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    Low lighting setup with the GH4 (Post from GH camera thread)
    #1
    Senior Member tommetass's Avatar
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    Hello,

    I've been trying out my GH4 in different low light settings recently, and I have a real hard time exposing correctly.

    Example video:


    Screengrab from that video: This is color corrected (pushed exposure a bit up).

    Attachment 142012

    This is the BTS photo: (only light source)

    Attachment 142013

    Now.. the look of it is not far from what I wanted, and what I tried to get, but the clip was extremely noisy. I wanted the subject to be backlit by a red light, with a bit darker background, not as much spill as I got there, and also a lot less noise. ISO was not above 800 for the entire shoot, I shot with an aperture of either 1.4 or 1.7 (Sigma 16mm 1.4 and lPanasonic Lumix 25mm 1.7)

    When I looked at the Live View, it looked decently exposed, but the histogram showed it as way, way underexposed. And when I pull it into the computer it's so dark.

    What should I have done?


    One thought I had is maybe have the light closer to the subject.. create less spill from the red light.. and maybe even to fill the entire image with more controlled light.. fill in the background.. to give me more options to correct it the way I want in post?

    I don't know... please help!


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    Senior Member Run&Gun's Avatar
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    A few things: Histograms are generally useless for video(I don’t even use them for stills). The scene is already starved for light, so it’s going to be noisy and you are throwing a low-level monochromatic light source in the mix, which isn’t helping. If you watch a lot of BTS of movie scenes that are “dark”, a lot of times they are actually well lit, and then graded to look dark in post.


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    Senior Member tommetass's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Run&Gun View Post
    A few things: Histograms are generally useless for video(I donít even use them for stills). The scene is already starved for light, so itís going to be noisy and you are throwing a low-level monochromatic light source in the mix, which isnít helping. If you watch a lot of BTS of movie scenes that are ďdarkĒ, a lot of times they are actually well lit, and then graded to look dark in post.
    Thanks man! I will stop using the histogram. A guy on the forum said you can change the exposure mode to spot mode, where it only reads exposure where the crosshair is pointed at.. I think I'll be using that from now on!


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    Senior Member puredrifting's Avatar
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    This was the main reason I grew to really dislike my GH4 and sold it. M43, especially old generation M43 sensors, suck in low light, the GH4 is a noise machine in low light. The ZCam E2 version of an M43 sensor is a
    low light beast in comparison to the GH4 as was the GH5S. The challenge I run into with sensors that are noisy and not low light sensitve as it's really difficult to light with cinematic nuance.
    In order to saturate the sensor with enough light to allow the gain circuit to turn down to reduce noise, you have a very difficult time putting a lot of blacks into your image and making those subtle
    exposure transitions that we associate with the "cinematic" look.

    It's not impossible, it can be done, it just more difficult, you need more time and more instruments, space and gripology. I mean
    early DPs made the first Technicolor three strip look good and that film stock was ASA 25. But they also had tens of thousands of watts of lighting to work with (hundreds of thousands of watts in the case of The Wizard of Oz)
    to shape and be subtle with. Most of us don't have those options.

    I concur also, histograms are close to useless for stills and almost absolutely useless for video. You need a calibrated, scaled waveform monitor or you can be one of the cool kids with false colors.
    But the bottom line is without a calibrated exposure scale, you don't know what the hell you are shooting or exposing, you'll have a hard time nailing skin tone exposure too.
    It's a business first and a creative outlet second.
    G.A.S. destroys lives. Stop buying gear that doesn't make you money.


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    Senior Member tommetass's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by puredrifting View Post
    This was the main reason I grew to really dislike my GH4 and sold it. M43, especially old generation M43 sensors, suck in low light, the GH4 is a noise machine in low light. The ZCam E2 version of an M43 sensor is a
    low light beast in comparison to the GH4 as was the GH5S. The challenge I run into with sensors that are noisy and not low light sensitve as it's really difficult to light with cinematic nuance.
    In order to saturate the sensor with enough light to allow the gain circuit to turn down to reduce noise, you have a very difficult time putting a lot of blacks into your image and making those subtle
    exposure transitions that we associate with the "cinematic" look.

    It's not impossible, it can be done, it just more difficult, you need more time and more instruments, space and gripology. I mean
    early DPs made the first Technicolor three strip look good and that film stock was ASA 25. But they also had tens of thousands of watts of lighting to work with (hundreds of thousands of watts in the case of The Wizard of Oz)
    to shape and be subtle with. Most of us don't have those options.

    I concur also, histograms are close to useless for stills and almost absolutely useless for video. You need a calibrated, scaled waveform monitor or you can be one of the cool kids with false colors.
    But the bottom line is without a calibrated exposure scale, you don't know what the hell you are shooting or exposing, you'll have a hard time nailing skin tone exposure too.

    Thank you very much for that.

    The histogram is now turned off.

    And I am really looking to get a new camera. I want the GH5, I hear it's not the best in low light, but is it better than the GH4?


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    Senior Member puredrifting's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tommetass View Post
    Thank you very much for that.

    The histogram is now turned off.

    And I am really looking to get a new camera. I want the GH5, I hear it's not the best in low light, but is it better than the GH4?
    IMHO, it's a bit better, but the GH5S is noticeably better than both of them. When Panasonic introduced the GH5S, I was one of the user feedback
    panel and sat down with the engineers from Japan at Panasonic in Hollywood and we compared them side by side. GH5S was a pretty sweet little camera.
    and I was amazed at what a low light beast it was compared to the GH5 and GH4.
    I've seen some great deals on lightly used GH5S.

    Here's a few things I wrote about the GH5S when it came out https://www.hdvideopro.com/gear/came...rorless-mania/
    https://www.hdvideopro.com/blog/the-...anasonic-gh5s/
    Last edited by puredrifting; 01-16-2021 at 11:01 AM.
    It's a business first and a creative outlet second.
    G.A.S. destroys lives. Stop buying gear that doesn't make you money.


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