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Sony a7s II underwater use -- All parameters

picture profile white balance sony a7s II grading color correction 4K UHD

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#1 GeoPaul7

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Posted 01 August 2016 - 02:37 PM

I am new to underwater cinematography, and have purchased a Sony a7s II and am getting familiar with it before an important trip to Raja Ampat in October.  I have many questions, and wonder if there are others in the community that are shooting with this camera that I can learn from, and compare notes with.

 

1.  Picture Profile?  Any thoughts on the advisable "picture profile" for shooting?  sLog 2, sLog 3, Cine4? 

 

2.  Grading and LUTS?  If one shoots with a flat picture profile, how does one properly grade or color correct?  I have been doing as much internet research as I can, and this remains a bit of a mystery.  I want to start collecting great clips in the proper picture profile.

 

3.  White balance issues?  On my first trip with this camera, to Cozumel, I believe that I properly manually white balanced the camera, at a fairly deep depth, but nevertheless experienced a strong magenta cast.  Is anyone else having white balance issues with this camera?  Is the camera known to be poor in that area, or acceptable, or does it have known challenges that require a work around?  It would be great to possess the state of the art knowledge in this area so I can improve my results.

 

I have posted my first "tests" with the camera, and the results are quite primitive, but they can be reviewed in this Vimeo clip.  Anyone that wants to see some raw 4K footage of the first tests, to help me diagnose what is happening, can send me their email address and I will give them access to some raw footage.

 

Many thanks for your help.

 

 

George L. Paul



#2 Ammar

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Posted 06 August 2016 - 12:59 AM

Well, I just got my new A7R II and Sea & Sea housing for a trip to Raja Ampat in October as well :)

 

I've been also looking for helpful resources on the net for the best camera UW setting, whether for stills or videos, but found none so far, so basically I plan to shoot always in uncompressed Raw, with standard profile. Photoshop is an excellent software to correct the stills and Adobe Premiere or Speed Grade are excellent to color grade the movies.

 

Regarding the magenta cast, I saw another video on youtube with this issue as well. Personally, I would spend the first dive experimenting with all different WB settings until I find the most suitable one.



#3 GeoPaul7

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Posted 06 August 2016 - 11:16 AM

Thanks Damselfish:

 

I will be diving in the Sea of Cortez in 3 weeks and plan to conduct several white balance tests with the new camera.

 

I have inquired about the magenta cast.  The people at Backscatter seem to think it occurred because I set the manual balance at a deeper depth, and then filmed when I was 20 or so feet higher up.  This is possible.

 

However, in the raw footage, the sand looks pretty white to me, and the water and bright light looks extremely magenta.

 

I am hopeful that my tests will tell me more.

 

In Raja, are you doing a Liveaboard?  We are staying at a resort named Misool.

 

Many thanks for your reply.

 

Best,

 

GLP



#4 Oceanshutter

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Posted 06 August 2016 - 04:51 PM

Hey George,

For the record, I haven't used the as7. So don't have first hand experience. However, I looked at it heavily, and for wide angle, the white balance is not good from a custom standpoint. Canon is king for custom white balance. From everything I have heard, it won't work below 10 feet. The camera works well for macro with artificial light, and auto wb. But wide angle it struggles. This is why you don't see too many using it for video. Someone you might try is Kay Burn Lim. He is on Vimeo and Facebook. He has just left his Sony for a RED, but he is the only one I know of that has used it seriously. His macro work is beautiful with it. Haven't seen any of his wide angle. I would try to connect with him.

Hope that helps.
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#5 GeoPaul7

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Posted 06 August 2016 - 05:20 PM

Dustin:

 

Wow this is incredibly helpful and I very much appreciate it.  I bought my a7s II because a filmmaker friend had switched over from Nikon to it and he was very enthusiastic.  He was touting the inboard 4K and low light capability.  I loved the mirrorless concept, and some of the lenses are fantastic.  So I made the investment to purchase it, and the housing, and that was a considerable investment for me. I I really did not know enough at the time to appreciate that using a superb camera UNDER THE OCEAN is a very specialized form of cinematography.  I never checked out the white balance issues and did not even think of it because I am a rookie, but who is still trying to learn as fast as possible.

 

Accordingly, I am going to do some tests on the next dive trip, which is in the Sea of Cortez in 3 weeks.  I am also going to document the tests.  Iwill do my best to do everything to manually white balance correctly, and will document it.   I will also experiment with different picture profiles.  It is possible that some of the issues can be corrected in grading or color correction.  Thus, I will be testing the sLog2 and sLog3 picture profiles as these allow better color correction later.  

 

Then i will make a little film of the tests, including the location and experience.  Put it on the Internet.  See what more I can learn. 

 

I also bought the camera for filming above water.  I want to make films, that tell stories, and to feature certain ideas, as well as film underwater.  Most of the work of this camera, hopefully, will be of interviews of people.  

 

So thanks so much for this helpful information.  I will do the tests and then let you know how they come out. 

 

George Paul



#6 Oceanshutter

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Posted 07 August 2016 - 07:39 PM

No problem George. It is a fantastic camera, the low light is insane. But there are 2 things that hinder it for underwater use, white balance and battery longevity. Should be a great one for interviews. Underwater is a whole new ball game.

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#7 GeoPaul7

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Posted 07 August 2016 - 08:38 PM

Thanks Dustin:

 

Yes I have been studying your macro videos closely, and they are some of the best in the history of the planet.  The crab with the eggs!  OMG.  But you know all this already as you are getting all those awards.

 

I am in touch with Kay Burn Lim and am asking him about the white balance.  He has gotten back to me preliminarily and did not particularly bad mouth the camera, but I am giving him more information about the white balance issues and what a bad reputation the camera has in that area.  I have heard this from several other experts as well. Trying to get more information. 

 

In any event, I am a raw beginner.  But I am going diving in 3 weeks in the Sea of Cortez and am designing some tests.  They are kind of taking shape in my mind.  You experts must do that all the time.  I will make a film of my results.  

 

I love Utah south and north, and have done a lot of backpacking and fly fishing in the High Uintas.  Indeed really love living out West, having gone to school in the East.

 

Thanks for all your help.

 

George



#8 TaxiDiver14

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Posted 10 August 2016 - 01:49 PM

First video A7RII. AWB BIAS A3 M4. No lights. No filter.


Edited by TaxiDiver14, 10 August 2016 - 11:30 PM.


#9 GeoPaul7

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Posted 10 August 2016 - 03:09 PM

What did you do with your film TaxiDiver14?  I am enjoying watching it on Vimeo and wanted to make some comments, and ask you some questions.



#10 GeoPaul7

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Posted 10 August 2016 - 07:21 PM

Why did you do AWB rather than custom white balance?  That is an interesting choice.  But I am having challenging white balance issues.

 

Thanks for posting your film.  Love the editing!



#11 TaxiDiver14

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Posted 10 August 2016 - 11:32 PM

What did you do with your film TaxiDiver14?  I am enjoying watching it on Vimeo and wanted to make some comments, and ask you some questions.

Sorry I deleted it because I didnt know if I could anoy you by publishing my video on your post. Now is on again...

#12 TaxiDiver14

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Posted 10 August 2016 - 11:49 PM

AWB on NEX and A6xxx series is no so bad if you modify the BIAS.
This was my first video trying the A7RII.
Water conditions were bad. Green and with many particles. Next step is to use an AUTOMAGIC filter.
Did you try the underwater AWB ???
Lower than 20m allways torches and AWB and play with BIAS.

How are you shooting ?? S or M. I see some of you shots overexposed. I normally underexpose by -0.7 ev. And I shoot Manual with S 50, A>8, AutoISO(100-3200).

But im a beginer and my diving season start in september and I will be able to test more things I have in mind. I think this is going to be a great set....

I found this and I think it could help....
http://www.uwphotogr...-for-underwater

Edited by TaxiDiver14, 11 August 2016 - 12:08 AM.


#13 GeoPaul7

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Posted 11 August 2016 - 06:54 AM

Thanks for sending that article TaxiDiver14, and for reposting your video.  People that read this thread would benefit from it.

 

I too am a beginner using this camera.  I film in Manual Mode, shooting 4K, and thus have the shutter speed set to 1/60.

 

My main challenge right now is white balance.  This is not so much of a challenge when using video lights, as AWB works well.

The issue is with natural light.  I have been advised to use custom white balance, and to take a custom white balance every 10 feet or so.  I am going diving in 3 weeks and will do a series of tests on the white balance.  I will likely do some tests using a Magic filter, and some without, using custom white balance and underwater AWB.  My first results had a very bad magenta cast, and I am trying to get to the bottom of it.  I have been advised that the Sony cameras have poor color science, but I want to test this assertion.

 

I used manual exposure, with exposure assist, to prevent focus hunting.

 

Of course the exposure is also critical, and here is where it gets very interesting.  I am experimenting with the picture profiles.  I will be shooting in sLog3, with the gamut.cine color space.  This means that one must take a lot more time editing.  But, the theory is that shooting in sLog makes color correction more powerful, as well as giving a greater ability to correct dynamic range, contrast and levels.  This might help me correct some of the white balance issues, perhaps not.  Shooting in a log picture profile is a committement to really becoming an experienced "grader" or "color correction specialist," and at this time, I am committing to that.

 

Accordingly, on my next trip, here are my priorities:

 

1.  Really test out the manual white balance in ambient light.

 

2.  Begin using my new tripod.

 

3.  Experiment with the picture profiles, and with exposure.

 

I will keep you updated on my new tests, and perhaps will make a little film and post it on the Facebook page, or at least here.

 

We will have some fun experimenting together.



#14 TaxiDiver14

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Posted 11 August 2016 - 09:11 AM

Well I think you want to do to many things at same time.

Forget slog for underwater use. Go with standar style. Or PP2 with color 709.

Use magic filter screwed to your objetive for CWB. It will give you 2000K more and M+7.

Allways use the VECTORSCOPE and the WAVEFORM while editing. That will let you know how is the color balance and the exposure on your footage.

I would beging with this.

Also try to shoot at early morning and at late afternoon.... you will see a big diference in your colors.

#15 GeoPaul7

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Posted 11 August 2016 - 03:58 PM

Very sage, Taxidiver14.  I may indeed be focusing on too many things.  I suppose I will find that out.  I am going to actually write out the tests, and the protocols.

 

I have been using a magic fliter.  I really do like your advice about what time of day to shoot.  I will try that to the extent I have control over it.

 

Now I don't know about forgetting slog for underwater use.  I am going to follow up on that and do some research, and then some tests. 

 

What is your reasoning for saying "forget slog for underwater use"?

 

thanks,

 

George



#16 TaxiDiver14

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Posted 11 August 2016 - 11:08 PM

GeoPaul7 is only my option.

As you can read in the first article I share this guys use the standar picture style ( PP OFF ). I will use HDR with lights. I think this is a good point to start.

Once you have control of your main problem( WB ), you will be ready to play with PP4 or PP6 with 709 color space or cine.

Just I will beging from ESAY way to DIFICULT way... are my thoughts.

http://www.erwinvand...tings-sony-a7r2

Edited by TaxiDiver14, 11 August 2016 - 11:37 PM.


#17 dreifish

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Posted 13 August 2016 - 09:11 PM

The best results I've gotten filming with the A7RII underwater were using the standard picture profile with underwater awb mode. There's a huge caveat though -- the white balance is not consistent in this mode. When it hits, the colors are beautiful. But sometimes it messes up or even changes mid-shot.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to reproduce the same pleasing blues or color balance using mwb, with or without filters. I've actually largely been disappointed with the magic filters (tried both the green water and blue water ones for indonesian waters and now I don't without filters.

I just got a set of Gates gt14 lights, so I'm looking forward to seeing what the results will be with proper light. I'm starting to think I may be better off switching to a Canon camera for underwater beater work

#18 GeoPaul7

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Posted 13 August 2016 - 09:27 PM

Thanks Dreifish.

 

I have heard many negative things about the camera.  I was very disappointed in the magenta cast of my first films.  I had been using manual white balance.  I was using a magic filter.  I am wondering why I purchased the camera, and the housing, if the white balance was so unpredictable and low quality.

 

I am hoping that I may be able to meet the challenges.  I am going to do some tests on my next and will try the underwater auto white balance, and perhaps discard the filter, so that I can use the lights, without a filter.

 

I will let the people on this thread now what happens on my next adventure.

 

I appreciate the time you took to answer my question.



#19 TaxiDiver14

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Posted 13 August 2016 - 09:59 PM

You have to know that you won't have nice colour at every time. I know Canon users who dont have nice colours. It depends of many things. Like sun position, water colous, visibility, etc....
Lower than 20m I do not think about it, I just get lights and AWB with A+3, M+3.
Maybe you won't get the perfect shot but you allways have the VECTORCOSPE and WAVEFOR to work with it....

Edited by TaxiDiver14, 13 August 2016 - 10:00 PM.


#20 GeoPaul7

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Posted 13 August 2016 - 10:26 PM

Thanks Taxidiver14.  I read that link you sent.  It is very helpful!

 

And yes I may just use lights.


Edited by GeoPaul7, 13 August 2016 - 10:39 PM.






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