IMPORTANT PLEASE ENSURE YOU USE THE REVISED SETTINGS UPDATED ON 24th JULY.
After my recent side by side look at the F3 and FS700 and seeing how different the two cameras look, I decided to try to match them a bit better. There will be many shoots where I will use them both together so getting them to look the same is important. I thought this would be a relatively straight forward task, simply dial in the FS700 to match the F3.
Well it wasn’t simple and it ended up taking me several hours to get to the point where I couldn’t get them any closer. The main issues are that the F3, like most of the XDCAM cameras has a yellow colour cast that’s hard to completely remove and the FS700 has quite a blue image and only very limited matrix controls. Initially I started to try to match the FS700 to a standard F3. While I could get the FS700 closer to the F3, I just couldn’t get a near match let alone a complete match. So back to the drawing board.
For my second attempt I decided first to work on getting rid of the yellow/orange cast to the F3 pictures by adjusting the F3′s matrix, at the same time creating a neutral look picture profile with good dynamic range, but one that could be used without grading. This took some extensive matrix tweaks. You will find the full details of my new “STD-REAL” picture profile in the forum by clicking here.
So once I had a neutral starting point on the F3 I then turned to the FS700 which I think is very blue. The matrix settings on the FS700 are quite limited so I wasn’t able to get an exact match to the F3, however the setting I came up with get them close enough for most jobs, it’s not perfect but it will do. I’m quite happy with my new FS700 settings and I think with this profile it produces a very nice image. You can find the full profile settings in the forum by clicking here. Remember you need to use the matching F3 profile in the F3 for the best match. If you want the maximum dynamic range then instead of Cinegamma 1 you should use Cinegamma 4 with the black gamma set to zero. My STD REAL profile for the FS700 is closer to a standard F3 than the default FS700 settings.
Great news. I have managed to create a set of .lut files from the standard MLUT’s included with the PMW-F3. These new files work with most LUT enabled software, like LUT Buddy, Colorista, Resolve etc. The standard Sony files don’t work so I had to create these which should be 100% matches with the F3′s included LUT’s. I have created both 8 bit and 10 bit LUT’s, so those experimenting with 8 bit S-Log files or using 8 bit edit software can try them out as well. You’ll find the files in the forum:
You will need to be a registered forum user to access the files, but registration is free.
My opinion is that while 8 bit, 422 can be used for S-Log, it is not something I would recommend. I’d rather use a cinegamma with 8 bit recording. 10 bit 422 S-log is another matter altogether, this is well worth using and works very well indeed. It’s not so much whether you use 444, 422 or maybe even 420, but the number of bits that you use to record your output.
What you have to consider is this. With 8 bit, you have 240 shades of grey from black to super white. of the 256 bits available, 16 are used for sync, white is at 235 and super white 256 so black to 100% white is only 219. With Rec-709, standard gamma, on an F3 you get about an 8 stop range, so each stop of exposure has about 30 shades of grey. When you go to S-Log, you now have around 13 stops of DR, so now each stop only has 18 shades of grey. Potentially using 8 bit for S-Log, before you even start to grade, your image will be seriously degraded if you have any flat or near flat surfaces like walls or the sky in your scene.
Now think about how you expose S-Log. Mid grey sits at 38% when you shoot. If you then grade this to Rec-709 for display on a normal TV then you are going to stretch the lower end of your image by approx 30%, so when you stretch you 18 steps of S-Log grey to get to Rec-709 you then end up with the equivalent of only around 12 shades of grey for each stop, that’s less than half of what you would have if you had originally shot using Rec-709. I’m sure most of us have at some point seen banding on walls or the sky with standard gammas and 8 bit, just imagine what might happen if you effectively halve the number of grey shades you have.
By way of a contrast, just consider that 10 bit has 956 grey shades from black to super white. the first 64 bits are used for sync and other data, 100% white is bit 940 and super white 1019. So when shooting S-Log using 10 bit you have about 73 grey shades per stop, a four fold improvement over 8 bit S-Log so even after shooting S-Log and grading to Rec-709 there are still almost twice as many grey shades than if you had originally shot at 8 bit Rec-709.
This is a bit of an over simplification as during the grading process, if your workflow is fully optimised you would be grading from 8 bit to 10 bit and there are ways of taking your original 8 bit master and extrapolating additional grey shades from that signal through smoothing or other calculations. But the reality is that 8 bits for a 13 stop dynamic range is really not enough.
The whole reason for S-Log is to give us a way to take the 14ish stop range of a typical linear 12 bit camera sensor and squeeze as much of that signal as possible into a signal that remains useable and will pass through existing editing and post production workflows without the need for extensive processing such as de-bayering or RAW conversion. So our signal which starts at 12 bits has already been heavily processed to get it from 12 bits to 10. Going from 10 bit down to 8 is a step too far IMHO.
Just a quick note from NAB that firmware version 1.4 for the PMW-F3 will include S-Log as a selectable gamma curve within the picture profiles. This will be a free update, due out some time before the end of June (it’s in beta now, the F3′s at NAB have it installed). S-Log will function in all F3′s whether you have the CBK-RGB option or not. However if you don’t have the RGB option you will not get any Look Up Tables, no EI-Slog and no 4:4:4 output, only 4:2:2.
This is a fantastic addition and by having S-Log as a gamma curve within the picture profiles you will be able to tailor many of the setting such as white balance, matrix and detail to suit the shooting condition.
I’ve been testing and evaluating my new C300 today. Of course being the owner of a PMW-F3 I was more than a little curious to see how the two compared, so the obvious thing to do was some side by side shots. making use of one of my Hurricane Rig 3D rigs, I mounted the C300 and F3 side by side so I could grab the footage at almost exactly the same time, so the scene would be the same. In addition I used a Transvideo 3D monitor with both cameras fed into it so that I could use the 3D waveform monitor, which shows both inputs overlaid at the same time. I used this to match the exposure as accurately as possible. At the bottom of the post you’ll find a link to the raw clips, straight from the cameras.
Both cameras were fitted with matched Tokina 28-70mm AT-X Pro zooms. Doing 3D really helps for this kind of test as I have matched pairs of lenses etc. So exposure and focal lengths match. Notice how the C300 gives a slightly wider FoV compared to the F3. This means the C300′s sensor is bigger than the F3′s which makes it a fair bit bigger than the APS-C sensors used in the Canon 7D, 550D DSLR’s etc, so you are going to have to watch out for vignetting with cheaper EF-S fit lenses.
If you click on the images you will be able to see a full size, full resolution version, however these are jpegs so there may be additional compression artefacts.
C-Log and S-Log have similar, but different gamma curves, they are clearly not the same, the F3 has a bit more compression above 50% than the C300. Not sure what this will mean in reality yet, it may be that the F3 has a tiny bit of extra headroom. I deliberately overexposed both cameras by the same amount for one shot and the F3 just appears to hang on to the highlights just the tiniest bit better. This is NOT a very scientific test as I am not exploring the full dynamic range of either camera and you can’t really ignore shadow and low key performance when evaluating dynamic range, but initial indications are that the F3 does have marginally better DR.
Next I looked at the stock, out of the box images from both cameras. So no picture profiles or any other settings. This is how both cameras look straight from the factory:
The colorimetry is interesting. I prefer the Canon look, it just looks nicer than the Sony look. BUT, I think the reality is that the Sony look is more accurate and true to life. So which is better? I don’t think one is better than the other, it really depends on your own personal preference. Both cameras have highly tweak-able matrices so you can create your own look (which is something I will be doing). In this simple test the C300 appears to hold on to highlights a little better than the F3. I guess that Canon have optimised the knee a little better. Both images are sharp and crisp, showing good resolution. I think the C300 is a little over sharpened, but that will be easy to reduce through a custom profile.
Now with all the talk of noise and sensitivity I did do a quick comparison at 3200 ISO, which is the highest you can go with a stock F3 (S-Log F3 can go to 6400).
Now, you really need to look at these frames full size to appreciate the added noise or better still download the clips. Compare the 3200ISO images with the 400 ISO images and look at the concrete road. You can clearly see the extra noise from both cameras. My visual assessment is that the noise levels are similar, but that the C300 noise has a much finer structure than the F3. The finer noise looks more filmic to me, so I think I prefer the C300, but it’s not a deal breaker either way. I did take a peak at the noise at 20,000 ISO last night and there is a heck of a lot of it. It would have to be something pretty special to make me want to use more than 3200 ISO.
So, I’m liking the C300 a lot. It’s compact, well built and nice to hold. I find it hard to really distinguish the in camera recordings from the C300 and from the F3, but the C300 has that magic 50Mb/s codec that the BBC and others insist on. So for Grab and go the C300 makes a huge amount of sense. Indications are that the F3 may still have an edge in terms of ultimate latitude and I would expect the 10 bit output from the F3 to allowed harder and more intensive grading of the footage. But, that then means an external recorder with wires, batteries and other stuff. All that “stuff” is fine in a studio or drama shoot, but not so hot chasing tornadoes or similar. So far , this is exactly what I was expecting. The C300 will be a great grab and go camera, a very capable drama and documentary camera, but the F3 will still be my choice when I am doing high end drama or studio work. I’m fortunate enough to be able to afford both, I really like both, but for different reasons.
More tests will follow, in particular grading C-Log and S-log, 8 bit and 10 bit as well as low light performance. In addition I will be testing the C300 with a NanoFlash at higher bit rates to see how much of difference that can make. After that it will be time to create some picture profiles, in particular profiles to get the F3 and C300 closer together as I’m sure I will have projects that will use both.
Below is a link to download the original clips from the cameras. There are 4 clips from each, the total download size is about 400MB, so…….
Below is the link to download the original clips. IF YOU FIND THIS USEFUL IN ANY WAY please make a small donation to help cover my bandwidth and hosting costs. You are free to re-distribute the clips provided a link or acknowledgement of where they came from is included.
There are no big surprises in the results.
Download C300 and F3 Clips
Canon C300 and Sony F3 Raw Clips.
I’m up, 200 miles North of the Arctic Circle shooting the Northern Lights with a mixture of DSLR’s and one of my PMW-F3′s. The F3′s performance has really taken me by surprise as it’s possible to capture even a very faint Aurora just using the 8 frame slow shutter. Hopefully we’ll get a nice clear night and a decent Aurora and then I can turn off the slow shutter altogether. Either way, this is the first time I have been able to shoot the Aurora with out needing to resort to time-lapse.
The below clip is Timelapse as it does show the motion of the Aurora better. Shot with my F3 using the 8 frame SLS and 18db gain.
The latest version of the firmware for the PMW F3 is now available to download from the Sony Canada web site: http://support.sonybiz.ca/esupport/init.do
The key feature of this update is the ability to now output clean 4:2:2 S-Log from the “A” HDSDi port while outputting S-Log + LUT etc from the Sdi out. Of course you still need the S-Log option to be able to do this. There are also some extra 3D-Link features and support for the new Sony wide angle PL mount lens.
I’ve added a new section in the xdcam-user.com forum for listing details of my various picture profiles. You will need to be a registered forum member to view or comment, but registration is free. I hope to add many profiles to this forum over the coming weeks for many of the XDCAM cameras as well as the new Canon C300 once I start to get that dialled in. I’ve started with my EX S-Log style gamma curve.
Last night was a big deal. 12 PMW-F3′s shooting the legendary pop band Duran Duran. Back in the 80′s DD were one of the first bands to embrace the video age with ground breaking, big budget films to accompany their top 10 singles that were very different to anything done before. I have to admit I was and still am a big fan. Back in April, I had a discussion with my good friend Den Lennie about possibly shooting a Duran Duran concert with F3′s. That led to a trip to Berlin in May to shoot the band at a small concert, however, lead Singer Simon LeBon had vocal problems and the entire tour got postponed at the last minute.
We were fully rigged at the venue, ready to go when we got the last minute call that it was off. This was very disappointing. Despite a second attempt to stage the show, it never went ahead and that was about the last I heard.
Being a Duran fan, I went to see them in concert at Birmingham about 2 weeks ago. It was a fantastic gig and the whole family had a great night out. As I watched the amazing light show, I thought to myself that it was a great shame that this was not being recorded.
Then almost out of the blue I get a phone call from Den Lennie and James Tonkin of Hangman Studios. The question was… Did I think we could shoot a Duran Duran concert with just 7 days to prepare? Of course I said yes and having seen the show, I recommended that we should try to make it happen. So James and Den got together with Director Gavin Elder who has been working with Duran Duran since 2003 and the magic started to happen. Just 48 hours latter I got a message from Den to say we were on! My task was to look after most of the technical aspects of the shoot, things like camera settings, picture profiles etc.
Now, I could tell you all about the tech issues that we discovered during the recce we did when we went to a gig at the O2 arena in London, but sadly you’ll have to wait. Den, James, Gavin and myself will be doing a full write up of how we made the choices we made and some of the many challenges that a concert shoot with super 35mm cameras throw up. I can tell you, it’s not as easy as a traditional OB, not in any way. But when you start pairing up Sony F3′s with 1000mm, yes 1m, lenses, beautiful Arri Alura 18-80mm and Optimo 24-290mm lenses, shooting an incredibly dynamic light show at a massive sell-out arena concert, I think you can see why this project was so exciting!
Everyone pulled out all the stops. Changes were made to the gig lighting and I created a picture profile to match. Audio was worked to perfection and the band put a massive amount of extra energy into the performance with the end result of an electrifying atmosphere and from what I’ve seen so far, jaw dropping images. This is one of those incredibly rewarding projects that I’ll remember for a long, long time.
Den and James did an incredible job organising kit lists, camera plans and crew lists. I’m sure they will tell their own story in due course.
It’s interesting to note that as DoP, Den’s main role was an organisational role and this is something often forgotten, a Director of Photography is not just a cinematographer, but also an organiser, arranger, overseer of the cinematography. I think the term DoP is often miss-used these days often simply being used as a fancy term for cinematographer or camera operator. A true DoP does not shoot, the camera operator does that. The DoP, directs the camera operators and directs the lighting crew to produce images to his or her satisfaction.
The final Duran Duran film is going to be distributed many ways, some of which I’m really excited about, but I can’t say more at this time. I hope you will all get a chance to see it. At this stage it is still to be edited, graded etc. James and Gavin will be working hard overseeing that stage of the production.
My role.. camera setup, creating a custom picture profile, helping on lens and kit choices, on site tech support and then operating one of the two PMW-F3′s using a B4 to s35mm adapter along with big ENG zooms. I used one of the MTF B4 to s35 adapters that I designed along with a Canon 10 to 400mm zoom. When you add the 2.5x magnification factor of the adapter system that equates to a 25mm to 1000mm zoom. My role was to shoot the close ups of lead singer Simon LeBon from the Front of House area, 160ft from the stage. With such a long lens the DoF was tiny and the shoot was hard work, but incredibly rewarding.
I promise that there will be a much more in depth write up in the future from Den, James and myself covering all aspects of the project as well as a full behind the scenes video (we had a crew shooting BTH footage). Watch this space!
Note: There is something up with the frame grabs. For some reason they are very dark. I’ll look into this in the morning and get some more accurate grabs online.
First of all let me say thanks to Ben Allan on CML list for getting me thinking about this. He has already started experimenting with creating a log style Picture Profile for the EX1. All the setting you’ll find here are my own work and based on tests done with real scenes and some dodgy home made latitude test charts
Ben’s musings on CML made me consider what S-Log is. In essence it is nothing more than a clever gamma curve that allows you to capture a greater dynamic range than is normally possible with conventional gamma curves. The reason why the standard gamma dynamic range is normally constrained is in part simply because if you record too large a dynamic range and then show it on a conventional monitor or TV, it simply does not look right. So to make it look right it must be graded in post production. In order to do a significant grade in post, the quality of the recording has to be good enough to withstand a fair bit of pulling and pushing. As a result 10 bit recording is recommended (however it is still possible to work with lot with top quality low noise 8 bit recordings, not that I would recommend this). Anyway as both the standard PMW-F3 and EX1/EX3 have 10 bit outputs I decided to see if it was possible to come up with a picture profile that would mimic a Log curve and then see if it actually brings any real world advantage.
First up I experimented with the F3. I already have the S-Log option, so this gave me a benchmark to work against. To mimic S-Log you need to increase the gamma gain at the lower end of the curve, you can do this with the Black Gamma function. I know that with S-Log the cameras native ISO is 800 as this is the sensitivity at which maximum dynamic range can be realised with the F3′s sensor. So I started my experiments at 800iso. I could bring up the shadow detail with the Black Gamma but I notice that I appeared to be trading off some highlight handling for shadow information, so while the images kind of looked like S-Log, they did not really gain any latitude.
During this process I realised that my mid range sensitivity was now a lot higher than with genuine S-Log, so I decreased the camera gain so I was now at 400iso and started tweaking again. Now with Black Gamma all the way up at +99 I was seeing around 1 stop further into the shadows, with no impact on highlight handling.
When I tested my new Picture Profile on a real scene, exposing as you would S-Log with mid grey at 38% I was very pleased to find some very similar images that do grade quite well. As well as the Gamma tweaks I also incorporated a few other changes into the profile to increase the overall grade-ability.
There is a definite improvement in shadow reproduction. It’s not as good as real S-Log, but it does give a very useful improvement for those without S-Log. One interesting point is that the exposure between the two log frame grabs posted here is not changed, so even though the camera is set at 400iso, when the picture profile is applied the camera behaves more like an 800iso camera and exposure should be set accordingly. I think my PP (which you can download at the bottom of the page) brings a little under a one stop improvement in DR, real S-Log is about 2 stops.
If you click on the image captures you can view them full frame. When you compare the AC-Log and Cinegamma 4 images you should be able to see more shadow detail in the tree on the right of frame with the AC-Log yet the sky is further from clipping as well.
So what about the EX1 and EX3, can the same be done for them? Well this is much more of a challenge as the EX cameras are much noisier. Simply bringing up the Black Gamma does help you see into the shadows a bit better but it comes at the cost of a lot of extra noise and really makes it un gradable. Normally I don’t recommend using negative gain as it can reduce the dynamic range of the camera. But I figured if I use negative gain and then increase the gamma gain that should cancel out any dynamic range loss. To then avoid the usual -3db reduction in highlight performance I adjusted the overall gamma gain to return the peak output level to 109IRE. After a bit of fiddling around with my test charts and waveform monitors I could see that it was possible to gain a small amount of dynamic range, a little under 1 stop, however there is an overall increase in the noise level of about +4db. Now that doesn’t sound too terrible, but to gain the extra stop of DR you have to under expose compared to standard gamma’s, typically with S-Log you would put mid grey at 38% (use the centre spot meter on the EX1/EX3 and a grey card). This works reasonable well with this fake log picture profile. The problem however is that when grading you may find that you have to add still further gain to bring skin tones to a normal level and this will accentuate the noise. You could use something like the Neat Video plugging to reduce the noise and in this case I think this sudo Log picture profile could be handy in tricky lighting situations. The EX1R Log picture profile, to work correctly MUST be used in conjunction with -3db gain, any other gain setting and you will loose dynamic range. Again like real S-Log, 10 bit external recording is desirable, but why not play with the picture profile and try it for yourself. It is a bit experimental, I’m not convinced that the extra stop of DR is worth the noise penalty on the EX1R, but then I’m spoilt as I have an S-Log F3.
I have uploaded both the F3 and EX1R picture profiles into a single zip file that you can download below. You will need to have an account on xdcam-user.com to download them, or register for a new account first. Un-zip the package and copy the SONY folder to the root of an SxS card, so you should have both a BPAV folder and a SONY folder in the root directory. The cameras will need the latest firmware versions to load the single profile directly. In the Picture Profile menu choose an empty PP and then in the bottom PP menu chose “load”.
Download F3 and EX1R Log Picture Profiles
F3 and EX1R Log like profiles
Most Recent Posts
- Super Slow Motion 480fps Lightning.
- The Grand Canyon, shot with an FS700.
- Canon Launches new C100 AVCHD s35mm camcorder.
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- alisterchapman on 50 Megabits for the masses, the new Sony PMW-200.
- alisterchapman on The Grand Canyon, shot with an FS700.
- alisterchapman on Alphatron EVF-035W Video Review.
- alisterchapman on Uncompressed 240 fps possible with FS700 and Convergent Design Gemini. Tested!
- alisterchapman on Adaptimax Lens Mount Adapters for PMW-F3, Canon and Nikon.