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Old August 20th, 2011, 12:47 PM   #1
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Is the Picture Profile I'm using in bright sunlight the problem?

Hey guys, I've been struggling shooting outdoors in bright sunshine, with only varying degrees of success. I'm far from having any semblance of mastery or my EX1r, given that I don't use it that much and haven't experimented with it enough. I've been shooting with Bill Raven's PP and maybe that's the problem!

Guys like me will NEVER truly understand nor experiment with these settings to any real extent. We depend on the 'experts.' I've got five PP's programmed in my camera: Bill Raven's, Doug (from Vortex Media), Steve ?, Ken ?, and 'film' -- all of which came from this site.

The problem I've been having is washed out and blurry video. Or put a different way -- a lack of clarity and sharpness one expects from the likes of an EX1. I've been white balancing as the sunlight shifts, shooting in full manual, using the Auto Iris to set my iris, then switching to manual before I record the clip. I've been trying to keep my Iris setting between 5.6 and 2.8 using both ND filters. Don't have any additional filters and maybe that's part of the problem too.

Now, back to Bill Raven's PP. Here's his PP settings:

Matrix ……………on

Select…………….hisat

Level………………0

Phase……………..-5

R-G……………….75

R-B……………….0

G-R……………….-18

G-B……………….-32

B-R……………….-27

B-G……………….13

Color Correction…………..off

White………………………..off

Detail………………………..on

Detail Level…………………0

Detail Freq………………….0

Skintone…………………….off

Knee…………………………on

Auto knee………………….on

Point………………………..90

Slope……………………….0

Knee SAT level……………50

Gamma Level…………..-8

Gamma Select………….CINE1

Black……………………..-12

Black Gamma…………..0

Is there anything about these settings -- any aspect of it -- that is producing the lack of crispness I'm anguishing over? Please advise. Thanks.

Chuck
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Old August 20th, 2011, 03:04 PM   #2
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Re: Is the Picture Profile I'm using in bright sunlight the problem?

You don't require more filters to get great outdoor footage. A polarizer will make great footage pop but it isn't a requirement. Other than a flaw in your camera, it sounds like you are over exposing your footage and not getting critical focus.

Use peaking and expanded view to get critical focus.

To zero in on a technique, try turning on one of your zebras and set it at 95 and ride your iris to never let it show up. For caucasian skin, set the second zebra to 70% and never let it show unless it's just that little bit of highlight that you want. Then review your footage. Make adjustments, Rinse and repeat. It takes experience. Also, you may find the EX1r's viewfinder more accurate in bright sunlight than the LCD.
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Old August 20th, 2011, 04:21 PM   #3
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Re: Is the Picture Profile I'm using in bright sunlight the problem?

Thanks, Les, but critical focus is not an issue for me. Sharpness of the image is the issue. Ninety+ percent of all my shots are in sharp focus but the image is not crisp. While I admit to my limitations with the ex1, one of them is not getting focus. I'm trying to get a read on the PP I'm using.
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Old August 21st, 2011, 12:28 AM   #4
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Re: Is the Picture Profile I'm using in bright sunlight the problem?

If you're thinking that it's a problem brought on by the picture profile, do a comparison test with the picture profile set to any or several, then to 'off'. Make sure to put an identifier somewhere in your frame. My guess is that there are a lot of other factors as well.
There are any number of things that can affect the perceived sharpness of the image -- in addition to proper exposure mentioned by Lee, you should make sure your lens is completely clean, and also that any light sources outside of frame are flagged (things like a bright sky can add an overall flare to the image).
At one point I put together a number of shots from a job I had done overseas (in China), and was amazed at the differing levels of image crispness -- until I realized that stuff shot near the cities was muckier because of the pollution level, and stuff shot at high elevations in the mountains fels so sharp you could cut yourself on a leaf. Same camera, same settings, radically different air.
Yes, a polarizer can help, and sometimes a UV/haze filter as well, but most of the time the footage shot about half a day after a cold front has moved in (with rain to knock the particles out of the air, combined with cooler, lower humidity air) make for the increased clarity you may be looking for.
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Old August 21st, 2011, 04:37 AM   #5
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Re: Is the Picture Profile I'm using in bright sunlight the problem?

Charles: I use a similar PP (but I use cinema matrix not hisat). I agree with Les, if not about focusing at least about overexposing. I had the same feelings about my outdoor footage before I started underexposing a bit. Check this footage I shot one year ago. Before doing some CC blacks were never black. Now I set the zebra at 60% for skins and things are much better (that doesn't mean that skin has to be at 60% all the time, of course). The pictures are more punchy to start with and the skin tones are easier to correct.
That said, I think that shooting outdoors can be very hard sometimes..

Passw. Pamirs
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Old August 21st, 2011, 08:01 AM   #6
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Re: Is the Picture Profile I'm using in bright sunlight the problem?

Hard to see without the password.
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Old August 21st, 2011, 10:08 AM   #7
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Re: Is the Picture Profile I'm using in bright sunlight the problem?

Hey the password is there. Pamirs (capital P)
I should add that this sample has both overexposure and soft focus problems, here and there.
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Old August 21st, 2011, 11:00 AM   #8
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Re: Is the Picture Profile I'm using in bright sunlight the problem?

Something looks wrong with the profile.

Knee doesn't function when using the CineGamma settings, so make check that you are really using a Cine1 gamma and that the Knee is off.

Try setting the Black to 0. I don't think that is causing your problem, but when in doubt go to default settings.

Zebra 2 (the fat stripes) is fixed at 100%. Set your exposure so that the only place they show are areas that blown out highlights are okay (such as sun reflecting off glass). Having said that, I adjust exposure so that NO Zebra 2 stripes show because I seem to get excessive pink-green tinting around overexposed areas, especially fine detail.

I set Zebra 1 at 95%. I know that when I see those stripes, the highlights won't be washed out totally, but there isn't going to be much detail showing. I try to keep these to a minimum.

Turn Detail Off and use a little sharpening in post. The EX1 doesn't do well sharpening of scenes with lots of small detail. (Expect to hear lots of disagreement about this.)

I use Cine1 outside on bright sunny days and get amazing results using these zebra settings and watching the histogram. Realize there are limits to what a profile can do. High contrast lighting really needs fill light to bring up shadow detail when you set exposure to keep the highlights.

Pete
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Old August 21st, 2011, 04:04 PM   #9
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Re: Is the Picture Profile I'm using in bright sunlight the problem?

Never really had a problem with outdoor scenes looking washed out or blurry unless it was over exposed or one time the gain switch got bumped taking it out of the bag and didn't notice right away. I assume the gain is set to either -3 or 0?

I always found that when using auto switch for initial iris setting did over expose in almost every situation and I would cut it back around a stop or so. The advice given in the other replies is all good, just make sure your gain is set properly, your lens has the appropriate filters for outdoors, your lens hood is on, and you expose properly. The picture profiles is just a matter of experimentation to get the look you want. If this doesn't solve your problem there must be a problem with your camera.

Larry
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Old August 21st, 2011, 06:55 PM   #10
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Re: Is the Picture Profile I'm using in bright sunlight the problem?

Thanks, guys. I'm going to post a clip that hopefully will give you a visual representation of what I am not doing right! I've been focusing in on the iris setting -- keeping it between 5.6 and 2.8. In all honesty, I haven't paid much attention to my zebra (it's set at 85) and maybe I'm trusting my LCD and viewfinder too much. I should be using a good monitor.

But I'm always a one-man gang and when I've been using my cam of late, I've been in run and gun type situations and carrying only my tripod, wireless mics, and camera.

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Old August 21st, 2011, 07:07 PM   #11
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Re: Is the Picture Profile I'm using in bright sunlight the problem?

Your LCD being too dark can throw you off because you are trusting your eyes on the LCD. Zebras are there to help you judge exposure and they measure the actual signal irrespective of the LCD settings. Google how to calibrate your display using color bars and set your LCD using that process and the EX1r builtin color bars. Ditto the view finder. That will eliminate those variables.

Shoot with the sun behind you. Most of these shots are shooting the shaded side of objects and people. Your camera only has so much dynamic range. There's too many stops difference between the shaded side and the bright sunlight side. Once you get the sun behind you, you'll be on the sunlight side and can expose for that side instead of the shady side.
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Old August 21st, 2011, 07:29 PM   #12
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Re: Is the Picture Profile I'm using in bright sunlight the problem?

Les, really appreciate your advice. I'm going to take it as well.

Couldn't help the sun. Made sure not to shoot directly into it but had to shoot from some angles where it was backlit by it for sure.
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 10:23 AM   #13
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Re: Is the Picture Profile I'm using in bright sunlight the problem?

I understand the one man band stuff very well.

But one of the things that really help situations like the one in the above clip, is to use reflectors.

They can be set up on stands with sandbags or held by assistants. Or even by you if the camera is on sticks, and the frame can be kept constant.

Even just a 4' diameter collapsible disc, white on one side and silver on the other can work miracles in side/backlight situations.

I also find using the excellent histogram is a huge help, remember you can zoom in and take very specific readings of different parts of your shot. I keep zebras at 70 and 95 and use them as well. I try never to have anything all the way right on the histogram. A nice bell curve is what you are looking for on the histogram, with nothing all the way right or left.
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 10:58 AM   #14
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Re: Is the Picture Profile I'm using in bright sunlight the problem?

Thanks, Olof. One solid take-away is better use of zebra, as well as the histogram. I am familiar with reflectors -- in fact, I have a 4' two-sided one, silver and white. Good suggestion.
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