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Underexpose in camera or in post?


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#1 Tyler Clark

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Posted 01 December 2015 - 09:44 PM

What is a better practice when looking for an underexposed look? (Thinking fincher, social network, dragon tattoo, etc.)

 

I work with the c300 and fs7 alot using Clog and Slog3. 

 

Underexposing in camera on the C300 results in alot of muddiness and on the fs7 alot of noise. The 5D on the other hand seems to handle it well a stop or two under and Ive seen tests with the RED EPIC that 2 -3 stops under works quite nicely. 

 

is it on a per camera basis?

 

 


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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 01 December 2015 - 09:57 PM

Yes.  It all depends on how the camera and recording codec handles underexposed images.


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#3 Albion Hockney

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Posted 02 December 2015 - 10:01 AM

I think when you underexpose you just need to know you can't correct it (lift it) much in post. there is no reason a camera should be excessively noisy if you underexpose it unless you are working with higher ISO's or lifting the footage in post. at a cameras native iso it should render the lower exposed parts of any frame decently - if the camera is a bit noisy in general you can always lower the iso to get a denser image.

 

some cameras do get muddy though or because of lower latitude don't show much information in underexposed parts of the frame so it can be hard to work with them to get a darker look. I have pushed the red 3-4stops and its ok - C300 seems ok at 2 stops or so as well to me.


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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 02 December 2015 - 11:52 AM

Just be conservative about the underexposure, you can always make it darker in post.  Fincher often uses advanced noise/grain reduction software created by Lowry for film restoration work -- on some of his earlier movies shot on the Viper, I heard that he would de-noise every image and then add a consistent layer of grain or noise back in for the whole movie.  Most of us don't have that luxury.

 

As Albion suggests, it is not the underexposure that is the problem, it is the corrections to the underexposed image in post, especially if you have to lift a particular channel.  If underexposure itself was always a problem, we could never have someone where black in the scene or turn off the lights in the scene, etc.  So at a given ASA rating, there is a base noise level in the blacks that you have to be aware of, because with a dark image, more of the detail will be in that area, and then there are the compression artifacts from the recording of that image.  Both of these may limit your ability to make corrections, so my suggestion is to first test to find the optimal settings for ASA and compression level (if adjustable -- i.e. use the least amount of compression possible) and then expose as you see fit, realizing that if you are going to err, err on the side of not underexposing too far. 


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#5 Vivek Venkatraman

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Posted 09 December 2015 - 07:17 AM

Have you been dropping the ISO below 400 on the C300 ? this is know to result in quality loss in the blacks


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