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.
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.
I promised I would re-visit some of my Picture Profile stuff. I thought I would start with this one as it is one of the least well understood settings. It’s effects are quite subtle, but it can mean the difference between a noisy picture and a clean image, but also between a sharp image and a soft image, in particular in areas of subtle detail or low contrast detail such as foliage, grass and textures.
Crispening is a part of the detail correction circuit. It does not in itself, as it’s name suggests (at least on an EX of F3) make the image “crisper”. What it does is control the contrast range over which the detail circuit operates. Basically it sets the threshold at which detail correction is applied to the image, which in turn can make the image look a little sharper or less sharp. The apparent sharpness itself is controlled by the Detail Level and Frequency controls.
Why is this useful? Well it allows the user to choose whether to opt for a cleaner looking image or a sharper looking image. An important consideration is that this adjustment does not change the actual resolution of the image or the noise level of the camera, but it does make subtle details in the image more or less enhanced and as noise is also a subtle, even if unwanted detail within the image it will also make noise more or less enhanced, thus more or less visible.
In the first illustration I have drawn an imaginary video waveform signal coming from the camera that contains a mixture of noise and both subtle and more obvious picture information. The bigger the up/down change in the waveform the more obvious the change in brightness (and thus contrast) on the monitor or TV would be. Throughout the image there is some noise. I have indicated the noise level for the camera with a pair of red lines. The EX1 and EX3 is a moderately noisy camera, not the worst, nor the best for an HD camera, but pretty good in it’s price range. So if we can do something to make the noise less obvious that would be desirable in many cases. Crispening can help us do that. Crispening ONLY has an effect when you are applying detail correction to the image. It sets the threshold at which detail correction is applied. The default setting on an EX is zero.
If we reduce the crispening setting, lets say to -60, it REDUCES the threshold at which detail is applied which generally makes the pictures look sharper. Looking at the second and third illustrations you can see how if you reduce the threshold too much then detail correction will be applied to even the most subtle changes in the image, including the image noise. The little black spikes I have added to the diagram illustrate the way the detail “enhancement” will be added to both noise and subtle contrast changes as well as larger contrast changes.
This will make the pictures look more noisy, but… and this is important… it will also help bring out subtle low contrast textures in foliage, skin, fabrics etc. A area where perhaps the EX1 and EX3 don’t do terribly well.
If you want a clean image however where noise is less visible, then raising the crispening level to a high positive value, lets say +60 will increase the threshold at which detail correction is added, so signal changes will need to be bigger before detail correction is applied.
With a high positive number the image will look cleaner and less noisy, but you will loose some enhancement in textures and low contrast areas as these will no longer have detail correction applied to them. This can lead to a slightly muddy or textureless look to tress, grass, skin and fabric.
The real problem areas are the subtle textures and low contrast areas (circled in orange) where the true image detail is barely above the noise level. It’s very difficult to bring these out without increasing the appearance of noise. Unfortunately there is no clear answer to how to set the crispening level as it will depend on what you are shooting and how much noise you can tolerate. I tend to have crisping set between +10 and +30 for most things as I do tend to do a fair amount of grading work on my footage. When you grade noise is often the limiting factor as to how far you can push the image, so I like to keep noise under control as much as possible. For green screen and chroma key work I push crispening up to +40 to +60 as this helps me get a cleaner key, especially around subtle edges and hair.
If I am shooting exteriors and scenics with lots of foliage, grass etc then I will sometimes go down to -30 as this helps bring out the subtle textures in the leaves and plants, but this can make noise a little more pronounced, so it’s a trade off. And that’s what Crispening is all about, trading off subtle textures and detail against more visible noise. Ultimately only you can make the choice as to which is more important, but the Crispening level control gives you that choice.
These are the picture profiles that I am currently tending to favour for the EX1, EX1R and EX3. Please remember that picture profiles are entirely subjective. These settings work for me, that doesn’t mean they are perfect or for everyone. I like the images the cameras produce when I use these profiles. Please feel free to adapt them or modify them any way you choose. They work on any of the current EX cameras.
Vivid – Designed to help match the EX to a PDW-700. Gives vivid colours with a small shift away from yellow.
Matrix – Cinema, Matrix Level +60
R-G +8, R-B +10, G-R 0, G-B +15, B-R +5, B-G +6
Detail Level -10 Frequency +20, Crispening -40 (if using gain use crispening +14)
Gamma Cinegamma 1
Black level -3, Black Gamma -35
Low Key Saturation -10
Natural C4 – Designed to give a neutral, natural looking image.
Matrix – Cinema, Matrix Level +35
Detail level -7, Frequency +30, Crispening -40 (if using gain use crispening +20)
Black Level -3, Low key Saturation -15
AC Punch – Gives a very high contrast, bold look.
Matric – Cinema, level +40
Gamma Standard 2, Knee level 80, Slope 0
R-G 0, R-B +1, G-R +12, G-B +2, B-R +11, B-G 0
Detail Level -10, Frequency +30, Crispening -45
Black Level -4, Black Gamma -20.
AC Good to Grade – a general purpose setup to give good grading possibilities.
Matrix – Cinema, Level +25
Gamma Cinegamma 1 (Do not use -3db gain)
Detail Level -7, Frequency +45, Crispening -45 (use +35 if using gain)
Black Level -3.
AC-SD Camera look. To mimic an older SD camcorder based on a DSR400, good for HD to SD conversion.
Matrix – Cinema, Level +15
Detail Level +20, Detail Frequency -35, White Limit +35, Black limit +45
Knee, Manual, Level 90, Slope 0.
Gamma Standard 2, Gamma Level +5
Black Gamma -10
Black Level -10
Enjoy! Any feedback or suggestions welcome. Let me know of any profiles that you come up with that may be of interest to others.
I’ve been working some more on picture profiles for the PMW-F3, mainly matrix settings. You can download the full set by clicking here: ac-profiles. Download the zip file, unzip and place the “Sony” folder in the root of an SxS card or SD card in an adapter. Place the card in the camera and go into the “picture profiles” menu and select a picture profile and then “ppdata” and “recall” to load the data into your camera. This will overwrite any PP’s you already have.
Here’s the latest settings I have:
ALL use Detail level -17, Frequency +20, Aperture +25 unless otherwise stated.
AC Warm1: Warm look, less blue/yellow
Cinegamma 1, Black Gamma -25, Black Level -2.
Matrix: Standard, level +8, R-G +14, R-B +12, G-R +4, G-B +8, B-R +4, B-G -18
AC Cool1: Stark cool look, maybe day for night.
Cinegamma 1, Black Gamma -25, Black Level -2.
Matrix: Standard, level +22, R-G -44, R-B -24, G-R -34, G-B =28, B-R -7, B-G -69
AC Elec1: Electronic, vivid look.
Gamma STD1, Black Gamma -20, black level -3, Detail Level -10, Frequency -40
NAT1CG-1: Neutral Look, natural colors, less yellow/green.
Cinegamma 1, Black Level -2
Matrix FL-Light, Level +3, R-G +2, R-B +2, G-R +8, G-B +8, B-R -8, B-G -6
Note that for most of these I have used a cinegamma, that is because I would assume that post work will be done on the footage. If your not planning on doing any grading or post work you should consider using a standard gamma which will give a richer looking image or cinegamma 2 which is broadcast safe.
OK here we go. Here are some notes from testing my PMW-F3. First thing is… aliasing… a zone plate looks pretty bad with a fair amount of aliasing. I had heard rumours of this from others with pre-production units, but in the field I had not seen anything that would worry me. While the zone plate is not pretty, real world aliasing looks acceptable. I usually use brickwork and roof tiles to test for moire and these look clean on my F3. I think a fine patterned shirt could cause concern and I need to look into this further. I am surprised that there is not more about this on the web!
Excessive detail correction does increase the aliasing, however turning detail and aperture off does not reduce the aliasing significantly. Keep the detail level below -15 to avoid increasing the strength of the aliases. Above -15 the aliasing artefacts are more noticeable. Detail “Off” appears to be the same as Detail -25. Below -25 the image softens, below -45 very noticeably and there are some strange increases in aliasing below -50. For the moment I will be using detail at -17 or off.
The aperture setting can be used to add a little sharpness to the image to compensate for not using detail or a low detail setting. Aperture does not increase the appearance of the aliasing artefacts as strongly as the detail correction. I like the added crispness I can get with Aperture set to +30 combined with detail at -17. I would strongly recommend against using a raised aperture setting if you have detail higher than -15 as this will add sharpness to any detail corrected aliases and lead to twittering edges on horizontal and vertical lines.
Colours have that usual Sony look. Not bad and pretty natural looking, but for me a little on the green side. For a more natural 1:1 look I quite like these Matrix settings:
R-G +10, R-B +4, G-R 0, G-B +14, B-R +3, B-G -3, Std Matrix.
For a more Canon like look with Rec-709 Matrix I came up with these:
R-G -2, R-B +9, G-R -11, G-B +2, B-R -16, B-G -10, Std Matrix, level +14, Blk Gamma -20
For use with Cinegamma 1 I use the above with Matrix Level +25, Blk Gamma -36. Highlights are a little washy, but as with any Cinegamma the best results are obtained by grading in post production.
Well winter is upon us. The north of the UK is seeing some pretty heavy snow fall and it’s due to spread south through the week. I regularly make trips to Norway and Iceland in the winter to shoot the Northern Lights (email me if you want to come) so I am used to shooting in the snow. It can be very difficult. Not only do you have to deal with the cold but also difficult exposure.
First off it’s vital to protect your equipment and investment from the cold weather. A good camera cover is essential, I use Kata covers on my cameras. If you don’t have a proper cover at the very least use a bin liner or other bag to wrap up your camera. If you have a sewing machine you could always use some fleece or waterproof material to make your own cover. If snow is actually falling, it will end up on your lens and probably melt. Most regular lens cloths just smear any water around the lens, leaving you with a blurred image. I find that the best cloth to use in wet conditions is a chamois (shammy) leather. Normally available in car accessory shops these are soft, absorbent leather cloths. Buy a large one, cut it into a couple of smaller pieces, then give it a good wash and you have a couple of excellent lens cloths that will work when wet and won’t damage your lens.
Exposing for snow is tricky. You want it to look bright, but you don’t want to overexpose. If your camera has zebras set them to 95 to 100%. This way you will get a zebra pattern on the snow as it starts to over expose. You also want your snow to look white, so do a manual white balance using clean snow as your white. Don’t however do this at dawn or near sunset as this will remove the orange light normally found at the ends of the day. In these cases it is best to use preset white set to around 5,600k. Don’t use cinegammas or hypergammas with bright snow scenes. They are OK for dull or overcast days, provided you do some grading in post, but on bright days because large areas of your snow scene will be up over 70 to 80% exposure you will end up with a very flat looking image as your snow will be in the compressed part of the exposure curve. You may want to consider using a little bit of negative black gamma to put a bit more contrast into the image.
If the sun is shining, yes I know this may not happen often in the UK, but if it is then the overall brightness of your scene may be very high. Remember to try to avoid stopping down your lens with the iris too far. With 1/3? sensor cameras you should aim to stay more open than f5.6, with 1/2? more than f8 and 2/3? more than f11. You may need to use the cameras built in ND filters or external ND filters to achieve this. Perhaps even a variable ND like the Genus ND Fader. You need to do this to avoid diffraction limiting, which softens the image if the iris is stopped down too much and is particulary noticeable with HD camcorders.
Finally at the end of your day of shooting remember that your camera will be cold. If you take it in to a warm environment (car, house, office) condensation will form both on the outside and on the inside. This moisture can damage the delicate electronics in a camcorder so leave the camera turned off until it has warmed up and ensure it is completely dry before packing it away. This is particularly important if you store your camera in any kind of waterproof case as moisture may remain trapped inside the case leading to long term damage. It is a good idea to keep sachets of silica gel in your camera case to absorb any such moisture. In the arctic and very cold environments the condensation may freeze covering the camera in ice and making it un-useable. In these extreme situations sometimes it is better to leave the camera in the cold rather than repeatedly warming it up and cooling it down.
Have fun, don’t get too cold, oh… and keep some chemical hand warmers handy to help stop the lens fogging and to keep your fingers from freezing.
PMW-350 Scene Files for Download
Click on the link above to download a set of my latest scene files. Un-zip and copy to the root of an SxS card, the in the file menu load the files.
These are mainly matrix tweeks. neut2 is one I like that gives rich primary colours while still reasonably true to life. Cine1 is a sudo filmic look Film1 is meant to emulate well saturated film stock DSC-1 is based on Chroma-Du-Monde chart for accurate daylight color Neut is my first matrix tweak for a less green look and warmer skin tones.
I decided to write a more detailed post to continue the discussions on scene file settings for the PMW-350. This is a work in progress. Some of this may also be of interest to other camera users as I hope to give a basic description of what all the various settings do.
First off let me say that there is no “right way” or “wrong way” to set up a scene file. What works for one person may not be to anothers taste, or suit different applications. For me, my requirements are a neutral look, not over corrected or too vivid, but retaining a pleasing contrast range. I hope, as this thread develops to explain a little bit about each of the settings and what they actually do in the hope that it will make it easy for you to adjust the scene files to suit your own needs. I hope others will jump in with their suggestions too!
So first of all I have been looking at the sharpness of the image. The principle settings that affect this are the Detail and Aperture settings.
Detail enhances rapid transitions from light to dark within the pictures by exaggerating the transition with the addition of a black or white edge. So it only really works on object outlines and larger details (low frequency). The circuitry that determines where these edges are uses an electronic delay to compare adjacent pixels to see whether they are brighter or darker compared to each other. Because of this any rapid movement within the frame stops the circuitry from working. If you have picture with a lot of detail correction and you do a pan for example the image will appear to go soft as soon as the camera moves as the detail circuitry can no longer determine where the edges within the image are and thus applies less detail correction. A good way to visually gauge how much detail a camera is applying to a clip is to look for this. With a good high resolution camera, set up well, it should not be all that obvious, but a low resolution camera that uses lots of detail correction to compensate will exhibit lots of softening on pans.
As well as adjusting the amount of detail correction (Detail Level), you can also adjust the ratio of horizontal and vertical correction, the maximum brightness or darkness of the applied edges (white and black limit). The thickness of the edges (frequency), the minimum contrast change that the correction will be applied to (crispening) and you can tell the camera not to apply detail correction to dark areas (level depend).
The other setting that effects picture sharpness is Aperture. Aperture correction is a high frequency boost circuit, it simply, in effect, enhances transitions from dark to light or light to dark in fine detail and textures such as fabrics, skin, hair, grass etc. It’s operation is not as obvious as “Detail” correction, but if overdone it can make textures sparkle with flashes of white or black, all very un-natural.
An important note about image detail is that if you have too much of it for the given image resolution then you get problems such as aliasing and moire which manifest themselves as rainbows of colour or buzzing, jittering areas in the picture. If you want to know more about this look up Nyquist theory. This is one of the reasons why downconverting HD to SD and getting a good picture can be harder than you might think as you are often starting out with too much detail (but that’s another topic on it’s own).
So… on to the PMW-350. Out of the box it’s really sharp. The camera has full 1920×1080 sensors, so even with all detail correction turned off the image is still pretty sharp. However most viewers are used to seeing picture with some detail correction, so if you turn it all off, to many it looks soft. If you were going for a really filmic look, detail off and aperture off would have to be a serious option. For my customers though a little bit of subtle “zing” seems to be what they like.
I found that these settings worked well for general all-round use.
Detail Level -14?H/V Ratio +20 (helps balance horizontal and vertical resolution)?Frequency +35 (makes the edges thinner, if your doing a lot of SD you may want to go the other way to -50 so that the edges can still be seen in SD)?White Limit +35 (limits brightness of white edges)?Black Limit +30 (limits darkness of black edges)
If you are doing a lot of grading and work with low key scenes (large dark areas) you can use the level depend and crispening settings to help prevent “detail” being added to any picture noise. This makes any noise less apparent.
A starting point for this would be:
Crispening +35?Level depend +20
For normal light levels these are not needed with the 350 IMHO. If you are shooting with more than +6db gain then raising the level depend to +60 will help with noise.
I have finally managed to get my hands on a production PMW-350. I am going to start dialing it in. The first thing to address for me is the over sharpened pictures, so I have been playing with the Paint settings aiming towards a natural, yet sharp look. I have come up with these detail setings. Everything is default except:
Detail Level -16?H/V Ratio +20?Detail Frequency +35?White limit +39?Black Limit +20?Aperture -30
This is still a work in progress.
Next I’m going to start looking at the Gamma curves and Knee. I have a nice Hamlet MicroFlex scope to help with this. Previously I have had to rely on my eye and then check the footage against the scopes in the edit suite, now I can see the waveforms on location. I’ll be writting up both the gamma settings and a microflex review in due course.
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- alisterchapman on 50 Megabits for the masses, the new Sony PMW-200.
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