Zebras and Log – Use a narrower window/range.

If you are using Zebras to measure the exposure of a log gamma curve you should consider using a narrower Zebra window.


From middle grey to white (50% to 90%) in the world of standard dynamic range Rec-709 each stop occupies approximately 16% of the recording range. Typically the default zebra window or zebra range used by most cameras is 10% (often +/- 5%). So, when Zebras are set to 70% they will appear at 65% and go away at 75%. For Rec-709 and most conventional SDR gammas this window or range is around 3/4 of a stop, so less than 1 full stop and generally reasonably accurate.

But if using most Cineon based log curves, such as Sony’s S-Log3, between middle grey and white (41% to 61%) each stop only occupies around 8% of the recording range, half the range used by Rec-709. As a result if you use a default 10% zebra window, zebras will appear over a 1.2 stop range, this is excessive and introduces a large margin of exposure error. Compared to Rec-709 the zebras will only be half as precise, especially if you are trying to measure the brightness of a grey card or white card.

I recommend reducing the width of the Zebra window to 6% when using Zebras to measure skin tones within the S-Log3 image (if measuring a Rec-709 LUT there is no need to change the window). This will then give a similar range and accuracy to a 10% window in 709. If you are using zebras to measure a white card or grey card then consider bringing the zebra window down to 2%  to gain a more accurate reading of the white/grey card.

fx-cameras-zebras_4.32.1-scaled Zebras and Log - Use a narrower window/range.
FX6(left) and FX3 (right) zebras set to measure S-Log3 white card exposure.

The zebra window or range can normally adjusted in the cameras menu under the zebra settings. On the Sony Alpha’s and and FX3/FX30 you can adjust the range of the C1 and C2 custom zebras.

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