Tag Archives: ND

This is what Burano excels at.

Is Sony’s Burano perfect? No, it isn’t, but then I don’t think there is a “perfect” camera. 
Is Burano a “baby Venice”. No, it isn’t, that’s not what it was ever meant to be, for a start it’s around a third of the price of a Venice 2. It has a different sensor and it doesn’t have all the same scan modes and codecs as a Venice. But there are some things that Burano can do that Venice can’t.
Having recently spent almost a week in Norway using Burano for a shoot I have to say that it would have been next to impossible to have shot what I did, at the quality level that I was able to with any other camera.
wind-mountain_1.10.1-600x338 This is what Burano excels at.
Strong winds over the mountains were a feature of the trip.

I was shooting in extremely challenging conditions. Although a lot of the time it was bright and sunny it was also cold (around -12c to -16c)  with very high winds, the kind of winds that will shake a camera on a tripod enough to make any attempt at a long shot unusable.  However Burano’s built in IBIS stabilisation allowed me to get stable shots even up in the mountains in winds that threatened to rip the door off the car every time I opened it and made standing up challenging.
mountains_3.1.1-600x338 This is what Burano excels at.
Burano’s IBIS was a big help when filming on the ferries and in the wind.
The weather was highly changeable but often extremely bright. The variable ND filter allowed me to dial in the most appropriate amount of ND quickly and easily and was much easier than dealing with external filters in the strong winds and cold. Being able to just turn a dial and have the right amount of ND allows you to choose the aperture you want. You don’t have to use faster shutter speeds to deal with high light levels. Using a matte box in strong winds tends to make the camera wobble more as a matte-box is about as aerodynamic as a kite.   
The AF made getting the focus right very easy. When you are wearing bulky gloves to keep your hands warm operating focus rings is more difficult. When you are trying to work fast to grab a shot in very cold conditions getting the focus right quickly allows you to minimise the amount of time you need to be out in the cold wind.
village_1.16.1-600x338 This is what Burano excels at.
On the bright sunny days having the viewfinder loupe was a life saver. Trying to see any LCD screen and appreciate the contrast correctly when everything around you is brilliantly bright and white is difficult even with a deep hood and bright screen. But being able to close the loupe and look into the completely shielded viewfinder made it easy. You are viewing the image in a perfectly dark viewfinder, so the contrast you see is correct, the brightness you see is correct. This makes it easy to understand whether your exposure is correct and it’s also easy to see whether the shots are in focus.

over-fjord2_3.3.1-600x338 This is what Burano excels at.
Aurora over the fjords near Tromso.
Then shooting the Northern Lights at night the 16 bit X-OCN combined with the upper of the dual base ISO’s and S&Q motion allowed me to shoot some pretty faint Aurora’s while retaining the kind of post production flexibility that previously I would only have had by shooting raw still images. Every frame of the video has the quality you would have with a raw photograph. This makes grading and adjustments easy. In addition, by shooting at 8K any noise you do have is much finer and as a result post production noise reduction tends to be much more effective. Shooting the faint Aurora’s that I had on this trip with Burano was easy and I’m really pleased with the outcome. 
over-alta-church_10.1.1-600x338 This is what Burano excels at.
The Aurora over the Northern Lights Cathedral in Alta, shot with Sony Burano.

Another nice thing about Burano is the fast boot up time and relatively low power consumption for a camera that shoots 8K raw. I was using my trusty Paglink 100Wh batteries and a single battery would run the camera for over 2 hours. When shooting timelapse of the Aurora I could stack 2 batteries together confident that this would give me close to 5 hours of continuous shoot time and the ability to hot swap the rearmost battery if necessary to extend this.

What about the rolling shutter? Admittedly, I wasn’t shooting fast action, but I did shoot from a moving ferry boat, did shoot lots of pans across the landscapes, did shoot blowing snow. There was no time where I felt I couldn’t get the shots I wanted to shoot, no time where I was concerened about rolling shutter. I used F5’s and FX9’s (which has a worse rolling shutter) to shoot storms and severe weather, drama and documentaries and it hasn’t been a significant issue. For me Burano reminds me a lot of the F5 that I shot with for so many years, only with better image quality and the added bonus of IBIS and great auto focus.

boats_1.24.1-600x338 This is what Burano excels at.
Fishing boats in the harbour at Honningsvag, Norway.
Sure: I could have used multiple cameras, each optimised for each part of the shoot.  But I was travelling on my own and only having to shift one set of gear around, in and out of a different hotel each night, flying with just one camera etc is so much easier than dealing with multiple cameras. This is where Burano excels. Not everything about Burano is perfect, of course less rolling shutter would be nice, but as a package it is a very capable camera and idea for this kind of shoot where you want the best quality you can get but need to work fast, be very mobile, 

Not all ND filters are created equal.

Over the last 2 weeks I have been shooting some tests for a major feature film. The tests involved a special process that involves the use of  Infrared light and shooting outdoors. 

On the test day we had some fairly bright light levels to deal with. So as you would normally do we added some ND filtration to reduce the light levels. Most of the equipment for the shoot was on hire from Panavision, the main cameras being Panavised Sony Venices with PV70 mounts and Panavison lenses. But for reasons I can’t go into yet, we were unable to use the Venice internal ND filters, so we had to use external ND’s.

The first ND’s we used were circular Tiffen IRND’s that were the correct size for the PV lenses. But much to my surprise these made very little difference to the amount of IR reaching the camera. For our application they were absolutely no good. Fortunately, I had a set of Formatt Hitech IRND’s in my camera bag and when we tried these we got an equal visible and infrared cut. So, the Tiffen’s were put back in their boxes and the Formatt filters used instead.

Back at Panavision we did some further testing and found that both the Tiffen and Schnieder IRND’s that we tested had very little IR cut. But the Formatt Hitech and Panavision IRND’s that we tested cut the IR by a very similar amount to the visible light. In addition we were able to test the Venice built in ND filters and found that these too did a very good job at cutting both IR and visible light by similar amounts.

So, my recommendation is – if you are ever concerned about infrared light contaminating  your images use a Venice 2 with it’s built in ND’s, Panavision or Formatt Hitech IRND’s.

Handy Tips For Using The Sony Variable ND Filter Values.

Sony rate the ND filters in most of there cameras using a fractional value such as 1/4, 1/16, 1/64 etc.

These values represent the amount of light that can pass through the filter, so a 1/4 ND lets 1/4 of the light through. 1/4 is the equivalent to 2 stops ( 1 stop = half,  2 stops = 1/4,  3 stops = 1/8,  4 stops = 1/16,  5 stops = 1/32, 6 stops = 1/64,  7 stops = 1/128).

These fractional values are actually quite easy to work with in conjunction  with the cameras ISO rating.

If you want to quickly figure out what ISO value to put into a light meter to discover the aperture/shutter needed when using the camera with the built in ND filters, simply take the cameras ISO rating and multiply it by the ND value. So 800 ISO with 1/4 ND becomes 800 x 1/4 = 200 (or you can do the maths as 800 ÷ 4). Put 200 in the light meter and it will tell what aperture to use for your chosen shutter speed.

If you want to figure out how much ND to use to get an equivalent overall ISO rating (camera ISO and  ND combined) you take the ISO of the camera and divide by the ISO you want and this gives you  a value “x” which is the fraction in 1/x. So if you want 3200 ISO then take the base of 12800 and divide by 3200 which gives 4, so you want 1/4 ND at 12800.

Setting The White Balance When Using The Variable ND Filter

It’s no secret that the variable ND fitted to many Sony cameras does introduce a colour shift that changes depending on how much ND you use. But the cameras are setup to add an offset to the WB as you switch the ND in or out and change the amount of ND, so in practice most people are completely unaware of this shift.
If you watch carefully when you engage or disengage the ND you can sometimes see a fraction of a second where the cameras electronic offset that corrects for the shift is applied just as the filter comes in. Then once the filter is in place the colours appear completely normal again.
So when should you white balance from a white card? With or without the ND filter in place?

You can actually white balance either with or without the ND in place. Because the camera knows exactly what offset to apply for any ND value if you change the ND it will compensate automatically and generally the compensation is very accurate. So in most cases it doesn’t really matter whether the ND filter is in place or not.
However, my personal recommendation is where possible to white balance with the camera setup as it will be when you are taking your footage. This should then eliminate any small errors or differences that may creep in if you do change the ND or switch the ND in or out.
But I wouldn’t be too concerned if you do have to do a WB at one ND level and then change the ND for whatever reason. The in camera compensation is extremely good and you would only ever really be able to see any difference if you start doing careful like for like, side by side, split screen direct comparisons. It’s certainly highly unlikely that you or your audience would ever notice any difference in normal real world applications.
You will often see greater colour shifts if you add external ND filters or swap between different lenses, so treat the internal ND as you would any other ND filter and WB with your lens, filters and everything else as it will be when taking the footage. I think one of the truly remarkable things about the variable ND filter is just how consistent the output of the camera is across such a wide range of ND.