How-To

How to Make Your Sony Look Like A Canon

Hey guys! Steve here and today I want to talk about how you can make your Sony look more like a Canon with EOSHD Pro Color 3.0.

A little while back I posted a video titled “How to Get Instantly Better Skin Tones on Sony Alpha Cameras,” and if you watched that video, you’ll know that in it we discussed how Sony’s Auto White Balance feature doesn’t always produce great results, and how we can use EOSHD Pro Color to get better, more flattering, Canon-like skin tones. If you haven’t seen that video, and would like to learn more about Canon’s approach to color science versus Sony’s, check out the link in the description below.

EOSHD.com is a website run by the British filmmaker and blogger Andrew Reid, and he has developed a set of Picture Profiles for Sony Alpha cameras called EOSHD Pro Color. The goal of EOSHD Pro Color is to mimic the color science of Canon cameras, which have greater separation in their green and blue channels for accurate skies and foliage, while retaining less separation in the red channel for improved skin tones. 

You might be saying, “Yeah Steve, I know, you covered all that in the first video about EOSHD Pro Color.” Well, recently Andrew released an updated version of EOSHD Pro Color that he’s calling EOSHD Pro Color 3.0 with three different Picture Profiles. The original EOSHD Pro Color, EOSHD XR (Extended Range), and EOSHD Pro Color DW (Deep Warmth).

Just like the original Pro Color, Pro Color 3 is simply a set of Picture Profile set-up instructions that you receive in the form of a PDF, there’s nothing to load or install onto your camera. Pro Color is compatible with the Sony a7S II, a7R II, a99 II, a7S and a7 II, a6300, a6500, FS5, RX100 IV and V, and lastly the RX10 II, III, and IV.

Sony cameras which lack advanced picture profile capabilities there therefore incompatible with EOSHD Pro Color, such as the Sony RX100 I, II, and III, the new a9, the original a7R and a7S, the a6000, and the RX10 M1.

I thought it would be a good idea to test these two new profiles along with the original EOSHD Pro Color profile, and see how they compare to Sony’s default movie gamma, so that’s what I did. Armed with my PilotFly H2 and my Zeiss 35mm f/2.8, we hit the streets of Houston and got some test footage, so let’s take a look at that now. Note that there has not been any color correction or post-processing of any kind, this is all straight out of the camera.

So, as you can see, the new Pro Color settings, especially Extended Range and Deep Warmth, really offer, in my opinion, the most striking difference from the default Sony “Movie” gamma. Although I do have to say, since I never shoot with it, I was pleasantly surprised with how nice the Sony Movie gamma looked right out of the camera.

You can see in a couple of these shots, my highlights were a little blown out, and I should mention that Pro Color 3 comes with a highlight recover LUT. I didn’t have a chance to really play around with that, but it’s out there if you want to check it out.

If I had to pick an all-around favorite, I’d probably go with Pro Color Extended Range. The skin tones were great, and the overall vibrancy and saturation of the image was great, without being too much. 

The Deep Warmth setting in all scenarios seemed to shift the image slightly too much magenta for my liking, especially in the skin tones. Though Andrew lists this profile as giving “deeper orange tones and golden yellows” and “improved sunset tones.” Although I didn’t get a chance to test it at sunset, I can see how this setting could be beneficial in certain lighting situations.

When it comes to strictly skin tones, the original Pro Color setting is still king. It really reminds me of my days shooting on Canon and is the closest I’ve seen in achieving a Canon skin tone look on my Sony. But the Extended Range still handles skin tones nicely but also give you a bit more saturation and liveliness to your image.

So there you have it guys. What do you think of EOSHD Pro Color 3? Do you prefer shooting in it over Sony’s own “Movie” gamma or Cine1 or Cine4? Let me know in the comments below!

How to Get Instantly Better Skin Tones

Hey guys, Steve here, and today I want to talk about how you can get instantly better skin tones when shooting on a Sony alpha camera.

Now, I’m going to to be talking specifically about the Sony a7S II as that’s the camera I shoot on, but this also applies to the a7R II, a7S, the a7 II, the a6300 and a6500, and even non-Alpha cameras like the RX 10 2 and 3, the RX100 4 and 5, and the Sony FS5.

Now, the Sony a7S II is an amazing camera. In the last few years, I myself, along with plenty of other wedding filmmakers, have jumped ship and sold all of my Canon gear and invested 100% in the Sony system. And, so far, I haven’t regretted it an ounce. The low light performance is outstanding, the lenses Sony have been releasing are the best in their class, and the dynamic range is fantastic. All around, it’s a magnificent camera system. 

However, as great as it is, it’s not perfect. Have you ever been shooting on your Sony, maybe using auto white balance - and there's nothing to be ashamed of there, we all do it - and you notice that your skin tones just don’t look quite…right? 

You’re not alone. It’s a well-known fact that Sony’s color science just isn’t quite there in terms of skin tones. Even if you dial in the white balance using a custom Kelvin temperature, sometimes it can still look a bit off, especially if you’re shooting in a setting with mixed lighting and multiple color temperatures from various sources.

Sony cameras approach color science from a much more technical standpoint. And sometimes, that just doesn’t produce the most flattering results.

Canon’s cameras have a green and blue channel optimized for landscape photography, and a red channel optimized for skin tones. There is greater separation in the greens and blues leading to more realistic foliage and greenery, as well as vivid blues in the sky, while simultaneously retaining less separation in the red channel. And that’s important.

Too much separation of the reds is bad for skin tones. In a Sony camera, while it’s technically more “correct” - it’s much less flattering. You get to see every color in a skin tone on a Sony camera and this can lead to some nasty dark-reds in the face as well as some unwanted grey-yellows under the eyes. 

Not only are there issues with Sony’s color science, its white balance also has some issues. 

The auto white balance setting on Sony’s current cameras has a hard time distinguishing between setting a “correct” white balance and removing whatever color cast is coming from the lights in the room, and maintaining the ambience of the shot.

Sometimes when you’re shooting under artificial light, you don’t want to just correct for it, but you want to maintain the mood and the vibe that the light is giving off. And if you’re intentionally using mixed lighting for effect, the auto white balance is going to have NO idea what to do. Now, newer models such as the a6500 have added an “Ambience Priority” setting, but if you’re shooting on an older model, like an a7S II, you’re not going to have that option, like you would on most Canon cameras.

Alright, enough talk about the problems. What’s the solution? Enter Andrew Reid. Andrew is a British filmmaker who runs a site called EOSHD.com and blogs about all sorts of camera-related topics. And he has developed something called EOSHD Pro Color

So what is EOSHD Pro Color? At first, I thought it might be a custom picture profile that you install onto your camera from an SD card, but, as it turns out, EOSHD Pro Color is simply a set of settings and tweaks that you receive from Andrew in the form of a PDF.

You go into one of your Picture Profiles, dial everything in as Andrew recommends, and boom, you’re getting instantly better skin tones, resembling that of a Canon DSLR. 

Now, EOS HD Pro Color costs $14.99 for the download and I know what your next question is going to be...

No, I’m not going to give away Andrew’s secret sauce, because that would be dishonest and diminish the hard work he put into developing and testing these various settings, but I will of course link to Andrew’s site in the description below so you can download it for yourself should you feel so inclined.

Now, you guys may recall a video I posted about S-Log3 and how it’s my favorite color profile for my Sony a7S II, and how I would never shoot using anything but. And while that’s still mostly true,   if I ever want to shoot something that’s not meant to look cinematic, anything I want to look great right out of the camera and anything that I’m not going to spend a ton of time color grading, I shoot it in EOSHD Pro Color.

In closing, I’m really glad I stumbled upon EOSHD Pro Color because I love using it for everyday shooting when I want a really great image right out of the camera, with minimal work in post-production. 

So there you have it guys. If you guys have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them down below. And be sure to let me know what you think of EOS HD Pro Color!

How to Use In-Body Image Stabilization with Vintage Lenses

What’s going on everybody, Steve here with another pro tip, and today I want to talk about one of my favorite features of the Sony a7S II and the a6500 and that’s the in-body image stabilization, or as Sony refers to it, SteadyShot.

Image stabilization housed in camera lenses has been around since the mid-1990s, but in the early 2000’s, Minolta introduced the first DSLR with image stabilization built into the camera body itself. And then in 2006, Sony purchased Konica Minolta and the rest is history.

In-body image stabilization is great because it means that even if your lens doesn’t have I.S. built into it, your camera does. Your camera physically moves the sensor around across five different axes to compensate for camera shake. 

Now, for your Sony camera to accomplish this, it has to know the focal length of the lens you’re using. If you’re using a native Sony lens, or a Canon or Sigma or some other lens with an electronic adapter, most of the time, the lens is going to communicate with the camera to give it that information.

But what if you’re using a vintage lens with a non-electronic adapter, and there’s no communication between the lens and the camera?

Good news: you can still utilize Sony’s SteadyShot. You just have to tell the camera the focal length of the lens you’re shooting.

In-body image stabilization is really great. Since I started shooting on Sony, it’s allowed me to get handheld shots that I never could have with my GH4 or my Canon cameras. Especially when it comes to dancing at receptions. These days I just slap on a 35 or a 50mm and leave my monopod behind. It really is fantastic.

So that's really it guys, and as always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them down below!

How to Easily Color Grade S-Log Footage

Hey guys, today we're going to talk about how you can use FilmConvert to easily color grade your S-Log footage.

Shooting in S-Log is a great option if you want a high level of control over the image in post-production, and are looking to give it a very cinematic or specific “look.” However, a lot of people feel somewhat intimidated by color grading, or they simply just don’t have much time to spend doing it. 

So today we’re going to talk about a really great tool that I use on my wedding films called FilmConvert that you can use to easily and efficiently color grade your S-Log footage.

So what exactly is FilmConvert? In short, it’s a film stock emulator designed for multiple cameras and gamma settings. The really cool thing about it is that they have profiles for all types of cameras and gamma settings, so this will benefit you even if you’re not shooting in S-Log. Actually, it will benefit you even if you’re not shooting on a Sony. I’ve been using FilmConvert since back when I was still shooting on Canon.

You take your footage, tell it what type of camera you’re shooting on, what picture profile you’re using, and FilmConvert translates your image to one of 19 different film stocks. You can add grain, increase or decrease the color temperature, or use the color wheels to manipulate the highlights, mid tones, or shadows. 

FilmConvert is available from filmconvert.com and costs $149 for the FinalCut Pro plug-in, which is what we’ll be using today. It’s also available in a stand-alone, or for Adobe Premiere Pro, DaVinci Resolve, and Avid Media Composer.

I’d like to point out I’m in no way affiliate with FilmConvert, nor have I ever been paid by them for anything. I just stumbled upon their product, from Philip Bloom’s blog actually I think, and I’ve been using it ever since!

FilmConvert makes grading S-Log footage so quick and so efficient, but it’s also robust enough to allow me to really dig in and tweak and adjust the image as much as I want.

I use it to grade not just footage from my Sony cameras, but also my DJI Phantom 3 and my DJI Osmo, and I’ve used it to grade Panasonic GH4 and Canon footage in the past as well. 

If you guys have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them down below! Until next time.

 

How to Get Along With Photographers

Today's topic is something you will encounter at every single wedding that you shoot. And that is, of course, a photographer. Or in most cases, two photographers. 

Now, a lot of photographers get apprehensive as soon as they see videographers step on the scene, and rightfully so. Most of the photographers I talk to have had bad experiences with wedding filmmakers in the past, and God knows I’ve had a few bad experiences with a few photographers, too.

So today, we’re going to talk about what you can do as a wedding filmmaker to ensure the best outcome for everyone, especially the bride and groom.

When we have a couple interested in working with us, one of the first things we have them do is to fill out our online questionnaire. In it they give us details like their names, addresses, email addresses, venue name and location, etc.

But one of the most important pieces of information we ask for is the photographer’s name and website address. Usually, a week or so before the wedding date, if we haven’t been in contact already, we’ll shoot an email over to the photographer and introduce ourselves, say hello, and let them know that we look forward to working with them. This sets the stage for a day of collaboration and gets us off on the right foot.

Feed Off of Each Other’s Creativity

So, the day of the wedding rolls around, and if we arrive and the photographer’s already there, usually I wait for a break in the action if they’re shooting something, and introduce myself and the rest of the team. 

And from then on, it’s really just about being self-aware and communicating. If you’re cool with them, 99% they’re going to be cool with you. It’s not a competition, and at the end of the day, you’re both trying to walk away with the best shots possible.

If you need to step in for a close-up, a simple gesture like making eye contact or a head nod with the photographer is sometimes enough to make sure they got what they needed before you walk in. And, chances are, if you’re communicating with them, they’re going to reciprocate and make sure that you have what you need before they cross the frame or move in closer.

Of course, discussing your plan of attack for things like the processional, the vows, the kiss, the grand entrance, the toasts, the first dance (by the way, if you’re going to be using a gimbal and orbiting the couple for three minutes straight, that might make it a little difficult for the photographer, so, try to come to some compromises), the cake cutting, the garter, the bouquet, etc. Discussing your approach to all of these events  and being on the same page is definitely something you’ll want to do to ensure that nobody’s in anybody else’s way.

Now of course, there are going to be those photographers who simply don’t understand wedding filmmaking and have probably been shooting weddings for 20 years or 30 years or more and are used to doing things a certain way, and in those situations you might have to repeat yourself if you feel like you’re not working together or being overlooked. And that’s going to happen. I definitely have some horror stories, but we won’t get into that now.

The good news is, by and large, most photographers, especially the younger ones, are very cool and very aware of what we do, and are definitely willing to be accommodating, as long as we’re cool to them in return.

Usually, by the time dinner rolls around, we've made friends. We’re cracking jokes, we’re trading war stories; we’re generally getting along great. 

Another advantage to having a good working relationship with the photographer is that you can feed off of each other’s creativity. If you’ve done a lot of weddings, then you know that sometimes it can be challenging to push yourself creatively to find something new to shoot, or to do something you’ve never done before. Some of my best shots have been ideas or poses that the photographer had, and we built on them. And I’m sure there are some excellent photographs out there of couples that we shot that were in a pose or a set-up that I had them in for video. So working as a unit and building off of each other’s ideas can really help you get out of your own head if you’re stuck creatively, and could possibly help out the photographer with an idea for a pose or a shot that they wouldn’t have otherwise had. 

And remember, photographers can be a really good source of referrals. We’ve flown all over the country for certain weddings all because a photographer who we like working with gave our name to the bride and groom, so developing those relationships can definitely be beneficial.

So, in conclusion, the moral of the story is, just be cool. Communicate, be self-aware, be on the same page with one another, and things will work out just fine. As always, if you guys have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them down below! And let me know, what's your approach to collaborating with photographers on the wedding day?