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    CX350 Knee & Highlights Discussion
    #1
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    Hello,

    I have been working the CX350 into my cameras for a year and a half now and I am still working on highlights. I wanted to start a discussion to hear from other owners on their impression of the highlight handling and the gamma they are using. Here are my thoughts and experiences. Hopefully we can share some info that will improve the images for all.

    I have settled on using the HD gamma. I think this is the most straight forward balanced image for SOOC good results. BUT, I can not seem to control highlights when I want to expose where I see fit. I prefer what I would call an "open gamma" type image. No crushed blacks and fairly bright mids and low mids. My PX270 achieves this because it has a really graceful highlight roll off. When I try to achieve this type of image on the CX350, everything looks great from the highlights on down. The highlights themselves look like a consumer camera from 10 years ago. Bright with low detail and saturation. Strained and the first thing one's eye goes to in a frame imho.

    Here is what I am struggling with - it seems to me that the highlight tools in the camera just do not do very much. DRS has been improved but it still barely has an impact when applied. White clipping does not really show a visual difference and the Knee seems the same. So I find myself back in time, exposing to compensate for the overly bright highlights and then boosting master ped. and black gamma settings to account for the lower than should be exposure level. If I shoot and bring home to edit, I find I am doing just that when I process the footage - turn the WFM on, lower highlights and boost up the low end. This results in a very nice image. But that is from home. I would prefer to be able to do that in-camera but a not having as much luck as I would like.

    As a side note, when I turn on Auto Iris, to get the camera to match my manual exposure have to set the EX comp to -13 to -18.

    Is this camera limited in dynamic range? Meaning that it just can't do what I want it to do?

    Thanks for your input and experiences. I am really liking the rest of the camera now that the rear zoom controller action is much improved.
    Last edited by Bassman2003; 11-22-2020 at 11:44 AM.


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    #2
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    I hope you receive some good answers from owners - but in short, IMO, you need to be shooting V-Log on this camera for the best dynamic range.

    They don't make cameras like they used to anymore and whatever you liked or were seeing in the the 270 is irrelevant because hardware/business changes. You see it all of the time on this forum...how second, third versions of a model are "different" than its predecessors (I know the Panasonics are different models).

    If you haven't found a solution after 1.5 years then there probably isn't one, and the DR is simply limited - even more so than the 270 - when you're not utilizing the logarithmic gamma curve.


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    #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bassman2003 View Post
    Hello,

    I have been working the CX350 into my cameras for a year and a half now and I am still working on highlights. I wanted to start a discussion to hear form other owners on their impression of the highlight handling and the gamma they are using. Here are my thoughts and experiences. Hopefully we can share some info that will improve the images for all.

    I have settled on using the HD gamma. I think this is the most straight forward balanced image for SOOC good results. BUT, I can not seem to control highlights when I want to expose where I see fit. I prefer what I would call an "open gamma" type image. No crushed blacks and fairly bright mids and low mids. My PX270 achieves this because it has a really graceful highlight roll off. When I try to achieve this type of image on the CX350, everything looks great from the highlights on down. The highlights themselves look like a consumer camera from 10 years ago. Bright with low detail and saturation. Strained and the first thing one's eye goes to in a frame imho.

    Here is what I am struggling with - it seems to me that the highlight tools in the camera just do not do very much. DRS has been improved but it still barely has an impact when applied. White clipping does not really show a visual difference and the Knee seems the same. So I find myself back in time, exposing to compensate for the overly bright highlights and then boosting master ped. and black gamma settings to account for the lower than should be exposure level. If I shoot and bring home to edit, I find I am doing just that when I process the footage - turn the WFM on, lower highlights and boost up the low end. This results in a very nice image. But that is from home. I would prefer to be able to do that in-camera but a not having as much luck as I would like.

    As a side note, when I turn on Auto Iris, to get the camera to match my manual exposure have to set the EX comp to -13 to -18.

    Is this camera limited in dynamic range? Meaning that it just can't do what I want it to do?

    Thanks for your input and experiences. I am really liking the rest of the camera now that the rear zoom controller action is much improved.
    When I was working with a Sony camera that needed to go straight to air, I design a rec709 profile that started with the most rolled off hyper gamma. This looked really gray and flat, so I had to then adjust the black level, contrast, and saturation etc to push it back into something that looked good SOOC.

    So, consider if there is a REC709 image setting that might take things too far, but then push some contrast back in. Not sure if that is an option on the Canons. Thought perhaps dialing contrast back, adjust the knee and then pushing the black point back to something usable? idk, just spit balling.


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    #4
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    Thanks for your replies. I will look at the different gammas again but I think the trend would be more crush of the blacks instead of flat. But to be honest, changing the gamma does not do very much either... This a reason I am asking here, so much of the stuff in the menu does not result in much change in the image. I initially thought the Varicam Film-REC gamma was going to be useful but it does not offer much if any improvement over the normal HD gamma.

    I have tried V-LOG on this camera and it does not respond for me the way the GH5 V-LOGL responds. I need to experiment some more but the mode just did not result in a better looking image. In medium to low contrast situations or when I come home and process the footage I can get really nice images with my current settings. The camera is a nice upgrade in this respect and in noise performance. These cameras are not cool anymore so they do not get very much attention. So I wanted to see how other owners (if there are any) are getting on with the image. I know this is a one-chip compared to a three chip design as well as costing less than the previous generation.


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    #5
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    I purchased my CX350 in April of this year, so you have about a year's lead on me in trying to tame it. But I noticed the problem with overexposed whites right from the beginning, and have been working since to come up with some scene file settings that would get it under control.

    COVID has pretty much prevented me from doing any indoor shooting. So I concentrated on trying to create a scene file that would work best in bright sunlight. The test subjects have been the biweekly launches of our model rocket club, some airshows and aircraft in flight, and the occasional pickup soccer game at our local park, plus houses and cars in my neighborhood. The idea was to make something that would work SOOC but also have room for some further tweaking in post for when I'm more serious about the project. This required a deeper dive into the settings than I expected, but I'm beginning to be satisfied with the results. Surprisingly, this also cuts reasonably well with factory scene file 1 on my UX180.

    I have done a little shooting indoors with this using mostly daylight LED lights and have been reasonably satisfied, but haven't really set up any tests rigorously enough to recommend it for that purpose yet. Outdoor daylight sports-type work was (by necessity) the main concern.

    Because shooting rockets and airshows frequently involves panning rapidly from ground level to objects in the sky, I wanted something that would handle the gradations of white clouds against a blue sky well, and work acceptably with auto iris in effect.

    Here's what I've come up with so far. I don't in any way consider this a finished product, but it may contain some hints that you'll find useful:

    SCENE FILE menu
    CHROMA LEVEL +20%
    MATRIX
    MATRIX TYPE NORMAL1
    ADAPTIVE MATRIX OFF
    MATRIX SETTING
    ALL 0
    COLOR CORRECTION
    ALL 0
    MASTER PED +16
    GAMMA MODE SEL VIDEO-REC
    GAMMA SETTING
    MASTER GAMMA 0.47
    V-REC KNEE SLOPE 500%
    V-REC KNEE POINT 50%
    BLACK GAMMA -3
    B.GAMMA RANGE 1
    KNEE SETTING
    KNEE MODE MANUAL
    A.KNEE RESPONSE 4
    KNEE POINT 93%
    KNEE SLOPE 99
    WHITE CLIP SETTING
    WHITE CLIP ON
    WHITE CLIP LEVEL 102%
    DRS OFF
    DRS EFFECT DEPTH 1
    DNR 1
    A.IRIS LEVEL OFF
    A.IRIS LEVEL EFFECT 0

    (Any settings not listed here are unchanged from the default scene file 1.)

    Note especially the GAMMA MODE, GAMMA SETTING and WHITE CLIP SETTING items. These made the biggest differences. Those V-REC KNEE settings seem pretty extreme but seem to work well - an alternative to DRS.

    I still keep thinking I might want to crush the blacks a little more to increase the overall contrast, but I do enjoy seeing some of the detail this pulls out of the shadows. And I haven't really touched color yet. Skin tones are pretty good, but I find the greens of foliage are rendered a little too yellow and with low saturation. I also think the results tend to look a little weak under cloudy or overcast conditions. I may have to create a slightly contrastier version to handle that. Kind of a bummer when conditions change back and forth several times over the course of an afternoon.

    Try it out and let me know what you think.

    Here are a few images that were problematic with the original factory settings but seem to be well managed by this scene file. Shot at 2160p60 but reduced in size, otherwise SOOC. All with auto iris and fixed 5600K white balance. Intended to be viewed on a Rec709 calibrated monitor. Uploading them here seems to have made all the pictures a little darker, but hope you can still get the idea.
    Attached Images Attached Images


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    #6
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    Thanks for your reply Greg. Glad to see you have found some settings that are working better for you. I will give your settings a shot as well as share what I have been using. This week is busy but I will have some more time going forward. My hope is to make a comparison video so the differences will be easier to see. Youth football with white uniforms in the sun has been a great testing ground for this problem!


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    #7
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    Hello Greg and other CX350 owners,

    I have been experimenting with Greg's settings and I think the camera's image has been improved with regards to highlights. Thanks for sharing your setup Greg! I tried Video-REC early on but did not tweak the right parameters to see how it really works. In my tweaking, the "Gamma Setting" menu is the most important set of options for highlight adjustment. This little menu does more than Knee, White Clip & DRS combined.

    I have a night football game tomorrow and games all day on Saturday in the sun, so I should have a good representation in a few days time. Here are all of the settings I have customized. Please give them a shot and see what you think. Hopefully we can all work together and get this camera to live up to its otherwise impressive feature set.

    MASTER DETAIL -22
    DTL CORING 0

    --DETAIL SETTING--
    DETAIL OFF
    V DETAIL +1
    DTL FREQ +7
    LEVEL DEP 0
    KNEE APP LEV 2
    DTL GAIN+ -28
    DTL GAIN- -24

    CHROMA LEVEL +14
    MATRIX CINE-LIKE
    MASTER PED +30
    GAMMA MODE VIDEO-REC

    --GAMMA SETTING--
    MASTER GAMMA .45
    V-REC KNEE SLOPE 500%
    V-REC KNEE POINT 68%
    BLACK GAMMA 0
    B GAMMA RANGE 1

    --KNEE SETTING--
    KNEE MODE MANUAL
    A KNEE RESPONSE 3
    KNEE POINT 90%
    KNEE SLOPE 99

    WHITE CLIP OFF
    DRS ON
    Level 3

    --COLOR CORRECTION--
    R -8 +1
    RR MG 0 -1
    R MG +21 0
    MG +8 -5
    MGB -2 -8
    B -25 -15
    BCY +7 -4
    CY +20 +10
    CYG +15 -1
    G +16 -10
    GY +6 -55
    GYY +10 +7
    Y -4 -8
    YYR +2 +1
    YR 0 0
    YRR -8 0

    These settings are for a nicely saturated video look with pretty light shadows, but with enough contrast to not look like LOG etc... Still a work in progress. I dialed back the V-REC KNEE SLOPE to 350% as the higher numbers lost saturation in the highlights as well as everything looking sort of dull in the upper frequencies.

    Edit - I turned on DRS Level 3 as I like the color a bit more. See what you think. Thanks again!
    Last edited by Bassman2003; 01-01-2021 at 08:02 PM. Reason: Chnaged some settings!


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    #8
    Senior Member Peter C.'s Avatar
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    I've had the opposite usage only filming indoors. As a ux90 owner I was happily surprised by 2 extra stops of light sensitivity, the better codecs, and no crop at 4k. I saw an open box for $3k, but held off, because if I was able to sell my ux90 for $1,2k that would still cost me $1,8 to upgrade.

    I've never felt it was worth fooling around too much with the settings. To me it's a camcorder, a nice one but still a camcorder, it's no cinema camera. A month ago I did shoot some test with the different profiles and the differences are very subtle. I don't expecting a large DR, but who cares, the camera has so many other strength...


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    #9
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    Great! I'll try some of your tweaks and let you know.

    - Greg


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    #10
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    Hello,

    I wanted to update this thread as I had a chance to shoot with these new settings Friday and Saturday. I tweaked the image a lot over the two shoots and have settled upon the settings listed above. (I went through and updated the list, so if you try the settings, make sure you have the new ones on 12-6-2020). I reverted back to 500% in the gamma area for maximum highlight rolloff. I also adjusted the master ped & gamma by a point or two as well as some color correction values.

    Overall, I am very please with the improvement. Thank you very much Greg for sharing your settings which really helped me find a way forward with this camera! I am unsure of the skin rendering as some of it looks a little posterized. But this was only shooting American football from the stands.

    I am including a link to some footage I shot yesterday with the new settings. It shows white uniforms in the sun and the camera is now handling the scene with grace. White no longer dominates your attention when you see the frame. This was shot in 1080p60 .MOV 10bit 4:2:2 long GOP. I put in on the Edius timeline and exported an 25mbps MXF file for upload to YouTube. So pretty close to straight out of the camera.

    I was also testing the auto IRIS settings in the camera and settled on "Normal" as the area and "Slow" as the speed. Honestly, I can't remember where the auto IRIS settings were in this clip, but the Normal and Slow were the most reliable and least noticeable at the end of the day. I do have some exposure compensation dialed in as well, something like -6 or -10.

    https://youtu.be/rjANySA5Lww


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