Sunday, October 2, 2011

SmallHD DP4 and sunlight

I have been using the SmallHD DP4 for about a month now. It's been sunny and that's the reason I have been shooting outside a lot, experimenting with different lenses, rigs, my new mattebox and glass filters. My DP4 made it a lot more fun and so much easier to shoot with these accessories and judge what I was doing.

But there is a big drawback to shooting in the sun with an Electronic View Finder (EVF): sunlight. And when I disovered a few spots/specks on my monitor and contacted SmallHD what these spots could be, they said they recognized the spots as coming from sunlight going into the EVF burning holes in your screen. The EVF is a magnifier: remember as a child using a magnifying glass to burn stuff? SmallHD says it takes no more than 30 seconds to burn holes in your screen. Considering that, I'm glad the damage was limited to a few spots...

Problem is that most often we're shooting with the sun in our back. So fiddling with equipment, searching your bag, talking to talent, whatever... 30 seconds is gone in a spiffy...

Is it a flaw in the design? I am not an engineer and cannot answer that. I have read that Zacuto's EVF has the same problem and most likely every monitor/EVF combo. Can't they redirect the sunlight so it won't hit the LCD? My uneducated guess is that -if possible at all- that would require very expensive optical engineering that would put the DP4 out of our financial range.
SmallHD has warned for use in the sunlight and consider this 'user damage'. But I have to give the company credit for the way it handles this issue. For now, clients are getting their DP4's fixed under warranty. In the future the sun warning will be more explicit in the manual and a lenscap for the EVF will be shipped with the package. I would add: preferably permanently attached to the EVF and with a big yellow warning sticker on the EVF itself. Because in the rush of the job, 30 seconds can pass before you can change a lens...


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