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Thread: Viewfinder vs. output

  1. #1

    Default Viewfinder vs. output

    Pretty new and still learning, so forgive me if this is an obvious one -- searched the forums but didn't find anything on it.

    Using a Sony V1 to shoot HD indoors with a standard three-point studio light system. I manually control the white balance and shutter speed to deliberately create a slightly overexposed image. When I look at the viewfinder, the composition is what I am trying to achieve -- I turn on the zebra lines to make sure it's what I am trying to do and they are there, indicating the overexposure.

    However, once I move the video from the camera to a PC, the video is actually slightly underexposed and doesn't look anywhere near as bright as what I saw in the viewfinder.

    What am I missing here? I guess my main question is how much should I rely on the viewfinder to get an idea of what the actual video will look like? As I make manual adjustments, the viewfinder image changes accordingly -- contrast and colors look great, but it's not what I get on the tape. I am using Sony DigitalMaster HDV tape.

    Thanks for any help!

  2. #2


    Unfortunetly you cant totally trust viewfinders. Thats why broadcast monitors are soooo freaking expensive and why professionals lug them around. Its because the colours and brightness that you see is what you are recording, if calibrated with a blue check properly.

    This is why on large professional cameras they dont even put colour view finders. Theres currently no way to make them reproduce accurate colour, and they figure the director/producer will be watching an external monitor anyways.

    However if your zebras looked fine, the results should be near what you want in terms of brightness. What is your camera setup for zebras? Alot of people set zebras at 70, I like 100 ire because then I know thats the maximum I can have before its overexposed.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Bristol uk
    Blog Entries


    Interesting thread.

    First the question. As said above I suspect your zebras are low. I run mine at 80 cos I really loathe burned out areas. If you apply much correction in post then I find thses overexposed areas become very obvious.

    As suggested above set to 100.

    As for finders in general - they are often rubbish in my expirience, even on cameras costing up to 1000, and I am sad to see that many cameras are now dropping the finder altogether. Shame.

    The view finder on my SD DV JVC that probably qualifies as 'professional' cos it doesnt have any stickers on it's body is black and white. It is actually a tiny black and white CRT.
    Perhaps at the other extreme is my sony PC4e (5 years old). This has a lowish res tft ( 350 by 350 pixels approx) and is colour.

    TBH I never use the v finder on the small sony as I feel daft holind it too my face and i dont find that a steady position. I tend to use this camera in full auto and so only rely on the screen for composition. Care is needed as the screen underscans ( chops off the edges) significantly.

    I rarely use the JVC in anything except manual everything. I set the contrast and brightness high on the finder. This helps with foussing. I dont miss the colour at all. Perceptions of colour and composition can be done by looking directly. The finder does not underscan noticably. If I am shooting with the camera held low then the eyepice lens can be flipped up and the screen viewwed that way. I prefer this to the small colour screen on the camera.

    Even some expensive cameras appear to have poor finders. I was suprised that the h1 from canon has a low res tft as the finder and screen.

    So, I do prefer a crt b/w finder but I suspect prolie consumer feedback to manusfacturers is that everyone wants colour screens and finders as that just MUST be better.

    Pro cameras are often seen for sale with missing finders - they are in a bashable place. One for my camera is 1200 ! Decent finders are likely to remain the preserve of pro cameras and perhaps soon finders will onlly be seen on pro gear?
    Last edited by Mark W; 11-30-2008 at 12:59 PM.

  4. #4


    I also had a simliar problem with the Canon XL2. I found that while shooting I thought I had enough light but once I looked at the footage on a TV or PC it was actually underexposed. I put this down to the brightness of the viewfinder. I simply dropped the brightness of the viewfinder down to the minimum. The footage now matches up as close as possible from what I shot on the day and what I watch on the TV.


  5. #5

    Default Problem solved


    Thanks for the tips. My IRE was set at 80; I dialed it up to 100 and adjusted my lighting setup accordingly and now the brightness of my video recording is matching what I see on the viewfinder, which I also dimmed slightly. Thanks a million!

    Last edited by enzob; 12-19-2008 at 11:05 PM.

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