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Sony Venice – A close look at the dynamic range and noise.

With Sony Venice X-OCN files to download!

I have been working with Sony’s colour science guru Pablo at the Digital Motion Picture Center at Pinewood, looking at the outer limits of what Sony’s Venice camera can do. A large part of the reason for this is that Pablo is developing some really nice LUT’s for use on dailies or even as a grade starting point (Pablo tells me the LUT’s are finished but he is waiting for approvals and feedback from Japan).

As part of this process we have shot test footage with the Venice camera for ourselves and also looked long and hard at test shots done by other cinematographers. Last week we were able to preview a beta version of the cameras dual ISO modes. This beta firmware allowed us to shoot tests at both 500 ISO and 2500 ISO and the results of both are equally impressive.

I can’t share any of the test footage shot at 2500 ISO at this stage. The firmware is still in it’s early stages and the final version may well perform a little differently (probably better). But I can share some of the footage shot at 500 ISO.

Please remember what we were exploring was the extreme ends of the exposure range. So our little test set was set up with some challenges for the camera rather than trying to make a pretty picture.

We have deep, deep shadows on the right behind the couch and we also have strong highlights coming off the guitar, the film can on the shelves and from the practical lamp in the background. The reds of the cushion on the couch look very different with most Rec-709 cameras as the colors are outside the Rec-709 gamut.

Another aspect of the test was to check the exposure rating. For this I used my Sekonic lightmeter to measure both the incident light and the light reflected by the Kodak grey card. My light meter gave me T4 at 1/48th for 500 ISO and this turned out to be pretty much spot on with what the scopes told us. So straight away we were able to establish that the 500 ISO exposure rating appears to be correct. We also found that when we stopped down by 2.3 stops we got the correct exposure at 2500 ISO, so that too appears to be correctly rated.

Once the base exposure was established we shot at 2 stops over and 2 stops under, so from T2 down to T8 using a Sony 35mm PL prime. We used the XOCN-ST codec as we felt this will be the most widely used codec.  When looking at the files do remember that the 16 bit XOCN-ST files are smaller than 10 bit ProResHQ. So these are files that are very easy to manage. There is the option to go up in quality to Sony’s linear raw codec or down to X-OCN LT. XOCN-ST sits in the middle and offers a nice balance between file size and image quality, it being very hard to find any visual difference between this and the larger raw files.

The files I’m providing here are single X-OCN frames. They have not been adjusted in any way, they are just as shot (including being perhaps a touch out of focus). You can view them using the latest version of Sony’s raw viewer software or the latest version of DaVinci Resolve. For the best quality preview, at this time I recommend using Sony’s Raw Viewer to view the clips.

Click here to download these Venice Samples

If you find these files useful please consider buying me a coffee or beer.


Type



pixel Sony Venice - A close look at the dynamic range and noise.

So what do the files look like? First I recommend you download and play with them for yourself. Anything I do has to have a LUT,  grade or other process applied so that the linear data can be viewed on a normal computer screen. So it’s better to take a look at the original files and see what you can do with them rather than just accepting my word. The images here were create in DaVinci Resolve using ACES. ACES adds a film type highlight roll-off and uses film type levels, so the images look a touch dark as there were a lot of low light level areas in the test shots.

Venice at T4 The base exposure for the test.

Venice-base-T4_1.1.1-1024x540 Sony Venice - A close look at the dynamic range and noise.
Venice at T4 (From ACES). This was the “base” exposure for this test. Click on the image to enlarge.

Venice at T8 – 2 Stops under exposed (As exposed).

Venice-T8-uncor_1.4.1-1024x540 Sony Venice - A close look at the dynamic range and noise.
Venice at T8 (2 stops under). Click on the image to enlarge.

Venice at T8 – 2 Stops under exposed (Brightness corrected to match base exposure).

Venice-T8-norm_1.4.2-1024x540 Sony Venice - A close look at the dynamic range and noise.
Venice at T8 (2 stops under). Brightness match to base exposure via metadata shift. Click on the image to enlarge.

Venice at T5.6 – 1 stop under exposed (brightness corrected to match base exposure).

Venice-T5.6-norm_1.5.1-1024x540 Sony Venice - A close look at the dynamic range and noise.
Venice at T5.6 (1 stops under). Brightness match to base exposure via metadata shift. Click on the image to enlarge.

Venice at T4 The base exposure for the test.

Venice-base-T4_1.1.1-1024x540 Sony Venice - A close look at the dynamic range and noise.
Venice at T4 (From ACES). This was the “base” exposure for this test. Click on the image to enlarge.

Venice at T2.8 – 1 stop over exposed (brightness adjusted to match base exposure).

Venice-t2.8-norm_1.2.1-1-1024x540 Sony Venice - A close look at the dynamic range and noise.
Venice at T2.8 (1 stops over). Brightness match to base exposure via metadata shift. Click on the image to enlarge.

Venice at T2.0 – 2 stops over exposed (brightness adjusted to match base exposure).

Venice-T2-norm_1.3.2-1024x540 Sony Venice - A close look at the dynamic range and noise.
Venice at T2 (2 stops over). Brightness match to base exposure via metadata shift. Click on the image to enlarge.

Venice at T2.0 – 2 stops over exposed (as shot).

Venice-T2-uncor_1.3.1-1024x540 Sony Venice - A close look at the dynamic range and noise.
Venice at T2.0, 2 stops over, as shot. Click on the image to enlarge.

NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS:

I shouldn’t rush these tests! I should have set the focus at T2, not at T4. Focus is on the chart, not the dummy head. It would have been better if the eyes and chart were at the same distance.

It’s amazing how similar all the shots across this 5 stop range look. Just by adjusting the metadata ISO rating in Resolve I was able to get a near perfect match. There is more noise in the under exposed images and less in the over exposed images, that’s expected. But even the 2 under images are still pretty nice.

NOISE:

What noise there is, is very fine in structure. Noise is pretty even across each of the R, G and B channels so there won’t be a big noise change if skewing the white balance towards blue as can happen with some other cameras where the blur channel is noisier than red or green. Even at T8 and 2 stops under the noise is not unacceptable. A touch of post production NR would clean this up nicely. So shooting at 500 ISO base and rating the camera at 2000 EI would be useable if needed, or perhaps to deliberately add some grain. However instead of shooting at 500 ISO / 2000 EI you might be better off using the upper 2500 base ISO instead for low light shoots because that will give a nice sensitivity increase with no change to the dynamic range and only a touch (and it really is just a touch) more noise.

If shooting something super bright or with lot and lots of very important highlights  I would not be concerned about rating the camera at 1000EI.  For most projects I would probably rate the camera at 500EI. If the scene is generally dark I may choose 400EI just to be a touch cleaner. With such a clean image and so much dynamic range you really can pick and choose how you wish to rate the camera.

Venice has more dynamic range than an F55 and maybe a bit more than the F65. Most of the extra dynamic range is in the shadows. There is an amazing amount of picture information that can be pulled out of the darker parts of the images. The very low noise floor is a big help here. In the example below I have taken the base exposure sample and brought the metadata ISO up to 2000 ISO. Then I have used a luma curve to pull up the shadows still further. If you look at the shelves on the left, even in the deep shadow areas it’s possible to see the grain effect on the dark wood panels. In addition you can see both the white and black text on the back of the grey book on the bottom shelf. Yes, there is some noise but my meter put these areas at -6 stops, so being able to pull out so much detail from these areas is really impressive.

Venice-deep-shadows_1.1.2-1024x540 Sony Venice - A close look at the dynamic range and noise.
An amazing amount of information still exists in even the darkest shadow areas. This image adjusted up significantly from base exposure (at least +4 stops).

In the highlights the way the camera reaches it’s upper limit is very pleasing, it does seem to have a tiny roll off just before it clips and this looks really nice. If you look at the light bulbs in this test, at the base exposure, if you bring the highlights down in post you can see that not all of the bulb is completely over exposed they are only over exposed where the element is. Also the highlights reflecting off the guitar and film can on the shelf look very “real” and don’t have that hard clipped look that specular highlights on other cameras can sometimes have.

Another thing that is very nice is the colour tracking. As you go up and down in exposure there are no obvious colour shifts. It’s one of the things that really helps make it so easy to make all 5 exposures look the same.

The start up time of the Venice camera is very impressive at around 6 to 8 seconds. It’s up and running very quickly. The one stop steps in the ND filter system are fantastic. The camera is very simple to use and the menu seems logically laid out. It’s surprisingly small, it’s not much bigger than a PMW-F55, just a little taller and a little longer. Battery consumption is lower than most of the competition, the camera appears to consume around 50w which is half the power consumption of a lot of the competition. It can be run of either 12v or 24v. So all in all it can be rigged as a very compact camera with a standard V-Lock battery on the back.

Looking forward to shooting more with Venice in the very near future.

 

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Calling all XDCAM shooters – win a Sony Action Cam.

Sony are putting together an XDCAM demo reel to show on the Sony booth at IBC. They are looking for examples of great XDCAM footage to include in the reel. The footage should be inspirational, exciting, dramatic, romantic, happy, pretty, colourful. Basically anything eye catching or with a “Wow” factor.

Here is what Sony are asking for:

·         3-5 second emotional clips (the more clips the merrier).

·         Tone is emotional (fun, dangerous, could be sad but not too tragic), action, extreme – music on final project will be fast paced, action.

·         No political symbols/figures, no blood, no dead people.

·         It has to have been shot on a Sony XDCAM camera (and specify which one).

·         PMW-100/150/200/300/400/500

·         PXW-X180/X160

·         PDW-680/700/F800

·         These clips should be rights free, these clips will be posted on the various Sony digital channels and might be shown at Sony-run presentations – but they will not be distributed to anyone outside of Sony.

·         The clips can either be in MP4 or just a link for submission, and then if we choose to use your footage we’ll come back to you and ask for a higher quality format.

If your footage is chosen to feature in the video you will be eligible to win one of 30 Action Cams up for grabs on a first come first serve basis! (Please note that your footage may still be used after the 30 action cams have been given away. By submitting your footage you will be agreeing to these T&Cs).

As IBC is coming up very fast there is some urgency to get this footage. If you have anything that you wish to submit please send a link to the clip to:

Lauren(DOT)Brogden(AT)eu(DOT)sony(DOT)com

REPLACE (DOT) with . and (AT) with @

Sample Footage from PXW-X180 XAVC/XDCAM/AVCHD camcorder.

I was lucky enough to get to spend some time with a pre-production Sony PXW-X180 here in Singapore. I put it through it’s paces shooting around the botanical gardens, China town and Clarke Quay.

For a 1/3″ camcorder it produces a remarkably good image. Really low noise, very clean images, much better than anything I have seen from any other 1/3″ camcorder. The 25x zoom is impressive, the variable ND filter is very clever and it might seem trivial but the rear viewfinder was very nice. It’s a very high resolution OLED, much, much better than the LCOS EVF’s found on many other models.

The zoom lens has proper manual calibrated controls with end stops, much like a PMW-200. The ability to use a multitude of codecs is fantastic and perhaps better still is the fact that you can use SDXC cards for XDACM or XAVC at up to 50Mb/s, so even XDCAM HD422 can be recorded on this low cost media. This will be great for news or other situations where you need to hand off your media at the end of the shoot.

A more in depth review will follow soon, but for now here’s the video. Un-graded, un touched, straight from the camera footage. Looks very nice if you ask me.

Canon C300 and Sony F3 footage to download.

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.

c300-c-log-850iso-1024x576 Canon C300 and Sony F3 footage to download.
C300 C-Log, 850ISO
f3-s-log-800iso-1024x576 Canon C300 and Sony F3 footage to download.
F3 S-Log 800ISO

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.

c300-c-log-overexposed-1024x576 Canon C300 and Sony F3 footage to download.
C300 C-Log overexposed (mid grey at 50%)
f3-s-log-800iso-overexposed-1024x576 Canon C300 and Sony F3 footage to download.
F3 S-Log Overexposed (Mid Grey at 50%)

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:

c300-std-400iso-1024x576 Canon C300 and Sony F3 footage to download.
C300 Standard settings, 400ISO
f3-std-400iso-1024x576 Canon C300 and Sony F3 footage to download.
F3 Standard settings 400ISO

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).

c300-std-3200iso-1024x576 Canon C300 and Sony F3 footage to download.
C300 Standard settings, 3200ISO
f3-std-3200iso-1024x576 Canon C300 and Sony F3 footage to download.
F3 Standard Settings, 3200 ISO

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.

 



pixel Canon C300 and Sony F3 footage to download.

 

There are no big surprises in the results. [downloads_box title=”C300 and F3 Clips”]
Canon C300 and Sony F3 Raw Clips.
[/downloads_box]

PMW-F3 Raw Footage.

Hi all. Grabed a few clips today with the PMW-F3. You can download the raw BPAV file by clicking here. half a dozen clips, each only a few seconds long, shot at 24p. 170Mb download.

As well as the video clips I have also pulled of a few full resolution frame grabs. Click on the images to see the full frame version.

Girl1-300x168 PMW-F3 Raw Footage.
PMW-F3 Girl frame grab
F3-Grab4-300x168 PMW-F3 Raw Footage.
PMW-F3 leaves frame grab
F3-Grab5-300x168 PMW-F3 Raw Footage.
PMW-F3 Owl frame grab