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  • Michael Medgyesi

GH4/GH5 etc Optimal Film Setting - works in stills too

Updated: Sep 24, 2019



GH4 /GH5 / G7 / G8 / GX80 etc Optimal Film Setting

(updated lens list 09.24.2019)

Why use it?

It has the flattest high lights, whilst maintaining proper mid tone contrast and realistic shadows.

It is very close to what an image looks like in reality – the way our eyes see things - and what film should look like after the primary colour correction. And It is very near what a movie shot on 35mm film looks/looked like.

It has the lowest amount of colour noise and the lowest amount of micro blocking.

It can, as an added bonus for those who need “flat”, be graded backwards without loss of image quality.

It makes all ASA settings equally useful - at least on GH4, although most cameras can be set in a similar fashion...

It can be used – with one sub setting – in all lighting conditions from harsh sunshine to very flat light (typically indoors or overcast situations).

Why not flat?

The “common knowledge” setting is a “flat” setting, which in theory sounds really good, but in practice completely disregards reality, such as the countless hours wasted fixing the massive amounts of problems that present themselves through “flat”.

What are there problems in “flat” - what does my setting fix?

Problems 1-1.000.004: A digital camera is like any other camera: It has a negative that needs to be processed/"developed" before viewing“printing”.

There are limitations, just as in the old film days: We have only one (1) film/negative type (the sensor), and, in the case of the GH4, we have slightly less than 3.500.000.000 different types of (film)developers erroneously called Film Settings. On top of that, our “enlarger lens”/the output bandwidth of all cameras, has a limited resolution – in our case 100mB/s in 4K.

Imagine a fixed size 100mB/s tube, through which the data has to pas. The more useless information we add, the less room/bandwidth is left for useful information. So when the “flat folks” want details in all the shadows – details that will disappear in the grading (unless the film has to look completely unnatural) – they add useless information, which subtracts "space" from within the bandwidth. This leads to the useful information being compressed beyond what is necessary, thus adding compression artefacts – typically micro/macro blocking, lack of plasticity in the skin tones and other yucky things.

The main image-quality-killer is the Shadow area – this is where latent noise resides. By keeping the shadows dark - just like in the Real World – you free up bandwidth for useful purposes, such as clean highlights, realistic skin etc.

Without details: The grading of “flat” images is mastered by very very few people, and the amount of hurdles is very high – skin tone contrast and plasticity has to be recreated from “mud”, the unnecessary amount of noise needs fixing etc., etc., etc.. And the end result after primary correction will never be as pleasing as my new setting. This is known to be true!

So “flat” is a sub optimal starting point, that consumes a vast amount of time in grading without any benefits – my setting can be made “flat” with one simple non-destructive lifting of shadows in post. And “my” shadows too, contain the least amount of noise, giving us a much more pleasing “flat” look.

What does my setting do?

It has the flattest highlights possible with the least amount of colour noise, with the mid tones as bright and contrasty as possible, and the shadows shows only necessary/realistic details (the shadows do contain a lot more dormant details that can be brought up in post, and because they were shot with as little noise as is possible, they will present themselves cleaner than if shot in “flat”).

The “Film Setting” – which developer gives the best negative?

Portrait: – it "develops" the mid-tones as brightly as possible, and gives us the largest amount of control of the skin tone contrast.

Contrast: - +3 in sunshine, and +5 generally, gives contrast to the mid-tones

Sharpness: +1 the highest amount before it becomes noticeable in noise and detail

Noise Reduction: 0 takes care of of colour noise, leaving us with more than enough details in 4K

Saturation: -5 It is easier/less destructive to add saturation than to subtract

Hue: -2 the GH4 is pinkish of the shelve.

Highlight/shadow: -5/0 this function overrides all other functions!

If you for example use +5 in Contrast, the image "levels off" same-same as when you use -5 no matter what you do in any other setting.

Any limitations in highlight or shadow are therefore best controlled here. At -5/0 you get the least risk of burning the highlights, and the shadows are the cleanest and most flexible, as long as you keep the setting at 0.

I.Dynamic, I.Resolution, Master Pedestal, Luminescence Level are all unnecessary as they are less predictable and less precise than Highlight/shadow.

The film is - sort of - the documentation of my setting. This is - sort of - the documentation of my setting (the thumbnail is 6400 ASA). Kindly see for the actual setting and reasoning: www.supertone.dk/#!GH4-Optimal-Film-Setting-works-in-stills-too/c24o4/8E18836A-F271-4A14-AF0D-C575B9D5F4B6 Do not be alarmed due to the lack of Panasonic lenses used for this test - I love all of mine (6). But the test is also a test of the amount of digital noise that the lenses leaves in the work flow, and I have used manual focus to eliminate the potential for mis-focuses in the different sequences. That is - if you view the full ASA range test here - try to imagine how difficult it would be to review the results if the focus point varies: https://vimeo.com/112699788

0-4 sec. 200 ASA UHD 25 fps Helios-44-2 58mm f:2.0 4-8 6400 ASA UHD 25 fps Helios-44-2 58mm f:2.0 _________ 08-12 200 ASA UHD 25 fps Jupiter-8 50mm f:2.0 12-16 6400 ASA UHD 25 fps Jupiter-8 50mm f:2.0 _________ 16-20 200 ASA UHD 25 fps Ernst Leitz GmbH Wetzlar Elmar 9cm f:4.0 20-24 6400 ASA UHD 25 fps Ernst Leitz GmbH Wetzlar Elmar 9cm f:4.0 _________ 24-28 200 ASA UHD 25 fps Ernst Leitz GmbH Wetzlar Elmar 9cm f:4.0 28-32 200 ASA UHD 25 fps Ernst Leitz GmbH Wetzlar Elmar 9cm f:4.0 _________ 32-34:22 200 ASA UHD 25 fps Olympus Zuiko 50mm f:1.4 34:22-37:19 6400 ASA UHD 25 fps Olympus Zuiko 50mm f:1.4 __________ 37:19-41:19 200 ASA UHD 25 fps Olympus Zuiko 50mm f:1.4 41:19-45:23 6400 ASA UHD 25 fps Olympus Zuiko 50mm f:1.4 _________ 45:23-52:20 6400 ASA UHD 25 fps Olympus Zuiko 50mm f:1.4 _________ 52:20-56:20 200 ASA UHD 25 fps Tokina 12-24mm f:4.0 version 1 56:20-1:00:20 6400 ASA UHD 25 fps Tokina 12-24mm f:4.0 version 1 _________ 1:00:20-1:05:03 200 ASA UHD 25 fps Tokina 12-24mm f:4.0 version 1 1:05:03-01:09:03 6400 ASA UHD 25 fps Tokina 12-24mm f:4.0 version 1 _________ 01:09:03-1:16:14 6400 ASA FHD 96 fps Ernst Leitz GmbH Wetzlar Elmar 9cm f:4.0 1:16:14-1:20:13 800 ASA FHD 96 fps Navitar 8mm f:1.4 1:20:13 -1:24:13 6400 ASA FHD 96 fps Pentax 25mm 1.4 1:24:13-1:32:13 400 ASA FHD 96 fps Nikon 50mm 1.4 on tilt adapter 1:32:13-1:46:02 6400 ASA FHD 96 fps Pentax 25mm 1.4 1:46:02-1:50:02 6400 ASA FHD 96 fps Navitar 8mm f:1.4 1:50:02-01:54:02 200 ASA UHD 25 fps Navitar 8mm f:1.4 01:54:02-00:02:05:07 6400 ASA UHD 25 fps Navitar 8mm f:1.4 The first 2 clips are shot at sunset, and the light has changed between recordings.

Please feel free to share, ask questions or comment. Just bear in mind that this the result of countless hours of work without a paying customer, so I am probably "out there" shooting freelance stuff, should my answers arrive slower than you expect.

But the text is pretty much all that I can think of, so do try it. Getting used to it is very easy as soon as you get used to a/the different work flow in post. And by all means, do send invoices for "Wasted Time" to whomever invented the "Flat" profile. Aargh.


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