An on-set monitor is essential for any type of shoot, be it big or small. You want a monitor that gives you reliable image information, and to be completely blunt and honest, the monitor attached to the camera does not cut it. Furthermore, assist your director and your camera assistant to see the image you see; trust me, you’ll be glad you did. If you’re still not convinced or not entirely sure why a monitor is a must, check out my last article The Monitor: Don’t get caught without one!
In this post, I’ll be going over the many features the V-Screen VS-3 and VS-2 offer, some key explanations on the different tools that will come in handy during a shoot, and specific differences between the two models. All features and explanations are for the VS-3, unless stated otherwise.
Features & Design
The many features included in the V-Screen VS-3 monitor come in very handy, especially for run-and-gun shoots and space constrained rigs. As mentioned earlier, having a monitor that accurately displays color, monitoring, and focus will take your shoot to the next level.
– Included accessories: 1. Power adapter, 2. HD Cable, 3. Universal Hot Shoe Mount, 4. Folding Sunhood, 5. Firmware Upgrade Cable, 6. Soft cleaning cloth. Also applies to the VS-2.
– Compact, Lightweight 7” IPS LCD design is perfect to accompany any camera. The monitor is equipped with a 1/4” jack on the bottom, allowing for easy rigging onto a DSLR camera with the included Hot Shoe Mount or can be attached to any magic arm with a 1/4” connecter. Applies to the VS-2.
– Two sources of power: the V-Screen can be powered by Lithium Batteries (for example, the Sony NP-F Series) or by using the power adapter included in the kit. Applies to the VS-2.
– The sunhood included in the kit is an essential tool for any exterior shoot or brightly lit interiors. This will aid you in viewing the image more clearly and without any distractions. Applies to the VS-2.
– The monitor supports multiple signal inputs, including HDMI/YPbPr/AV, as well as an HDMI output, allowing for you to daisy chain another monitor. This feature gives you the opportunity to share the image with a director or producer without having them hover over the camera. Trust me, it makes a huge difference to have some breathing room around the camera and letting you and your A.C. do the work you need to do.
– Displays multiple aspect ratios, including 1.85:1, 2.35:1, 1.33:1, and 1.66:1. You can take all the guesswork out of shooting multiple aspect ratios on your DSLR! This feature will give you the ability you need to accurately frame your shoot, so you can see the ultimate image you will get in post. Applies to the VS-2.
– This monitor includes essential functions, such as False Color Display, Zebra Marking, PEAK, Brightness Histogram, Zoom, Flip (H or V), Volume Bar, Color Bar, etc. Explanations on these tools to follow.
– Easy and accessible Menu: The Menu is easily accessed through the “M” button on the bottom right of the screen. Navigate through the menu using the different arrow keys around the “M” button. Additionally, you can configure the shortcuts for each of the arrow keys to your liking. Default Shortcuts going clockwise from the Up Arrow: Zebra, Peak, False Color, and Histogram.
With all these features included, this monitor is an essential tool to have on set. Its low power consumption makes it reliable for time constrained shoots and its bright IPS panel provides a wide viewing angle. You’ll be able to view your image accurately and consistently throughout your shoot, allowing for you to focus on your creative vision.
Monitor Tools & Explanations
Using the tools provided can and will help you in mastering your craft when it comes to your image. Different cameras and monitors come equipped with various tools to help you interpret what the sensor is registering, so you the cinematographer, can better assess what is in front of you. The VS-3 has a wide range of these tools to help you.
A histogram allows you to see the amount of pixels exposed in your image, ranging from pure black to pure white, left to right. It’s a graphical representation of the shadows (blacks), mid tones (gray area), and highlights (whites) of what the sensor registers. This tool helps you see the over exposed and under exposed areas of your image, and in turn helps you decide the exposure for your shot. You can access the Histogram on the V-Screen by going to Menu → Assistant Functions → Histogram → On. For more info on histograms, check out this helpful article http://digital-photography-school.com/how-to-read-and-use-histograms/
The false color tool is used for checking your exposure. False color interprets the brightness or darkness of your image in colors using IRE as the unit of measurement. 0 IRE is pure black and 100 IRE is pure white. Check out the image below for how the colors represent different values on the IRE scale. For example, red represents heavy highlights, most likely meaning over exposure. You can access False Color on the V-Screen by going to Menu → Assistant Functions → False Color → On.
The zebra function is also another handy exposure tool. The zebra tool will show the various “highlights” in your image, or areas that are verging onto pure white. You can then decide whether to stop down on the lens to remedy or leave as is, based on your preference for exposure. Again, this tool is simply to help you see what the sensor is picking up. On the VS-3, you can check your highlights at either 70 IRE or 100 IRE (check the previous image to understand where this lies on the spectrum). You can access Zebra on the V-Screen by going to Menu → Assistant Functions → Zebra → On.
Peaking or PEAK
The peaking tool, or PEAK in the V-Screen monitors, assists you to check for focus. Subjects or objects in focus will appear with a colored halo on your monitor. If they are not in focus, they will not have said halo. The VS-3 allows you to choose a color of your preference and also set the density of peaking. I personally chose a high density, meaning that peaking will render more of that halo, especially if I’m on shoots that are fast paced and do not guarantee rehearsal time. You can access PEAK on the V-Screen by going to Menu → Assistant Functions → PEAK → On.
Color Bars + Color Setting
As a Cinematographer and A.C., I like to be able to calibrate the image shown on the monitor. Shooting conditions vary, therefore one should always calibrate the monitor to best suit those shooting conditions. The V-Screen monitors have all been previously color calibrated before shipping, however they do allow for you (the consumer) to check that calibration by including Color Bars and a Color Settings submenu to alter image to your liking. You can access the Color Bars through Menu → Assistant Functions → Color Bar → On and the Color Settings through Menu → Color Setting.
Differences between the VS-2 and VS-3
– VS-2 monitors do not have an HDMI output. Does not allow connection to another monitor.
– VS-3 adds tools to its monitor, such as False Color, Zebra, Histogram, Volume Bar, etc. whereas the VS-2 doesn’t incorporate these functions just yet.
Both are very reliable monitors and a must have for any set. Of course, the VS-3 has some valuable updates to its counterpart. Hope this article helped in understanding the valuableness of having a monitor on set that provides a dependable image with powerful exposure tools.
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