If all the picture profile tests were a bit too much, then this lesson will simplify it. Of course, it goes without saying that this exposure cheat sheet is based on my interpretations, some of which are heavily subjective.
But it’s a good place to start, if that’s what you want. Don’t hold me responsible!
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These are important topics raised by subscribers that shed more light on this lesson.
Q. What do you do about blown-out windows in S-Log2?
A. What do you do about blown out windows in any mode? Sooner or later there will be situations that have too much dynamic range for the camera. Blown out windows and specular highlights will be problematic for the best cameras on earth.
As always, use your judgement. Sometimes you can gel the windows, other times you can use a grad/split ND filter to get it under.
If these are not options, you can overexpose less. But if you try to save the window by underexposing or even normally exposing, you will get ugly noise on your actors and in the shadows. This is the unique nature of the A7s in S-Log2. Luckily, the highlights blow out gracefully, almost as good as the Alexa.
A few months ago I tested this in my home with my wife, where she walks from a tungsten source (entrance) to the living room with a large window in a single shot, daylight balanced. Very bright outside. I could only get something acceptable by using a graduated ND filter sideways and cheating a bit.
Q. How do you match exposure with the A7s if your primary camera is another one, like the Alexa or Red Epic?
One solution is to NOT use S-Log2 for such shots, but shoot in one of the picture profiles. The camera has four cine profiles – Cine1, 2, 3 and 4. You can try each one to see if you like the look. Easier workflow, but not the best quality. I like Cine1 and use it when I don’t want to grade. Cine2 for low light. But it is a matter of taste.
Otherwise, you can also use ETTR on the higher-end cameras to match the 2-3-stop wolfcrow system on the A7s. Either way, the highlight roll-off on the A7s is very graceful, and will stand toe-to-toe with any camera.
But don’t ask for miracles!