Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) vs Cine4 – Which Sony A7III Picture Profile to Use?

Besides the Sony A7R III, the A7III is just the second mirrorless camera in the Alpha series lineup that comes with Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) – a picture profile alternative to the widely used Cine4 and S-Log profiles. Promising to deliver improved dynamic range and better color reproduction, the new Hybrid Log Gamma has stirred up some controversy among Sony shooters trying to decide which profile is best to use in filmmaking applications.

Acclaimed Sony shooter Cody Blue explores the topic by comparing both Cine4 and HLG to determine which picture profile is best to use for producing cinematic video, specifically when filming with the Sony A7III.

For his tests, Blue shot footage using both picture profiles. Then he edited and color graded his clips in a similar fashion to ensure a fair comparison. By evaluating the results in the end, including the detailed comparison towards the later-half of the video, Blue concludes that both picture profiles are quite similar to the point where most people may not notice a difference.

Meanwhile, clips shot using the Hybrid Log Gamma did reveal some slight advantages over the Cine4 profile. If you take a look at the highlight portions of the test image – the sky and the right side of the subject’s face – you might notice that the Hybrid Log Gamma video retains more image data compared to the Cine4 footage, showing the HLG profile’s increased dynamic range.

In addition, it seems that the Hybrid Log Gamma profile produces richer, more true-to-life colors in the clip. However, Blue does note that while the colors may look more appealing, the overall aesthetic of the profile seems to shift the image slightly towards a green tint, which will require some post-production correction.

On the other hand, the Cine4 image still held up pretty well in the comparison. As stated previously, there is not much of a difference between the HLG and Cine4 profiles – with the exception of slightly greater dynamic range with the Hybrid Log Gamma.

These are the HLG settings utilized for this particular video:

  • Black Level: +2
  • Gamma: HLG3
  • Black Gamma: Middle
  • Knee: Manual, 80% +2
  • Color Mode: BT2020
  • Detail: 4k: -7
  • 1080p: -5

It is worth noting, however, that when shooting with Cine4, the colors of the image seem to gravitate towards red/magenta hues. Though the magenta cast may be too much for some, the slight color bias can aid in emphasizing skin tones. Furthermore, if the color imperfection bothers you too much, you can easily make corrections using simple color grading tools in post.

Based on his tests, Blue stated that he would continue to shoot his videos using Cine4, mainly due to his extensive experience with the profile, in addition to the better skin tones he’s able to achieve with it. Nevertheless, Hybrid Log Gamma is still worth considering for your A7III shoots as the profile provides increased dynamic range without the heavy amount of processing required when shooting in S-Log.

[source: Cody Blue]

Sony Alpha a7 III Mirrorless Digital Camera (Body Only) (B&H, Amazon)

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