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Sony NEX-EA50 (all variants)
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Old April 3rd, 2014, 09:47 AM   #1
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Anything new with picture profiles?

Hi All - now that us 'old' guys have had the camera a while and there's now a few new users, I wondered what the current thinking on picture profiles is - I'm afraid I'm still using basic PP3 (with added saturation/detail) for indoor and PP2 (with added detail) for outdoor work. I find both profiles ok but still this cameras is quick to blow highlights compared to my old Z1/FX1 combo - especially on sunny days!

Pete
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Old April 3rd, 2014, 07:18 PM   #2
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Re: Anything new with picture profiles?

Hi Pete

I haven't seen any magic one as yet that works everywhere! My PP3 profile is standard but the colour profile has been upped 2 points and I actually use that both indoors and outdoors and it seems to work for both. In my NLE I will lift saturation just a tiny bit (In Sony Vegas I up outdoor footage from default (1.000 )to 1.333 and then indoor stuff gets maybe upped a smaller amount like 1.166)

I really do need a single profile to shoot on as I forget to change over from PP3 to PP2 and then do minor adjustments in post. I haven't found any that really are awesome in bright sunshine if you are getting any in the UK yet??

Chris
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Old April 3rd, 2014, 08:55 PM   #3
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Re: Anything new with picture profiles?

I recently shot an event over 5 days, which included interviews, indoor and outdoor shots, bright sunlight and overcast days, night shots... pretty much everything. I left my camera on PP4 and I'm happy with the result. Minimal grading was required.
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Old April 3rd, 2014, 09:41 PM   #4
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Re: Anything new with picture profiles?

That's interesting Jody! The indoor shots were also good with PP4?? The manual quotes both as ITU709 so I wonder what the big difference is?? If you scroll thru the settings indoors PP3 does look brighter in low light and lifts shadows a bit but one assumes that might also increase noise?

I must do some shoots with PP4 over next weekend and see what it looks like ... the manual has them almost identical wording if you read it

Thanks for the update

Chris
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Old April 6th, 2014, 06:50 AM   #5
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Re: Anything new with picture profiles?

Well I shot yesterday's wedding with PP4 and on initial inspection I find the blacks too crushed - gonna need to lift some detail back. Overall OK for outdoors if you are happy with crushed blacks - less tendency to blow out highlights which PP3 suffers from but not as good as PP3 for indoors.

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Old April 6th, 2014, 07:27 AM   #6
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Re: Anything new with picture profiles?

Hi Pete

I also found that using no profile which is default. Nice for outdoors but terrible indoors. Probably the best is PP4 outside and PP3 indoors. It seems you do lose a lot of detail even outdoors with PP4?? Maybe PP4 would be OK if you modify the profile and reduce the black level?? The only issue I have with PP3 is in bright sunlight where it does tend to blow out the highlights!

I do find that by lifting PP3 colour level up two points the highlight blowout is a lot better and indoors it's just about perfect colour saturation level but does need to be lifted a bit for outdoor shots.

I must admit you are brave! I wouldn't try a new profile on a wedding!!!

Chris
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Old April 6th, 2014, 08:39 AM   #7
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Re: Anything new with picture profiles?

Well I'd played around with settings before so new that if ultimately I wasn't happy then I could tweak it to how I wanted - also on PP4 the colours are a little too saturated for my taste so I'll be returning to indoors with PP3 and outdoors with PP2. The trouble with using 2 profiles is not only remembering to switch them but also making spot decisions on which to use when the lighting is very mixed - such as yesterday where the reception was in a conservatory that had bright sunlight at one end and dark pockets of indoor lighting at the other.

Sometimes you can't really tell if you're going to be happy until you've used a certain setting on an actual event - a wedding will certainly put a picture profile to the test!
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Old April 7th, 2014, 08:14 AM   #8
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Re: Anything new with picture profiles?

The thing you need to remember is that we are dealing with an 8bit camera so it is compromised from the start by offering us only 256 levels or values of recorded material:

8-bit – 256 different values
10-bit — 1024 different values
12-bit — 4096 different values

Consequently, an 8bit camera really only has a 'realistic and useful' dynamic range of about four stops. That is: two stops above 50% grey and 2 stops below. Ideally, you want all your recorded detail inside that area on the waveform monitor otherwise your highlights risk burn out, never to be recovered and shadows may render out to mush in the grade so what we need to do is 'Compress' the picture on Record and 'Expand' back out on Playback. Audiophiles will see the analogy - Dolby Noise Reduction introduced this concept to analogue Cassette recorders in the 70s to improve their audio dynamic range. (They could be seen as '8bit' machines as compared with '10 or 12bit' reel to reel tape recorders of the time)

Solution? Switch off your 'in camera' picture profiles and instead, reduce the highlights and lift shadows before the image even gets to the sensor. How can you do this? Well, fortunately, there is an optical filter available which automatically performs this function and it is called the Digicon from Schneider Optics in the US and I have written about it before on this site.

In a recent communication from Schneider, Mr Ira Tiffen replied to explain how the filter works: "The Digicon will bring more of the image into the area of renderable detail by reducing highlight brightness simultaneously with raising shadow levels. Thus areas that would have been either over or under exposed, and which would otherwise appear as featureless white or black, can be recorded with additional detail that would have been lost without the filter."

I now use this filter on my camera all the time, as No 1 on the matte box and in conjunction with NDs, Graduated NDs and Polarizes, etc. Of course, the recorded image needs some manipulation in post - usually just minor tweaks of Gain and Lift to compensate but in my opinion, the Digicon is a 'must' when dealing with the limitations of 8bit cameras like the EA-50. (I think they are available in screw-on versions and there are several grades too. Mine is the mid range: Digicon 1/2)

Tip: Don't forget - NEVER grade your 8bit AVCHD. Always transcode selected takes to a 10bit codec like ProRes 422 (or 444) or DNxHD if you are considering any significant colour work.

Last edited by Craig Marshall; April 7th, 2014 at 11:03 PM.
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Old April 8th, 2014, 01:50 PM   #9
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Re: Anything new with picture profiles?

Craig do Digicon filters some in the screw on (threaded) variety. As I can only find matte box filters.
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Old April 8th, 2014, 03:13 PM   #10
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Re: Anything new with picture profiles?

I believe so as there is another topic on this Forum mentioning screw on versions but have asked Mr Tiffen for detailed information. Will report back ASAP.
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Old April 9th, 2014, 08:50 AM   #11
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Re: Anything new with picture profiles?

I would be very interested in this filter if it were threaded :)
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Old April 9th, 2014, 09:12 AM   #12
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Re: Anything new with picture profiles?

At 42 weddings last year my workflow wouldn't allow time for transcoding - maybe 10 bit recording is a consideration when I think about a new camera maybe next year.
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Old April 9th, 2014, 03:21 PM   #13
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Re: Anything new with picture profiles?

Mr Ira Tiffen from Schneider Optics has relied asking what filter size would I recommend so I suggested Digicon 1/2 in 77mm as I guess with cheap step rings, this would satisfy most users requirements?

PS: I have ordered Atomos new light weight Ninja 'Star' HDMI recorder which will capture from your camera's clean HDMI out direct to ProRes 422 and record it on the new CFast cards. At only $295, it's a great way to avoid 'in camera' AVCHD compression, transcoding and get access to uncompressed 4:2:2. (albeit at only 8 bit) Transcoding to 10bit ProRes also gives me timecode, which I like, so it will be interesting to see if the additional quality of ProRes 4:2:2 from the Ninja Star (as compared with AVCHD 4:2:0) offers any real advantage in 8bit.

PS: CF cards can of course be dumped to your HDD or now placed in a HDD 'look-a-like' caddy, popped in a spare HDD drive bay in your PC and edited direct from the ProRes originals.
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Old May 5th, 2014, 10:55 PM   #14
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Re: Anything new with picture profiles?

Here are some HD frame grabs from a recent wildlife shoot. They are from a compressed 4:2:0 AVCHD stream recorded at 50i (so they are 'field' grabs actually) shot with my VG20 (Shutter @ 1/50th, 0dB Gain) adapted to my heavy Carl Zeiss 600mm F4.0 telephoto lens.

The first shot shows the result of using the Schneider Optics Digicon 1/2 filter. This filter reduces highlights and lifts shadows by 1 stop respectively, thereby compressing the picture and preventing highlight blowout. The second shot show the result after minor Lift/Gama/Gain adjustments (plus a tiny bit of sharpening) were applied in Post. My tests indicate this filter is one of the best ways to improve pictures shot with any with 8bit camera as the flatter picture profile is created 'before' the light hits the sensor, not after the event.
Attached Thumbnails
Anything new with picture profiles?-digicon_50i.jpg   Anything new with picture profiles?-digicon_50i_corrected.jpg  

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Old May 8th, 2014, 03:41 AM   #15
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Re: Anything new with picture profiles?

Really Really want one - but no threaded options? A matte box is not an option for me as multiple lens changes during a frantic wedding shoot would be a bit of a nightmare!
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