Picture profiles on the Sony NEX-FS100

7
Mar
2012

 

PHILIP BLOOM:

The Sony NEX-FS100 is a powerful camera. Amazing image, great price. I am not a fan of the design as I find it awkward as hell but you get used to it! It’s damn fiddly to operate but everytime I use it I am wowed by the image and that is the most important thing. 

I have asked FS100 owner James Miller, who assists me on many shoots and is also a great cameraman in his own right to take a look at picture profiles for the camera. I used the Frank Glencairn one one my last FS100 shoot and was very pleased with the results. Richard Crook from Crooked Path Films has recently come up with his own. James Looks at both of these and after that Richard Crook himself explains how he created his profile and why below.

JAMES MILLER:

I imagine that in the coming months camera manufactures will be shipping all cameras with a Log profile or at least a pseudo version of one. Until that time we will have to settle with our own attempts to manipulate the profiles as best as we can. In this blog I am reviewing a small selection of some of these profiles.

Disclaimer:

The images in this post are not scientific, but I have tried to control the shot across the profiles so the conditions are the same. Please don’t rely on one of these profiles for a paying job, test out before committing and be aware you may need to hold different profile creations for different scenarios.

Whats wrong with the built in ‘off’ default profile?

Nothing is inherently wrong, technically the camera is set up to try and give you a balanced image across the board. But there is something aesthetically missing from this. It’s plasticky looking, artificial, video like. It wasn’t that long ago that we were all trying to make our DV videos look like film, and customising the profile is one way to get as far away as possible from the video look and at the same time maximising on the available latitude the camera can render

Of course these days folk around here like to colourise, grade, balance their footage wether it be to match another camera setup or to bring a feeling or a certain look into the shot.

What flat profiles are out there? 

There are a few profiles for the FS100 floating around, I myself have created numerous versions, some good and some truly terrible ones.

There’s ‘G-Log’ and variants from Frank Glencairn, pseudo based log profiles and recently ‘CPF-LOG’ from Crooked Path Films, again a flat log based profile but not as flat as Franks. And theres mine the MMLOG, created whilst testing for this post. (Links to all at the bottom of this post)

The one thing you have to remember is that one profile doesn’t have to do it all, used different profiles for various situations.

Really profiles needs to cater for these types of scenarios:

• Bright sunshine with a blue sky. 

• Cloudy & overcast.

• Dusk, light falling.

• Interior, tungsten lighting.

It’s not a good idea trying to set up a profile under tungsten lights and hope it will perform well in bright sunny weather as it probably won’t. It’s a case of trial and error. I like my profiles to have a certain aesthetic quality, a filmic look a profile that suits me, and thats whats its all about. Don’t be afraid to play, you need to know the boundaries of your camera and what it can do just remember to have a profile to fall back on when you mess it all up ;)

How do I install the profiles?

it’s as simple as pressing the ‘Picture Profile’ button on the side and selecting a profile and following each of the settings one by one as listed here or on the creators website. It’s a good idea to check here or their websites from time to time as I know Glen has updated his G-Log a few times.

The preset profiles can all be used, you just need to note the number and its profile for reference.

What to look out for in creating or using custom profiles.

Really you need to create a profile for each of the scenarios above as you come across them for the best results. Your may find that the profile that looks great at dusk may work well under tungsten lighting.

• Highlight detail, how it rolls into the mid tones, how intense over exposed tungsten light looks, is it too yellow and flat?

• Blue skies are they really natural? are the blues blue or cyan/aqua, with a touch of yellow or purple. Gamma tones and Color Modes will effect this dramatically, you may think you have nailed a great profile only to find out it looks terrible when the skies clear.

• Whats the profile like when you turn up the gain or exposure? you really need to look at 100% pixel size on an external display for this.

• Over expose your image and see on what point you are holding information in the highlights and midtones. Cycle through your profiles to see the differences in noise levels.

• Look out for is shadow clipping. You may get a profile looking great in strong daylight with sun and shadows but try to use this profile later in the day when the sun has set and it’s most likely that your shadows will be clipping. Look at the histogram display on your built in screen to judge if you are clipping the shadows.

• Look for distant tree branches against a sky to gauge resolution detail and highlight holding power. Some profiles will actually lower the quality of the shot, similar to a lower recording bitrate. If in doubt open the rewrapped clips in photoshop or similar and zoom into them at 100% switching between shots and different profiles.

• Watch out for the detail setting it’s brushed over and tendencies are to drop the sharpness all the way down like a DSLR. But is this best all the time? I have found not with this cameras AVCHD codec I have to keep sharpness up just above 0 sometimes unto +4. Again run some tests but too low and your in danger of muddying the picture and then post sharpness is then not fully achievable. Try and use a monitor that show 1:1 pixel to really judge the settings. You want to avoid high levels of fake USM (unsharp masking) effects where detail lines have light and dark lines around the object.

Your find as the light falls to dusk and the sun has gone down the more forgiving and usable the profiles are.

This camera is very sensitive to high contrast scenes, you really have to watch for blown highlights as especially specular highlights that may aliase with jaggies.

If your handing over your rushes to a client you will need to make sure they know what you have used. They may not want a flat profile and giving them one may cause more hassle than its worth. Last thing you want is to scare your clients with dull looking shots. Additionally they may not be aware what detail they can recover from the highs and shadows so bear this in mind whilst shooting high contrast scenes.

Here are the profiles used in the test shots.

(Of course there are many other profiles this is just the latest creations)

All shots recorded at 5200k and gain ranging from 0db to 24db

 

G-LOG: http://frankglencairn.wordpress.com

G-LOG A 1.1:

Black Level: +15

Gamma Standard

Black Gamma: middle, +7

Knee: 80, -2

Color Mode: ITO709, +8

Color Level -2

Color Phase -7

Color Depth: R+6, G 0, B+6, C+5, M+6, Y+5

WB-Shift: LB-5, CC+2

Detail -6

(Not shown in tests)

G-LOG B 1.1:

Black Level: +11

Gamma Cinematone1

Black Gamma: High, +7

Knee: 90, +2

Color Mode: Cinematone2, +8

Color Level -2

Color Phase -7

Color Depth: R+6, G +2, B+6, C+5, M+6, Y+5

WB-Shift: LB-5, CC+2

Detail -6

———————————

CPF-LOG: http://www.crookedpathfilms.com

CPF-LOG: http://www.crookedpathfilms.com/Sharing/CPF-LOG_NEX-FS100.pdf

 

Crooked path use a LUT just for in camera profile to set exposure and lighting to go with their flat profile.

Follow the links above for more details.

 

CPF-LOG:

Black Level: +8

Gamma Standard

Black Gamma: low, -3

Knee: 80, -2

Color Mode: Cinematone1, +8

Color Level 0

Color Phase -5

Color Depth: R-4, G+2, B+3, C 0, M+2, Y+2

WB-Shift: LB-3, CC-3

R Gain -1

B Gain +1

Detail (No Manual) -7

 

———————————

General flat LOG profile:

MMPP1:

Black Level: +4

Gamma Standard

Black Gamma: high, +7

Knee: 80, -1

Color Mode: Pro, +8

Color Level -1

Color Phase -1

Color Depth: R+5, G-4, B+2, C+1, M-1, Y-1

WB-Shift: LB-3, CC-1

Detail +4 Type3 Limit 7

 

My Personal Favourite (I’m totally biased :) )

Filmic Grade, Punchy (care needed in exposure)

MMPP2:

Black Level: +11

Gamma Cinematone2

Black Gamma: high, +7

Knee: 75, -1

Color Mode: Cinematone2, +8

Color Level -1

Color Phase +1

Color Depth: R+6, G-4, B+2, C+1, M+1, Y-1

WB-Shift: LB-1, CC-1

Detail +4 Type3 Limit 7

Sony NEX FS100 Profile Test from James Miller on Vimeo.

Thanks James…not the creator of one of the profiles mentioned explains his thought process behind it…over to Richard.

RICHARD CROOK:

I have been a huge fan of the digital movement that has encompassed us all starting with lens adapters…then DSLRs…and now the newer prosumer digital “35mm movie” cameras.  With that, I have spent countless hours learning how to shoot digital properly to maximize color grading.  We’ve made special profiles for Canon DSLRs and now we at created one for the FS100.

First, why do we WANT to color grade our footage?  Color grading is an art form in itself.  We now have so many tools at our disposal to do pretty much anything we want to an image in post.  We cannot do those amazing things to an image with a baked-in look.  We want the most information from the sensor so we can decide later…not on the set…how we want the image to look stylistically.  (See my COLOR GRADING demo.)

There are several issues when recording a flat, log-like image and trying to color grade them:

  1. In 8-bit video, you only have 256 steps from black to white.  When you record flat, you are recording less steps (for example, 230 steps).  The problem comes when you try to add contrast back to that baked-in video in post…and you cannot add those steps back in.  So you see phenomena like banding and artifacting.  This is why I don’t like super-flat “log” profiles.  .  WHY YOU DON’T WANT TO SHOOT SUPER-DUPER FLAT IN 8-BIT AND GRADE IN POST
  • Shot with contrast added IN-CAMERA:

 

  • Shot with a super flat profile and contrast added IN POST:

 

 

  1. When you try to set your camera’s exposure, set your ISO, and adjust your color temperature while looking at a decontrasted and desaturated image on the set…you can very easily misjudge all of these.  You typically end up underexposing, having to fix wonky color shifts, adding more unnecessary noise, and other issues you have to deal with after importing your footage into the NLE.

So how do you sidestep or at least greatly minimize these issues?  First, let me explain what a LUT is ‘supposed to be’ used for.  Many folks apply a LUT to their footage in post as a replacement for color grading.  This is NOT what a LUT is designed for.  A Look-Up-Table is a tool to have the ability to quickly “look up” an image that is closer to a possible end-graded result.  This removes the possibility of accidentally exposing your image incorrectly because you can preview what the image could look like after grading.  You can see a contrasted image so you know where your highlights and shadows will end up.  You will see more saturation so you know if your color temperature is too cold or warm.  You can also use a LUT to apply to dailies or proxy-editing so the directors/editors/producers/clients don’t have to look at a flat, desaturated image before the colorist had a chance to do their magic.

SOLUTION:

  1. To minimize the possibility of banding in an 8 bit image, you CANNOT add a lot of contrast in post.  This means you have to get it “close” in-camera while still keeping your profile flat enough to get more information out of the sensor.  We believe our CPF-LOG profile is a safe median that doesn’t eliminate too many steps out of the given 256.
  1. To eliminate the second issue; misjudging the exposure/ISO/color temp, you must use a LUT when adjusting those settings.  We created the CPF-LOG LUT to provide a profile you can use to set all of those things before switching to the CPF-LOG profile to record.  The LUT fools you into thinking the highlights are going to clip sooner and the shadows are being crushed.  If you set your lighting and exposure to this, you will be inadvertently making sure you are well into the “safe zone” when you switch back to the CPF-LOG to record.

OUR LOG PROFILE, THE LUT, AND THE WORKFLOW:

 

CPF-LOG Picture Profiles for the FS100, with in-camera LUT from Crooked Path Films on Vimeo.

For complete instructions on the workflow and the profile settings, GO HERE:

“CPF-LOG” PICTURE PROFILE for the SONY NEX-FS100 with LUT!

 

Hope FS100 users can find this a very helpful technique/profile to adopt into their workflow.  As always…many thanks to Philip and all of you digital filmmakers and DPs for your feedback and support!

___________________________________

Richard Allen Crook a director and cinematographer and owner of Crooked Path Films in Dallas, TX.  Join their FACEBOOK PAGE.

 

Comments

  1. Daniel says:

    I’m still a little confused with the difference between LOG and LUT. I liked the way the LUT looked in the video though.
    Could someone fill me in please?

    1. A LUT is used for preview purposes, and LOG is intended to be recorded. The LUT allows you to adjust exposure, color temp, and other settings mich more precisely while looking at an image on the monitors that is closer to a graded image.

      1. Daniel says:

        Ah, That makes sense.
        Thank you!

        -Cheers!

  2. Jarrod says:

    From someone who knows nothing about camera, why does the image from the FS100 not impress me at all? The Canon D line of cameras look so much better…..?

    Was there a external recorder used for this?

    1. Daniel says:

      I believe the point of these videos were to demonstrate the LOG and LUT Picture Profiles, not to make pretty images.
      Check out Phillip’s Video page in the FS100 category. You’ll get a much better idea of what the camera is capable of from those videos than from these ones here.

      -Cheers!

    2. Lookup “Cody Cha” on Vimeo along with Philip’s videos. Stunning imagery done by both.

      1. Daniel says:

        Yes, Cody Cha is exellent.

  3. TimFok says:

    Great post James. I’ve been hoping for some more info on PP for the FS100. I’ve read up on Richard’s site before.

    Really like MMLOG at dusk and interiors, has nice highlight saturation.

  4. As I am more interested in the future of the FS100 and not what the 5DM3 didn’t give us, I was wandering.
    Do you know how the new picture profile feature in the FS100 firmware update (March 22) will work?

    Will we all be downloading something like pf2 files much like we do with DSLRs. Is there a way to tweak these files further than what we’ve been limited to in camera? Say a picture profile editor.

    Even if you’re not sure yet, love to hear your thoughts.

  5. Jude says:

    “WHY YOU DON’T WANT TO SHOOT SUPER-DUPER FLAT IN 8-BIT AND GRADE IN POST”

    I do understand the logic behind that, and why folks might choose to get their look in-camera. However, the “DV Rebel’s Guide” advises editing your 8-bit footage in Adobe Premiere, then opening the edited project in After Effects as a 16-bit project and grading. I’m no expert….just thought it was an option worth considering.

    For my “selfish videos” – those done for pleasure, not professional reasons, where I can afford to (and do) make mistakes – I like to shoot with the flattest profile possible on my Canon 550, cut in Premiere, and grade in AE. I’m fairly sure I achieve “looks” which would be difficult/impossible to achieve baked-in, and I largely avoid uglies like banding, haloing etc.

    1. Adobe Premiere works in a 32-bit float, no need to grade in After Effects except if AE is just a more comfortable interface for you. While you can certainly convert 8bit footage to 10bit, 16bit, 32bit…either in transcode or in float space…you cannot add more information to what you shot. In other words, there is no way to add more than 256 steps to 8bit footage. The flatter you shoot….the more risk you have for the aforementioned banding and artifacts.

      1. Gilbert says:

        Hi,
        First of all, Sorry for my english, i’m french… :)
        i think your answer is right and wrong.
        When you shoot in 8bits, yes you’ll never have no more than 250 steps.
        When you shoot in 8 bits, in a flat mode with 200 steps, your original record will never have no more than 200 steps.
        You can transcode in 10 bits your original image, and it’ll have exactly the steps you had in 8 bits. ok. You’re right.

        But,
        First :
        If you stay in 8 bits, you can obtain from a 200 steps footage, in post in the final grade, a new image with 250 steps. This image will never be the same than the image you would have if you had shoot it in 250 steps, but you can obtain a new 250 steps footage from a 200 original one. IT’S the principe of the LOG method.

        And second :
        If you decide to work in 10 bits workflow, by transcodage, you can obtain from a 8bits-200 steps footage, in post in the final grade, a new 10 bits image with a big number of steps far from the flat original 200 steps or the full 8bits- 250 steps . This image will never be the same than the image you would have if you had shoot an original 10bits, but you can obtain a new and fine 10bits footage from a 200 steps original one.
        IT’S also the principe of the LOG method.

        In original 10 bits footage, you have more and more details than in the same 8 bits. OK.
        You cannot re-invente, in 8 bits, the original details you loose – OK
        BUT you can invente others, you can graduate each color, and the gray, in levels you’ll never obtain in staying 8bits workflow.

        A transcode 8 to 10bits footage is really a 10 bits footage but only with its original steps.That’s all.

        Working in pictures, movies etc.. do not significate that the pictures has to be the reality.
        The first principe of all images, is transposition. That begin in black and white (you have not the choice) and goes on in color ways too. Only the result is important, and the choices you’ve done in order to give us your vision of the thinks and the things you show.

        Making 8 bits footage obliges you, at once, to be careful and to take decisions, choices. First on the set. Specially about exposition. And i finaly think, it’s not bad.

        In post production, With Red Giant Film looks for example, many of us try to find, and obtain a image which is often very different than the original, in contrast, graduation etc…

        The principe of the flat image, and specially increasing the master ped black level, is to find a position where the noise and the artifacts compression are null. And it works.
        If plus, you have a good external 10bits recorder, like AJA kipro mini or Atomos samourai…
        I’ve found profiles for my AF101, very very clean… by far better than original setings, and images looks great in the final results.

        I do not forget : my Pana AF101 (or a Sony FS100) is not an Arri Alexa. But sometime, very often, it’s enought for me. I know that i ‘ve to make one choice, for example a good exposition for the faces, and i know the all restrictions i have for others things in the picture, depend on the lights i dispose. BUT, is it really a restriction way ??..I know the image would be better with an Alexa, or a Red. I just try to find the best i can, with what i have. In my case, Pana AF101, Flat image with master ped between +5 and +10 (+15 is the max) is a way, a good way, by my experiences. But i can tell : always, the result do not depend on the camcorder i’ve used, but on the good or bad story i’ve try to show… The AF101 (or FS100) makes a quality level by far being enought for the job… Make a DCP and watch images on a large theater screen, you’ll see that it’s really very very good, compare the common 35mm prints, and compare what we could do just 3 years ago…
        My 8 bits camcorder works very well, and in a 10bits post-prod workflow, it gives the best result it can provide. But yes, not as well as a full 10 bits camcorder and workflow, At the moment, i don’t care.
        I know all the “limitations”, but first the freedom which i have too.
        Again sorry for my english…
        Gilbert

      2. That’s not completely true. You can add steps in for example with Neat Video or the Magic Bullet Denoiser 2.

        It won’t work perfectly but it does give quite a lot of leeway more than just editing 8-bit natively.

        1. Ah yes I remember seeing that before. But dont you think that’s a lot of work instead of just using a less extreme flat profile?

  6. Keith Moreau says:

    Richard, when using your profile, in case I don’t have time to set up with your LUT profile first, and just use your profile, and if I have set to a fixed color temperature, how would you suggest I expose just using your Log profile? Thanks.

    1. Hi Keith, exposing to a flat image is hard because you can swing the exposure a couple stops in either direction and it will all look ok…until you get to post and realize after adding contrast that you are either over or underexposed. Or find out your color temp is too warm or cool. So in other words I don’t recommend exposing to the log profile. :)

  7. gerald says:

    Thanks for this FS100 picture profile post Phillip..really finding it hard maimizing our camera’s image quality when using it on our wedding shoots. I have a bigger problem than profiles though, the FS100 we bought is a PAL model…and we are in an NTSC country (Philippines) where our flourescent lights have 60Hz refresh rates..so in the recent videos I have here using the FS100, https://vimeo.com/user5855475/videos I get a lot of banding. The only solution I can think of is getting a shutter speed that will sync with the flourescent lights, but is there any other way to fix this? The other shooters on my team isn’t as camera nerdy as I am so Im the one searching for solutions. Also have same problem with our PAL Nex 7.:(

  8. Brynn says:

    “1.When you try to set your camera’s exposure, set your ISO, and adjust your color temperature while looking at a decontrasted and desaturated image on the set…you can very easily misjudge all of these. You typically end up underexposing, having to fix wonky color shifts, adding more unnecessary noise, and other issues you have to deal with after importing your footage into the NLE.”

    Exactly why I rarely shoot with Technicolor CineStyle on my DSLR any more!

  9. DMGW says:

    I love the last picture style you created. (The “MMPP2″) How would you replicate that for the 5D Mark 2?

  10. Mr. Mister says:

    These are great.

    Now can someone tackle the sensor reflection issue:
    http://vimeo.com/37389803
    http://vimeo.com/36858333
    http://vimeo.com/m/31703559

    Seriously limiting if I have to tell clients that I can’t have highlights in the frame…

  11. explosivethinman says:

    @Phillip I use the Technicolor profile for all my DSLR’s which profile here would suite best for matching my Sony with the Canons?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      I find Technicolor too noisy in the blacks for me…

  12. Francis rene says:

    Philip,
    Great useful post as usual.
    I would be interested to know what is your color profile that you’re using when shooting with the FS100.
    I know you used the Abelcine in the past. Is it still the case?
    Thanks again for the great post
    Francis

  13. Dominic says:

    Hey Philip,

    Was wondering if you had an Picture profiles set up for the fs700 yet? ones for different lighting situations. Indoor, outdoor, cloudy, bright sunshine etc??

    I just brought the sony fs700 and was wanting to pick your brain to see what you thought the best setup was in terms of accesories and lenses?

    eg.. external recording, which primes to go for, shoulder rig etc.

    Hope your well and loving life!!

    Dom.

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      no not yet. Frank Glencairn is the guy for you!