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Old October 8th, 2009, 11:39 AM   #1
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Correct exposure

Question is primarily for interior interviews. How do you best determine the correct exposure for a scene? You cannot "eye it" because your monitor might not be accurate. If you used zebra pattern, they don't always work well on dark skin tones. I sometimes use the zebra with a white card . . . any thoughts out there? (especially if Doug Jensen is listening in . . . because of the thousands of interviews that he has done)
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Old October 8th, 2009, 12:12 PM   #2
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I have gotten used to using the histogram. It really works well, but you have to practice with a professional reference monitor to get used to what is right.

I now use the EX3 histogram instead of zebra in the field if I don't have a reference monitor or scopes with me.

I have done a lot of digital still photography over the years, so I am very familiar with the histogram from photoshop etc.

You can zoom right in on any part of a shot and the histogram really shows the exposure well. Zoom in on faces and get used to what the histogram should look like, and you can easily repeat the exposure in the field.

Every one has his own way of doing things and that is great, this works very well for me. And I have demonstrated to a few people how to use histogram and they really like it.
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Old October 8th, 2009, 12:13 PM   #3
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Best way is to rig up a monitor, ignore your v'finders and set the exposure to give you the look you want. There's no such thing as correct exposure, but funnily enough there's lots of incorrect exposure about.

Best thing? Experience. But you only get that as you age.
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Old October 8th, 2009, 12:41 PM   #4
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Best thing? Experience. But you only get that as you age.
Eyes become worn out with age too. :-/
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Old October 9th, 2009, 02:41 AM   #5
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My primary approach is to ensure that I capture all necessary information for grading in post. You don't want highlights burnt or shadows with noise. The histogram is a good guide, but only a guide (as is the brightness % reading). Skin tones need some care and it is important to keep in mind that you can clip an R, a G, or a B without luminance ( the histogram) being clipped and that will play havoc with colour rendition (orange skin highlights is a common example). That's the reason many are conservative in setting zebras for skin tones (60%), tending to general underexposure, but not so much that low lights suffer. All much easier when lighting is under your full control.
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Old October 9th, 2009, 04:01 AM   #6
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The general setting of 70% zebras just creeping onto caucasian skin is ok if you can see the zebras, inside under controlled conditions is fine, however, outside in bright sunlight when you working fast, ie weddings, it's hard to see the screen whilst having the sun in your eyes or on the screen, i find that having zebras set at 55% and having them plastered all over the skin is a lot easier to see and gives the same result as 70% just creeping in.
I also use the histgram as a reference, i find that when i set 55% all over the skin the histogram is just creeping to the top and a few 100% zebras may be on the clouds or a white dress or shirt, so then i knock it back slightly.

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Old October 9th, 2009, 05:15 AM   #7
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any thoughts out there? (especially if Doug Jensen is listening in . . . because of the thousands of interviews that he has done)
I appreciate your confidence in my opinion, but there's already some good advice in this thread. What I would like to say about exposure is way too complicated to post here, and besides that, it wouldn't even belong in this EX forum. I'll pass. Thanks.
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Old October 9th, 2009, 05:30 PM   #8
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Serena has very good advice.

I set my zebras at 80% and generally set the exposure so white objects are barely at that point. For me, the only things that should hit 100 are direct light sources or specular highlights off chrome. Everything else falls below that.

There are a myriad of skin tones where I live, so using zebras on skin tones isn't a good option. There's a lot more chances I'll see a white or very light object in the frame, so I'll use that as a quick field reference instead.

The histogram gives me a quick check. Taking note of how skin highlights look in the viewfinder also helps. I seldom ever use the LCD screen and rely heavily on the eyepiece for focus and exposure info. It's my "darkened room" and gives me consistent feedback. I use everything I can to make sure nothing important is clipping.

With a Cine 4 setting things come out a tad bit flat but that's OK since I correct and grade in post. In the field I'm trying to capture as much dynamic range as possible -- and the EX1 seldom fails to amaze me.
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Old October 10th, 2009, 01:18 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the input . . . I've just finished interviewing about 80 people in about 15 cities across the U.S. There are perhaps 2 or 3 interviews where I was a stop or so on the hot side, especially with very light skinned white people . . . nothing that cannot be corrected in post. With a variety of conditions and locations, I wanted to get feedback from others. My next purchase is a monitor, probably a 7" Marshall, V-LCD70P-3GSDI. I have been an editor for many years, not a cameraman, so I need all the help I can get ... thanks again.

Last edited by Brian Barkley; October 10th, 2009 at 01:19 PM. Reason: more info
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