Tag Archives: PXW-FS7

Important Firmware Update For PXW-FS7. Please Update.

Sony have released a firmware update for the PXW-FS7 that includes a fix for a problem that can in very rare situations cause the footage to be over exposed. There have been very few reported cases of the problem and it only occurs in the CineEI mode after a camera re-start. The new firmware update has been released to prevent it happening. It’s recommended that you update you camera to this new version, version 4.1.

You can download it from here: https://www.sony.co.uk/pro/support/software/SET_BPE-SS-1238/70

PXW-FS7 II. New camera that does NOT replace the FS7.

2_SideL-1024x754 PXW-FS7 II. New camera that does NOT replace the FS7.
The new Sony PXW-FS7MKII. Can you spot the differences?

By the time you get to read this you may already know almost everything there is to know about the PXW-FS7 II as it has been leaked and rumoured all over the internet. But I’m under a Sony NDA, so have had to keep quiet until now.

And I’ve been told off for calling it a MKII,  the correct name is PXW-FS7 II. Sorry Mr Sony, but if you call it FS7 II, most people will think the “II” means MKII.

The FS7 camera is a mature product. By that I mean that  the early bugs have been resolved. The camera has proven itself to by reliable, cost effective (amazing bang for the buck really). To produce great images and 4K files that are not too big.  It can do slow-mo, 4K, 2K, HD and raw via an adapter and external recorder. As a result the FS7 is now one of the top choices for many broadcasters and production companies. It has become an industry standard.

The first and most important thing to understand about the FS7 II is that it does not replace the existing FS7. I would have preferred it if Sony had called this new camera the “FS7 Plus”. The “II” designation (which I take to mean MKII) implies a replacement model, replacing the MKI. This is not the case. The FS7 II is in fact a slightly upgraded version of the standard FS7 with a few hardware improvements. The upgrades make the MKII quite a lot more expensive (approx 10K Euros), but don’t worry. If you don’t need them, you can stick with the cheaper FS7 MK1 which remains a current model. In terms of image quality there is no real difference, the sensor and image processing in the cameras is the same.

So what are the changes?

20161102_153512-1024x576 PXW-FS7 II. New camera that does NOT replace the FS7.
A square rod supports the viewfinder on the PXW-FS7MKII

The most obvious perhaps is the use of a square rod to support the viewfinder. This eliminates the all too common FS7 problem of sagging viewfinders. As well as switching to a square rod each of the adjustments for the viewfinder mounting system now has a dedicated clamp. Before if you wanted to slide the viewfinder forwards or backwards you undid a clamp that not only freed off the sliding motion but also controlled the tilt of the screen. So it was impossible to have the fore-aft adjustment slack for quick adjustments without the viewfinder sagging and drooping.

25-300x225 PXW-FS7 II. New camera that does NOT replace the FS7.
Another view of the revised viewfinder mounting system on the PXW-FS7 MKII

With the MkII you can have a slack fore-aft adjuster without the VF drooping. Overall the changes to the VF mounting system are extremely welcome. The VF mount on the Mk1 is a bit of a disaster, but there are plenty of 3rd party solutions to this. So you can fix the problems on a MKI without having to replace the camera. In addition, if you really wanted you could buy the FS7 II parts as spare parts and fit them to a MKI.

The Lens Mount.

19-966x1024 PXW-FS7 II. New camera that does NOT replace the FS7.
The new locking E-Mount on the PXW-FS7 MKII

The next obvious change is to the lens mount. The FS7 MK1 has a normal Sony E-Mount where you insert the lens and then twist it to lock it in to place. The FS7 II mount is still an E-Mount but now it has a locking collar like a PL or B4 mount. This means that you have to insert the lens at the correct angle and then you turn a locking ring to secure the lens. The lens does not rotate  and once locked in place cannot twist or turn and has no play or wobble. This is great for those that use a follow focus or heavier lenses. BUT the new locking system is fiddly and really needs 2 hands to operate. In practice you have to be really careful when you mount the lens. It’s vital that you align the white dot on the lens with the white dot on the mount before you twist the locking ring.

20161102_153624-1024x576 PXW-FS7 II. New camera that does NOT replace the FS7.
Make sure the dots are correctly aligned! PXW-FS7 II lens mount.

As you rotate the locking ring a small release catch drops into place to prevent the ring from coming undone. But if the lens isn’t correctly aligned when you insert it, the lens can rotate with the locking ring, the catch clicks into place, but the lens will just drop out of the mount. When inserted correctly this mount is great, but if you are not careful it is quite easy to think the lens is correctly attached when in fact it is not.

Variable ND Filter.

16-1024x813 PXW-FS7 II. New camera that does NOT replace the FS7.
The PXW-FS7MKII has a variable ND filter.

Behind the lens mount is perhaps the most significant upgrade. The FS7 II does away with the rotating filter wheel and replaces it with the variable ND filter system from the FS5. I have to say I absolutely love the variable ND on the FS5. It is so flexible and versatile. You still have a 4 position filter wheel knob. At the clear position the ND filter system is removed from the optical path. Select the 1, 2 or 3 positions and the electronically controlled ND filter is moved into position in front of the sensor. You then have 3 preset levels of ND (the level of which can be set in the camera menu) or the ability to smoothly control the level of ND from a dial on the side of the camera. Furthermore you can let the camera take care of the ND filter level automatically. The real beauty of the variable ND s that it allows you to adjust your exposure without having to alter the aperture (which changes the depth of field) or shutter (which alters the flicker/cadence). It’s also a great way to control exposure when using Canon lenses as the large aperture steps on the Canon lenses can be seen in the shot.

20161102_154454-1024x576 PXW-FS7 II. New camera that does NOT replace the FS7.
New arm on the PXW-FS7 II

Another physical change to the camera is the use of a new arm for the handgrip. The new arm has a simple wing-nut for length adjustment, much better than the two screws in the original arm. In addition you can now use the adjuster wing-nut to attach the arm to the camera body and this brings the hand grip very close to the body for hand held use. This is a simple but effective improvement, but again 3rd party handgrip arms are available for the base model FS7.

FS72-loupe-1024x784 PXW-FS7 II. New camera that does NOT replace the FS7.
Improved viewfinder loupe attachment on the FS7 MKII.

The viewfinder loupe has seen some attention too. The standard FS7 loupe has two fiddly wire clips that have to be done up to secure the loupe to the viewfinder. The MK2 loupe has a fixed hook that slips over the top lug on the viewfinder so that you now only need to do up a single catch on the bottom of the loupe. It is easier and much less fiddly to fit the new loupe, but the optics and overall form and function of the loupe remain unchanged.

20161102_154540-1024x576 PXW-FS7 II. New camera that does NOT replace the FS7.
Folding sunshade on the PXW-FS7 MKII

As well as the loupe the FS7 II will be supplied with a clip on collapsable sunshade for the viewfinder. This is a welcome addition and hand held shooters will no doubt find it useful. When not in use the sunshade folds down flat and covers the LCD screen to protect it from damage.

The number of assignable buttons on the FS7 II is increased to 10. There are 4 new assignable button on the camera body where the iris controls are on the original FS7.  The Iris controls are now on the side of the camera just below the ND filter wheel along with the other ND filter controls. These buttons are textured to make them easier to find by touch and are a very welcome addition, provided you can remember which functions you have allocated to them. It’s still a long way from the wonderful side panel LCD of the PMW-F5/PMW-F55 with it’s 6 hotkeys and informative display of how the camera is configured.

20161102_154716-1024x576 PXW-FS7 II. New camera that does NOT replace the FS7.
Power indicator light just above the power switch on the PXW-FS7 MKII

Tucked under the side of the camera and just above the power switch there is now a small green power LED. The original FS7 has no power light so it can be hard to tell if it’s turned on or not. This little green light will let you know.

The last hardware change is to the card slots. The XQD card slots have been modified to make it easier to get hold of the cards when removing them. It’s a small change, but again most welcome as it can be quite fiddly to get the cards of an FS7.

REC-2020.

A further change with the FS7 II is the addition of Rec-2020 colorspace in custom mode. So now with the FS7 II as well as Rec-709 colorspace you can also shoot in Rec-2020. I’m really not sure how important this really is. If Sony were to also add Hybrid Log Gamma or PQ gamma for HDR then this would be quite useful. But standard gammas + Rec2020 color doesn’t really make a huge amount of sense. If you really want to capture a big range you will probably shoot S-Log2/3 and S-Gamut/S-Gamut3.

So – the big question – is it worth the extra?

Frankly, I don’t think so. Yes, the upgrades are nice, especially the variable ND filter and for some people it might be worth it just for that. But most of the other hardware changes can be achieved via 3rd party accessories for less than the price difference between the cameras.

With all the financial turmoil going on in many countries right now I think we can expect to see the cost of most cameras start to rise, including the original (but still current) FS7. This may narrow the price gap between the FS7 MKI and FS7 MK2 a little. But an extra 3000 Euros seems a high price to pay for a variable ND filter.

In some respects this is good news as it does mean that those that have already invested in an FS7 MKI won’t see that investment diminished, the MK1 is to remain a current model alongside the souped up MK2 version. Now you have a choice, the lower cost workhorse FS7 MK1 or the MK2 with it’s variable ND filter and revised lens mount.

Training Videos for the PXW-FS5 and PXW-FS7

Just a reminder that the full sets of traing films for the PXW-FS5 and the PXW-FS7 are available for viewing for free on YouTube.

The FS7 videos can be found by following this playlist link.

There are 10 videos taking you from basic setup all the way through scene files, cine EI and the effects shooting modes.

There are currently 2 PXW-FS5 videos.

The first on picture profiles and picture settings is here.

The second on the advanced shooting modes is here.

I am currently working on a further video on using the FS5’s raw output and this should be available in the next couple of weeks.

Don’t forget if you have any questions I have my Webinar day coming next week.

 

Free Webinar Day – July 26th 2016.

PXW-FS7 firmware version 4.0 now available to download.

FS7-Firmware-V4 PXW-FS7 firmware version 4.0 now available to download.Sony have released firmware update version 4.0 for the PXW-FS7. This new firmware brings some welcome updates to the FS7 including the ability to move the focus magnification area away from the center of the screen.  Other new features include true 24p (as well as 23.98fps).

1. Support for Flexible Spot in Focus setting.
2. Support for XAVC-I 4K 24.00P.
3. Display for Video Signal Monitor is improved.
4. Operability of S&Q setting by assignable button is improved.
5. Remove Basic Authentication from items saved in all file.
6. Auto knee stability is improved.
7. Overall stability and operability of the camera is improved.
The firmware can be downloaded from here: https://www.sony.co.uk/pro/support/software/SET_BPE-SS-1238

PXW-FS7 CineEI Guide Updated.

I have just completed a long overdue update to my guide to CineEI and S-Log2/S-Log3 on the PXW-FS7. I have made some changes to reflect the new expanded zebra range available in the latest firmware versions as well as the new waveform operation. I have also added in the two videos I have made on using CineEI. The first video covers setting up the Cine EI mode and how to expose S-Log2/3 and then the second video explains how to use the exposure index function to offset your exposure for less noise and grain.

http://www.xdcam-user.com/2014/12/ultimate-guide-for-cine-ei-on-the-sony-pxw-fs7/

PXW-FS7 Firmware Version 3.0 Released

fs7-firmware3 PXW-FS7 Firmware Version 3.0 ReleasedGood news. Firmware version 3.0 has just been released for the PXW-FS7. This is a major update for the FS7 and adds some important new features such as a 2K center scan mode that can be used to allow you to use super16 lenses or more importantly eliminate aliasing and moire when shooting above 60fps.

For users of the Cine-EI mode there are major improvements to the usability of the waveform display as this now works with most LUT combinations (but not in S&Q or when outputting 4K). In addition you can now enable noise reduction in Cine EI, although be aware that this may introduce banding artefacts in some situations.

Zebras now go all the way down to 0% so if you want you can use zebras to measure white or grey cards when shooting log or to measure the recommended skin tone levels for S-log (40-55%) and hypergamma (55-60%) recordings.

Also there is a proper time-lapse mode and some improvements to the quality of the raw recordings when using an external recorder raw such as the 7Q.

https://www.sony.co.uk/pro/support/software/SET_BPE-SS-1238

 

My PXW-FS7. Add-ons and configuration.

I though I would share a few pictures of how I like to configure my Sony PXW-FS7.

I mainly use the FS7 for run and gun type shooting, so portability and ease of use is very important.

So here is the overall package:

DSC03793-1024x683 My PXW-FS7. Add-ons and configuration.
My typical PXW-FS7 configuration.

One of the key parts to the whole rig is the Vocas base plate. Vocas offer a couple of different base plate options. The one I have is shaped to follow the contour of the base of the camera so keeps the center of gravity as low as possible. It’s also compatible with a standard VCT quick release tripod plate so a great way to get the camera on and off a tripod really quickly. The shoulder pad slides forwards and back so you can adjust the balance point a bit, but the shape of the FS7 does tend to mean that the rig will be a bit front heavy (unless you add rear rods and a battery as I do). Attached to the left side of the base plate are a couple of Vocas lightweight arm sections and a beautiful wooden hand grip. I can’t recommend the Vocas hand grips enough, when you are out shooting all day a comfy hand grip makes a big difference.

A really weak area of the Sony FS7 is the viewfinder attachment. Fortunately Vocas have a solution for that.

DSC03803-1024x683 My PXW-FS7. Add-ons and configuration.
Vocas viewfinder arm for the PXW-FS7

The Vocas FS7 viewfinder arm can be attached to the existing Sony 15mm rod that the original viewfinder arm attaches to, or it can be attached to a supplementary 15mm rod attached to the Vocas top cheese plate (you’ll see that in a picture further down the page). The great thing about this Vocas VF arm is that you can slide the viewfinder fore and aft or move it up and down without the viewfinder drooping as it does with the original mount. This helps maintain a level horizon on the viewfinder screen which is really important when shooting handheld. A droopy viewfinder can easily lead to shots that are tilted over as it is very easy to miss that the horizon in the viewfinder isn’t level.

DSC03801-1024x683 My PXW-FS7. Add-ons and configuration.
The right side of my PXW-FS7

On the right side of my FS7 you can see that I have a Shape hand grip arm. Vocas make a very similar one if you want to keep everything one brand, but I got given this shape arm to test while I was in Canada. It has a big red quick adjust button that allows you to alter the angle of the arm as well as a single thumb screw to alter the length. This is so much nicer than the standard Sony arm. In addition the combination of the wider Vocas base plate and Shape arm means that the remote handgrip arm now no longer fouls the tripod head in the same way that the standard Sony one does. The microphone mount is one from Alphatron that attaches to a 15mm rod and the microphone is a Sony stereo microphone (from one of my F3 cameras). The tripod shown in these pictures is a Miller Compass 15 head on a set of their really incredible “Solo” carbon fiber legs. This is a very light weight system, great for travelling, yet still stable and robust. The legs can extend to well above head hight and collapse down to just a few inches above the ground.

On the top of the camera you can see my trusty Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q monitor/ProRes recorder as well as an Alphatron Tristar 4 LED light.

DSC03809-1024x683 My PXW-FS7. Add-ons and configuration.
Alphatron Tristar 4 LED light.

While the Tristar 4 doesn’t look all that different from many of the other LED lights on the market it is quite a remarkable little light. For a start the quality of the light output really is quite exceptional. When tested by Alan Roberts it scored 86 on the TLC Index. TLCI index measures the spectral performance of a light in a way that determines how it will perform for video and television applications. This takes into account things like green shifts and other color issues common with LED and fluorescent lights that CRI does not measure very well. A score of 86 is very good, especially for a compact light at this price point. It’s called a TriStar because each of the LED’s actually has 3 emitters which helps provide a very uniform yet high power light output.

Another great thing about the Tristar 4 is it’s build quality. This light is built to last. It’s is very tough and can be dropped on a concrete floor or bashed into a door frame while walking through it with the camera on your shoulder without breaking. The Tristar 4 has variable intensity and color balance and can be powered from standard Sony NP-F type batteries. The light comes with a D-Tap cable and a ball head for camera mounting. I choose to power it from a D-Tap outlet on my PAG battery system.

DSC03804-1024x683 My PXW-FS7. Add-ons and configuration.
PAG PAGLINK Battery System

I love the PAGLINK battery system! I have them mounted on a V-Mount plate attached to a pair of 15mm rails on the rear of the camera. This helps balance the camera on my shoulder much better. If you are using the FS7 extension unit then the PAGLink batteries will go directly on to this. I’ll be writing more about these innovative batteries soon, but the key feature is the ability to stack several batteries together to produce a higher capacity pack or to charge several batteries at once with a single charger. Each battery has a sticker indicating that it complies with current regulations for hand carrying Li-Ion batts on aircraft and a copy of the test certificate is included with each pack. If you need to power accessories such as the Tristar 4 video light or the Convergent Design Odyssey then you can clip on the PAGLink Powerhub which can be configured with up to 4 D-Tap or Hirose connectors. It can also charge your phone via a USB socket on the bottom.

For lenses I am typically using either a Commlite EF adapter or Metabones Speedbooster EF adapter. I have a large selection of EF Mount lenses from Sigma, Tamron and Samyang.

DSC03806-1024x683 My PXW-FS7. Add-ons and configuration.
Vocas MB215 Matte box.

As most of these lenses are quite small I don’t need a giant matte box. So to keep the weight down I use a Vocas MB215 matte box. This has a single rotating tray for up to 4×6 filters plus a clever holder for a 4×4 filter in the front of the hood. One thing I really like is the 16×9 shaped aperture at the front of the Matte Box. This really helps reduce flare in the lens without having a big flag or barn doors which often get in the way when shooting run and gun. You can attach the matte box directly to the lens as a clip-on, but I prefer to mount it on rails. The rails at the front of the camera help protect the lens from bumps and knocks when putting it down on the ground.

DSC03814-1024x683 My PXW-FS7. Add-ons and configuration.
Vocas top cheese plate for the FS7

The final part to show you is the Vocas top cheese plate. If you look at the front of the cheese plate you will also see the additional mounting place for an alternate viewfinder attachment rod. The nice thing about this cheese plate is that you can install it without removing the handle, so you retain the cameras GPS and hotshoe functions. There are plenty of mounting points for accessories with both 1/4″ and 3/8″ threaded holes. The underside of the cheese plate is mostly hollow so it adds very little weight.

So there you have it. A quick run down of what my PXW-FS7 like to wear when it’s going out on a date.

Don’t forget I still have one place left for my wild weather workshop in June. Click here for details.

Ultimate Guide for Cine EI on the Sony PXW-FS7

Ultimate Guide to CineEI on the PXW-FS7 (Updated May 2016).

 

INTRODUCTION:

This guide to Cine-EI is based on my own experience with the Sony PXW-FS7. There are other methods of using LUT’s and CineEI. The method I describe below, to the best of my knowledge, follows standard industry practice for working with a camera that uses EI gain and LUT’s.

If you find the guide useful, please consider buying me a beer or a coffee. It took quite a while to prepare this guide and writing can be thirsty work.


Type



pixel Ultimate Guide for Cine EI on the Sony PXW-FS7

Through this guide I hope to help you get the very best from the Cine EI mode on the PXW-FS7.

The camera has two very distinct shooting mode, Cine EI and Custom Mode. In custom mode the camera behaves much like any other traditional video camera where what you see in the viewfinder is what’s recorded on the cards. In custom mode you can change many of the cameras settings such as gamma, matrix, sharpness etc to create the look you are after in-camera. “Baking-in” the look of your image in camera is great for content that will go direct to air or for fast turn around productions. But a baked-in look can be difficult to alter in post production. In addition it is very hard to squeeze every last drop of the picture information that the sensor can capture in to the recordings in this mode.

The other mode, Cine-EI, is primarily designed to allow you to record as much information about the scene as possible. The footage from the camera becoming, in effect a “digital negative” that can then be developed in post production and the final, highly polished look of the film or video created in post. In addition the Cine-EI mode mimics the way a film camera works giving the cinematographer the ability to rate the camera at different ISO’s to those specified by Sony. This can be used to alter the relative noise levels in the footage or to help deal with difficult lighting situations.

One further “non-standard” way to use Cine-EI is to use a LUT (Look Up Table) to create an in-camera look that can be baked in to the footage while you shoot. This offers an alternative to custom mode. Some users will find it easier to create a specific look for the camera using a LUT than they would by adjusting camera settings such as gamma and matrix.

MLUT’s and LOOK’s (both are types of Look Up Tables) are only available in the Cine-EI mode.


 

THE SIMPLIFIED VERSION:

Before I go through all the “why’” and “hows” first of all let me just say that actually, CineEI is easy. I’ve gone in to a lot of extra detail here so that you can fully master the mode and the concepts behind it.

But in it’s simplest form, all you need to do is to turn on the MLUT’s. Choose the MLUT that you like the look of, or is closest to the final look you are after. Expose so that the picture in the viewfinder or on your monitor looks how you want and away you go.

Then in post production bring in your S-log footage. Apply the same LUT as you used when you shot and the footage will look as shot. Or just grade the footage as desired without a LUT, it is not essential to use a LUT in post production.  As the footage you have shot is either raw or Slog you have a huge range of adjustment available to you in post.

THAT’S IT! If you want, it’s that simple (well almost).

If you want to get fancy you can create your own LUT and that’s really easy too (see the end of the document). If you want less noise in your pictures use a lower EI. I shoot using 800EI on my FS7 almost all the time.

Got an issue with a very bright scene and strong highlights, shoot with a high EI (this should only ever be a last resort, try to avoid using an EI higher than 2000EI).

Again, it’s really simple.

But anyway, lets learn more about it and why it works the way it works.

LATITUDE AND SENSITIVITY.

The latitude and sensitivity of the PXW-FS7, like most cameras is primarily governed by the latitude and sensitivity of the sensor. The latitude of the sensor in the FS7 is around 14 stops. Adding different amounts of conventional camera gain or using  different ISO’s does not alter the sensors actual sensitivity to light, only how much the signal from the sensor is amplified. This is like turning up or down the volume on a radio, the sound level gets higher or lower, but the strength of the radio signal is just the same. Turn it up loud and not only does the music get louder but also any hiss or noise, the ratio of signal to noise does not change, so BOTH the noise and the music get louder. Turn it up too loud and it will distort. If you don’t turn it up loud enough, you can’t hear it, but the radio signal itself does not change. It’s the same with a video cameras sensor. It always has the same sensitivity, With a conventional camera, or when the FS7 is in Custom Mode we can add or take away gain (volume control?) to make the pictures brighter or darker (louder?) but the noise levels will go up and down too.

NATIVE ISO:

Sony’s native ISO rating for the FS7 of 2000 ISO has been chosen by Sony to give a good trade off between sensitivity, noise and over/under exposure latitude. In general the native ISO will give excellent results. But there may be situations where you want or need different performance. For example you might prefer to trade off a little bit of over exposure headroom for a better signal to noise ratio, giving a cleaner, lower noise picture. Or you might need a very large amount of over exposure headroom to deal with a scene with lots of bright highlights.

The Cine EI mode allows you to change the effective ISO rating of the camera, without altering the dynamic range.

With film stocks the film manufacturer will determine the sensitivity of the film and give it an Exposure Index which is normally the equivalent of the films measured ASA/ISO.  It is possible for a skilled cinematographer to rate the film stock with a higher or lower ISO than the manufacturers rating to vary the look or compensate for filters and other factors. You then adjust the film developing and processing to give a correctly exposed looking image. This is a common tool used by cinematographers to modify the look of the film, but the film stock itself does not actually change it’s base sensitivity, it’s still the same film stock with the same base ASA/ISO.

Sony’s Cine EI mode and the EI modes on Red and Arri cameras are very similar. While it has many similarities to adding conventional video camera gain, the outcome and effect can be quite different. If you have not used it before it can be a little confusing, but once you understand the way it works it is very useful and a great way to shoot. Again, a key thing to remember that the actual sensitivity of the sensor itself never changes.


CONVENTIONAL VIDEO CAMERA GAIN.

Increasing conventional camera gain will reduce the cameras dynamic range as something that is recorded at maximum brightness (109%) at the native ISO or 0db would be pushed up above the peak recording level and we can’t record a signal larger than 109%. But as the true sensitivity of the sensor does not change, the darkest object the camera can actually detect remains the same. Dark objects may appear a bit brighter, but there is still a limit to how dark an object the camera can actually see and this is governed by the sensors noise floor and signal to noise ratio (how much noise there is in the image coming from the sensor).

Any very dark picture information will be hidden in the sensors noise. Adding gain will bring up both the noise and darkest picture information, so anything hidden in the noise at the native ISO (or 0db) will still be hidden in the noise at a higher gain or ISO as both the noise and small signal are amplified by the same amount. So adding gain does not extend the the ability to see further into the shadows, but does decrease the ability to record bright highlights. The net result of adding gain is a decrease in dynamic range.

Using negative gain or going lower than the native ISO may also reduce the dynamic range as picture information very close to black will be shifted down below black when you subtract gain or lower the ISO. At the same time there is a limit to how much light the sensor can deal with before the sensor itself overloads. So even though reducing the ISO or gain may make the picture darker, the sensors clipping/overload point remains the same, so there is no change to the upper dynamic range, just a reduction in recording level. The net result is you loose shadow information, don’t gain any highlight information, this again means a reduction in dynamic range.

See also this article on gain and dynamic range.

As Sony’s Slog2 and Slog3 are tailored to capture the cameras full 14 stop range this means that when shooting with Slog2 or Slog3 the gamma curve will ONLY work as designed and deliver the maximum dynamic range when the camera is at it’s native ISO. At any other recording ISO or gain level the dynamic range will be reduced. IE: If you were to use SLog2 or SLog3 with the camera in custom mode and not use the native ISO by adding gain or changing the ISO away from 2000, you will not get the full 14 stop range that the camera is capable of delivering.

 

EXPOSURE LEVELS FOR DIFFERENT GAMMA CURVES AND CONTRAST RANGES.

It’s important to understand that different gamma curves with different contrast ranges will require different exposure levels. The TV system that we use today is currently based around a standard known as Rec-709. This standard specifies the contrast range that a TV set or monitor can show and which recording levels represent which display brightness levels. Most traditional TV cameras are also based on this standard. Rec-709 does have some serious restrictions, the brightness and contrast range is very limited as these standards are based around TV standards and technologies developed 50 years ago. To get around this issue most TV cameras use methods such as a “knee” to compress together some of the brighter part of the scene in to a very small recording range.

A traditional TV camera with a limited dynamic range compresses only a small highlight range.

 

Slide2 Ultimate Guide for Cine EI on the Sony PXW-FS7
A traditional TV camera with a limited dynamic range compresses only a small highlight range.

As you can see in the illustration above only a very small part of the recording “bucket” is used to hold a moderately large compressed highlight range. In addition a typical TV camera can’t capture all of the range in many scenes anyway. The most important parts of the scene, from black to white, is captured more or less “as is”. This leaves just a tiny bit of space above white to squeeze in a few highly compressed highlights. The black to white range represents about 5 stops, these are the most important stops as the majority of things that are important fall in this range. Faces, skin tones, plants, buildings etc all fall within the black to white range. Anything brighter than white must be a direct light source such as the sky, a reflection or lamp.

The signal from the TV camera is then passed directly to the TV and as the shadows, mid range and skin tones etc are all at more or less the same level as captured the bulk of scene looks OK on the TV/Monitor. Any highlights or other brighter than white direct light sources may look a little “electronic” due to the very large amount of compression used.

But what happens if we want to record more of the scenes range or compress the highlights less? As the size of the recording “bucket”, the codec etc, does not change, in order to capture a greater range and fit it in to the same space, we have to re-distribute how we record things.

Recording a greater dynamic range into the same sized bucket.

Slide3 Ultimate Guide for Cine EI on the Sony PXW-FS7
Recording a greater dynamic range into the same sized bucket.

Above you can see instead of just compressing a small part of the highlights we are now capturing the full dynamic range of the scene. To do this we have altered the levels that everything is recorded at. Blacks and shadows are recorded lower, greys and mids are lower and white is a lot lower. By bringing all these levels down, we make room in our recording bucket for the highlights and the really bright stuff without them being excessively compressed.

The problem with this though is that when you output the picture to a monitor or TV it looks odd. It will lack contrast as the really bright stuff is displayed at the same brightness as the conventional 709 highlights. White is now darker then faces would be with a conventional TV camera.

This is how S-Log works:

This is how Slog works. By re-distributing the recording levels we can squeeze a much bigger dynamic range into the same size recording bucket. But it won’t look right when viewed directly on a standard TV or monitor. It may look dark and certainly a bit washed out. This is because the cameras gamma curve now no longer matches the monitors gamma curve.

I hope you can also see from this that whenever the cameras gamma curve does not match that of the TV/Monitor, the picture might not look quite right. Even when correctly exposed, white may be at different levels, depending on the gamma being used, especially if the gamma curve has a greater range than the normal Rec-709 used in old school TV cameras.

 


 

THE CORRECT EXPOSURE LEVELS FOR SLOG-2 and SLOG-3.

Before we go any further lets just look at the correct exposure levels for SLog-2 and SLog-3 as recommended by Sony. As these gamma curves have a very large dynamic range the recording levels that they use are very different to the levels used by the normal 709 gamma curve used for conventional TV. As a result when correctly exposed, Slog looks dark and low contrast on a conventional monitor or in the viewfinder. The table below has the correct levels for middle grey (grey card) and 90% reflectance white (a white card) for the different types of Slog.

log-exposure-1024x190 Ultimate Guide for Cine EI on the Sony PXW-FS7
Correct exposure levels for Sony’s Slog.

Correct exposure levels for Sony’s Slog.

The white level in particular is a lot lower than we would normally use for TV gamma. This is done to give extra space above white to fit in the extended range that the camera is capable of capturing, all those bright highlights, bright sky and clouds and other things that cameras with a smaller dynamic range struggle to capture.

SETTING THE CORRECT EXPOSURE.

Let’s now take a look at how to set the correct starting point exposure for SLog-3. You can use a light meter if you wish, but if you do want to use a light meter I would first suggest you check the calibration of the light meter by using the grey card method below and comparing what the light meter tells you with the results you get with a grey or white card.

The most accurate method is to use a good quality grey card and a waveform display. For the screen shots seen here I used a Lastolite EzyBalance Calibration Card. This is a pop up grey card/white card that fits in a pocket but expands to about 30cm/1ft across giving a decent sized target. It has middle grey on one side and 90% reflectance white on the other. With the MLUT’s off, set the exposure so that the grey card is exposed at the appropriate level (see table above). If the firmware in your camera is up to date (at least version 3.0) you can set the zebras to 32% or 41% to do this or use an external monitor with a waveform display. The FS7’s built in waveform display is very had to use as it is so small and has no scale. I also recommend the use of a DSC Labs “One Shot” chart. The front of the chart has a series of color references that can be used in post production to set up your base color correction while the rear of the chart has both a large middle grey and 90% white square.

 

USING THE FS7’s WAVEFORM MONITOR OR ZEBRAS TO SET THE CORRECT BASE S-LOG3 EXPOSURE.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you use a LUT, The Zebras measure the viewfinder image, so if a LUT is on for the the viewfinder, then the zebras measure the LUT. If there is no viewfinder LUT then the zebras measure the S-Log.

The Waveform Monitor and Histogram measure the SDI2 levels. So if you have a LUT on for SDI2 then the LUT levels are measured. If there is no LUT on SDI2 then the S-Log levels are measured.

See this video for more information on the Waveform, Histogram and Zebras:

The internal waveform display settings are found in the menu under:

VF: Display On/Off: Video Signal Monitor.

LUT-middlegrey41 Ultimate Guide for Cine EI on the Sony PXW-FS7
Setting the correct exposure for Slog-3 using a grey card. Middle grey should be 41%

Setting the correct exposure for Slog-3 using a grey card. Middle Grey should be 41%

If you don’t have access to a better waveform display you can use a white card or grey card and zebras. When using zebras I prefer to use white as the reference as it is easier to see the zebras on a white target than a grey one. By setting up the Zebras with a narrow aperture window of around 3% you can get a very accurate exposure assessment for white. For SLog-3 set the Zebras to 3% aperture and the level at 61%.  For Slog-2 set the zebra level to 59%. To be honest, if you were to set the zebras to 60% this is going to work for both S-Log2 and S-Log3, a 1% error is too small to make any difference and variations in lighting or the white target will be greater than 1% anyway.

Setting up the Zebras to measure S-Log3 exposure of white card (90% reflectance white card).

zebras61 Ultimate Guide for Cine EI on the Sony PXW-FS7
Setting up the Zebras to measure S-Log3 exposure of white card (90% reflectance white card).

Correct exposure for S-Log3 when using a 90% reflectance white target.

LUT-white61 Ultimate Guide for Cine EI on the Sony PXW-FS7
Correct exposure for S-Log3 when using a 90% reflectance white target.

The image above shows the use of both the Zebras and Waveform to establish the correct exposure level for S-Log3 when using a 90% reflectance white card or similar target. Please note that very often a piece of white paper or a white card etc will be a little bit brighter than a calibrated 90% white card. If using typical bleached white printer paper I suggest you add around 4% to the white values in the above chart to prevent under exposure.

This will get you to the base exposure recommended by Sony, without using a LUT. But very often we want to expose brighter than this to improve the signal to noise ratio.

See also the video below for information on how to setup and use S-Log2 and S-Log3 in the CineEI mode:

 

USING LUTS’s and CINE EI:

SO HOW DOES CINE-EI WORK?

FS7-CineEI-seletion-page-1024x576 Ultimate Guide for Cine EI on the Sony PXW-FS7
Selecting Cine EI in base settings on the PXW-FS7

Cine EI is selected in the Base Settings page. It works in YPbPr, RGB and Raw main operation modes.

Cine-EI (Exposure Index) works differently to conventional camera gain. It’s operation is similar in other cameras that use Cine-EI or EI gain such as the F5, F55, F3, F65, Red or Alexa. You enable Cine-EI mode in the camera menus Base Settings page. On the F5 and F55 it works in YPbPr, RGB and RAW modes.

IMPORTANT: In the Cine-EI mode the ISO of the recordings remains fixed at the cameras native ISO (unless baking in a LUT,  more on that later). By always recording at the cameras native ISO you will always have 14 stops of dynamic range.

YOU NEED TO USE A LUT FOR CINE EI TO WORK:

You can only use LUT’s in the CineEI mode. In addition in order to be able to have LUT’s on for the Viewfinder, HDMI / SDI2, but NOT on the SD1 & Internal Rec you cannot set the HDMI to output 4K, you can only use HD or 2K.

FS7-Output-Settings-1024x576 Ultimate Guide for Cine EI on the Sony PXW-FS7
PXW-FS7 output options.

So for most applications you will want to set your SDI and HDMI outputs to HD/2K in order to ba able to use the LUT system as designed for CineEI. For reference (2-3PD) means 2-3 pull down is added for 24p footage, so the output will be 60i with 24p footage sgown using pull down. PsF means progressive segmented frame which is the normal HDSDI standard for progressive output. Any of the HD or 2K output modes will allow the use of LUT’

 

Important: For Cine-EI mode to work as expected you MUST monitor your pictures in the viewfinder or via the SDI/HDMI output through one of the cameras built in MLUT’s (Look Up Table), LOOK’s or User3D LUT’s. So make sure you have the MLUT’s turned on. If you don’t have a LUT then it won’t work as expected because the EI gain is applied to the cameras LUT’s.

At this stage just set the MLUT’s to on for the Sub&HDMI output and the Viewfinder out.

 

FS7-LUT-settings-1024x576 Ultimate Guide for Cine EI on the Sony PXW-FS7
PXW-FS7 Lut selection settings.

The LUT’s are then turned on in the VIDEO: Monitor LUT: settings page of the menu. You will normally want to turn ON LUT’s for SDI2, HDMI and the VIEWFINDER (not seen in the image above, simply scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the VIEWFINDER option). For normal CinEI use you should leave SD1 & Internal Rec OFF as we don’t want to record the LUT, just monitor via the LUT.

EXPOSING VIA THE LUT/LOOK.

When viewing or monitoring via a LUT you should adjust your exposure so that the picture in the viewfinder looks correctly exposed. If the LUT is correctly exposed then The S-Log recording will also be correctly exposed. As a point of reference, middle grey for Rec-709 and the 709(800) LUT should be at, or close to 44% and white will be 90%. Skin tones and faces will be at the normal TV level of around 65-70%. As these levels are waht we are used to seeing with a conventional video camera, this makes judging exposure easy.

This is really quite simple, generally speaking when using a Rec709  LUT, if it looks right in the viewfinder, it probably is right. However it is important to note that different LUT’s will have slightly different optimum exposure levels. For example the 709(800) LUT is designed to be a very close match to the 709 gamma curve used in the majority of monitors, so this particular LUT is really simple to use because if the picture looks normal on the monitor then your exposure will also be normal. The included 709(800) LUT is the most accurate LUT for exposure as this matches the gamma used in the majority of monitors. This LUT produces a nice contrasty image that is easy to focus. It is not meant to be pretty! It is a tool to help you get accurate exposure simply and easily.

Correct exposure of Middle Grey for the 709(800) MLUT. Middle Grey should be 44%. 90% white (a white piece of paper) will be 90% and skin tones will be around 65-70%.

Correct exposure of the 709(800) LUT using a 90% white card, white will be 90%. You can use zebras at 90% to check this level (remember zebras etc measure the LUT exposure level when LUT’s are turned on).

LUT-middlegrey42 Ultimate Guide for Cine EI on the Sony PXW-FS7
Correct exposure of Middle Grey for the 709(800) MLUT. Middle Grey should be 42%. 90% will be 90%.
LUT-white90 Ultimate Guide for Cine EI on the Sony PXW-FS7
Correct exposure of the 709(800) LUT using a 90% white card, white will be 90%. You can use zebras at 90% to check this level.

The above images show the correct exposure levels for the 709(800) LUT. Middle grey should be 44% and 90% white is… well 90%. Very simple and you can easily use zebras to check the white level by setting them to 90%. As middle grey is where it normally is on a TV or monitor and white is also where you would expect to see it, when using the 709(800) LUT, if the picture looks right in the viewfinder then it generally is right. This means that the 709(800) LUT is particularly well suited to being used to set exposure as a correctly exposed scene will look “normal” on a 709 TV or monitor. SIMPLE!

I don’t recommend the use of any of the other LUT’s to set exposure because all of the other LUT’s have brightness ranges that are different to Rec-709. As a result the LUT has to be exposed at non standard levels to ensure the S-Log is exposed correctly. You can use any of the other LUT’s or LOOK if you really wish, but you will need to figure out the correct exposure levels for each LUT.

The LC709-TypeA Look is very popular as a LUT for the FS7 as it closely mimics the images you get from an Arri Alexa (“type A” = type Arri).

The “LC” part of the Look’s name means Low Contrast and this also means – big dynamic range. Whenever you take a big dynamic range (lots of shades) and show it on a display with a limited dynamic range (limited shades) all the shades in the image get squeezed together to fit into the monitors limited range and as a result the contrast gets reduced. This also means that middle grey and white are also squeezed closer together. With conventional 709 middle grey would be 42% and white around 80-90%, but with a high dynamic range/low Contrast gamma curve white gets squeezed closer to grey to make room for the extra dynamic range. This means that middle grey will remain close to 42% but white reduces to around 72%. So for the LC709 Looks in the FS7 optimum exposure is to have middle grey at 42% and white at 72%. Don’t worry too much if you don’t hit those exact numbers, a little bit either way does little harm.

Correct white level for the LC709 LOOK’s. White should be around 72%

LUT-white72 Ultimate Guide for Cine EI on the Sony PXW-FS7
Correct white level for the LC709 LOOK’s. White should be around 72%

 

Top Tip: Not sure how many people are aware of this function and how it works, but it’s a great way to get around the inability to easily turn the LUT’s on and off in the CineEI mode.

Assign the Hi/Low Key option to one of your assignable buttons. So when using the 709(800) LUT (or any other LUT for that matter) the first press of the button darkens the VF image so you can see what highlights beyond the range of the LUT are doing exposure wise. This allows you to check for clipping that may be present in the much wider range S-log recordings. Press it again and you will see the image brighten allowing you to see further into the shadows so you can see the darkest things being captured by the S-log recordings. The Hi/Low Key function is a great way of seeing your full available exposure range without needing to turn the LUT on and off.

LUT EXPOSURE LEVELS FOR THE OTHER LUTS.

Here are some white levels for some of the built in LUT’s. The G40 or G33 part of the HG LUT’s is the recommended value for middle grey. Use these levels for the zebras if you want to check the correct exposure of a 90% reflectance white card. I have also include an approximate zebra value for a piece of typical white printer paper.

709(800) = Middle Grey 42%. 90% Reflectance white 90%, white paper 92%.

HG8009(G40) = Middle Grey 40%. 90% Reflectance white 83%, white paper 86%.

HG8009(G33) = Middle Grey 33%. 90% Reflectance white 75%, white paper 80%.

The “LC709” LOOK’s = Middle Grey 42%. 90% Reflectance white 72%, white paper 77%.

DONT PANIC if you don’t get these precise levels! I’m giving them to you here so you have a good starting point. A little bit either way will not hurt. Again, generally speaking if it looks right in the viewfinder or on your monitor screen, it is probably close enough not to worry about it.

BUT, again I would suggest sticking to the 709(800) LUT for setting exposure. It’s not the prettiest LUT, but is the only one of the included LUT’s that gives the correct, normal, brightness and contrast range on a conventional monitor, viewfinder or TV. If you want to keep things simple and accurate use 709(800).

USING EI OR EXPOSURE INDEX.

What is EI? EI stands for Exposure Index. This is NOT the same thing as ISO.

ISO is the sensitivity of the camera. ISO is the sensitivity that the camera records at.

EI is the sensitivity of the LUT. EI is the brightness at which the LUT displays the scene.

The FS7 has a native ISO of 2000 and the camera always records at 2000 ISO in the Cine EI mode.

But the EI of the LUT can be varied to make the LUT brighter and darker. the only thing EI changes is the brightness of the LUT. But when exposing via the LUT, if the LUT is made darker, to compensate for the dark looking LUT you open the aperture to let in more light. This will make the LUT look correct again. It will also result in a recording that is brighter than normal as we have opened the aperture.

CHANGING THE EI.

Latitude Indication.

At the native 2000 EI you have 6 stops of over exposure latitude and 8 stops of under exposure latitude (6 stops above middle grey and 8 stops below middle grey). This is how much headroom your shot has. Your over exposure latitude is indicated whenever you change the EI level. In the image below you can see the EI 2000EI followed by a 6.0E the 6.0E is the over exposure latitude.

FS7-EI-indication-2-1024x576 Ultimate Guide for Cine EI on the Sony PXW-FS7
The EI and Lattitude indication on the FS7.

The EI gain is altered by changing the cameras gain switch and the EI levels assigned to each of the Hi/Mid/Low switch positions can be changed in the camera menu. I recommend setting the EI steps to H 2000, M 1000 and L 500 as this allows you to select the native EI plus 1 stop and 2 stops down (each time you halve the ISO you are shifting the exposure one stop down).

FS7-ISO-settings-page-1024x576 Ultimate Guide for Cine EI on the Sony PXW-FS7
The PXW-FS7 EI settings for the gain switch.

REDUCING THE EI.

So what happens when you halve the EI gain to 1000EI?  1 stop of gain/ISO will subtracted from the LUT. As a result the picture you see via the LUT becomes one stop darker (a good thing to know is that 1 stop of exposure is the same as 6db of gain or a doubling or halving of the ISO). So the picture in the viewfinder gets darker. But also remember that the camera will still be recording at the native ISO (unless baking-in the LUT).


 

Why does this happen and what’s happening to my pictures?

First of all lets take a look at the scene, as seen in the cameras viewfinder when we are at the native 2000 EI and then with the EI changed one stop down so it becomes 1000EI. The native ISO on the left, the one stop lower EI on the right.

VF-side-by-side Ultimate Guide for Cine EI on the Sony PXW-FS7
2000EI and 1000EI as seen in the viewfinder with NO exposure change.

2000EI and 1000EI as seen in the viewfinder with NO exposure change.

So, in the viewfinder, when you lower the EI by one stop (halving the EI) the picture becomes darker by 1 stop. If using an external monitor with a waveform display connected to SDI2 or the HDMI output this too would get darker and the waveform levels decrease by one stop.

As a camera operator, what do you do when you have a dark picture? Well most people would normally compensate for a dark looking image by opening the iris to compensate. As we have gone one stop darker with the EI gain, making the LUT 1 stop darker, to return the viewfinder image back to the same brightness as it was at the native EI you would open the iris by one stop.

So now, after reducing the EI by one stop and then compensating by opening the iris by 1 stop, the viewfinder image is the same brightness as it was when we started.

But what’s happening to my recordings?

Remember the recordings, whether on the XQD card (assuming the SD1 & Internal Rec LUT is OFF) are always at the cameras native 2000 ISO, no matter what the EI is set to. As a result, because you will have opened the iris by 1 stop to compensate for the dark viewfinder image the recording will have become 1 stop brighter. Look at the image below to see what we see in the viewfinder alongside what is actually being recorded. The EI offset exposure with aperture correction as seen in the viewfinder (left hand side) looks normal, while the actual native ISO recording (right hand side) is 1 stop brighter.

At 1000EI the Viewfinder image on the left is 1 stop darker than the actual recorded image (on the right) which is recorded at the native 2000 ISO.

VF-and-Internal Ultimate Guide for Cine EI on the Sony PXW-FS7

How does this help us, what are the benefits?

When you take this brighter recorded image in to post production the colorist will have to bring the levels back down to normal as part of the grading process. As he/she will be reducing the levels in post production by around 1 stop (6db) any noise in the picture will also be reduced by 6db. The end result is a picture with 6db less noise than if shot at the native EI. Another benefit may be that as the scene was exposed brighter you will be able to see more shadow information.

Is there a down side to using a low EI?

Because the actual recorded exposure is brighter by one stop you have one stop less headroom. However the PXW-FS7 has an abundance of headroom so the loss of one stop is often not going to cause a problem. I find that going between 1 and 1.5 EI stops down rarely results in any highlight issues. But when shooting very high contrast scenes and using a low EI it is worth toggling the LUT on and off to check for clipping in the SLog image.

It’s also worth noting the S-Log does not have a highlight roll off. Each stop above middle grey is recorded with the same amount of data, so exposing brighter by a stop or two does not alter the contrast as it would with a standard gamma. So over exposing log is NOT a bad thing. It is in fact in most cases highly beneficial.

Log gamma curves have very little picture information in the shadows, so if we can expose brighter our shadows will look much better. 

What is happening to my exposure range?

What you are doing is moving the mid point of your exposure range up in the case of a lower EI (up because you are opening the aperture, thus making the recordings brighter). This allows the camera to see deeper into the shadows increasing the under exposure latitude, but reduces the over exposure latitude. The reverse is also possible. If you use a higher EI you shift your mid point down. This gives you more headroom for dealing with very bright highlights, but you won’t see as far into the shadows and the final pictures will be a little noisier as in post production the overall levels will have to be brought up to compensate for the darker overall recordings.

Cine-EI allows us to shift our exposure mid point up and down.  Lowering the EI gain gives you a darker VF image so you compensate by opening the aperture which results in brightly exposed footage. This reduces over exposure headroom but increases under exposure range (and improves the signal to noise ratio). Adding EI gain gives a brighter Viewfinder image which makes you expose the recordings darker, which gives you more headroom but with less underexposure range (and a worse signal to noise ratio).

When shooting with almost any CineEI camera I will use an EI that is between 1 and 2 stops darker than the base settings. So on the FS7 I normally set the EI to 800 EI. It’s very rare to get any highlight problems at 800 EI and the improvement this low EI brings to the noise levels in the image is very nice.

Slide01 Ultimate Guide for Cine EI on the Sony PXW-FS7

Post Production.

When shooting raw information about the EI gain is stored in the clips metadata. The idea is that this metadata can be used by the grading or editing software to adjust the clips exposure level in the edit or grading application so that it looks correctly exposed (or at least exposed as you saw it in the viewfinder via the LUT). The metadata information is recorded alongside the XAVC footage when shooting SLog2/3. However, currently few edit applications or grading applications use this metadata to offset the exposure, so S-Log2/3 material may look dark/bright when imported into your edit application and you may need to add a correction to return the exposure to a “normal” level. You can use a correction LUT to move the exposure up and when I provide LUT sets on this website I will always try to include LUT’s for over and under exposure. Another way to deal with brightly exposed log footage in post production is to first apply an “S” curve using the luma curve tool to the log. Then a simple gain adjustment will shift the exposure.

See this video for detailed information on how to expose using CineEI:

 


 WHAT IF YOU ARE SHOOTING USING HFR (High Frame Rate) AND LUT’S CANT BE USED.

In HFR you can either have LUT’s on for everything including internal recording, or all off, no LUT’s at all. This is not helpful if your primary recordings are internal S-Log.

So for HFR in many cases you will have to just work viewing the native S-log. If you set zebras to 70% and expose a white card at 70% this will result in S-Log footage that is 1.2 – 1.5 stops over exposed. This is the same as shooting at 800 EI and I highly recomend this approach for HFR (slow motion) shooting as it will help clean up the additional noise that you see when shooting HFR.

 

BAKING IN THE LUT/LOOK.

When shooting using a high or low EI, the EI gain is added or subtracted from the LUT or LOOK, this makes the picture in the viewfinder or monitor fed via the LUT brighter or darker depending on the EI used. In Cine-EI mode you want the camera to always actually record the S-log at the cameras native 2000 ISO. So normally you want to leave the LUT’s OFF for the internal recording. Just in case you missed that very important point: normally you want to leave the LUT’s OFF for the internal recording!

FS7-Lut-settings-2-1024x576 Ultimate Guide for Cine EI on the Sony PXW-FS7
You need to turn ON the SD1 and Internal Rec LUT t “Bake In” a LUT. Normally leave this OFF.

Just about the only exceptions to this might be when shooting raw or when you want to deliberately record with the LUT/Look baked in to your XQD recordings. By “baked-in” I mean with the gamma, contrast and color of the LUT/Look permanently recorded as part of the recording. You can’t remove this LUT/look later if it’s “baked-in”.

No matter what the LUT/Look settings, if you’re recording raw on an external raw recorder, recorder the raw is always recorded at 2000 ISO.  But the internal XQD recordings are different. It is possible, if you choose, to apply a LUT/LOOK to the XQD recordings by setting the “SDI1 & Internal Rec” LUT to ON. The gain of the recorded LUT/LOOK will be altered according to the CineEI gain settings. This might be useful to provide an easy to work with proxy file for editing, with the LUT/LOOK baked-in while shooting raw. Or as a way to create an in-camera look or style for material that won’t be graded. Using a baked-in LUT/LOOK for a production that won’t be graded or only have minimal grading is an interesting alternative to using Custom Mode that should be considered for fast turn-around productions.

In most cases however you will probably not have a LUT applied to your primary recordings. If shooting in S-Log you must set LUT – OFF for “SDI1 & Internal Rec” See the image above. With “SDI1 & Internal Rec” Off the internal recordings, without LUT, will be SLog2 or Slog3 and at 2000 ISO.

You can tell what it is that the camera is actually recording by looking in the viewfinder. At the center right side of the display there is an indication of what is being recorded on the cards. Normally for Cine-EI this should say either SLog2 or Slog3. If it indicates something else, then you are baking the LUT in to the internal recordings.

LUT-Slog3-indication Ultimate Guide for Cine EI on the Sony PXW-FS7
The internal recording gamma is shown on the right of the VF. This is recording SLog-3
LUT-LUT709-indication Ultimate Guide for Cine EI on the Sony PXW-FS7
The indication here shows that the 709(800) LUT is being baked-in to the internal recordings.

CINE-EI SUMMARY:

CineEI allows you to “rate” the camera at different ISO.

You MUST use a LUT for CineEI to work as designed.

A low EI number will result in a brighter exposure which will improve the signal to noise ratio giving a cleaner picture or allow you to see more shadow detail. However you will loose some over exposure headroom.

A high EI number will result in a darker exposure which will improve the over exposure headroom but decrease the under exposure range. The signal to noise ratio is worse so the final picture may end up with more noise.

A 1D LUT will not clip and appear to overexpose as readily as a 3D LOOK when using a low EI, so a 1D LUT may be preferable.

When viewing via a 709 LUT you expose using normal 709 exposure levels. Basically if it looks right in the viewfinder or on the monitor (via the 709 LUT) it almost certainly is right.

When I shoot with my FS7 I normally rate the camera at between 800 and 1000EI. I find that 5 stops of over exposure range is plenty for most situations and I prefer the decrease in noise in the final pictures. But please, test and experiment for yourself.


 

QUICK GUIDE TO CREATING YOUR OWN LOOK’s (Using DaVinci Resolve).

It’s very easy to create your own 3D LUT for the FS7 using DaVinci Resolve or just about any grading software with LUT export capability. The LUT should be a 17x17x17 or 33x33x33 .cube LUT. This is what Resolve creates by default and .cube LUT’s are the most common types of LUT in use today.

First simply shoot some test Slog3 clips at 2000EI. In addition you should also use the same color space (S.Gamut or S.Gamut3.cine) for the test shot as you will when you want to use the LUT. I recommend shooting a variety of clips so that you can asses how the LUT will work in different lighting situations.

Import and grade the clips from the test shoot in Resolve creating the look that you are after for your production or as you wish your footage to appear in the viewfinder of the camera. Then once your happy with the look of the graded clip, right click on the clip in the timeline and “Export LUT”. Resolve will then create and save a .cube LUT.

Then place the .cube LUT file created by the grading software on an SD card in the PMWF55_F5 folder. You may need to create the following folder structure on the SD card. So first you have a PRIVATE folder, in that there is a SONY folder and so on.

PRIVATE   :   SONY   :    PRO   :   CAMERA   :    PMWF55_F5

Put the SD card in the camera, then go to the “File” menu and go to “Monitor 3D LUT” and select “Load SD Card”. The camera will offer you a 1 to 4 destination memory selection. Choose 1,2,3 or 4, this is the memory location where the LUT will be saved. You should then be presented with a list of all the LUT’s on the SD card. Select your chosen LUT to save it from the SD card to the camera.

Once loaded in to the camera when you choose 3D User LUT’s you can select between user LUT memory 1,2,3 or 4. Your LUT will be in the memory you selected when you copied the LUT from the SD card to the camera.

 

How to use S-Log3 on the Sony PXW-FS7.

So with the FS7 now shipping and the first units landing in peoples hands I have put together a comprehensive guide to using S-Log3 and CineEI on the PXW-FS7. Please follow this link to read or download the guide to CineEI on the PXW-FS7.

It’s important to note that S-Log3 has a peak recording level of 92IRE so never goes above this. Don’t be surprised to find that your overall levels are going to be much lower than you would normally use for conventional 709 shooting. In addition I can’t stress enough how important it is to learn how to use LUT’s (look up tables) in camera and in post production with this camera. It will make your life so much simpler and easier. LUT’s may sound complicated and difficult, but they are not. If you want to create your own LUT’s take a look at this guide here.

The FS7 is an incredibly powerful camera. But if you really want to get the most from the Cine-EI mode and S-Log then you need to adjust the way you shoot. You can’t just apply normal Rec-709 exposure levels to S-Log3, it’s not designed to work that way. However by using the 709(800) LUT on the viewfinder output you can expose based on the viewfinder image as you would normally, while the S-Log3 recordings will be at the correct levels. So do learn how to implement LUT’s correctly, it will make your life so much easier. Take a look at this video for an idea of how it works. The video features an F5 but the FS7 is the same.

While you’re at it you might also want to take a look at this article on the S-log3 gamma curve. Many people will look at the S-log and think that it looks noisy and be worried by this. You shouldn’t be. The shape of the log curve means that before grading and application of a LUT it can emphasise noise. However once you use a LUT to convert from S-log3 to 709 you will find that most of the noise will go away. Again, please use a LUT as simply trying to grade S-log3 in to 709 space is often not as effective as adding the right LUT. If you really know what you are doing, by using S-Curves and log grading tools it is possible to grade the native S-log3 in a 709 environment, but LUT’s do make it simpler. Another useful way to get from S-log3 to 709 is to use the new color chart tool in Resolve which recognises and corrects either a Macbeth chart or DSC One Shot chart to the correct levels automatically. When you set up this process in Resolve you will select the source gamma as S-Log3 so the correction compensates for the gamma curve as well as adding color correction. I’lll write this up in more depth in the next couple of weeks.

So enjoy your FS7 if you have one. As soon as mine arrives I will write up the correct way (or at least the designed way) to use the Cine-EI mode, in the mean time the F5/F55 Cine-EI guide can be used, the process is exactly the same on the FS7.