Why I Ditched S-Log

Alright guys, today I want to talk about why I ditched shooting in S-Log on my Sony cameras, and my new favorite picture profile. 

When I switched over to Sony from Panasonic, FilmConvert was already a big part of my color grading workflow. If you’re not familiar with it, FilmConvert is a plug-in that allows you to emulate a bunch of different film stocks and grain, and they have profiles for different cameras. 

So, for instance, you could tell FilmConvert that you’re shooting on a Panasonic GH4 in Cinelike-D or V-log, or a Canon 5D, or even an ARRI or a Red, or whatever, and then tell it, this is the film stock I want to emulate, and FilmConvert knows what to do with the color conversion. So, in a way, it’s sort of a LUT, but its end goal is film emulation as opposed to a heavy “look.”

Well, for the Sony a7S II, the majority of the options inside FilmConvert were either for footage shot using S-Log 2 or 3, or Cine1. So, while everyone else was shooting Cine4 on the a7S II, because I wanted to continue using FilmConvert, I started with Cine1.

And while I enjoy Cine1, eventually my curiosity surrounding S-Log3 got the best of me, and that became my go-to gamma. At first, I loved the flexibility in post that S-Log provided, the ability to subtly adjust the highlights and shadows with much more control than I ever got out of my GH4 in Cinelike-D or Cine1 on my Sony, and I could really give the footage any look I wanted.

But, because you have to overexpose S-Log3 by one or two stops in order to avoid noisy shadows and to get the maximum possible dynamic range retention, I found myself having trouble when I wanted to intentionally underexpose an image, like, say a dress shot, or a shot of the bride having her makeup applied.

So, finally, long story short: starting with Cine1 Pro, to S-Log3, I’ve finally landed on my favorite Sony Picture Profile for shooting weddings and that is, you guessed it, Cine4.

Why do I like Cine4? Well, for one, I’ve changed my color grading workflow a bit, and have started using Denver Riddle’s excellent Color Finale plug-in more and more, and I’ll post a separate video on that in the future.

But Cine4 is great because it’s not as high-contrast as Cine1, but it’s also not crazy flat like S-Log. So you really get the best of both worlds.

S-Log does definitely allow you to retain a greater dynamic range, but, it seems like to really take full advantage of S-Log, or any Log format for that matter, it should really be on a professional set. And weddings are obviously not professional movie sets.

For me, I would need to bring a large monitor, with vectorscopes and waveform monitors that I could read, in order to know exactly what my exposure is. And yes, I am aware that Gamma Display Assist exists, and it definitely does help, but for me, S-Log made it very difficult to actually “feel” what I was shooting. 

And if I wanted to intentionally under- or over-expose an image, it was virtually impossible for me to do that in a run and gun scenario, as shooting weddings can so often be. 

So, I’m not saying it’s impossible, and there are definitely people out there who are way better than me at exposing for S-Log than I, but for me, and my workflow, I am willing to give up a little bit of that dynamic range retention, and work a little harder to get it as close as possible in camera, and shoot in Cine4, and not have to do so much work in post, color correcting and then grading to achieve the look I want.

Plus, not shooting in S-Log comes with a few perks like, my minimum ISO doesn’t have to be 1600 on my a7S II, or 800 on my a6500, I can go as low as 200 on Cine4, so I’m not relying on ND filters as much when shooting outside or in bright conditions.

So, if you guys want to know my go to Picture Profile, I’m using PP5, changing the gamma to Cine4 as I mentioned earlier, changing the Color Mode to S-Gamut3.Cine as that is supposed to be Sony’s most advanced color space, and the only other adjustment I’ve made is to the amount of “Detail,” I have dialed that down from 0 to negative 7.

And “Detail,” you can think of that like bringing an image into Photoshop and adding in sharpening. And you don’t really want to bake that into your footage, because we can easily add sharpening in in post anyway. 

And, if you’re curious about learning more about what all of the different Picture Profiles do to your image, there is a really helpful guide out there written by Sony, which you can check out here.

But that’s what works for me guys! Let me know your favorite Picture Profile settings and if you’ve found any tweaks or changes that you really like.