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This weekly course covers the most common questions videographers encounter when shooting and editing with DSLR cameras, from choosing a frame size and frame rate to understanding moiré. Authors Rich Harrington and Robbie Carman will also help you understand the impacts of compression and the difference between cropped (or micro 4/3rds) and full-sized sensors in cameras, and much more. This continual FAQ guide is a handy way to find the answers to the questions that plague you the most.
Rich Harrington: We're back in the studio and we're going to take a look at a couple of shots and give you an idea on how ISO was a refinement used to really get the shot. Robbie Carman: Yep. Rich Harrington: And the very first one here Rob, we actually recorded through the viewfinder here, we were mirroring out the HDMI port. And you're going to make an on-camera adjustment. We've shown this to you before. But I just want to reiterate, what's the idea here Rob? You're at ISO 320. There's no noise. Everything's looking pretty good, right? Robbie Carman: Yeah and, and this was, you know. Here we are, we're at a shutter speed at 60. We're at aperture value of 13, because we wanted to have some of that stuff in the background in focused.
Now the thing about this shut is, is actually we had some cloud cover. So going down to a really low ISO, like 100 or so. Was is going to be a touch too dark based on the aperture that we have. Rich Harrington: Yeah. Robbie Carman: So what we did, was we just bumped up the ISO slightly to a value of 320 there. Just increasing the sensitivity of the sensor just a smidge so we could get a better exposure. And as you pointed out, this was just a refinement. Rich Harrington: Yeah. And that's really what ISO is that way to tweak it in. Now as you did that when you are at F13, but as you guys started to change aperture, and you're going through there, F10, F4.
It's really blowing out. And, actually, the meter on the bottom is telling you that you're over-exposed. Robbie Carman: Yeah, at an aperture of 3.2, we're way over-exposed, about two or three stops overexposed. So what we did, was we went in and we needed to play with the ISO to decrease that in hopes that we could make the shot less blown out. Rich Harrington: Yeah and as you take that down to 100, it really starts to dial in. In fact ,you know, you toyed with auto there for a second, but that's looking better. It's still a little bit hot. Robbie Carman: Yeah it's a little hot, so in this situation we had two choices. We could either go back and adjust our aperture so we adjusted the aperture back up, so we had a higher aperture value, maybe 5.6 or, or F8 something like that, there you go 5.6, it's starting to look better.
And you can see it's a little bit of a push and pull. We're using aperture to sort of set the sort of creative look of the scene and then going into ISO to sort of tweak that overall exposure. Rich Harrington: Alright so that worked well. This is one of those situations where ISO might have been helpful. We're a little bit dark, and we had the depth of field that we wanted, but the shot itself is a bit dark. Now, I think that we can easily. Lift this up, I'm going to show one technique. I'm just going to put a copy of the shot on top of itself and I'll drop that into screen mode, and that's one of my favorite ways to sort of lift a shot.
Robbie Carman: Yep. Rich Harrington: But you can do that with color or filters so, but this is one of the situations where if you look at that, I would say that the ISO could have been higher on that shot. If we didn't change anything else. Robbie Carman: Yeah and again this is the situation. I, I obviously tell people a lot of the times, if you're between stops or you're between ISO settings, my personal feeling is go with the lower value. It's often easier to fix a problem when shots are slightly darker or underexposed, versus shots that are overexposed. Especially in the DSLRs where we tend to clip clip brightness values.
Rich Harrington: And this is another one of those situations where we talked about back lighting, but it's just dark. And if we bumped up the ISO, it would have recovered the shot, or we took the better alternative of lighting the scene, of course. Robbie Carman: Mm-hm. Rich Harrington: Now, here's a situation where it's quite bright out, and there's a lot of information going on. But this is a tough shot, because the sky is starting to blow out And, we're losing some detail here in the trees. So, really, is there a win here? Robbie Carman: Yeah, it's kind of, you know, one of the situations where you might have to start to thinking about other ways to adjust you exposure.
So, a lot of times when you sort of set your aperture, and then you sort of use your ISO to tweak, you still have situations like this, where the sky is blown out, or something like that. So you might have to think about going in and using things like ND filters, especially in this shot a variable ND would work really well. Or in post later on, color correcting and tweaking things until you can get the shot looking a little better. Rich Harrington: Yeah, so there I lifted the shadows just slightly and recovered the highlights a little bit. Robbie Carman: Mm-hm. Rich Harrington: And if we tweak down the radius controls there so they're not so wide.
That little halo glow is going to go away. And I don't know man, I think, it's not too bad there let's toggle that off and on, before, after. Robbie Carman: Yeah, that's a little better, I still think it looks a little posterized there on the sky, but we can, we can use other tools, Color Cracker 3-way, SpeedGrade, DiVinci Resolve, whatever may be to really tweak that. Rich Harrington: But this is one of those situations where you sort of had to say well if I bump up the ISO too high to get the trees, the clouds are going to be gone so you have to settle and compromise. Robbie Carman: Absolutely. Rich Harrington: Alright, well we've got one more shot here.
This is your angle from the music video and you were at just sort of a normal base ISO right. What type of camera were you shooting on that day? 7D? Robbie Carman: yeah, this is a Canon 7D and I was at a, you know a medium ISO I would say. I think I was around 800. I had the advantage of being pretty close to the stage and I was also shooting with a pretty fast lens. So I was able to get a lot of light into the camera without having to excessively blow out the ISO, so if you zoom in there you pixel peek a little bit, you can definitely see a little bit of noise going on, especially in the shadows and the blacks.
Rich Harrington: It's not too bad there. Robbie Carman: No. Rich Harrington: I mean, those blacks are pretty clean, so you didn't push it, had you gone too far, we see a little bit there but I would call that almost normal. There's a little splotchyness. Robbie Carman: Yeah and part of this could be due to just h254, you know, compression on the camera and that kind of stuff. Rich Harrington: Yeah. Robbie Carman: Yeah, I mean I'm overall happy when I have noise like that and don't forget you can always go back in with tools like neat video magic denoiser and other tools to noise reduce shots. So if you do have to use a higher ISO, don't think that it's the end of the world if you see a little noise.
You can always go in, noise reduce those shots. And especially Neat Video which I have a lot of experience with does amazing, amazing things. Rich Harrington: And this is one of those tough shots here. He was shooting around 640 or so, much like you. And the blacks look very clean. He's shooting on a D600 here, which is a relatively modern camera, and I like it here. The shirt's cutting, we've got enough separation, but the blacks aren't really bothering me. Let's play that and see. I don't see too many dancing pixels beyond normal. Robbie Carman: Yeah, it's a little bit, but it's not, definitely not something that I would say is terrible at all.
Rich Harrington: All right, and then here is the last shot. And this is one of those examples where he had to put it at a very small aperture, Jim Ball was using a very stop down camera. Robbie Carman: Well, right. Because he was on a jib, right. And he wanted things to not have to worry about focus and wanted to get some of that background to be sharp as well. He, you know, went to a very high aperture value. I think he was at probably twelve or you know sixteen, somewhere in that range. Rich Harrington: Yeah. Robbie Carman: And to compensate for the lack of light that coming into the lens, he had to bump up that ISO considerably.
But he was shooting on a newer camera than we were shooting on. He was shooting on the Canon 5D Mark III, and even zoomed in at 200% here, it looks a little pixelized just because we're zoomed in, but the blacks and the noise there, there's really, non existent and I mean that's just really kind of stellar that we're seeing with a lot of the modern sensors. I actually just bought a Cannon 60, Rich. Rich Harrington: Yeah. Robbie Carman: And I, I mean, I'm just floored. Rich Harrington: Yeah. Robbie Carman: You know, granted it's a full frame. Rich Harrington: You, you, you have to almost reprogram yourself. I can't do that. Well maybe Robbie Carman: Yea, I mean I'm scared to go to certain values and then I'm like no, there's not really a reason to go to some of those values.
I mean, I've gotten into really high ISO values Rich Harrington: Yeah. Robbie Carman: But I'm like yeah, this is totally usable. Now, one more thing I want to point out about the footage and the whole process of ISO and that is, a lot of times, you need to go out and test the ISO. We gave you earlier a simple test you could do with putting on the lens cap on the camera and testing it that way. But I think it really pays off. And you see high end EP's and you know, big budget commercials and this kind of stuff, do it all the time. When they're doing camera tests, one of the things that they're testing in the camera is the ISO performance in different lighting situations.
And if you have a situation where this is, you know, a make or break situation for your career, and you gotta get the shot, make sure you test ISO in a real world situation rather than just with the lens cap on. Rich Harrington: Yeah. And I would not say only to rely upon some of the camera test that are out there. I mean the folks at do some great camera shoot outs. You'll find articles available online, but nothing beats you taking the camera and going to some of the venues you find yourself shooting, particularly if you have recurring clients. Robbie Carman: Yeah. Rich Harrington: Or if you have a recurring genre.
If you're a music performer, go get some performance shots. If you are working in hospitals a lot, take the camera around and shoot. The more you know your equipment, the more confident you'll feel, and the better results you'll get.
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