Field Report: Sony a7S II S-Log2 vs S-Log3 Test

Field Report: Sony a7S II S-Log2 vs S-Log3 Test

The Sony a7S II has a couple of neat features that make it a worthy upgrade over its predecessor. It still has the same class-leading low-light performance but adds in-camera 4K recording and a new S-Log3 shooting mode – something that’s typically found on Sony’s more expensive video cameras. This clearly makes the Mark II version of the a7S as a very video-centric ILC, so we took it out to see just how different the S-Log3 mode was from the S-Log2. For this test, we used a Sigma 24-105mm f/4 lens. Camera settings were as follows: Exposure: ISO 1600, f/8, 1/50th of a second Framerate: 24 FPS WB: Daylight Codec: X-AVCS 100 MB/s All footage is straight out of camera, with no color or exposure adjustments. So, what did we find? Well, S-Log3 really is noticeably flatter than S-Log2. Moreover, it doesn’t seem to increase noise at ISO 1600 over S-Log2 mode, which I’d expected at least in the shadow areas. I see no reason not to shoot in S-Log3 unless you’re looking to match footage with other cameras that don’t have this mode. Further, the S-Gamut3.Cine gamma profile seems to offer a slightly less contrasty image than S-Gamut3 alone. The difference is small in many cases but, occasionally, it is noticeable. Finally, – and this might be just my perception – S-Log3 seems to expose about a quarter to a third stop brighter than S-Log2. Again, this might absolutely just be my perception of the increased flatness, but it certainly feels that way. What do you folks think? Anyone going to switch from shooting S-Log2 to S-Log3? Questions...
Color Grading Made Eas(ier) with FilmConvert

Color Grading Made Eas(ier) with FilmConvert

The field of film emulation software has some pretty well-established players in both the video and stills worlds. On the still photography side, there’s Google’s Nik Collection software, VSCO’s Film Series of plugins, and a variety of others. On the video side, however, things are… somewhat more complex (as all things video generally are). For starters, there isn’t just one way to get your footage looking like film. LUTs, or Lookup Tables, are an easy way to add film-like color and gamma settings to footage, while scanned blank negatives of 35mm film are converted to digital files and made available from a variety of vendors for you to overlay on your footage (here’s a particularly nice selection of free grain scans from various companies). Other software packages like Red Giant’s Magic Bullet Suite and FilmConvert can act as plugins for apps like Premiere, After Effects, and Davinci Resolve. In this article, we’ll be looking at FilmConvert in particular, as it has turned into one of my favorite color grading tools. Why FilmConvert? When I first started shooting video, I was pretty surprised by the restrictions imposed on me by the limitations of the codec, bit rate, depth, and resolution of files I was working with. Being used to RAW files that can have the white balance and exposure (among other things) adjusted to a pretty wide degree, having to deal with what was somewhat like a JPEG file in its flexibility was a bit jarring. After all, I came from the world of Lightroom, Capture One, and Photoshop, which made image manipulation almost ridiculously easy. Imagine my surprise when...
Lighting for a Catalog Shoot

Lighting for a Catalog Shoot

This summer, I had the pleasure of shooting for a local online retail store’s catalog. This was a new one for me; I’d never done something like this, but have a good relationship with one of the principles at this company, so I agreed to give it a try. The client in question is Veronica Levy, who runs a Bay-Area fashion blog called Lombard and Fifth. Her brief was deceptively simple: Make it bright, airy, and high-key. What was unsaid but implied was that the lighting needed to stay consistent from one shot to the next, without variation. For this shoot, I decided to start simply. I began with one light, a Paul C. Buff Einstein light inside a large umbrella. We were shooting in a relatively small studio, however, so the light didn’t completely wrap around the model, leaving a shadow on the wall behind. We wanted almost no shadows – just enough, in fact, to bring out the texture on some of the clothing. The single light delivered a bit too much of a shadow, so we added additional lighting. For the additional lighting, I went with something I wouldn’t ordinarily use inside a studio, the Profoto B2 AirTTL on-location kit. The reason I wouldn’t use this in-studio is because it is powered only by battery and there’s no way to shoot with this plugged into an AC socket on the wall. Fortunately, the kit you rent from BorrowLenses comes with two batteries, so I was reasonably confident that I could have one charging constantly while the other was in use. As it turned out, we only...
Using ND Filters for Video

Using ND Filters for Video

There are more than a dozen Neutral Density filters available under the Video section of our website, ranging from screw-on fixed-value ND filters to high-end Schneider rectangular filters for matte box stages. In this video, we walk you through why you’ll want an ND filter when shooting video and what your options...
Field Report – Zeiss Score Big with the Milvus 85mm Lens

Field Report – Zeiss Score Big with the Milvus 85mm Lens

As they prepare to discontinue their “classic” line of ZF and ZE lenses, Zeiss have released the “Milvus” line of lenses to replace them. I took the 85mm f/1.4 Milvus out for a try and came back much more impressed than I have been with their older ZF/ZE lenses, which have begun to show their age. Appearance and Construction The Milvus lenses take cues from the trend that I believe began with Zeiss’ Otus series of massive primes. The body is an all-metal barrel with wide, rubberized focus rings. There are engraved distance markers on the barrel but nothing else. The hood is metal as well (don’t lose it – it’s pretty pricy at around $200) and clicks firmly into place without waffling. The lens is large and not lightweight by any stretch; in fact it’s a few ounces heavier than its Otus sibling. It’s a bit more handholdable than the Otus, in my opinion, which is slightly longer and has a much wider filter ring (77mm vs the Otus’ very odd 86mm). In fact, because of the weight, I almost wish that there was a way to mount the lens directly to a tripod for those days when you want to really locked it down. However, the Metabones didn’t give me any signs that it couldn’t take the weight, nor did the Sony a7R II. User Experience As you can see, I had the Milvus mounted on a Sony a7R II. This lens is available only in Nikon and Canon mounts but I chose to put it on a Sony a7R II because I’m in the process of switching to Sony’s...