S-Log is known as the most widely used color profile among Sony camera users. No matter which flavor is being used – S-Log 2 or S-Log 3 – the image detail obtained with the camera setting allows for maximum post-production flexibility while providing enough room for multiple color grading tweaks and adjustments in post. In fact, both profiles deliver high dynamic range with the ability to fine-tune the colors of your footage, despite its flat-looking aesthetic straight out of the camera.
While S-Log is an extremely versatile profile to shoot with, it can be quite tricky to use. Due to the profile’s flat in-camera look, it’s difficult to determine whether or not the footage is over or underexposed. Fortunately, the following video produced by Henbu goes over several techniques to help ensure that your S-Log footage is always exposed exactly the way it should.
When it comes to shooting with S-Log, there’s a practice known by many Sony professionals known as “exposing to the right”. What this means is that you intentionally shoot your video overexposed and then correct the footage in post-production. Doing so allows you to retain details in the shadows of your scene, maximizing the amount of image data you can obtain from S-Log.
To pull this off properly, set your exposure two stops to the right (+2.0). Doing so will not only raise the highlights of your scene but your shadows as well. You can monitor this change using your camera’s histogram, wherein the shadows will hover around the middle of the scope.
While exposing to the right may look slightly too bright on camera, post-processing with tools such as Premiere Pro’s Lumetri Color panel will allow you to balance the shadows, midtones, and highlights of your footage. When exposing to the right, you will also want to ensure that your image is not clipping in the highlights. This can be done by taking advantage of your Sony camera’s zebras as this tool correctly indicates clipping within your frame.
Before enabling your camera zebras, ensure that the clipping settings are properly configured. If you’re shooting with S-Log 2, set the zebras to indicate clipping at 107. If you opt for S-Log 3, set the zebras to indicate clipping at 100.
Once you’ve adjusted your zebra settings, enable the feature. You’ll notice that as you increase your exposure/ISO, a zebra stripe pattern will appear on the screen when areas of your image are clipping. This will help you indicate whether or not you’ve nailed your exposure.
Meanwhile, it’s also recommended that you keep your ISO at your camera’s native value. This is because S-Log works best when set to your camera’s native ISO, wherein you have the most dynamic range possible from the camera. For example, on the Sony A7III, the native ISO is slated to be 800 – the point with the least amount of noise and the highest dynamic range.
If you believe that you need to raise the ISO, or if you’re shooting at night, Henbu suggests using a Sony Cine profile rather than S-Log. While profiles such as Cine4 won’t provide as much dynamic range or color flexibility, you will find a lot less noise in the shadows compared to using S-Log in poorly-lit conditions.
Along with the advice outlined in the video, Henbu also promoted Genesis: a pack of three affordable LUTs for $19.99, tailor-made for S-Log 2, S-Log 3, and other color profiles. Inside the package, you will find the three LUTs entitled Earth, Love, and Water – presets that emphasize specific colors for a soft, pleasant appearance.
To get these LUTs, you can find the link to the purchase page here. To use the Genesis LUTs inside of Premiere Pro CC, head over to the Lumetri Color panel. Under the Creative tab, go into the Look menu and navigate to the LUT folder. Choose the LUT you’d like to use on your footage and make any necessary adjustments to your image in the Basic Correction tab.
Shooting in S-Log provides you the opportunity to dial in the look of your shot with a tremendous number of options for image processing in post. However, taking advantage of this opportunity requires attention to detail on your part, especially when it comes to proper exposure. Following the techniques listed above should allow you to understand both the capabilities and limitations of S-Log, helping you achieve the best image possible.