Reviews on gear and software

Best screenrecorder software….

During the whole lockdown period I decided it was finally time to record that monster project, my Photoshop and Lightroom tutorial. In the end the tutorial clocked in at a stunning 7 hours and 30 minutes. Not something you can record in between workshops and sessions. But how fast can you edit screenrecordings, and to start with how in the first place.

Now in this review/blogpost I’m not going to describe everything Camtasia can do, I’m going to point out the things I find interesting, cannot work without and my thoughts at the end. I think this is a more fair review seeing most people will not use all the options, but do need some options that normally are hardly discussed in reviews that just give you the numbers (I never understand those, just look at the website of the manufacturer).

At first (being Dutch) I tried some free software.
On the Mac I already invested in screen recording software and to be honest it did work just fine there was Windows version, and with all the free software out there you very quickly decide that it’s probably best to just go for free, right?

Well not exactly.
When you record 1-2 videos a month it might be an OK solution, but in all honesty it just sucks for anything else, so I started looking for the best solution and from every direction I got one answer….. Camtasia, and man am I glad I did started using their software, because it’s fricking awesome.

So what does good screenrecording do?
Well first off all it has to be “invisible” but also “adjustable”

With invisible I mean that it shouldn’t limit you in what you can do (a lot of free software does and that drove me nuts), for example do you want to record, one screen, a window, maybe several screens, do you want the audio from your OS or just not. Well Camtasia has all these options, but there is more.

Of course it’s nice to see someone when they are talking to you, right?
Now of course you can use your awesome (or mostly not) webcam, but than you’re stuck in one place with often nog so good image quality, or too much wide angle, or maybe not…. it’s not perfect. Connecting an external camera is the best way, that way you can choose your own webcam and position, or even more interesting connect a standard HDMI handycam and now you can zoom and have a lot better quality (if you light it correctly of course). Do remember that when you connect an external HDMI camera you need some form of capture card, personally I use the Magewell which works great for cameras but also for example for my desktop mirroring during digital classroom (where I work from another computer as where the streaming software runs). The Magewell is not the cheapest solution but at least it never crashes and it has a lot of settings you can adjust so it will work flawlessly in most software, and this is really something to consider because you can buy some cheap convertor but if it isn’t supported in the end that cheap one will cost you a lot of frustration and in the end you’ll get another one anyway.

The easy to setup main hub for recording. Here you select what to record, which camera and which mic you use.

The nice thing about Camtasia is the workflow.
When you want to record you just go for the record option, you don’t even have to open the software, although you can of course and start recording from there.
The settings are incredibly simple.
A floating app let’s you choose microphones, cameras, which desktop or screen etc. etc.
If you selected it once, it will keep it in memory, so no need to tinker with the settings every recording session. (this is a very annoying thing when an app doesn’t do this)

So what else?
Well let me start by how we used to do screenrecordings.
In the past I would often chose for an option without video, for the simple reason combining the two was not hard but it was always an extra step with syncing the two, two different sources etc. With Camtasia it’s a lot easier. You just connect the camera and microphone and… well that’s it.

When you’re done with the recording the real power of Camtasia is unleased.
After the recording the software shows you two tracks, one with the screen and the other one with the video. When you drag that on the time line it actually looks almost like iMovie or any other “simple” video editor.

The first thing you will notice is that you can just drag, scale, move forward/backward etc with both video parts. This makes integrating the video into your screen recording very easy. Sometimes I will place my screens next to each other, sometimes I will put the video small in a corner. Now till so far you can pretty much also do it with for example Adobe Premiere, but….. that’s where it all stops.

One of the major advantages of Camtasia is that you can literally do almost everything with the two tracks, but mostly zoom… now why is this important?

When I explain something in Photoshop it’s sometimes hard to find where the pointer is on the screen, now there are several solutions for this that cannot be done (easy) with video editing software. You can do it “easy” with for example a bright spot on the mousepointer but that doesn’t always work the way that you want, what I like to do is actually zoom in to the area that is important at that moment. Now the cool thing about Camtasia is that you just very simply zoom in at the moment where you want the zoom to appear and Camtasia makes an awesome zoom and glide effect, and after this you can just drag or push the trails and make the transition longer or shorter. The way this works is absolutely fast and very easy, in fact without reading a manual you can work with Camtasia within minutes. And that’s the goal of course.

Another thing I really like about Camtasia is that you have several options for annotations, simple color/brightness adjustments for video, green-screen techniques (or remove a color-range), of course there are also a lot of fades, shifts and other special effects between scenes.

Recently Camtasia has been upgraded to version 2020 and there are a lot of new features.
You can find these here.
But the things that really got my attention were the following.

Video templates
You can store templates which means that if you need to make something in an universal look you can always get this back. For most videos I do this is not something I use, because the positions change pretty often depending on what I explain, but in essence you can store a template and use this for all your projects.

Placeholders and Replaceable Media
Quickly replace media on the timeline, while preserving properties, transitions, effects, audio points, and animations.

Camtasia Packages
Create a Camtasia Package (.campackage) to back up and share your Camtasia resources such as templates, shortcuts, libraries, themes, and presets into a single file for deployment across computers, teams, and organizations

Timeline Enhancements
Automatically remove spaces between media on a track to insert or rearrange media on the timeline with magnetic tracks.
Detach the timeline to view more tracks at a time or to move to another monitor for precise editing.
Create unique animations with track mattes

Media Bin Enhancements
New views help you to quickly sort and find media. Identify unused media in the Media Bin to clean up a project.

Recording Enhancements
Camtasia 2020 includes webcam capture improvements, ability to capture screen recordings at higher frame rates, and other recording enhancements.

Conclusion
Overall one could say that there are service upgrades, which often kill some bugs and just up the version number, but Camtasia 2020 really feels like a new version, it’s smoother, slightly faster and the new way to setup your camera at higher frame rates is awesome for people that want to record a bit more motion, for me capturing Photoshop or Lightroom…. 30 frames a second is more than enough, but the templates and packages is great, and the Timeline enhancements were something that didn’t really bug me with the older versions, but now that it’s “fixed” I can’t go back to be honest.

As mentioned before there are many screenrecording software solutions but Camtasia just checks all the boxes for usability, speed and most of all quality and flexibility. You literally have everything in one package and although you might think at first glance that it’s just a “simple” video editor you can’t be more wrong, everything, and I mean everything is aimed at pushing out those videos as fast as possible, if you want even straight to YouTube for example. It’s all there.

I’ve been using Camtasia for over 2 years now and can only highly recommend it.
Follow this link and also support our work.

A distant modelshoot in a time of social/physical distancing

One might say we woke up in a “bad” sci-fi or horror movie.
No more going outside for a lot of people, no more photoshoots, no more….. well in the Netherlands we are “happy” that at least we are not in a full 100% lockdown but still have some things we are allowed to do. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those protesters that believe the government is keeping us inside for other reasons. Trust me if they want the damage to the economy to be limited they will open up as soon as possible, if your country does not yet open up, don’t do it yourself, this is a virus we are fighting with each other not an enemy you can see.

So of course one of the things I miss most is doing photoshoots. I know some people still do it, but I think that’s irresponsible, you have to move to the location, there is a huge chance of infection during that travel or on location, if you do it in your studio you have to clean literally everything and they still don’t know for sure how long the virus will be active in a room where there is little to no ventilation, in fact they already know it can be spread via the HVAC system, so you might not infect yourself but maybe someone in that building. So just don’t take the risk.

To show you guys that you can do photoshoots even without leaving your home my friend Andy set up this special photoshoot (and all credits go to him for this).

Andy is a dear friend of us, but he lives app. 6000 miles away. So talk about keeping your distance.
Andy is also a photographer, but also a good looking dude, so he came up with the idea to do a long distance photoshoot. And with todays technology this is of course very possible.

 

Our setup.
During the lightsetup I switched between the small camera and the desktop. So for the shoot the desktop was large and for setting up the lights I switched the two cameras so I could clearly see what was going on.

So what did we do?
Andy put his camera on a tripod and connected it to his laptop via a Tethertools cable of course.
Thanks to Capture One I was able to switch between shooting modes, settings and very importantly live view (without live view forget about this).

One camera (from his laptop) we set up so I could see most of the room, this made it easy to see where the lights were placed and give directions to how to angle the lights. Of course Andy was able to do the metering and place the lights.

As soon as everything was setup I switched over to the live view mode inside of Capture One and posed Andy. Now to be honest when we started this shoot I didn’t expect it to go as smooth as it actually did. For the “meeting” software we used ZOOM, but you can also use Skype or any other software that supports both taking over someones desktop and using a camera at the same time. Zoom actually worked like a charm (this was my first time using Zoom).

When everything was set up correctly I could see Andy posing via the live view and getting the shadows right was easy. When I started this my initial idea was to just use flat lighting, this is easier to get a good shot, but when we saw how smooth the connection was we just immediately went for the more contrasty lighting. Now I have to add Andy was a real champ and stayed exactly the way that I told him, there is always a slight delay between shots and directions but in all honesty it felt almost instant, so this is without a doubt usable.

Now in real life I can make better shots, will experiment a bit more with different positions, fine tune the light, freak a bit more with flares etc. but I have to be honest for a remote shoot this was not only a boat load of fun (thanks buddy) but the results aren’t that bad either, in fact if you take more time for it (we did a session of 30 minutes) I think you could do some really cool stuff.

So what do you need?
Make sure you connect your camera via USB to your laptop/tablet.
Make sure you use software that can show you the live view of your camera, for example Capture One.
Place one camera that can see the whole room and use this as the standard “webcam”
Use software that is pretty solid in the connection and has the option to take over someone’s desktop, you have to have mouse control.
The software you use to make the connection has to support also the option that both the desktop AND camera stay active
Make sure the software makes it possible to see both the desktop and the extra camera

Now if you want to go fancy (and who doesn’t)
You can use a dedicated videocamera and connect that to your desktop. We use a blackmagic HDMI to USB device for this and in our home studio a Magewell HDMI to USB device. Both do the same thing, they get a HDMI signal from your camera and convert it to something your desktop sees as an extra camera in “all” software. It replaces the often bad webcams and gives you more room to move it around and show the room.

And… well that’s about it.
After the shoot Andy send the files to me and I retouched them to show you guys the results today.

There is one thing that was a bit more difficult than expected. In real life you see everything in 3D, in other words you see depth. On a screen this is highly reduced, this made setting up the accent light for example much more tricky than normal, but in the end we got one shot out of it, I wanted to play more with that but Andy’s room was pretty bright and small so the light scatter was very hard to control, so we opted for the more darker looks 🙂

 

BenQ SW321c review and opinions

Some reviews are easy and some reviews are hard.
To be honest writing a review about a monitor can be quite easy, but also incredibly hard, actually the better a monitor gets… the more difficult it gets writing a review. When for example a monitor has color issues, or luminosity errors you can explain what it is and why it’s important to take note of that. This often means that writing reviews for cheaper monitors is a blast, loads of things to explain so to say.

So why do I start this review with this small note…
Well you have to know a bit of history.

Years ago during an UK tradeshow I met the guys from BenQ for the first time, at that moment they told me they were starting to promote specialty monitors for video/DTP and photography and they wanted to really make a dent in the market to deliver high-class, great specked monitors for very affordable prices. Now from any other company I would probably just thought “yeah, sure and who are you again” because let’s be honest the market had been very tightly controlled by only a hand full of brands, and in fact at that point most photographers only edited on 2 brands if they were serious about their work.

So why did I take BenQ serious from the Get-go.
When you look at companies there is always a history, and what most of you probably already know is that before we took on photography full time Annewiek and I ran a PC-company for over 20 years (with great success) and one of the things we always experienced is that if a gamer entered the shop it was always …. BenQ. We’ve sold pallets of BenQ monitors to the gaming community in our area, but also CD drives and the nice thing from the BenQ products was great support and they hardly ever broke down, and on latency for gamers…. well if negative was an option they would probably add this too. So this is a company that didn’t just appear out of nowhere, I dare to say that if one company knows how to build imaging display for pro work BenQ absolutely would be on that short list without any doubt. So when they announced the new line I was all ears, eyes and what not more.

My first BenQ monitor was several hundreds of euros cheaper than the monitor I used at that time and to give you an idea about technical knowledge I have to tell you a small story.

The monitor I was using at that moment had a hardware calibration unit.
Now I never got this feature, it metered in a corner, it was a tristimulus meter and was not replaceable and could not be recalibrated. When I asked about this “weird” solution I got some even “weirder” answers.

First off all, the meter was linked to the monitor so it knew the degradation of the panel and adjusted itself, also it was placed in that position because…. well never got an answer to that one.

Well let me burst your bubble for now.
Besides running a PC-shop for many years in 1997 we also started a Home Theater branche (this is also how we worked with BenQ in the past) in 2001 we were in the states (yes during 9/11) and I got my ISF certificate (Imaging Science Foundation) I won’t go into the very technical details, but let me put it this way, I know how to calibrate a display manually and I also understand how an analyzer and a panel works, and how they interact.

It’s impossible to calibrate an analyzer to “predict” the degradation of a panel for professional use. For consumer use you will get close enough, but for critical work it’s absolutely ridiculous to make statements like that, Both panel and analyzer drift over time. For our professional analyzers we send them in every year or two for a recalibration, this is not cheap but it’s necessary for professional grade calibrations. Now both drift, but they won’t drift according to a “plan” we could only wish, no both drift in different ways, also depending on the surrounding area of course, usage and simply put the panel itself.

One could roughly say that for professional use an automated calibration system could work just fine for 2-3 years, after that we go down to consumer level, still ok, but depending on your own nitpicking, not that good anymore.

And than talk about placing, why in the middle or corner or edge?
Well when you look at your monitor you mostly look at the centre, right?
So it makes sense to calibrate that part, so why should you calibrate only a corner or edge?
It just didn’t make any sense at all.

Now one of the main reasons these kind of solutions are actually very good is because those setups use something called hardware calibration. Let me make this really simple. With a normal calibration the software creates a so called ICC profile, this is a profile where you set a goal (for example Adobe RGB) and the software “calculates” from the sensor readings how far certain colors are off and corrects this, so for example you will see R +1, -10, +3, often these calibrations are done on the primaries (RGB) and secondaries (CMY) and often also some shades in between, during the calibration you also see them vary in output, this is mostly used for gamma and to prevent clipping within the colorspace/color.

In all essence it’s not really hard to understand.
We have a fixed set of coordinates and we have a variable set of coordinates that has to be “guided” towards that fixed set. In most cases you get pretty darn close, but it will never be 100% perfect, the difference is what makes a monitor good, better or worse. This is also why you often see 98% Adobe RGB and 100% srgb, it means that when calibrated to Adobe RGB you will get 98% close, and when calibrated to SRGB you get 100% close.

Now where does it get interesting.
When we do this in software there are limits. Think about what happens when you use curves in Photoshop, when you pull on two sides everything is fine, when you start adding 3-4-5 points you will see huge problems in for example an 8 bits version, and less problems in a 16 bits version. The reason is again simple, with 8 bits you get 256 steps of luminance per color and in 16 bits you get a whopping 65536 tonal values PER color. Don’t confuse this with a 10 bits panel (which the 321C uses). As you can see here the difference between 8 and 10 bits panels.

8 bits
10 bits

When we look at the calibration itself we have a few options.
Profiles can be matrix-based or LUT (lookup table) based
both of which include the white point of the device (mostly D65 or 6500 degrees Kelvin)
Matrix-based profiles are small and LUT profiles are larger and also a lot more complex.

  • matrix profile is a mathematical model made up of the three primary colorants of the device and some simple tonal curves, referred to as a 3 x 3 matrix.
  • LUT-based profile contains much more information, consisting of a table of numbers that allows you to find an input value and its corresponding output value.

One could say that simpler devices could use a matrix profile, it’s fast and easy.
But for monitors and printers I’m a huge supporter of a LUT based calibration.

This is also where the monitor comes into play.
You probably heard the remark hardware calibration quite some time when you read my reviews. This actually means that you don’t calibrate your monitor via an ICC profile, there still is one, but it will be “neutral”, all calibration is done inside the monitor. Personally with the BenQ I always choose the 16bits LUT, native panel, V2 (don’t use V4) relative blackpoint (with relative it will keep the gamma in tact, with absolute it will yield a higher contrast ration but gamma is sacrificed a bit) and large. This takes some time but the result is butterly smooth and very accurate.

Now there is one setting missing, and I want to give some extra attention to this, light output?
When a gamer or consumer buys a monitor one of the things we always heard was “light output” and a rule of thumb was… the brighter the better. Well that’s true for those usages, but what about DTP or photography? everyone that ever edited an image on their phones or iPad in a dark room with the brightness on full blast knows this hurts your eyes, but also the results are WAY too dim, in other words as soon as you look at them on a normal monitor it’s just too muddy and dark.

But can’t you just lower the output of the monitor?
Yeah to a certain extend you can, but you do have to realize that there is a limit, at one point the contrast (white point) will keep going down, but the brightness (blackpoint) won’t, you are now entering the danger zone, you are now seriously hurting your contrast ratio, and this…. you don’t want to do.

Seeing we need lower light output for photography (mostly between 80-130 cdm) it’s wise to choose a monitor that has a sweetspot for contrast ratio around that light output, although now a days with HDR this is a bit different, but let’s for now keep that out of this story.

End of the story
So for a good monitor that can be used for photography we need :
Hardware calibration, with a replaceable analyzer (not a fixed one)
A sunshade (also handy when you have a controlled lighting area)
At least 98% Adobe RGB
A good panel that doesn’t look red on one side and blue on the other (and yes there are a lot of them out there)
A good panel that doesn’t look like a natural vignette (brightness differences, very annoying)
Good service and support
Good price

pffff sounds like a lot of boxes to check.

 

The sunhood can be mounted in landscape and portrait

321C (or like I like to say it 3.2.1 COLOR)
Let’s take a look at the beast that is called the 321C
First off all I appreciate you guys still reading so let’s make this very short.
The 321C checks all the boxes, BenQ really picked a great panel for this monitor.
I could have stopped the review here, or bore you guys with technical details which you can also find on the product page, and I hate those kind of reviews so I’m not spending any time on that, let me put it this way…. it’s very impressive on paper.

However, being impressive on paper doesn’t mean anything when you have the monitor on your desk.
So let’s take a look at some things that REALLY caught my eye.

The first thing is of course color. I’ve had several BenQ monitors on my desk over the years and they all are great value for money. I love their P3 series for step in photographers that need a bit more than sRGB but can’t yet afford a full ARGB monitor, but I also love their professional series. Now seeing the pretty steep price difference between them I was very curious to see what this monitor brought more.

Connections
Let’s do the boring stuff first.
This is a USB-C monitor, and all devices should be by now.
It means no slow ports if you connect to your monitor.

You get
HDMI (v2.0) x 2DisplayPort
DisplayPort (v1.4)

USB 3.1 Hub
USB Downstream x 2USB 3.1 Hub
USB Upstream x 1USB
Type-C Yes (PD60W, DP Alt mode, Data)

Card Reader SD/MMC type
Support Format: SD/SDHC/SDXC/MMC

Sharpness
I can’t really put my finger on it exactly but the 321C is a seriously detailed monitor, the first time I connected it without proper calibration I already saw that my taskbar was more defined, looking a bit more 3D, after calibration some “blooming” was gone and it was crystal clear (no pun intended) this monitor is fricking sharp, the panel and coating is one of the most detailed I’ve ever seen in a monitor. Now do be careful, sharpness can also be added digitally, this is however not sharpness, this is “ringing”, do remember that your monitor has a fixed resolution and if you send in that exact resolution you can never ever get a sharper image than without any processing. In projectors and TV sets you do often find sharpening via for example super resolution or 4K enhancement modes, and in movies this can work like a charm, but you always have to realize that you are losing fine details. So for a monitor on which you have to do sharpening for output to a digital billboard, poster or thumbnail it’s vital that the signal is as clean as possible, and from what I can see…. the 321C is pretty close to “honest”.

Coating
Another thing is the coating.
Also here I can’t really find any information on it from a technical standpoint (not important) but it just “feels” different. All the BenQ monitors I used before were pretty similar in appearance and “feel”, this one clearly is different, and in a very positive way. The glare is different (don’t worry these screens are matt and don’t glare like some consumer screens, laptops or iMacs. But still it feels different if you know what I mean.

Paperlike
This is brandnew, and in all honesty, I’m a bit skeptical about this feature.

The main reason you buy a monitor at this price point is of course to be able to judge an image or piece of work on color accuracy and dynamics, so you need a very “honest” preview of what’s to come. Now we all know the frustration that when you send something to your printer it comes out like junk. With paperlike the 321C makes it possible to judge the output of your printer on the screen, sounds awesome right? (and it is) but there are some things you REALLY have to be careful about.

First off all.
You have to make sure you calibrate your monitor before every “judging” round, at least let it warm up for 30 minutes and calibrate, but also your printer has to be calibrated or using a profile that is valid for the kind of paper and inkts you use. We for example use Epson Premium Luster paper almost exclusively, I’ve calibrated my Epson 3800 for this paper and my PC, when Annewiek prints something it looks slightly different, (after I gave her my settings not anymore, so there is a huge BUT there)

In essence paperlike is absolutely fricking awesome.

By using paperlike you can select your printer and paper and see on the monitor what would roll out of the printer. You have realize that a printer has totally different colors than a monitor, we call this subtractive color or additive colors. A monitor emits light and uses RGB as main colors (although you also see some panels using extra Yellow) and a print actually reflects or absorbs light and uses as a base CYMK (K= key). Add to this that also the colorspaces are different per paper and inkt and that in a dark room the monitor will look awesome but the print sucks, and outside the monitor will suck and the print will look awesome…., and here we go…… you get the idea why these worlds can cause so much frustration for you (and me).

Paperlike promises (and does) solve some of these issues.
And let’s be honest, we don’t and never will have exact the same image on screen and on paper, but it has to be as close as possible of course. So what does paperlike, or paper color sync do?

First off all the monitor itself has to be prepared for this, and this is were that new coating comes into play, it’s just a bit more closely to paper so to say. After that it’s actually pretty simple. You can download the free software from BenQ, install it and choose your printer and paper…… yeah…. well don’t know what to say more, it’s really that simple. No voodoo or magic, it’s actually a very smart thing they did, and I can’t imagine why this wasn’t released earlier.

Now one could say…. “he Frank we have a softproofing in Photoshop and Lightroom?”, and indeed yes you do (well spotted), but see this as a WAY WAY more accurate way of doing that softproofing, I advise everyone to use softproofing when you shoot for important work where color accuracy and gamma are vital, and Photoshop comes a long way, but if you want it “perfect”….. well you really should think about the 321C.

Now as mentioned you do have some severe limitations, and it’s up to BenQ to see how this will work in the future.
The limitations are actually to be expected and should also be there, this is NOT negative, in fact it’s 100% POSITIVE, if they would have released a one size fits all solution it would be just a slightly better version (or worse) of Photoshops proofing.

What they did (and still do) is take into account readings from papers, printers, ink AND the monitor and throw them into profiles. This is a proven and very accurate way of working, heck it’s how we all look at our monitors displaying Argb when we edit, it’s just measurements and profiles, nothing more. To make a monitor and print look similar this is however not an easy task, and a lot of people will be disappointed. Like I mentioned before it’s vital to realize that a monitor is NOT a print and a print is NOT a monitor. Use colorsync in a dark studio and you will wonder why you’re print looks like crap, so for serious judging EVERY print station should be outfitted with a full spectrum daylight bulb/led light. ONLY that way can you really judge a print.

One might wonder, what if a customer……
Well I know your pain.
We’ve had exhibitions where my images looked awesome, and we’ve had exhibitions where I hardly recognized my own work. The key element was light. One gallery used natural light from outside and to put it mildly, some moments they looked ok. And the other gallery had lights mounted on every single piece of work, to be short… that looked right.

But when you have this into place, the results can be shockingly accurate.
Ok so what about that limitation I keep telling you about, that was the light right?….. no sorry.
To make this work you really have to be using the printer AND paper AND ink that is available in the BenQ software, at the moment it’s still a bit limited but seeing they can add profiles very easily I expect this to grow a lot during the coming months.

The Puck
With the 321C we find the “famous” BenQ puck.
In all honesty at first I didn’t use it all, and still it’s…. well it’s connected and I do use it occasionally, but there is one thing that is really cool about the puck. You can program two color spaces under the buttons, so with a press of a button you can set your monitor to the sRGB colorspace or to Adobe RGB, this is a very very useful function when you publish a lot for the internet.

But there is one other feature that I think is very useful for some people

GamutDuo
Connect the BenQ with 2 cables and it’s possible to see an Adobe RGB version next to a SRGB version on the same screen. This is a huge thing for people that will convert to colorspaces a lot and where it’s vital all the nuances are shown.

Multiple monitor accuracy
In the top line of BenQ you can add several monitors together and they will give you a very similar look and feel of your images. This is something that might be very important for video editors, for photography I don’t use that feature but when doing video on 2 monitors I often use one for a preview and one for the time line, having a proper balance between those two is not only easier but can actually be vital for proper color grading and balancing the contrast.

Conclusion
We have arrived at the end, wow you kept reading (or did you skip).
This is not the cheapest BenQ monitor and one might wonder that if you don’t need the Paper color sync software if it’s still the monitor for you? Well let me try to answer that.

In all these years that I’ve edited images/video on a boat load of monitors this monitor really shines above all others I’ve tried. I’m just in love with the coating and the sharpness of the monitor and for me, even without the paper color sync software this warrants the premium price and lets be honest compared to the competition this is actually a pretty standard price for the high-end monitors, in fact taking everything into account one could say it’s not that expensive, although it’s still a lot of money.

I do have to come clean on one part.
I’ve already seen and worked with this monitor since December, I believe the first beta sample was in our studio for the first look and I’m running on one of the first production models. One could ask “why wait so long for a review”

Well the reason is very simple.
Sometimes you see reviews minutes after a product is released, we also sometimes do this and one might wonder “how the heck?” well some products we get a few days or even weeks before the release and with some products you know within hours or days if it’s good or not, but a monitor….. I never trust reviews of monitors that appear right after the release. In my opinion you have to also take into account how the monitor grows on you and how it keeps it’s color. Now even a few months of intensive use is not enough for that last question, I can only say “so far so good”, but that growing part I can be very short about. Over the past few weeks the monitor keeps growing in my appreciation, due to the lock down I’m working a lot from home, on another BenQ monitor (of course), every time I walk into the studio and I work on the 321C I go “aaaaaaah…..” and that’s a good thing, the 321C is a very complete monitor with more features than most of us will ever use. It’s simply put a monitor for the serious pro that demands “everything” from him/herself and also expect the gear to follow that trend. And the 321C can keep up…. it’s awesome.

Add to this that the 321C is verified by Calman (a professional calibration system that I also use) and it’s also Pantone validated and you just know this is not just talk or commercial mambojambo.

During the review I aimed at photographers but I do have to add that the 321C also support HDR10/HLG and supports the native 24/25P frames per second that is important to detect judder during editing.

HIGHLY recommended for pros, or hobbyists that are not satisfied with “it’s pretty accurate”

 

 

 

Insta360 R one first ideas and opinions

To be 100% clear….this camera was borrowed from our friends at Degreef & Partner. So I did not buy it myself (but there is a huge chance I will)

https://www.degreef-partner.nl/nl/insta360-camera.html

I love 360 cameras but have (so far) always been disappointed by the resolution. For social media it’s often good enough but I just love to be able to zoom in and experience the scene a bit more like I saw it in real life. Coupled with the 180 degrees cameras this means you need a lot of resolution. In the last few years I’ve tried several low cost solutions from Huawei and Samsung and to be fair for what they cost they are fun but also junk when you want to do video or use it for something else than social media. I’ve also tried the Ricoh solution (4k) and was much more impressed by that one to be honest, but still….. video not that well.

So when I heard about the new modulair Insta360R one I was very interested and asked for a review sample.
Now to be fair, this is NOT the review.
Just some first opinions.

The thing I really like about the insta360 approach is that you can switch over camera modules (or battery modules) and that way you can switch from 360 to a 1″ camera and a normal action cam. At the moment I don’t have a 1″ camera version so all my opinions are based on the normal action cam and the 360.

Photos are pretty impressive in 360 much better than what I tested before on the Ricoh (but that was 2 years ago)
Video is incredible with good light but don’t use the enhancements because you’ll see noise. Low light…. Needs improvement

Somethings I don’t like
Would love to be able to switch lenses without taking the battery off
Startup time could be faster
Low light performance is not that good, photos are great but video really suffers in low light, this will probably be miles better with the 1″ version so in all honesty if you have the option I would skip the normal action cam and go straight for the 1″ version if you (like me) use the camera mostly in darker areas, I hope I can test the 1″ also someday.

What I do like
App and software is just fricking awesome. Editing 360 is almost childsplay it’s so easy on both iOS and Android that you don’t even think you need the desktop app, until you install it, it’s very complete and includes a Premiere plugin (yeah) The thing I really like for video is the speed in which you can edit, in the app there is a sort of “go as you go” mode which means you just play the video and move the camera around and that creates the keyframes, you can also just add keyframes and switch from a normal camera look to a tiny planet and move around or twist, it’s pretty insane what you can do and how fast. I remember trying to this a while ago in Premiere and after an hour or so I got something decent and decided it just wasn’t worth all the effort, now it’s almost in real time, this is really awesome and just pushes your creativity to the max.

The app itself has loads and loads of settings for different situations like HDR, nightmode, burst etc etc. are found in the mobile apps so the camera will fit almost any purpose.

Image stabilization is spot on although not as good as the Osmo Pocket (which is to be expected seeing that one has a gimble, but that being said… it’s very impressive.

It’s a modulair system. Just let’s hope they keep adding modules instead of going to another modulair system. Which I think they probably won’t. Because this works really well

First ideas
I still have to test a lot more and have some ideas how to use this in a educational and BTS setup. Let’s just hope they don’t need it back soon.
It’s amazing to play with 360 images and videos and although it’s very gimmicky I just love the little planets, so for now I’m closing this first post with some tiny planets I shot this weekend in Disneyland Paris, it was terrible weather so I didn’t do what I wanted to do, but still I think you get a pretty good idea about the quality, now shoot in GOOD light conditions and you will be stunned I think. Let’s see in the next post which I will make after the workshop this weekend.