Working with a Viewfinder: Color Versus Black and White

The image your audience sees on screen will most likely appear at a substantially larger size than the image you see in a field monitor, and will definitely appear larger than what you see in the viewfinder. Imperfections become more visible in larger images, so while you might not notice soft focus in the viewfinder, it can be really obvious to someone watching your work on a large screen. Viewfinder images with greater contrast make it easier to spot focus mistakes, and black and white viewfinder images generally contain more contrast than color images. So, although black and white may seem really low tech and less attractive, using a black and white viewfinder might help you make a better movie.

Note

For a truly detailed explanation of depth of field, including charts that calculate depth of field in various lighting conditions, take a look at the American Cinematographer Manual. This book provides industrial strength information on a variety of very specific technical issues, and was recently updated (the 9th edition was released in November of 2004).

Depending on lighting conditions, parts of your shot may be in focus while others aren’t. For example, a person close to the camera might be in focus but the pictures on the wall behind them might not. This is referred to as depth of field, and skilled cinematographers can use it to draw the audience’s attention from one part of the frame to another. Cinematographers can also ...

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