I was looking back at all my old BTS pictures from Act of Valor with the old HP DreamColor display drilled to a Pelican case and said to myself, “Look how far we have come.” With the release of the new Z27x and the Z24x monitors, we should look at what makes these babies different from the old workhorse that served as my eyes into the DSLR color space for over five years.
As a side note, we are required by HP’s legal team to disclose that we have received compensation in the form of sponsor dollars related to this post/statement. Those sponsor dollars allow us to continue to offer this wonderful resource for FREE to filmmakers globally. Those of you who know me understand my gear choices are dictated by the particular story that I am filming. Now, back to my post.
“What is the Difference?”
Right off the bat, I saw a massive improvement in resolution and detail. The design of the monitor is much sleeker and offers some wonderful upgrades. This monitor resolution is 2560×1440, which will accept 2K as well as doing a 3840×2160 or 4096×2160, which can be displayed scale to fit or pixel-for-pixel with dynamic scroll. That is impressive. It delivers a true 10 BIT color reproduction, not these fake ones. If you look at any high-end post facility or color-grading house, DreamColors rule the roost. That alone is reason to be excited about their product.
A wide view angle at 178 degrees will keep your clients at video village seeing the right contrast and color because of this expanded view.
Gear Used for DreamColor Test
“Keep It Calibrated”
The old DreamColor did not need calibration for about 4000 hours if it stayed on your desktop. When used in the field it gets bumped around and needed calibration after about 250 hours. The process to color calibrate was very cumbersome. The new Z27x has a much more accurate 14 bit calibration engine in the monitor itself. It also has its own calibration tool, which can be used on set without a computer. This real-time immediacy is the way I like to roll out.
Integrated calibration engine for hostless calibration with the HP DreamColor Calibration Solution, Klein Instruments K10-A, Photo Research spectroradiometers, Konica Minolta CA-310, calibration with on-screen menus or XML scripting, and upload and download LUTs.
“On to the Exciting Part”
Everything comes down to Color Space with all these new flat profiles like C log, Log C and BMCC RAW. You name it, there is a flat profile to give you increased latitude to experiment in post. A monitor that can generate the color space that all post production houses use to grade your footage is so important. The old DreamColor could not access these color space engines with the HDMI. It required a DVI connection and a full HD signal, which meant you were judging your color and contrast and your exposure on a full gamut, which resulted in many subtle levels in the shadows and highlights being lost. Now the new Z27x has five established colors, so you can light with and judge color and contrast. It comes loaded with:
• BT.2020 (CIE1976)
“Smart Keys for Short Cuts”
Four user definable function keys on the front of the monitor that you can program allow you to avoid the use of sub-menus. A touch of a button gives you the functionality you need. You can change the color of the function keys, white or red, and adjust their brightness. These buttons can also adjust brightness down to a full fade, which I thought was very cool. All these functions increase speed.
“The New Ports”
It has two HP DreamColor USB ports for connecting calibration and flash drive measurement instruments that enable customized calibration or firmware updates. These ports are located on the side of the monitor for easy access so that you do not have to flip the monitor upside down to get your cables connected. It also has a self-powered USB 3.0 Hub.
With all these new OLEDs and new HD wireless systems, frame delay has become a huge factor. You have a very shallow depth of field with HD, and assistants are using monitors to focus. The response time on this monitor is 7ms, which is amazing.
Your monitor is your eyes into all of these new exciting sensors. Picking the right one can be a daunting task. This one is tried and true.