A few months ago, I ran a blog post about how important it is to do camera tests. It was part one in a four part series. It discussed the fact that you should not just surf the web for forums and camera review blogs, but go out there yourself and test your camera. I will provide the playbook so that you can understand my methodology when I test new film stocks and new digital cameras for my features.
I treat each new digital camera that comes out as a new film emulsion, one that needs to be tested before I can use it to help tell my stories. Finding out its strengths and its weaknesses is all part of the process. There are three parts to the process. The first is to find the sensitivity of the sensor. Part two is the latitude of the sensor. Part three is taking your camera on location to put it through the paces in different lighting scenarios, both day and night.
You should do this even if you have been shooting with a camera that you have owned or rented for some time. If you have not done these tests, please do the diligence to test it because you will learn something new.
I prefer to use a large whiteboard. Put all of the info necessary to educate you, your crew and your director on it. We were shooting four cameras on this test, so we divided our whiteboard into four sections.
This is something you do not want to rush. Plan carefully because this is your roadmap. Without good notes and driving directions, you are going to get lost.
ISO lens cap tests are the best way to understand how far you can push your sensor and how much noise your camera exhibits at each ISO. It will also show whether there is a native ISO, which means the camera’s lowest noise ratio. The Canon 5D had a native ISO at 160, 320, 640,1250. These specific ISOs should contain the lowest noise.
Derek Johnson and Laura Murphy will take you through how to perform these tests. Accuracy is paramount, so take your time so that you do not make mistakes.
After shooting the all the ISO’s on black. Take the footage into after effects to push the footage to bring out the Noise. We have had the best results by using the Exposure Effect in Adobe After Effects CS6. Adjust the Exposure level and offset to where the grain starts to colorize and you can recognize the patterns.
It is so important to not just shoot these lens cap tests but to add a model to showcase skin tones and illustrate how the noise reacts to shadow areas of the face, etc. Using a grey card is essential as well because this shows noise very well. A color chart is good too. I try to put them on the same focal plane as our model so that focus is good across everyone.
Part three next week will show the latitude tests which are not about charts, waveform monitors and vector scopes. Stay tuned!
We all have seen the documentary style and how it looks and feels with real people. The director, Xander...
More camera tests between the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, Arri Alexa and Sony F5
We employed Technicolor’s Cinestyle on its maiden voyage. This picture style seemed to work well in
Budget-minded filmmaking forces you to solve your problems within limitations. However, given the importance of the visuals to...
First up in our new series of gear reviews, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 with the interface unit that has...
Going inside the New Blackmagic URSA 4K Camera for Cinematic Capture
Three weeks ago I was selected as the director for a national commercial campaign for Case Tractors. It...
The CM 250 is a 24” OLED display that is crisp, clean and delivers beautiful blacks.