after my first shoot with the a7s i knew i had to test the camera again, and quickly, with what i had learned from the first test.
i was lucky that much of the crew from the first spot would be involved on another shoot the following week, and together we made a plan.
we’d shoot with an identical camera setup, but in a controlled environment. we’d expose with the shoguns false colors (trying to go for peach/light grey for skin tones, or roughly 60 ire), and because the shogun still doesn’t support luts, we’d check a ‘final look’ by turning the picture profiles off in camera, and dropping 2 stops with the iso (the gamma curve in slog2 really appears to drop the over-all image nearly 2 stops to protect highlights).
i can say that i’m much more pleased with the results this time around.
the crew rigged a restaurant with 12 or so china balls that we could control via dimmers. this allowed us to get very precise control of the light in the scene. we also rigged 2 china balls to stands and were able to use those to position around our key actors.
not being able to switch between a lut and log space on the shogun is aggravating. this is a planned feature, but for now i’m relegated to turning sonys pp system off, and adjusting the stops on the camera body. while certainly a better way to light than simply trying to guess based on the super flat slog2, it’s not entirely accurate.
for post-work i planned on using the luts created by alister over on xdcam-user as my initial testing with the “one-stop over filmic” iteration lead me to believe it would work for this shoot. sure enough it seems to have worked well and with some minor tweaks created a pretty spot-on image of what we were going for. if we had been able to load this lut into the shogun, it would have been even better as there are shots i’d really like to have maybe used a flag or net to slow down a torso or the background, and generally nail the ratios we were after.
some screen grabs:
(all shot with nikon zooms, 12800 iso)
ungraded for comparison:
snippet from some ‘dailies’ (watch in 4k):
it should be noted (again) that i’m not a colorist, but i think these illustrate the abilities of the image to take a grade when exposed properly.
in conclusion, i think the camera certainly excels when following the formula discussed in my first post on the a7s. skin tones look filmic to me, sharpness is fine (not exceptional, but i was also shooting through a filter),blacks are nice and black and highlights have a not-too-harsh quality. unfortunately the 8-bit codec still is a stumbling block. while slog2 gives you plenty of stops to work with, you can’t go crazy pushing and pulling your mids like you could with a raw or raw-like codec. that being said… shooting at 12800 iso at 4k with very manageable grain is really, really cool.