F55 matches ARRI Alexa’s color

F55 LC709A June2014

The title of this post really does says it all.

Back on December 26th 2013 Sony added the ability via firmware update to create USER LUTs (1D) and also 4 types of Sony Look Profile 3D LUT’s which could be selected in-camera for monitoring LUT selection. This has been a long overdue feature for the F55 since while shooting with slog gammas the image on VF or MONITOR would appear “white” or “washed out” due to the logarithmic characteristics of slog. (Check out the April blog entry for a great overview on all the various gammas available for the Sony F3, F5, and F55.

The ability to apply in-camera monitoring LUTs means that on-set you can record in slog2 gamma internally to media cards but apply the LUT on the viewfinder and/or SDI output port for external monitoring thus satisfying anyone who was viewing live feeds on-set. A true godsend for video village. One of the included Sony look profiles called LC-709TypeA (or LC-709A for short) simulated the color reproduction and look of the ARRI Alexa with REC709 LUT applied… and this is where things started to get interesting.

To demonstrate the incredible similarities between the skin tone reproduction between the ARRI Alexa and Sony F55, Sony released this color test video a couple weeks ago. No color grading has been performed and only the levels were matched.

ALEXA: LOGC to Rec709 LUT
F55: SGamut3.Cine/SLog3 to LC709 TypeA LUT

Pretty impressive indeed! However read on — things got even better with firmware version 4.1 (released May 30th) when Sony made it possible to activate the MLUT for ‘MAIN & Internal Recording’. This made it possible to load your own 3D LUTs into the camera or use one of the camera built-in Sony look profiles and then “bake” the look right into the footage which can be extremely practical for fast turn around work and when there just isn’t enough time or budget to shoot in slog2/3 and go through post workflow of applying LUTs or color grading in post.

I had the chance to test “baking” in the look of the ARRI Alexa on the F55 a few days ago during a video shoot and not only did the image look absolutely amazing on the external monitor (impressing my client and client’s client) but because I had the LC-709A LUT applied on the monitor and internal signal, I knew it was WYSIWYG and I was able to quickly hand over the footage with confidence knowing what it was going to look like and not having to worry about grading it.

Below is a frame from my video shoot pulled out directly from the footage with only a small change made in post to the input black level to calibrate the pedestal. This was shot using slog3.cine.gamut, CineEI mode, 1250 ISO with LC709A applied directly to the 4K XAVC internal footage. How do you guys think it looks?


LUT Related Firmware Timeline:

V3.0 December 2013: User LUT (1D) and 4 types of Sony Look Profiles 3D LUT are added for Monitor LUT selection. You can create User LUT by using RAW Viewer V2.1, and up to 6 User LUT can be stored on the internal memory via an SD card. Sony Look profiles provide easier starting point of color grading for TV workflow. For detail information, please refer to the document “Sony Look Profiles Summary”.

You can set Monitor LUT On/Off for SDI(Main)&Internal Rec, SDI(Sub)&HDMI, and Viewfinder independently.

V4.0 April 2014: User generated 3D LUT’s via RAW VIEWER and DaVinci Resolve as .cube files of either 17 or 33 latices are now supported for upload into the cameras.

The PMW-F5/F55 can import a CUBE file (.cube) of 17 or 33 lattices that is created by RAW Viewer or BMD’s Da Vinci Resolve.

V4.1 June 2014: Support of MLUT while recording XAVC 4K/QFHD (F55 only) : When the recording format menu of F55 is set to XAVC 4096x2160P or XAVC 3840x2160P, MLUT for “SDI (Main) & Internal Rec” is available.

  1. Ed DavidEd David06-13-2014

    This is amazing news!

    • Dennis HingsbergDennis Hingsberg06-13-2014

      Thank you Ed for your note. Yes it is quite amazing indeed, my opinion is that it really shows the magic is all in the color science and matrix behind all the color manipulation. With the CFA on the F55 exceeding the color gamut of film combined with ACES workflow in post it technically is possible to emulate any other cameras look or film stock.

      With the advent of 3D LUTS gaining more popularity and increasing numbers of
      “Looks” coming out, soon we will shoot with them loaded in-camera for instant “film look” from the camera.

  2. Nicholas KovatsNicholas Kovats06-13-2014

    Impressive, Dennis.

    The frameshot appears more film like but retains that slightly ethereal “white-ish” or “ghostly” electronic look. I suspect it is difficult to scale back the physics of the high resolution look of the sensor. The absolute rigidity of a 2D matix of 2-8 micron pixels compared to the smaller 1 micron 3D film particles randomly dispersed in substrate. I realize that film is at a peak viewing experience in transport so comparing it to a digital frameshot is a bit like comparing apples and oranges.

    But your ongoing valuable research is approaching classic filmic practices. I shoot film with “baked” color space all the time. Congratulations :)

    • Dennis HingsbergDennis Hingsberg06-14-2014

      Thanks for taking the time to post Nicholas.

      The white-ish, or milky overlay in the image is definitely present and could use some contrast adjustment tweak to give a slightly better looking image. The only thing done to this image was lowering the black pedestal slightly since the image by default tends to sit a little high up on the IRE scale.

      Cheers,

  3. Jason FeldmanJason Feldman06-13-2014

    Thank you for the time and energy that you put into your posts. I wish the information was available from official sources so that individuals didn’t need to do all the work. Your posts are truly essential to the F55 owner/operator.

    • Dennis HingsbergDennis Hingsberg06-14-2014

      Glad you enjoyed it Jason and thank you very much for taking the time to read my blog and posting here.

  4. ThomasThomas06-15-2014

    Thank you, Dennis
    very good post
    ;-)
    Thomas

  5. Doug MunroDoug Munro06-21-2014

    Well done Dennis and thank you for sharing. Looks fantastic!

  6. MaxMax09-23-2014

    Dennis this looks fantastic. Is there somewhere that we can find these LUT settings/are they downloadable? Would love to test these out myself. Thanks!

    • Dennis HingsbergDennis Hingsberg09-23-2014

      Thanks for the kind words. The official LUTS are available on Sony’s forums for large sensor video cameras. You can search for 3D LUT and it should come up quite easily.

  7. Taj JacksonTaj Jackson09-24-2014

    Such an informative article and website. Any thoughts Dennis on how to use this approach for the Sony a7s.
    Does the slog 2 in the a7s match the f5 or f55 versions of slog 2. It doesn’t seem to be the same.
    Thanks

    • Dennis HingsbergDennis Hingsberg09-24-2014

      Thanks for taking to time to stop by. Sony has confirmed recently that the 3D LUT’s (such as the Alexa clone LUT released by Sony) was developed specifically for S-Gamut3.Cine, not for S-Gamut3, so in the case of the A7S or even FS7 while these camera do have slog and will map out the sensor to the specific slog gamma curve the one important piece that’s missing and going to make a different in using the 3D LUTs between cameras is the color space itself that each camera is capable of capturing. Part of this is limited by the CFA (color filter array) in the camera as well as the processing and/or electronics to each camera. ie. the F55 can fill more color space in the s-gamut3.cine mode than the F5 can, but presumabley the F5 in the same gamut mode will fill more than the FS700/FS7/A7S.

  8. Taj JacksonTaj Jackson09-24-2014

    Thanks for the detailed answer Dennis. :-)
    I appreciate your time and expertise.

  9. James BridgesJames Bridges10-15-2014

    Hello Dennis,
    Great info here, thank you for posting this. I have a shoot coming up where I will need to hand off my footage to a producer. They are not interested in grading and I am finding that ST5 Gamma is making my oranges and reds too saturated. Normally I shoot in SLOG3. BTW, I am using a F55.
    Do you have a good look I can download for a test?
    Thank you for your time.
    jim Bridges

    • Dennis HingsbergDennis Hingsberg10-16-2014

      Hi James, thank you for finding some good use of my camera notes here on my blog.

      I also own the F55 and I would highly recommend either using the HG7 hypergamma, or the LC709-A LUT baked right into the footage for quick turn around without grading.

      Sony does have a rather high black pedestal I find so I would recommend that the editor at least do this quick adjustment in editing.

  10. woody jameswoody james01-23-2015

    Dennis,

    Thanks for this.. fairly new to my F55- done some testing with different scene files- ablecines for example, not happy with any of them.

    After this article- now shot some stuff baking in the alexa look for quick turnaround stuff- and it looks bleedin’ lovely.

    If production say there’s no budget for a proper grade (I would naturally always prefer to have the range of S-Log) then i’ll highly recommend this setup. Colours look lovely and natural.

    So, thanks again for the article!

    Woody

  11. PatrickPatrick01-03-2016

    Very interesting stuff, thanks Dennis. It’s making me take a closer look at the F55. Sure wish the lower-end Sonys could do this as well :-(

Leave a Reply