FieldMonitor 4.5: more Sonys, focus assist

My iOS app now controls the A7Riii and A9, and helps you focus the darned things.

I’ve been busy enhancing FieldMonitor, my iOS app for wireless camera monitoring and control, and I haven’t come up for air much (aside from reviewing the EVA1). With version 4.5 fresh out the door I thought I’d give a brief overview of what’s been added recently.

Better Sony Compatibility

Basic Sony control was added in version 4.0, meaning Sonys running “Smart Remote Control”. Version 4.5 now talks to cameras running “Smart Remote Embedded”, too. More importantly, it communicates with integrated remote Sonys, those with a “Ctrl w/ Smartphone” menu instead of an Application List.

Four Sony mirrorless cameras
Four different Sonys. All now work with FieldMonitor. What would we ever do without LensRentals.com?

Unlike “Smart Remote” cameras, integrated remote Sonys allow Picture Profiles in remote mode, so you can shoot in S-Log or Hybrid Log Gamma when the camera has those options.  If you have one of those cameras, such as an A7Riii, A99ii, or A9, FieldMonitor now lets you adjust it and trigger recording hands-free.

Focus Assist

The biggest single problem with any Wi-Fi remote is the low-resolution images sent from the cameras. Panasonics top out at 640×360; Sonys can go to 1024×576, but only at the expense of frame rate and latency. Wi-Fi is a thin pipe, and there are only so many pixels you can push through it in a timely manner.

FieldMonitor 4.3 added two focus assist functions, a traditional analog peaking assist and a more aggressive edge mode:

FieldMonitor, normal view
FieldMonitor, normal view (the “PEAK off” button controls the GH5’s peaking, not FieldMonitor’s)
FieldMonitor, peaking assist
FieldMonitor, peaking assist
FieldMonitor, Edge Mode assist
FieldMonitor, Edge Mode assist

You can tweak either one to get just the right amount of assist—none of this low/medium/high nonsense we’re stuck with in most digital peaking systems (not that I have an opinion, mind you). Normal peaking works pretty well most of the time, while Edge Mode is an extreme option for difficult situations.

(Despite the low-res source images, using focus assist I’ve been able to see when focus is on a subject’s left eye instead of the right eye, or vice versa. But I would say that, wouldn’t I? Better to wait for an independent review.)

One side effect of focus assist is that it shows off every defect in the highly-compressed images sent over Wi-Fi. You’ll see macroblock boundaries, color posterization, and edge artifacts galore. Sometimes it’s artifacts suddenly leaping into view that let you know when you’re focused. Other times, it’s just a handy reminder that compression not visible at first glance can play havoc with downstream processing.

Etc.

A shout-out to LensRentals.com, which provided an A99ii with lens and an A7Riii body for testing (in return for money, of course). Within three minutes of placing the rental order, I received a phone call from LR’s Jasmine. She wanted to confirm that I really intended to order two cameras with incompatible mounts before she packed the order. A lesser organization would have shipped the two cams, no questions asked. Huzzah, then, for LensRentals.com!

I’ve replaced the literal-but-boring icon with a new one based on a photograph. (I took the photographic approach as my Affinity Designer skills are, erm, still somewhat rudimentary.)  I shot a Veydra 85mm T2.2, set to T5.6 to get some iris in the picture, using a GH5 with a 35–100mm f/2.8 at 100mm and f/22.

The studio setup, with the finished icon at upper right.

And yes, of course I used FieldMonitor to tweak camera settings and fire the shutter for the second-long exposure. I eat my own dog food.

FieldMonitor 4.5 is on the iOS App Store now. It controls Panasonics and Sonys, monitors Teradeks, and has ‘scopes and markers and anamorphic desqueeze and LUTs and stuff. More details here.

What’s next? I’m starting the long process of developing an Android version, and pursuing opportunities for talking to other brands of cameras. Stay tuned…

Disclosure: FieldMonitor is my app. If you buy it, I get paid. I don’t know if I can be any clearer than that.


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PVC Staff

Adam Wilt has been working off and on in film and video for the past thirty years, while paying the bills writing software for animation, automation, broadcast graphics, and real-time control for companies including Abekas, Pinnacle, Omneon, CBS, and ABC. Since 1997 his website, adamwilt.com, has been a popular reference for information on the DV formats. He reviewed cameras for DV Magazine and started its “Technical Difficulties” column, and taught classes and led panels at NAB, IBC, and DV Expo. He co-authored the book, “Optimizing Your Final Cut Pro System”, part of the Apple Pro Training series. He currently writes for ProVideoCoalition.com and DVInfo.net, and creates iPhone apps like Cine Meter II and FieldMonitor.

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5 Comments on "FieldMonitor 4.5: more Sonys, focus assist"

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Ted Vandell
Ted Vandell

I’m sold. Just need an Android version of this app.

Scott Simmons

Adam, there is a Sony A6300 in the picture… will it also work with my A6500? I have no idea of the difference except that the A6500 is two-hundred Sony-alpha-camera-units more!