Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sony F55 using Canon FD Lenses, Part 3

Several months ago I went to Austin to see the new Sony F55 using my Canon FD lenses, just because I own the set and wanted to see if they would produce an acceptable image on the camera. My shots were a little too hurried to really make an assessment. While there, I also got a look at 4K footage from this camera projected up on the big screen at the Alamo Draught House theater. It was Sam Nicholson's short film, MAHOUT, and it was a stunning bit of video. I say video because that's how it looked to me, rather than film. Getting a "film look" out of this camera is very important to me.

Fortunately, a Sony rep was on hand at the screening and I told her I'd like to see what I could do with the camera and she offered to get me one after NAB. Wow! How cool is that, right? So I took her up on her offer.

Let me set this up as to what specs were involved.

Normal color space, S-log-2, -0 detail, no correction

color corrected using Fast Color plugin in Adobe PPCC

This frame grab of my lovely wife was the first thing I shot. It is an interview on a family history project so I needed the footage to work into a 29.97 timeline within Adobe Premiere Pro CC, so I shot using the Mpeg-2 codec, which is 50mbps, Normal color space, S-Log-2, and at 29.97p, using a Canon 50mm FD lens on a FZ to FD adapter (there is a small crop factor). I had done a little reading on the camera but didn't really know the ideal exposure. I used my light meter set for 1200 ISO and set my exposure to about 2.8-4f split. My zebras were set to 70% and I made sure her skin was exposed just below that so no zebras were seen at the brightest point.

I was surprised by how bright the image already was and without as much flattening as with S-log I'm used to seeing in the F3. My correction in Fast Color was fairly minor to achieve the final image. Also, because I was trying to reduce the amount of sharpness, beyond what the lens choice would do, I went to the Paint menu and turned both Master Detail and Crispness all the way to -0. There still seems to be plenty of sharpness, but seems more natural to my eye.

The next series of shots were using the XAVC codec at 1920x1080 23.98p, S-gamut, S-Log-2

24mm Canon FD lens, with correction
Natural window light is the only source.

85mm Canon FD lens, with correction

EX1, no profile, slight correction

This yielded a darker image to start with in S-Log-2, as I have heard it would, even though I still exposed skin just under 70% on the brightest point. This took a little more adjustment in Fast Color, but still got to a pleasing image pretty quickly. For those who don't use Premiere Pro, Fast Color is just that, a fast way to adjust gamma, contrast, offset, saturation, hue, and such with a really quick set of tools. By no means is it the end-all-be-all of correction, but tends to be a starting place for a quick look, which I think is important to be able to use your familiar tools.

I will be posting a short film of these shots after I complete my test shooting, but I can tell you the camera is very low noise. I shot these same scenes using my Sony EX1 and the F55 images made the EX1 really look noisy (to be expected) but there is nothing like a side-by-side comparison to really show you how much. One note worth mentioning, I was expecting more detail in the dark furniture on the right in the wide shot, given the wider dynamic range of the F55. The EX1 may have captured that area better, but was more harsh overall from light to dark. The F55 was smoother across the light to dark transitions and the color saturation needed to be boosted up to 200% because of the S-gamut, but I could certainly see the subtle color changes over the skin surface compared to the EX1, at least I could on my Dreamcolor monitor set to Rec. 709.

Tomorrow I will post shots I took in the field using the F55, Canon FD lenses, S-gamut, S-log-2, 23.98p, XAVC. So stay tuned!

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