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Best color / profile settings for gradeable video – Sony NEX-5N

October 17, 2011

Hi All

I’ve been shooting a little more with my NEX-5N, also reading a little more, especially about color settings to retain detail across the maximum brightness range (i.e. squeeze maximum latitude out of the camera) while minimising artifacts to deliver the most gradeable footage out of some pretty difficult, harshly-lit situations.

- Some people have encountered banding issues in areas of smoothly-graduated tones, e.g. skies. I have not — yet.

- Some folks recommend using the ‘Sunset’ Creative Style setting to deal with this (Menu > Brightness / Color > Creative Style > Sunset) e.g. http://www.eoshd.com/content/3995/optimising-the-sony-nex-5n-for-cinematic-video . I don’t like this Creative Style as it brings an extraordinarily warm color balance to virtually every scene and I couldn’t be bothered to deal with that every time I shoot.

- As some others have found, the ‘Portrait’ Creative Style is very low contrast, and I have found it retains noticeably more detail in bright highlights than the ‘Standard’ Creative Style with fewer weird colors than ‘Sunset’.

- I’ve experimented with tweaking the contrast, saturation and sharpness settings within ‘Portrait’, and conclude that to get the most gradeable footage with the fewest artifacts all three must be set to -3. Yes, this will give you very flat-looking images before you tweak them, but lowering the contrast gives you even more highlight and shadow tone separation, lowering saturation minimises the effects of chromatic aberration (so-called ‘purple fringing’) that unfortunately plagues many Sony lenses, and lowering sharpness noticeably decreases halos and other artifacts along contrasting edges.

In summary: For most gradeable, smoothest, least artifactual (haha) video, use the ‘Portrait’ Creative Style with contrast, saturation & sharpness all set to -3.

AND ANOTHER THING: I find the NEX-5N suffers badly from rolling shutter / jellocam when moved around rapidly, filming fast-moving objects or walking while shooting. Don’t move during that shot, folks!

Please let me know what you think in the comments.

Cheers

Adam

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