Tuesday, April 15, 2008

eCinema FX24 monitor

A couple of years ago I was getting very excited about the DCM-23 monitor. We'd just started carrying it and I'd enjoyed a couple of days of training by Martin Euredjian. I fell in love with the DCM23 - I thought it was the most faithful monitor for HD around at the time - bar none. For progressive, HD work I thought it was a better monitor than the venerable Sony BVM-D24. As Martin had observed there were so many engineers and colourists who were determined not to admit that an LCD could be useful for grading - they weren't going to be impressed! The biggest moan was that the peak white output of the monitor was only 60 Candelas/M-sq. You find that as luminance tends to zero delta-E (the measurement of a 'just-noticeable-difference') gets smaller. The upshot is that if you are serious about grading you will drive your monitor a bit cooler than the average 80 Candelas/M-sq you'd set an edit suite monitor for (that aside I often go to Soho edit suites to calibrate the monitor and find the editor is happily running his display at 160 Candelas/M-sq!).

Small side-note concerning units of luminance - I know a lot of folks quote it in Foot Lamberts but this is a terrible measurement - it assumes monitors are a point-source of light (they aren't) and it is a mix of SI (Lambert) and Imperial (foot) measurements - don't use it! Far better to use the SI unit of the Candela per square metre.

Anyway - we recently got in on demo a new eCinema FX24 - it's their budget range LCD display for HD work and when I first fired it up I thought that it looked pretty good but a bit dim (the 60/80 things already mentioned). Today I had a chance to stick it next to a JVC-tubed monitor that I'd just calibrated (putting the white point at 6500k and 60 Cd/m2) and I was really disappointed. I estimate the peak-white light output to be around 20 Cd/m2 and although the colour in the blacks was OK the whites were somewhat off tending towards red. The monitor seemed to lack dynamic range with subtly graduated objects on the CRT looking very flat on the LCD. I turned the tube off to make sure it wasn't pulling my eye and felt the same way after watching half an hour of real-world cameras footage on the FX24.
Perhaps I was expecting another DCM23 but this was not up to that monitor's high standard. I'd say it is better than a Sony LMD-series LCD broadcast monitor (but that ain't saying much). I shall write a bit more when I have chatted further with Martin at eCinema).

Update: Martin from eCinema sent me some helpful comments;

....BTW, color temperature can be adjusted manually from the "Color Temperature"
menu. There are RGB sliders that can be manipulated to fine-tune the default calibration to your liking.

BTW #2, be sure that you've set the backlight to maximum brightness (hold down MENU button and press the UP or DOWN keys to adjust) and have allowed enough time for the tubes to warm-up (about 15 min).

Yes, FX is a budget monitor. Comparing it to a CRT wouldn't make it shine.

Here's a way to look at it. It is a great monitor for entry-level semi-critical applications. Most Apple FCP/Color users would be very well served by this monitor. It produces an image that is decidedly better than that on a Luma and also better in many respects than that on an expensive BVM-L230.

It if flattering that eCinema product is expected to live up to the highest of expectations. Thank you for that. However, the FX is intended to be what we like to call a "stocking stuffer" here. This means that it is a low cost, relatively non-critical utility monitor that can do well in a wide range of applications where cost is more important than performance.


No comments: