Shooting Sony A7s & S-Log2 – A closer look & downloadable footage

The new Sony A7s is a very powerful camera. With Sony’s professional S-Log2 gamma curve built-in, we get a new level of quality in a consumer camera. Out in field work we continue to be impressed. Here’s a closer look at unraded / graded footage.

Last week I finished shooting / editing another short project with the Sony A7s and let me tell you, besides the toothache I had after the appointment at the dentist, it was pure pleasure to work with this camera!

At cinema5D we get A LOT of requests from our readers to provide some daytime samples of Sony’s A7s footage with the flat picture profile (S-Log2). Feel free to download from the Vimeo page and experiment yourself: LINK

Sony’s S-Log2 gamma that was initially included in their high-end cameras now resides in the little Sony A7s, which makes it one of its big advantages for professional use over other consumer cameras.

As we found in our dynamic range test the Sony A7s can reproduce 14.1 stops of light in terms of dynamic range. S-Log2 can be set in the preferences menu under Picture Profiles (page 5) and is called: “PP7”.

As you already know, the thing about shooting in a “flat picture profile” is the dull image you see (which is especially true for Sony’s S-Log2). In fact the picture looks so washed-out, it almost feels as if you’re doing something wrong.
One way to overcome that sensation is to use a monitor with the LUT’s by Alister Chapman in one of his excellent articles (Exposing and Using S-Log2 on the Sony A7s Part One: Gamma and Exposure).

Other than that it’s a good idea to keep track of the histogram on the A7s which should help to get the exposure right. A good place to start if you want to get familiar with “understanding histograms” is John Greengo’s video: Your Camera’s Histogram: Explained.

Armed with this knowledge you can see why I chose S-Log2 to shoot my video. In such an overcast day my aim was to try and keep any picture detail I could. Filming “flat” and adding a look with Filmconvert, gave me the great image I was looking for.

Thanks to my friends at miggo who gave permission to make the footage available for download.
(For looking at miggo’s products at B&H please click here)

Watch it on Vimeo

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Reply
Clayton Moore September 9, 2014

A cloudy day helps I’m sure. Normally (even using S-log) for full sun work, wouldn’t you need to rock some serious ND filters with that sensitive a sensor and maintain a narrow DOF?

Reply
Eric Darling September 9, 2014

That’s a pretty contrasty grade – I think the blacks got crushed too much, but the range on that camera is incredible!

Reply
Johnnie Behiri September 9, 2014

Hi Eric.

You might be right!.

Luckily, grading is a very personal thing and most important, client likes the end result!.

Thanks!

Johnnie

Reply
Johnnie Behiri September 9, 2014

Hi Clayton.

No doubt that in a way the even lighting conditions worked to my favour.

The thing was to compensate between my actor exposure and the background. No additional lights or even reflector were used (my decision), so working in S-Log was beneficial.

Indeed strong ND filters will be needed during full sun work. When at IBC/Photokina I will look for high quality “fast to use” solutions.

Thanks!

Johnnie

Reply
Eno September 9, 2014

The sky is blown out and full of banding. The dynamic range is very limited also.What is the point of shooting this flat if the final image looks worse than if it shot on a standard profile.
I think people feel more pro this way LOL.

Reply
Johnnie Behiri September 9, 2014

Eno,
Don’t spoil. Just for once let me feel like a pro!.

Reply
Eno September 9, 2014

LOL, my mistake. Sorry!

Reply
cjay September 10, 2014

I somewhat agree. I’m not bashing the video completely, but the video contradicts the purpose of the post. The post was to highlight key features of dynamic range and flat slog2.

I actually did not notice the banding until you mentioned it , but it is there. A little grain can reduce this and it is not terrible.

My biggest problem with the video was the shadow details. I have seen some amazing videos showcasing shadow detail. However in this video the blacks almost looked crushed. It may just be me but i crushed blacks are the first sign of amateur video signals. Again not knocking the director but the grade was not becoming.

I love the A7S capabilities, but this just proves my point about an 8bit camera.

No matter how amazing the camera is, 8 bit is still 8 bit.

Banding, blocking, compression artifacts and limited detail in the shadows usually pops up. The entire scene has to be be precise with correct lighting environment to prevent in most cases. Then there is also banding that can pop up regardless of how you setup. The external 4k may help some but it is still an 8bit camera.

I would not use this camera professionally other than for night time lowlight scenes. Even then you have to be weary of blown out light sources. This camera would be idea for lowlight candle scenes beause at night, much detail is not seen in even raw cameras.

Great camera but still an 8bit camera.

If this camera had 10bit external capabilities , then it would be an alexa, red, and even a Sony F5/F55 killer minus the GLOBAL shutter

Reply
Erwin Hartsuiker September 11, 2014

Agree about the 8 bit limit. The A7S is great for low light and the S-log has advantages too for pro-users. For normal lighting conditions the Blackmagic production camera (about same cost) offers more detail though (4K ProRes in camera), 10 bit capability and global shutter. On another note, the GH4 has 4K video and 10 bit HMDI out. So each camera has its strengths.

Joel Richards Reply
Joel September 18, 2014

I think the point is having more options in post. If the client hadn’t liked the grade then Johnnie could have redone the color correction far more easily than working with a baked in look. Worth it? Not always but certainly a great option to have. Also the sky was clearly overcast. Not much detail there regardless.

I do think the F55 SLOG2 LUT (haven’t played with film convert just FCPX and Davinci) seems too harsh & punchy. I wonder if SLOG2 for the A7S isn’t heavily tweaked and warrants its own standard LUT.

Reply
Luke Holley September 10, 2014

Nice work as always, thanks for sharing!

Reply
Ahmed September 11, 2014

Really wanted to get my hands on native S-log footage like this with skin to see how it holds up in my NLE, but unfortunately I have to be a Pro/Plus member to download the original file. Is there any chance of uploading even one 1-second scene (with skin) to an open Google-drive-like website? Would be greatly appreciated.

Reply
Johnnie Behiri September 11, 2014

Thank you guys for sharing your thoughts. Truly appreciated!.

Ahmed, I am currently at IBC (then Photokina) with no access to the material.

When back on the 22nd I can send you the file via “wetransfer” if you grant me the permission using your mail address for this purpose

Thanks!

Johnnie.

Reply
William Koehler September 13, 2014

Nicely done, Johnnie. Unlike most I downloaded your original ungraded footage so I could play with the grade myself. So that was the first and to me most important thing I saw. Eight bit codec not withstanding, I like what I see, a lot. You are very dangerous to many peoples wallets, Johnnie. Keep up the good work and Thank You.

Reply
Casey Bassett September 29, 2014

@Johnnie Behiri What ND Filter Did You Use For This Video? Or Did you shoot at an extremely high shutter speed?

Reply
Johnnie Behiri September 30, 2014

Hi Casey, Answered you in Facebook but for the benefit of others, the filter name is at the end of the article under “Adapters / Filters”

Thanks.

Johnnie

Claire McHardy Reply
Claire McHardy November 7, 2014

So is the A7s the winner now? or has panasonic managed to win the hearts of more people? whats the stats?

Reply
Johnnie Behiri November 15, 2014

Hi Claire.

I can only speak for myself.

A7s!!

Thank you

Johnnie