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Old July 11th, 2005, 11:12 AM   #1
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Interpreting the LCD EVF?

Just wondering if there is a simple rule of thumb using the LCD viewfinder on the GL2. I shoot weddings /receptions outside - inside you name it - lighting is a challenge but thatís another subject. I have been getting fairly good results, however itís difficult to judge exposure / flesh tones color levels etc. on the EVF even when the GL2 is properly WB. Itís more like Iím looking at a ruff facsimile of whatís being shot. The EVF seems brighter and flesh tones seem to be varied one person looks normal the other person is shifted way to red in the same shot. Itís impossible for me to pack around a calibrated monitor while Iím shooting so Iím guessing a lot using the EVF. I use FCE to correct color or exposure issues but it takes a lot of time I would like to get closer to correct exposure and flesh tones before post. The EVF has no adjustment possibilities except brightness and zebra options and I havenít found this to useful. I use manual modes on my GL2 constantly but Iím hoping some of you with more experience have a method of how to better interpret what the EVF displays with what youíre actually recording.

Thanks,
Steve
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Old July 11th, 2005, 11:32 AM   #2
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Steve,
Not sure how much I can help. But do you use zebra pattern? That helps me at least with judging overexposure. As for the color levels, I am really not sure what to tell you, you said that it was properly W.B. so I don't know why people would be showing up with different tones other then the fact that the difference in their complexion may be part of the difference. Well hope that helped a little.

Alex B.
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Old July 11th, 2005, 11:37 AM   #3
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Steve,
In my experience the on-camera LCD displays on these cameras are not very useful tools for judging color, exposure or any of the more subjective characteristics of your image. They're really only reliable for basic annunciation of camera settings/status, framing (although the GL2's only covers about 80-85% of the true frame) and, of course, zebra displays.

Experience will have to be you best guide to the fine points of the image. I do, however, recommend getting a collapsible hood for your LCD. (Hoodman and Petrol are two manufacturers.) This will at least help to reduce the veiling reflectance on the screen.
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Old July 11th, 2005, 12:07 PM   #4
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I agree that we can't rely on the oddities of the EVF or LCD, but rather have to rely on white balancing. I set the proper white balance, try to expose properly (for which zebra is extremely useful) and rely on the GL2 to do it's job and record the colors as they are. It hasn't let me down.

The GL2 does definitely pinken flesh tones a bit. You can knock that down a little bit with presets and/or compensating white cards, but can't entirely eliminate it without distorting other colors. This characteristic makes the GL2 warm, which I find flattering to overall scenes and nonhuman subjects. Sometimes it's flattering and warm for complexions too, other times a bit annoying. We either have to accept that about the GL2 or get a different cam.

The LCD does at least indicate clearly when my white balance is unreasonable, such as when I'm in the wrong white balancing mode, or I've neglected to update the manual white balance. And with experience you can begin correlate what you see in the LCD to what you'll see in post somewhat.
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Old July 11th, 2005, 12:28 PM   #5
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Yes actually complexions vary, some are slightly more reddish than others but the GL2 tends to exaggerate to magenta or red so Iím just trying to interpret a balance in this range of flesh tones when looking through the EVF. I have used the preset mode and clicked the color level down some and shifted the tint to green. That helps but then in the resulting footage some folks have an ever so slight green tint and if the color level gets to low the more reddish face appear normal however others have a rather washed out skin tone. So using custom preset has a global effect - fixes one thing and raises other problems. I also work for a school district we have several GL2í and they all seem to exhibit this problem of exaggerating toward red - pink. So lately Iíve just shot with the color levels clicked one or two notches down and no tint adjustment in preset mode and pretty much ignore what the EVF looks like. I correct any offending footage in POST by turning down the saturation and slightly shifting towards blue/green but it takes a lot of time. I was just wondering if thereís a work around for getting more accurate flesh tones on the shoot without to much POST work and how you would interpret the EVF to accomplish this. After reading your posts it looks like there's no way to do this and I'm probably asking way to much of my GL2 which I do like it's a great value and shoots good footage. The reddish faces are annoying though especially if the bride or groom has this sort of complexion.

Thanks for all your input,
Steve
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Last edited by Steve Anderson; July 11th, 2005 at 05:05 PM.
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Old July 11th, 2005, 12:42 PM   #6
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Interpreting the LCD EVF?

Fred,
If you don't mind me asking what compensating white cards have you found to be effective to produce more normal flesh tones without distorting other colors.

Thanks,
Steve
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Old July 11th, 2005, 01:10 PM   #7
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Steve, I accidently replied by email from my Yahoo account, but to repeat here for the benefit of others, I suggested that you use the DVINFO search function with a string like "color cards AND GL2" [without quotes]

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Old July 14th, 2005, 01:46 PM   #8
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Colors too Warm?

I was filming an interview yesterday and I noticed on the LCD screen that the interviewee's skin tones were a bit too red. So I did a white balance and still, the subject still seemed to be too "warm" coloured. So I opened up the menu and went to Color Gain to turn it down, which I did, and it looked fine, but once I closed the Color Gain menu the colours went back to the reddish look. So I thought maybe it was just that it looked different through the LCD, but recorded it to the colours I adjusted, but this was not so. After playing back a few seconds of footage it was still red. Does anyone know why the colors look normal in the Color Gain screen but when I close it, they change back to the warm skin tones?

-Justin
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Old July 14th, 2005, 01:49 PM   #9
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What program mode was the camera set to at the time?
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Old July 14th, 2005, 01:50 PM   #10
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It was in Manual Mode at the time, however I tried setting it to Av, Tv, and any other program to get it to work, but it wouldn't stick with the colours I adjusted.

-Justin
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Old July 14th, 2005, 02:15 PM   #11
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Good question Justin
Have you put the camera in the "CP" custom preset mode? Ė You will know you are in this mode when the LCD or EVF displays the letters CP to the right of the display. Use the external button marked "CP" on the left side of your GL2 towards the back to toggle this mode off and on.
My GL2 does the same thing better lighting with the proper exposure tends to minimize this pinkish red affect - also sifting the color phase toward green a click or two helps but it's a fine line because when you do this your making global change to the over all color levels and phase. Oh and make sure the camera is properly white balanced - very critical with the GL's.

cheers!
Steve
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Last edited by Steve Anderson; July 14th, 2005 at 04:17 PM. Reason: opps!
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Old July 14th, 2005, 04:11 PM   #12
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Justin, as Steve implied, when you adjust gain, sharpnesss, etc. you're in the Custom Preset submenu. The menu does the courtesy of showing you the effects of the adjustments you're making, but after closing the menu they are only in effect when you press the Custom Preset button. "CP" appears on the LCD screen.
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Old July 14th, 2005, 05:12 PM   #13
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Some suggestions

Steve,

Using zebras should allow you to get accurate exposure. Since the GL2 has several zebra levels to choose from, you will need to select one and learn how to use it. But with a little experience you will become quite adapt at setting exposure with zebras. Keep in mind that the GL2 zebras operate differently than most other cameras. The GL2 show zebras for the selected IRE level AND HIGHER. So if you choose a zebra IRE of 85, then zebras will be shown for IRE 85 and higher.

For average Caucasian faces you want an IRE of 70-80. So set the GL2 zebra level to 80, zoom in on the face, and adjust exposure until only the hot spots (nose, cheeks) have a very small amount of zebra showing. By experimenting you can determine whether you prefer a slightly more or less amount of exposure. One good way is to actually tape several different exposures, recording the zebra level, amount of zebra showing, and the exposure setting (f-stop etc). Capture to your NLE and determine which you like best. For darker skin you will need to ajust the exposure accordingly.

See the following for more info:

Using Viewfinder Zebra Display
Zebra Stripes- How much is too much ?

Obtaining the color balance you prefer will require more work. Here are some suggestions:
  • Always do a manual white balance using the planned lighting, except without any colored lights/gels
  • Calibrate your presets using a good professional monitor
    • Hookup the GL2 to a good NTSC monitor, and calibrate the monitor using SMPTE colorbars
    • Establish the lighting you will be using to shoot
    • Manual white balance
    • Adjust the GL2 presets until you obtain the color balance you desire
    • In particular experiment with the color phase and the color gain
    • It may be you need more than one set of presets, e.g., one for interior, one for exterior. If so then save the set you need most, and write both down on paper for use in the field.
  • Adjust your GL2 LCD monitor to match the NTSC monitor as best as you can. While it won't be perfect on location, it will at least be closer to the actual exposure/color than you have now.
With some experimentation and practice you will be able to obtain good exposures and the desired color balance.
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Old July 15th, 2005, 09:09 AM   #14
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Thanks

I tried the "CP" button and everything seems to be working now. I never thought to look for the button on the camera, I assumed it was somewhere in the menus of the camera. It just goes to show that the simplest answer is usually right in front of your face.

-Justin
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Old July 15th, 2005, 09:46 AM   #15
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Justin, I use the CP button a lot. I'm now changing and reviewing the "setups" I create and at the click of the CP I can try and test it. Try yourself. Try a low light recipe . .try a low colour recipe . .try a saturated recipe . . . just keep experimenting and clicking those setups.

Marvellous!

Grazie
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