's a tricky question as 5D MKII and 550D/T2i output during recording is quite far from using the actual width of the screen and when re-scaled to that you lose some on-screen readings, nothing cruicial but still...

BTW the Z-Finder without mounting frame measures 67mm inside and can be used on 3.2" screen but then you lose the elegant way of mounting it.

Update: 3" sample screens we got measure almost 3.2" and these have visible area of 67mm X 42mm.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Power consumption

Notes on power consumption:
  • The system will consume less power if no features are used. The more DSP needed the more the device consumes power. 
  • Should all the features enabled at the same time or not? 
  • Zoom and Peaking at the same time could be quite a good feature but is there enough power, "CPU" wise?
  • What is the minimum image quality DSP wise? 
  • How should the average/overall power consumption be evaluated for product specification?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Physical problems to solve

When HDMI cable is used for monitoring it might poke your face, at least it tends to on a shoulder rig like Movietube PR.
No standard mini HDMI angled cables as the mini ports on different cameras/appliances are not oriented universally + the different port covers on different cameras will not allow a universal angled mini HDMI jack to be developed.
HDMI cable tends to strain the port on camera, no surprize here.
Port(s) on viewfinder must be aligned so that even standard cables won't distract the field of view of the camera operator and/or should not dangle onto the lens or lens accessories - therefore LEFT/RIGHT output is not good given the cable has a standard and not angled HDMI jack at the viewfinder end.
That leaves only the bottom side to be used for HDMI input and output but this solution will introduce another problem when the EVF is mounted directly onto the camera via hotshoe - it can't be that compact anymore and when tilted up or down the cables put enormous strain on the port(s).
Cables must not strain the HDMI ports on the EVF - this is the most cruicial aspect of the port placement and overall product design that needs further testing.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Aaton wooden handle arrives, the saga begins

Thanks to Abel and Manios we now have a complete ergonomic testbench for our electronic viewfinder.
Modified Movitube PR fitted with V-Lock battery and Hawk Woods regulator for 5D MKII.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Looking at the options for LCD screens to be used in our LCD module

We have several displays to check out but we are still waiting for the iPhone 4 to become available.
Will there be much difference between NEC 2.7" QHD and Retina? Pixels per inch are quite different: 400 to 300 but even the current high end moble phone displays at 3.2" inch are almost the same as will the LG/Apple be: About 300+ pixels per inch. Mobile phone displays are cheap when compated to NEC 2.7 that is supposedly used in Sony 12K EVF that is in 12000.00 USD electronic viewfinder. So the only option would be high end mobile display manufacturers like Samsung and LG. Whereas Samsung's Super AMOLED consumes 1/3th less power it actually has less pixels so marketing wise we can not use these - the more statistically the better, right?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Design considerations

The main design considerations for LCDeVF

  • All standard features such as peaking and zebras (focus and exposure assist)
  • HDMI loopthrough > port damage
  • On-board batteries > what happened in Malawi?
  • External DC input > again
  • Universal mountig options > damage and rotation, on side and on top?
  • Compatibility with all the "legacy" viewfinders + upcoming Cambo

    LCD screen features:
    • Horizontal screen resolution at least 800 pixels and over 300 pixels per inch. 
    • 24bit color 
    • High brightness
    • Good viewing angle
    • Fast refresh rate

    • Pre configured SOC (ST, ADI) or a custom solution?
    • What chipsets and solutions are used in Thomson and Panasonic P2 Pro line camcorders for monitoring and signal processing?
    • Power supply (features vs power consumption, economy mode)

    Mechanical design:
    • Cable routing!
    • Splash and dust proof?
    • IC Cooling? (if needed)
    • Drop/shock resistance > aluminum versus modern thermoplastics < fracture when dropped
    • To what EVF design most customers are accustomed to? (by release dade)
    • Classic EVF look or something new? Sony 801 vs Sony EX3 etc...

      Optical module:
      • Achromatic doublet or aspheric lens, depends on screen diagonal
      • Allow the use of standard 50mm diameter anti fog sheet/foil ($4 per piece)
      • ENG viewfinder style diopter adjustment > fast, to avoid eye accommodation to false diopter setting < the most common cause of eyestrain
      • interface for interchangeable skirts
      • Should not change it's length to avoid reconfiguring the position (for different operators)

      Sunday, June 6, 2010

      What will be the benchmarks for LCD screen resolution and color reproduction?

      Apple announced their Retina display which has 326 pixels per inch.
      LG and Samsung have had their similar dot pitch for quite some time. LG being the leader and if I'm not mistaken the Retina display is also made by LG.

      Some of the small LG screens have very similar dot pitch to the iPhone 4 Retina but the color reproduction, brightness and viewing angle is not the same on all of these.

      Wednesday, May 12, 2010

      NEC/Renesas 400+ pixels per inch QHD 2.7" display

      At least we got call from Nec...
      Allright, it costs $800 per piece and in bulk of 10000 units the cost comes down to whereabouts of $Eoo.

      ... makes me wonder why even Sony doesn't use these same spec QHD LCD screens anymore. Instead all Sony Broadcast Viewfinders use 3.5" displays nowadays.

      So 24 bit colors at 300+ pixels per inch? Where were we.

      Tuesday, May 11, 2010

      Display options for an electronic viewfinder?

      There are two types of EVF solutions. Either it's a LCD screen with a bit of magnification or it's solved by using much more compact LCOS imaging element often found in digital projection systems and in some cases in high end personal 3D glasses.

      Advantages of LCD based electronic viewfinder:
      • Can be used as an external monitor, albeit small but at 3" it can be used for akward angles, on sliders etc.
      • Magnification factor of 2X to 3X will not introduce major optical distortions like pincushioning and CA.
      • Relatively high power consumption (half a day, maybe even less on built in batteries)
      • 300+ pixels per inch with 24 bit colors under 3.4" are quite pricey. Most manufacturers won't consider a QTY under 100K pieces as the affordable ones are mostly designed for mobile/consumer applications.

      Advantages of LCOS based system:
      • Low power consumption
      • High resolution, statistically
      • Compact* size, less than 1" diagonal, often even less than 0.5"
      • *Requires high magnification which introduces image degradation, 10X or more to achieve the relative image size comparable to LCD based viewfinders like the 2.7" Sony HDVFC30WR
      • Can't be used as "monitor" for low or high angle shots.

      Sunday, April 18, 2010

      There is little hope left for mechanical, add-on LCD viewfinders

      As we (ar LCDVF) try to decide if and how to implement a really solid mechanical connection for all the popular HDSLR cameras it seems that the only solution is a electronical one. No way that mirrors or prisms or even optical fibers will be as universal as a cable would. Problems with powering and HDMI instead. Could be solved with design and by additional batterie(s).
      Had a meeting with Steve from Manios Digital. He briefly described the same problems on 16th of April at NAB to me - operators need the ergonomics of ENG or film cameras. My take was the Aaton XTR PROD as a year ago we had an experimental Canon 5D MKII rig designed to the spec of a XTR but it was left in dust because of the obvious.
      But here we go...

      Friday, March 12, 2010

      Diopter module from LCDVF

      We have the designs for ENG-like diopter module but the mounting options for different cameras and screens are overwhelming. We can have interchangeable "skits" system but it's still doubtful.
      Will see what the NAB brings.
      More designs to explore and verify - diopter adjustment must feel natural and fast - else the inherit human diopter accommodation for slow diopter adjustment will cause discomfort - you just might get used to a little bit wrong setting as the time it takes to adjust the mechanical diopter correction might be too slow therefore the eyes accomodate to the false diopter setting that at the time seemed right.

      Thursday, March 4, 2010

      Movietube PR

      At last we got the Movietube PR.
      After seeing one at IBC 2009 I fell in love with it: the only real camera-like rig for DSLRs
      Big bulky and a bit uncomfortable. No way you could use it on left shoulder.
      Our home made Aaton-style handgrip turns it into an ENG camera, almost.
      Got 501, 601 and a 701 viewfinder off the eBay.
      Only modified the Sony 701 CRT viewfinder. Still not that good.
      All the options for an electronic viewfinder are either second hand or crazy expensive, well, relatively.

      On a side note: Not surprisingly the older viewfinders are of a better build quality and much more complicated mechanically.