The Ultimate (almost) Slog/Cine4 Sony Camera Picture Profile Showdown
I had been slightly unhappy with the colours from my Sony a6300 so I decided to do a test!
Everyone loves their Sony cameras and for good reason: pro level features and good bang for your buck (or pound). While there are limitations on the low end cameras, they offer comparible features to the 'pro' cameras like the FS7 and above. My a6300 has not let me down in terms of image quality or features and I've used it on countless projects. It's great for productions with small budgets and/or run and gun filming. It's small enough that I can operate it one handed if my daughter or puppy are also with me (Multitasking with babies and dogs will not be covered in this post). Anyways, one of the limitations of the a6300 is the 8-bit codec used (although when shooting in 4k, those limitations are lessened because of the higher bitrate). I have found that when colour grading images can be pushed pretty hard but everything needs to be used with moderation (I no longer use low quality luts as substantial noise and artifacting can be seen over the image especially in the blue channel, more so when shooting in Slog).
For the longest time I was of the mindset to shoot in Slog2 with the S-gamut3.cine colour space. When thinking about using another colour profile I always thought "If I want to be pro then I have to shoot in log". This was repeated on every shoot without question. I eventually stopped thinking twice about it and just figured slog2 was the best for this camera (slog3 test coming later) for every situation. Having completed this test of many different picture profiles I have been pleasently surprised and now have a couple of options depending on what I'm shooting and how much colour correction/grading is needed or time allows.
The biggest factor on accurate colours (or just good looking colours) coming out of the camera is a good starting white balance. More times than not in the past, colours did not look their best because I had to make some heavy white balance adjustments in post. This is not ideal and will degrade your final image. Nail the white balance as best as possible on set/in the moment. These cameras and profiles are not for shooting raw video!
The test was between Slog2 and Cine4 and all the different colour spaces (apart from black and white). There are other profiles to choose on the Sony cameras but I've found that I like these two the best.
Let's see some test shots now. I produced two tests, one indoor and one outdoor, and while they are not 100% scientific but they are real world and provide some good information about the different profiles and colour spaces.
Here's the ungraded Slog2 results from the indoor test. All of the picture profiles are included plus an additional custom profile that I found on the internet.
Here are the ungraded Cine4 profiles now.
Just from looking at these, I know if I have a tight deadline and heavy colour grading is not needed, I'm shooting Cine4. I really enjoy the colours and overall look of the Custom 1 profile. I'll share the settings I used later on. Cine4 defintely has more contrast out of camera. My Custom 1 profile is an adaptation of Peter Bak's canon colours picture profile. I left black level at 0 to give myself a little wiggle room for contrast adjustments in post. Here are the graded versions now of both SLog2 and Cine4.
While Cine4 does look great graded, there is more slightly more dynamic range with Slog2, thus a bit more latitude to work with in post. Exactly what you want if you have the time and/or the right post production tools to work with. Cine4 will work just fine for majority of situations and will be much easier to work with in post. Let's have a look at the outdoor results now.
The outdoor test was slightly more difficult to keep consistent due to the changing light conditions and the puppy running into the tripod! Some might discount these results completely (fair enough) but we'll look at the graded versions anyway.
With all the testing done, it's time to look at the results. I wont bore you with all the detials from my notes that I took during correcting and grading but here's the main ideas.
- The red colour channel is the most important. It's the colour that tends to shift between the different colour spaces and should be watched very carefully as it's where skin tones live. White balance (custom white balance) needs to be set very carefully and precisely. More times than not, when creating the corrective luts for the different profiles and colur spaces I needed to adjust the red channel and shift its colour.
- The S-gamut colour space should not be used with either Slog2 or Cine4. It's just not very colour accurate and skin tones looked very dull. It took some work to get the graded version to a place that I thought was acceptible (multiple individual colour adjustments) but on comparison to the other colour spaces, just about any other choice will produce better results, out of camera.
- Pro, Movie, S-gamut3.cine and my custom profiles usually produced the best results with very nice colurs and no red channel colur shifts (apart from S-gamut3.cine, minor shifts).
I've put all the corrective luts in a pack and you can pay what you want. Click the button:
Use these luts in the basic tab of Premiere Pro. Then you can still preserve highlights or adjust contrast. You can also use a lut in the Creative tab to further enhance your specific look but you might need to adjust the intensity slider.
Here are my custom profile settings:
Black Level: 0
Black Gamma: Range Narrow, Level -7
Color Mode: S-gamut3.cine
Color Phase: -2
Color Depth: +6 for every channel
Cine4 Custom 1 (Very similar to Peter Bak's profile)
Black Level: 0
Black Gamma: auto
Color Mode: Pro
Color Phase: +2
Color Depth: R+3, G+3, B-3, C-3, M-3, Y-4
Cine4 Custom 2
Select PP8 and only change the gamma to Cine4. Leave everything else as default PP8.
Let's see how these profiles work with other luts. I've used the same Deluts Hilsea on every clip.
With my custom profile, I found that reducing the lut's intensity to 50% made for a great looking image.
I'd love to hear if this was helpful for anyone or if you gave the custom profiles a shot. I'd enjoying seeing them in action so please send links to your videos. I'll have some more stylized luts availble soon for these profiles so be on the lookout.