Low Light Performance

The place for questions about shooting with Blackmagic Cameras.
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Christian

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Low Light Performance

PostThu Mar 21, 2013 5:48 pm

Blackmagicdesign Cinema Camera Low light Performance.

It seems that there are some constraints about shooting with the B.C.C. in low light conditions.

An example as seen on Vimeo :


Image
"[...]For documentary shooting style, RAW is not an option. ProRes is great but the way the BMCC is built, functions and handled, makes it very hard to operate.[...]
"[...]Not low light sensitive[...]"(Vimeo - Johnnie Behiri)
Last edited by Christian on Mon Mar 25, 2013 12:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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metaljesus

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Re: Low Light Performance

PostThu Mar 21, 2013 6:25 pm

The BMCC is a great low light camera, but it's not a great no light camera like many DSLRs are.

Checkout the night street scenes here:

A GH3 is almost certainly going to produce 'useable' images in some situations where the BMCC cannot, however there is almost no comparison between the cameras when there is enough light for the BMCC (like a typical available light situation in a city at night).
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Re: Low Light Performance

PostThu Mar 21, 2013 6:29 pm

I wrote the above comment before acutally looking at your link.

The BMCC could easily handle that kind of shooting. Do a search on Vimeo.
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Christian

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Re: Low Light Performance

PostThu Mar 21, 2013 8:18 pm

Thanks for the advice.
Hence, it seems that the B.C.C. cannot handle very well low light situation actually.

"-Not low light sensitive"


The sensitivity seems to be more closed to 200 ISO than 400 ISO.
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Dmitry Kitsov

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Re: Low Light Performance

PostThu Mar 21, 2013 8:27 pm

Christian wrote:
The sensitivity seems to be more closed to 200 ISO than 400 ISO.

What do you mean?
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Christian

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Re: Low Light Performance

PostThu Mar 21, 2013 8:54 pm

If you do some tests with a Minolta or a Sekonic light meter, you would notice that the B.C.C. is closer to 200 ISO than the supposed native of 400 ISO.
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Soeren Mueller

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Re: Low Light Performance

PostThu Mar 21, 2013 9:35 pm

Christian wrote:If you do some tests with a Minolta or a Sekonic light meter, you would notice that the B.C.C. is closer to 200 ISO than the supposed native of 400 ISO.


Did you do this yourself? Where did you get this info from? Is it fun for you to start a bunch of totally speculative postings? :roll:
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Frank Glencairn

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Re: Low Light Performance

PostThu Mar 21, 2013 9:37 pm

Christian wrote:If you do some tests with a Minolta or a Sekonic light meter, you would notice that the B.C.C. is closer to 200 ISO than the supposed native of 400 ISO.


No way, I tried it against the FS100 and 700 and also against a MKIII - the BMC is pretty much tack on 800 ISO.

As others said, it's not a NO Light camera but certainly a low light camera.

I did a ton of shots at low light and at night - never had a problem.
But you have to know what you are doing and how to treat it in post.

I saw folks shooting at night and than try to push the levels in post, to make it a high-noon scene, while complaining about noise.
http://frankglencairn.wordpress.com/

Set your zebras to 100%, ETTR and you're golden - and NO, you can't use TB as output for an external monitor, and you can't download the footy via TB ether.
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Dmitry Kitsov

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Re: Low Light Performance

PostThu Mar 21, 2013 10:01 pm

Soeren Mueller wrote:
Christian wrote:If you do some tests with a Minolta or a Sekonic light meter, you would notice that the B.C.C. is closer to 200 ISO than the supposed native of 400 ISO.


Did you do this yourself? Where did you get this info from? Is it fun for you to start a bunch of totally speculative postings? :roll:

I think we are feeding a troll at this point.
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Christian

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Re: Low Light Performance

PostThu Mar 21, 2013 10:46 pm

dkitsov wrote:I think we are feeding a troll at this point.
Speak for yourself !

http://www.seraphine.net/

" [...]- Ce qui m'a beaucoup plus gêné c'est sa sensibilité, 400 ISO semble être la sensibilité idéale du capteur car le bruit monte très vite dans les basses lumières à 800 et 1600 ISO. De plus, mes quelques tests avec mes deux cellules Sekonic et Minolta m'indiquaient une sensibilité effective qui serait plus proche des 200 ISO bien qu'elle soit indiquée à 400.[...]".
Source : http://www.camera-forum.fr/index.php?/topic/8408-retour-dexperience-apres-un-tournage-avec-la-camera-blackmagic/page-3
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Christian

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Re: Low Light Performance

PostThu Mar 21, 2013 10:55 pm

Frank Glencairn wrote:[...]I tried it against the FS100 and 700 and also against a MKIII[...]

You should try with a light meter next time.
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Frank Glencairn

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Re: Low Light Performance

PostThu Mar 21, 2013 11:07 pm

Light metering for raw - yeah right, but If you say so.
http://frankglencairn.wordpress.com/

Set your zebras to 100%, ETTR and you're golden - and NO, you can't use TB as output for an external monitor, and you can't download the footy via TB ether.
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Re: Low Light Performance

PostThu Mar 21, 2013 11:30 pm

Agree with you Frank. If you know how it is absolutly possible to use this camera in low light. Had been sceptical before but now since I am shooting with it I am convinced.
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Re: Low Light Performance

PostThu Mar 21, 2013 11:49 pm

Some good examples why real professionals will always use a light meter, even in raw :
"[...]Light Metering vs. Chimping[...]"
http://andrewrpotter.com/tutorials/why-you-should-use-a-light-meter-or-not

"[...]I strongly believe it’s of vital importance one should learn how light behaves, how to manipulate it, and, most importantly, how to tell a story with it.[...]"
http://blog.sekonic.com/2012/11/06/frank-doorhof-why-i-use-a-light-meter-and-you-should-too/

"[...]despite the switch to digital cinematography, still relies on his trusty Gossen light meter to set exposure.[...]SKYFALL is photographically the most sophisticated and beautiful of all Bond films[...]"
http://adnanxkhan.com/roger-deakins-and-the-cinematography-of-skyfall/

Shooting RAW files is not a license nor an excuse to ignore proper exposure techniques.

Anyway the B.C.C. will never be as good in low light situation as a GH2 I guess.
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Frank Glencairn

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Re: Low Light Performance

PostThu Mar 21, 2013 11:59 pm

Those are all about ratios and not exposure, so it has nothing to do with low light.
http://frankglencairn.wordpress.com/

Set your zebras to 100%, ETTR and you're golden - and NO, you can't use TB as output for an external monitor, and you can't download the footy via TB ether.
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Re: Low Light Performance

PostFri Mar 22, 2013 12:00 am

So, Christian, what exactly is your agenda here? Bored?
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Re: Low Light Performance

PostFri Mar 22, 2013 12:07 am

A lightmeter is a great tool as long you understand how to use it. In this case Frank is just right: we are talking about exposure - not ratlos.
Last edited by Tobias Castorph on Fri Mar 22, 2013 12:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Low Light Performance

PostFri Mar 22, 2013 12:09 am

I do truly understand why the full real name is a requirement for this forum.
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Christian

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Re: Low Light Performance

PostFri Mar 22, 2013 12:38 am

[...]despite the switch to digital cinematography, still relies on his trusty Gossen light meter to set exposure.[...]
Frank Glencairn wrote:Those are all about ratios and not exposure, so it has nothing to do with low light.

Stop to antagonize. It is not constructive at all. Beside I give proofs and evidences.
And as already stated :
"shooting RAW files is not a license nor an excuse to ignore proper exposure techniques".
MIDDLEEASTMAMBO wrote:A lightmeter is a great tool as long you understand how to use it.[...]".

Of course !
But many people don't understand that light is very important, and because of their lack of knowledge they prefer to rely on raw instead of learning how to use a light meter.
Many people who used and will use a B.C.C. never walked trough the door of a school of Cinema.
That's the way it is !

And for those who still think that the B.C.C. can easily handle low light :
"Like others, I was excited finally getting my BMCC [...]"
"[...]For documentary shooting style, RAW is not an option.[...]"
"[...]At the end of the day the main reason to buy this camera is its price tag/recording formats. If you are whiling to compromise on a camera with a small sensor and functionality limitations (hope most can be fixed in a future firmware update), then it is the camera for you.
For me it wasn't, hence it was sent back to my dealer.[...]
- Johnnie Behiri -


dkitsov wrote:I do truly understand why the full real name is a requirement for this forum.

Come on, stop trolling.

A very good advice : before buying a B.C.C., just rent it first to see if it suits your needs !
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Tobias Castorph

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Re: Low Light Performance

PostFri Mar 22, 2013 12:56 am

Ok, this is a good advice - always. But again: the camera has a basic sensitivity of quite accurate 800 ASA. And you can trust me: I know how to use a lightmeter ( should not sound arrogant - just a fact).
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Re: Low Light Performance

PostFri Mar 22, 2013 1:26 am

Hello Frank, I have a question for you ! I recently shot a test video on my bmcc in low light and I have some shots that have more grain than others ! I shoot all in 200 ASA. Is better to shoot at 400 or 800 instead of pushing the exposer in post production ? What will give me best grain and results ? Thank you !
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Re: Low Light Performance

PostFri Mar 22, 2013 3:00 am

200 ASA is not the rated ISO of the camera, i believe 400 is what it's rated at. but if you are filming in RAW then ISO/ASA is only for what you see on the display. with RAW ISO/ASA is just metadata. if you have a lot of noise, you can try over exposing the shot, or use resolve to get rid of some of the noise.
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Frank Glencairn

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Re: Low Light Performance

PostFri Mar 22, 2013 8:33 am

Christian wrote:Stop to antagonize. It is not constructive at all. Beside I give proofs and evidences.
And as already stated :
"shooting RAW files is not a license nor an excuse to ignore proper exposure techniques".



Christian, can you show us some of your low light material, (that you shot with the BMC and used your light meter), whereby the results are better, than just expose to the right till the 100% zebras go away?

Oh, wait ... you don't have a BMC. You even have to "borrow" the picture of a BMC for your avatar.
So have you ANY first hand experience, with exposing the BMC and handle the files in a proper way in Resolve?

Christian wrote:And for those who still think that the B.C.C. can easily handle low light :
"Like others, I was excited finally getting my BMCC [...]"
"[...]For documentary shooting style, RAW is not an option.[...]"
"[...]At the end of the day the main reason to buy this camera is its price tag/recording formats. If you are whiling to compromise on a camera with a small sensor and functionality limitations (hope most can be fixed in a future firmware update), then it is the camera for you.
For me it wasn't, hence it was sent back to my dealer.[...]
- Johnnie Behiri -


Oh, how cute.

Johnnie Behiri shot in ProRes with "Video" baked in color, treating the BMC like one of his usual ENG cameras (which makes no sense of course) - he has zero experience about shooting with raw, since he didn't even try. His dog footage shows, that he (under)exposed it like an run&gun camera, instead of learning the characteristics of the sensor first.

Look, I just came back from Canada, where I shot 3 weeks docu footy in raw under harsh conditions.
How can somebody dare to say "For documentary shooting style, RAW is not an option"
It was a great option for me, and I did not think for a second, to shoot ProRes, cause I now how to deal with raw,I know the benefits it gives me and I have a solid workflow.

Same goes for lowlight. I have shot a ton of lowlight stuff with the BMC. Heck, I guess I was even the first one, that made a public lowlight shootout. It's just fine for 800 ISO. Clean blacks, low noise if you are know what you are doing.

But if you are so sure, the BMC doesn't work for you, just cancel your order and move on. Maybe that camera isn't for you.
Last edited by Frank Glencairn on Fri Mar 22, 2013 11:33 am, edited 4 times in total.
http://frankglencairn.wordpress.com/

Set your zebras to 100%, ETTR and you're golden - and NO, you can't use TB as output for an external monitor, and you can't download the footy via TB ether.
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Re: Low Light Performance

PostFri Mar 22, 2013 8:49 am

dkitsov wrote:I do truly understand why the full real name is a requirement for this forum.

Come on, stop trolling.


This is rich, coming from an anonymous person who started a couple of antagonizing topics within the last day.
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Re: Low Light Performance

PostFri Mar 22, 2013 9:37 am

This becomes more and more a problem. When talking to producers and directors most of them read some of this strange rumors being spread from people who have no idea about - or even worse - just want to disturb for what ever reason. So our clients have some doubts to use the camera and we have sometimes a hard time to make them believe the truth again. Similar things happened in the early days of the RED ONE (and the RED had - different to the BMCC - severe problems in the beginning).
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Re: Low Light Performance

PostFri Mar 22, 2013 11:58 am

Christian wrote:If you do some tests with a Minolta or a Sekonic light meter, you would notice that the B.C.C. is closer to 200 ISO than the supposed native of 400 ISO.


Is it ?

How do you know ?

How does a light meter know where you want to expose an image ?

Do you always do what your meter tells you ?

jb
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Christian

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Re: Low Light Performance

PostFri Mar 22, 2013 1:14 pm

John Brawley wrote:[...]
Do you always do what your meter tells you ?
jb

Hi John !
Actually I don't necessarily do what my Sekonic tells me, but it provides a good reference point.

Anyway if you want to know more about the issue concerning the native ISO of the B.C.C.,
you are invited and welcome to discuss it with Rodolphe Seraphine here :
http://www.camera-forum.fr/index.php?/topic/8408-retour-dexperience-apres-un-tournage-avec-la-camera-blackmagic/page-3

(http://www.seraphine.net/)
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Frank Glencairn

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Re: Low Light Performance

PostFri Mar 22, 2013 1:48 pm

Just checked that French site.
Okay, we got it, this camera is not for you, keep shooting with your Canon.
Can we move on now?
http://frankglencairn.wordpress.com/

Set your zebras to 100%, ETTR and you're golden - and NO, you can't use TB as output for an external monitor, and you can't download the footy via TB ether.
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Re: Low Light Performance

PostFri Mar 22, 2013 1:52 pm

Christian wrote:

Hi John !
Actually I don't necessarily do what my Sekonic tells me, but it provides a good reference point.
[/quote]

It tells you how many Fc fall on a scene.

Christian wrote:Anyway if you want to know more about the issue concerning the native ISO of the B.C.C.,
you are invited and welcome to discuss it with Rodolphe Seraphine here :
http://www.camera-forum.fr/index.php?/topic/8408-retour-dexperience-apres-un-tournage-avec-la-camera-blackmagic/page-3



I unfortunately don't speak French.

There's no RIGHT answer to exposure. It's what YOU decide.

jb
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Soeren Mueller

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Re: Low Light Performance

PostFri Mar 22, 2013 2:18 pm

are you trying to live up to the cliché frenchmen portrayed in hollywood movies? :lol:
oh wait.. i guess it's the british butler...
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Re: Low Light Performance

PostFri Mar 22, 2013 2:21 pm

Christian wrote:Is the Blackmagic Cinema Camera better than my GH2 in low light situation ?
Here, a low light performance of the GH2 :

( Is really the B.C.C. able to do a much better job than this in low light situation ?)


(just back to your initial question): we own as well a GH2 and a BMCC. So I try to understand what you mean: we are talking about the size and amount of noise in various ASAs (+ / - gain)? So even it is difficult to compare these two cameras the BMCC has evidently less noise at 800ASA e.g. as the GH2 and the noise structure is much smaller, more like grain on negative. (both cameras exposed possibly similar). Further on you see just more detail in the BMCC footage. 10bit / 12bit is just another league in postproduction. Just don´t expect 25600ASA like with the Canon 1DC or similar. But there is also a quite good noise reduction in Resolve (which BMD intended to be used in the workflow of the BMCC).

BTW: I don´t speak french but I would really like to know how Mr Seraphine measured a native sensitivity of 200ASA.... I am just curious. Maybe you could help me to understand.
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Christian

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Re: Low Light Performance

PostFri Mar 22, 2013 2:30 pm

Frank Glencairn wrote:Light metering for raw - yeah right, but If you say so.

"Shooting RAW files is not a license nor an excuse to ignore proper exposure techniques".

There is a similar issue with the Scarlet, with a lot of people refusing to admit that this camera could have problems dealing with low light performance and then one day :


It is not cheap to rent a professional editing room, and time means money.
Using a light meter can be very useful and can make you save a lot of time.
And thinking that RAW will save the day sounds very amateurish.
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Frank Glencairn

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Re: Low Light Performance

PostFri Mar 22, 2013 4:15 pm

Christian wrote:"Shooting RAW files is not a license nor an excuse to ignore proper exposure techniques".


Oh, is that so...

...so please enlighten us (pun intended), what's the proper exposure technique for the BMC.
http://frankglencairn.wordpress.com/

Set your zebras to 100%, ETTR and you're golden - and NO, you can't use TB as output for an external monitor, and you can't download the footy via TB ether.
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Re: Low Light Performance

PostFri Mar 22, 2013 4:42 pm

Christian. Got a site where we can see your work?
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Re: Low Light Performance

PostFri Mar 22, 2013 10:55 pm

After metering with the BMCC in a studio situation and proper test charts, I have found that the BMCC produces a proper (18% gray card) exposure at 2 stops of over exposure.

Not sure if that helps but its the trick that is working for me.

EDIT: Just to clarify, I am using a Sekonic L-308DC in CINE mode. I understand that the BMCC works a little differently because of its gamma curve but I would say to open up at least one stop from what your light meter tells you.
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Christian

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Re: Low Light Performance

PostFri Mar 22, 2013 11:34 pm

Frank Glencairn wrote:Oh, is that so...

...so please enlighten us (pun intended), what's the proper exposure technique for the BMC.

Stop being sarcastic.
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Re: Low Light Performance

PostFri Mar 22, 2013 11:49 pm

Christian wrote:
Frank Glencairn wrote:Oh, is that so...

...so please enlighten us (pun intended), what's the proper exposure technique for the BMC.

Stop being sarcastic.


Can you answer Frank's question?
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Christian

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Re: Low Light Performance

PostSat Mar 23, 2013 12:43 am

Hi Marc !
It's no big deal thanks to Ryan E. Walters :
http://www.ryanewalters.com/SP/sekonicprofiles.html
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Re: Low Light Performance

PostSat Mar 23, 2013 1:29 am

Hi Christian! Gr8 reference but not the light read I was hoping for (pun intended). Everything seems geared to the Sekonic and I was hoping for a more generic method. I noticed the BMC references and will check them out when I have some spare time. Thanks!
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Peter Östlund

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Re: Low Light Performance

PostSat Mar 23, 2013 9:28 am

Of course it is better to shoot RAW, if you have the disks space to handle it. The dynamics of RAW is more similar to negative film than ProRes. I do not understand the recommendations not to shoot RAW, it is as you should recommend shooting on reversal film in the old days. Loosing headroom. I always shoot RAW with my BMC using my three Sandisk 480. That is three hours in the best possible quality. Light meters are only used for pre checking, scouting etc.
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Re: Low Light Performance

PostSat Mar 23, 2013 9:51 am

Trevr Merchant wrote:After metering with the BMCC in a studio situation and proper test charts, I have found that the BMCC produces a proper (18% gray card) exposure at 2 stops of over exposure.

Not sure if that helps but its the trick that is working for me.

EDIT: Just to clarify, I am using a Sekonic L-308DC in CINE mode. I understand that the BMCC works a little differently because of its gamma curve but I would say to open up at least one stop from what your light meter tells you.


Whats the difference between calling it 2 stops over and just rating the sensor at 200 iso?
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Frank Glencairn

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Re: Low Light Performance

PostSat Mar 23, 2013 11:04 am

Okay, here is my last word on that topic:

When you guys keep using light meters for setting exposure on the BMC, instead of using it just for your ratios, while feeding the sensor with every bit of light you have there (i.e. expose to the right just before clipping) you will have a noise problem forever (and probably blame the camera for it).

It's not that hard to relearn the way you expose.
In fact the BMC is the most idiot proof camera to expose I ever saw.
All you have to do, is trust your 100% zebras. That old ENG obsession to "get it right in the camera", just doesn't work here.

Frank
http://frankglencairn.wordpress.com/

Set your zebras to 100%, ETTR and you're golden - and NO, you can't use TB as output for an external monitor, and you can't download the footy via TB ether.
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Peter Östlund

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Re: Low Light Performance

PostSat Mar 23, 2013 12:25 pm

Frank is right. Bring home as much information as possible.
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Re: Low Light Performance

PostSat Mar 23, 2013 12:50 pm

Frank Glencairn wrote:Okay, here is my last word on that topic:
All you have to do, is trust your 100% zebras. That old ENG obsession to "get it right in the camera", just doesn't work here.
Frank


This is exactly what I do: ETTR and just a wee tiny notch below 100% zebra. This is the decidedly EASIEST camera I EVER had to operate. Just repeat the holy mantra ETTR- exposare ad dexteram histogrammae - EXPOSE TO THE VERY RIGHT.

The BMCC is indeed so dumb easy to expose correctly that I am sure many ancient wizard of 8-bits video (DVX100, EX1, AF100, C100, C300, XDCAM etc. etc.) will apply their craft intelligently, but wrongly (e.g. Expose To the Very Middle) and get a noisy goulash of bits as the result of the application of irrelevant knowledge. A common case in the history of technology.
Last edited by danap on Sat Mar 23, 2013 4:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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rick.lang

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Re: Low Light Performance

PostSat Mar 23, 2013 1:47 pm

Frank Glencairn wrote:It's not that hard to relearn the way you expose.
In fact the BMC is the most idiot proof camera to expose I ever saw.
All you have to do, is trust your 100% zebras...


And there may be times when you even want to expose with the zebras showing highlight clipping if detail in those highlights are not needed or feasible. An example might be a beach scene where the sun is in front of the camera backlighting your subject and reflecting off some of the water and is just so much brighter than anything else in which you do want to show detail. So sometimes you might want to make a sacrifice of the brightest areas for the sake of seeing into the shadows.

Rick Lang
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Frank Glencairn

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Re: Low Light Performance

PostSat Mar 23, 2013 2:57 pm

Of course.

Car headlights, chrome parts, reflections and the like are excepted - goes without saying.
http://frankglencairn.wordpress.com/

Set your zebras to 100%, ETTR and you're golden - and NO, you can't use TB as output for an external monitor, and you can't download the footy via TB ether.
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Randy Walters

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Re: Low Light Performance

PostSat Mar 23, 2013 3:30 pm

danap wrote:This is the decidedly EASIEST camera I EVER had to operate. Just repeat the holy mantra ETTR- exposare ad dexteram histogrammae - EXPOSE TO THE VERY RIGHT.


It really is just nuts how liberating it is to work with this camera. Since you're free from being caught up with constant life-or-death decisions about exposure, you can relax and put much more of your energy into being creative.

Composition, angles, motion, depth of field choices... now you have more time to concentrate on these during the shoot. The plasticity of 12-bit RAW gives you the safety to create your final look after the fact, in an environment where you can take your time to explore and do it right. It's just wonderful.
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Darryl Gregory

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Re: Low Light Performance

PostSat Mar 23, 2013 11:35 pm

Frank Glencairn wrote:Okay, here is my last word on that topic:

the BMC is the most idiot proof camera to expose I ever saw.

Frank


That's a fact! :lol:
Add Resolve and you have the best camera ever made for $3000.00...So far.
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Christian

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Re: Low Light Performance

PostSat Mar 23, 2013 11:50 pm

Frank Glencairn wrote:Okay, here is my last word on that topic[...]

Stop being sarcastic and full of yourself.

Even for a low budget film the B.C.C. will always need a good director of photography.
Besides, the RAW can not catch up issues from low light performance in all outdoor/indoor situations.
Worse, in post, using Adobe CinemaDNG, banding noise and other artifacts can be introduced through brightening.
RAW vs Avid DNxHD or Apple ProRes will not be able to prevent a very artificial-looking image from brightening the shadows and other parts of the picture as well, which will destroy the aesthetic richness of the original lighting.

RAW is time and space consuming, hence a lot of broadcast professionals will use either Apple Prores or Avid DNxHD.

By the way plenty of people (Red lovers mainly) were thinking the same about the Red Scarlet.
That it was no problem at all dealing with low light performance.

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Christian

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Re: Low Light Performance

PostSun Mar 24, 2013 12:02 am

Well, I have just forgotten something to tell :
Soeren Mueller wrote:are you trying to live up to the cliché frenchmen portrayed in hollywood movies? :lol:
oh wait.. i guess it's the british butler...

Let's make things sparkling clear : there's no way I will let someone, who ever it is to disrespect me or to judge me, even on a forum on internet. So read this very carefully who ever it is from Düssedorf, actually I do prefer to be the british butler than the german kapo.
--------------------------
- Christian Kane Black
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