Lately I’ve been asking myself why do I always shoot in log mode? Yes more dynamic range is nice but in low contrast situations is it really necessary? So I decided to go for a more baked in look with the original Sony a7s for situations that don’t need to be so flat and makes post work longer. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy color grading a lot but if I can get a nice image without shooting LOG this might be beneficial. The a7s with Slog has a green cast to it that requires even more work in post.
I wrote about a new profile I liked using that is accurate for color but not so flat and here is the results of this look in a promo I just finished shooting and editing with the original Sony a7s. The first anchor in the video was shot with the new A7s II in 4K with a diffrent profile I’m working on. More on that soon but on the a7s II I like CINE 3 and the Still color profile. Yep “still”. It’s the most accurate profile for color I found so far.
The image was easy to grade. The blacks are lifted a little so that gave me the option to see in the shadows more or darken them up. CINE Gammas are very good for this. CINE 1 is flatter than CINE 3. They kind of get more contrasty as you go up to CINE 4.
Here is the breakdown of the Gamma settings for the Sony a7s II. It has a few new ones.
|Movie||Standard gamma curve for video|
|Still||Standard gamma curve for still images|
|Cine1||Softens the contrast in darker image areas and emphasizes gradation changes in lighter image areas, producing a subdued tone overall (equivalent to HG4609G33)Gamma curve that obtains a dynamic range of 460% when the exposure is adjusted to 33% video output with 18% reflectance gray. The maximum value of video output is 109%.Images shot with this gamma can be used without grading, but since the images have smooth gradation characteristics, this can be used to grade and finalize the viewed image in the post-production process.|
|Cine2||Similar results to [Cine1] but optimized for editing with up to 100% video signal (equivalent to HG4600G30)Gamma curve that obtains a dynamic range of 460% when the exposure is adjusted to 30% video output with 18% reflectance gray. The maximum value of video output is 100%.|
|Cine3||Stronger contrast between dark and light image areas and greater emphasis on black gradation changes (compared to [Cine1] and [Cine2])|
|Cine4||Stronger contrast than [Cine3] in darker image areas|
|ITU709||ITU709 gamma curve (low-light gain of 4.5)|
|ITU709 (800%)||Gamma curve for checking scenes recorded using [S-Log2] or [S-Log3]|
|S-Log2||[S-Log2] gamma curve. This setting is selected when some grading work will be performed after recording.The exposure is set so that 18% reflectance gray video is output as 32%. Under these conditions, a dynamic range of 1,300% is obtained with 90% reflectance white.|
|S-Log3||[S-Log3] gamma curve with characteristics closer to those of film. This setting is selected when some grading work will be performed after recording.It allows for better reproduction of gradations in shadows and the mid-tone range than S-Log2.The exposure is set so that 18% reflectance gray video is output as 41%. Under these conditions, a dynamic range of 1,300% is obtained with 90% reflectance white.
|Movie||Color tones for [Movie] gamma curve (standard color reproduction for movies when Picture Profile is not used)|
|Still||Color tones for [Still] gamma curve (standard color reproduction for still images when Picture Profile is not used)|
|Cinema||Color tones for [Cine1] and [Cine2] gamma curve|
|Pro||Color tones similar to standard Sony broadcast camera image quality (used in combination with [ITU709] gamma curve)|
|ITU709 Matrix||ITU709 color tones (used in combination with [ITU709] gamma curve)|
|Black & White||Sets the saturation to 0 for recording in black and white|
|S-Gamut||Setting based on the assumption that some grading work will be performed after recording. Used when [Gamma] is set to [S-Log2].|
|S-Gamut3.Cine||Setting based on the assumption that some grading work will be performed after recording. Used when [Gamma] is set to [S-Log3].
|S-Gammut3||Setting based on the assumption that some grading work will be performed after recording. Used when [Gamma] is set to [S-Log3].
Making things simple has other advantages other than post. I can see the image in my monitor without using a LUT making it easier to focus and just getting a better feel if what I’m actually shooting is color accurate. Most issues with color happen with a bad white balance so I recommend nailing it from the get go. Shoot a chart like the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport as a safety. These come in handy big time.
Another thing about shooting LOG that can be problematic is the 8bit 4:2:0 thingy. Slog is very flat. You have to either use a LUT or grade from scratch and you need to know how or it will take forever. LUTS are great but use the wrong one and again. Trouble and time lose. Every time you move saturation up or change color balance you are degrading the image and adding noise. Yep and that 8bit 4:2:0 codec can only take so much until it breaks. It might look good now but when you go to compress it for the web the image could and probably will break and noise and banding are now apart of the video. Ugh! Capturing the color balance and exposure right from the start will help. Leaving some room for editing or grading is a great idea. Don’t crush the blacks because if you do then you cant get them back. Lift the shadows to much and it get noisy. Leave some room and you can decide to bring the shadows down without making it really hard to balance.
So next time ask yourself. Do I need to shoot this in LOG? Maybe the answer is no and in a lot of cases the difference wont be noticed in the finale edit and you just saved yourself a lot of work in post.
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