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Skin tone and texture in Sony FS5


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I own both a Sony FS5 and a Canon C100 Mk II.  I love both cameras. Both are easy to use with fabulous features and ergonomics. But try as I might I can't get skin tones on the Sony to look right. In contrast, colors in general and skin tone in specific come out looking great on the Canon. Researching this on the internet I find I'm not alone.

So, I guess my question is this: are there any adjustments or settings in the pic. profiles than can improve skin tone in the Sony? There seems to be a magenta cast or tint that I just can't seem to get rid of. I struggled with this for years with Sony cameras and thought that was just the way things were supposed to be...until I purchased my first Canon. It knocked me out. There it was, virtually out of the camera, everything I'd tried to achieve on Sony cams, but could not. 

I really love every thing about the Sony but this issue--and the big problem is I do mostly talking head type educational videos, so skin tone is super important. So, if I can't solve the issue by some reasonable means I think I'm going to have to sell the FS5 and get another Canon as a back up/b camera.

Any suggestions regarding how to improve Sony skin tones out of the camera?

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We don't own the FS5 but A7s and FS7. FS7 has the least 'problems' with skintones because of 10-bit, but out of the box they disappoint as well.

For the A7s, the solution is: *no profile*, let alone Slog. Just a creative style called autumn leaves. The name describes what it does to the colors. There are a lot (unusual for Sony) of warm nuances, but subdued. Enough green to render convincing spring leaves  and just enough blue, see this thread.

There must be something like this for the FS5.

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6 hours ago, Gpanazio said:

I've got the same "problem" with A7r II, but it's not difficult to fix it in Davinci Resolve. 

With just about every Sony camera I know (after correct WB setting), the skin always perfectly hits the skinline in the vectorscope. It's not a matter of wrong colors, it's a matter of too few warm colors, particularly in 8-bit. It's a matter of quantization. You can't invent richer skintones in Resolve if they aren't there in the first place. So you better look for a 'portrait mode'.

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2 hours ago, Axel said:

With just about every Sony camera I know (after correct WB setting), the skin always perfectly hits the skinline in the vectorscope. It's not a matter of wrong colors, it's a matter of too few warm colors, particularly in 8-bit. It's a matter of quantization. You can't invent richer skintones in Resolve if they aren't there in the first place. So you better look for a 'portrait mode'.

Autumn Leaves solves that problem by emphasizing more of the warm tones in the image. Don't know if it's available on the FS5, though.

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Autumn leaves and portrait mode and other similar modes are exclusive to the DSLR type cameras as far as I know. What we find in the FS5 are picture profiles. To my knowledge that's all that's available. If I were more skilled with adjusting the profiles perhaps I could come up with something decent, but it simply should not be this hard.
The colours are just not pleasing to my eye, and always require grading for skin tones---a LOT of grading. And I agree, what I consistently have to deal with is a real lack of warmth, with an emphasis on magenta and blue. And, no offense, but magenta is such an ugly colour for skin tone...tending toward what I call the Porky Pig look. 

The best results I've gotten so far is to nail the white balance and exposure, and then shoot with a colour checker that provides a white balance you can implement during editing with a few clicks. That, at least, gets the colours in a place you can grade reasonably quickly so the skin tones look decent (by decent I mean "not horrible". But it's still far from the kind of warmth and richness you can easily get out of the Canon with minimal adjustment--a kind of richness that is so pleasing and full without looking over saturated and unnatural. 

There's a time for that kind of cold look magenta and blue will provide, but the kind of warmth should not be hidden away in some special setting like "autumn leaves." It should be part of a standard picture style.

I don't know how many here saw the promo video Sony put out for the FS5 with the guy and two gals in a VW bus at the shore. There were several problems with that video (some I'm hoping the  coming update will address) but the unattractive skin tones were very evident in that video. Is Sony blind to this issue?

I can't tell you how happy I am with what Canon provides. I only wish I had begun using their cams years ago.  I'd love to have a 4k cam, like the C500, but they're so expensive--and only record 4k externally--which would be fine for most of what I do. 

Anyway, thanks for all your thoughtful and helpful responses. I don't feel like I'm so alone in my dissatisfaction. It's such a shame, because otherwise, the FS5 is fantastic to use, with a lot of great breakthrough features that make getting great focus and exposure very easy. 














 

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For all sony shooters I would strongly suggest reading this manual about picture profiles:

https://docs.sony.com/release/Help_C198100111.pdf

With the FS5 you have the ability to change pretty much everything you need to get the color response the same as any other camera. 

For skin tones look at color phase and color depth settings and also expose for the skin

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9 hours ago, TheRenaissanceMan said:

Autumn Leaves solves that problem by emphasizing more of the warm tones in the image. Don't know if it's available on the FS5, though.

 

11 hours ago, Axel said:

With just about every Sony camera I know (after correct WB setting), the skin always perfectly hits the skinline in the vectorscope. It's not a matter of wrong colors, it's a matter of too few warm colors, particularly in 8-bit. It's a matter of quantization. You can't invent richer skintones in Resolve if they aren't there in the first place. So you better look for a 'portrait mode'.

Axel, this is a very interesting statement, and it rings true to me on an intuitive level. Would you be kind enough to expand more specifically about the lack of warm colours and what you mean by quantization in this instance?

19 minutes ago, Don Kotlos said:

For all sony shooters I would strongly suggest reading this manual about picture profiles:

https://docs.sony.com/release/Help_C198100111.pdf

With the FS5 you have the ability to change pretty much everything you need to get the color response the same as any other camera. 

For skin tones look at color phase and color depth settings and also expose for the skin

I will certainly take this suggestion and work with these adjustments. But, again, I ask, should it be this complex and convoluted a process to achieve something as simple as a pleasing look? You have it out of the camera with Canon; you begin with something decent you can easily adjust and get good results, rather than something unpleasant, even down right ugly at times that is difficult and time consuming to work with.

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31 minutes ago, tomsemiterrific said:

Axel, this is a very interesting statement, and it rings true to me on an intuitive level. Would you be kind enough to expand more specifically about the lack of warm colours and what you mean by quantization in this instance?

Every picture profile, as shown in Dons pdf, favors certain ranges of colors at the cost of others which are then thinned out. They almost disappear, they're not recorded, gone. Skin is not a color, it's layers of different shades, dull surfaces, shiny surfaces, all reflect light of different colors, these things make skin in HD and UHD look alive (wasn't that important in SD, because you seldom could see skin texture). In 8-bit, those values are thinned out too much (16 million colors vs. 1 billion in 10-bit, 68 billions in 12-bit and 4 trillions in 14-bit). And especially if you go for an HDR approach (S-log). 

Quote

 

A higher set value lowers luminance while deepening the color. A lower set value increases luminance, making the color look paler.
This setting doesn’t only enhance the apparent vividness of colors, but also can express deep, dark colors.

Because each of the 6 colors — R (Red), G (Green), B (Blue), C (Cyan), M (Magenta), Y

(Yellow) — can be adjusted individually, you can apply this function to just the colors you want to emphasize. 

 

This is the solution. It's hard to do just by trial and error. Maybe the settings exist already in another forum or blog. For our old EX-3, we copied settings from BBC experts which set our minds at rest. As I wrote, I don't own the FS5, I just googled and found this. You might not finde these settings appropriate for your taste, and you will need some patience to find the right ones.

 

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The FS5 does 10 bit in 1080p. and 422--in camera. I'm pretty sure.  Here's the quote from B&H: "The XAVC Long allows you to encode from HD to UHD using Intra-Frame or Long GoP compression with 10-bit 422 for HD and 8-bit 420 for UHD."
I did some experimenting with the global colour adjustment tool in FCPX, using both Canon and Sony footage. Refraining  from any commentary on how the colors in the images compared (the Canon kicked butt), what I noticed as I shifted the global adjustment is when you cross the skin line on the vectorscope, moving from red to magenta with the Canon you see the colour red--push it further you get magenta:duh!

But when you do the same with Sony footage pushing the global adjustment away from yellow, across the skin line to red, you almost skip over red altogether and go direct to magenta---personally, I HATE magenta in skin colour. But because the actual colour red exists with some prominence in the Canon footage you can use Colour Finale to toggle back and forth to get a really nice balance between a true red and yellow. In contrast, toggle back and forth with "red" and yellow to balance skin colour on the Sony you end up with a lot of magenta as a red colour substitute---and it looks friggin' awful to me. It's almost as if red doesn't exist, or exists in such a small quantity it might as well not be there.

Am I out in left field here?

Oddly enough I experimented with  a pic profile in my Sony X70 XD cam and  was quickly able to get a more acceptable image in regard to skin tone. The X70, FYI, does shoot 422 10 bit 1080p and 50 mbps. I posted a screen shot of the X70 below, with very little color correction, relatively speaking. 

What's up with that when I get better skin tone out of the X70 (with the v. 2 upgrade) than the FS5. But the distressing thing for me was to see with the FS5 how red almost vanished as a colour left of the skin line and magenta is almost immediately the obvious colour.

So, here's my question. Is there an adjustment or set of adjustments in the picture profiles where a true red can be emphasized and magenta be subdued? Or am I asking the right question?? 

x70 screen shot.tiff

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Axel wrote: 

"This is the solution. It's hard to do just by trial and error. Maybe the settings exist already in another forum or blog. For our old EX-3, we copied settings from BBC experts which set our minds at rest. As I wrote, I don't own the FS5, I just googled and found this. You might not finde these settings appropriate for your taste, and you will need some patience to find the right ones."

Axel, first thanks ever so much for taking the time to explain all this. It clarifies a lot for me. I did try this pic profile---and the result was a pretty drab set of colours, with very little vibrance and poor saturation. The best I can say the result was not offensive---which actually is kind of a left-handed compliment for Sony footage.

It just kind of boggles my mind at how much better Canon colours look; how much more vibrant--and I'm not talking about the EOS standard profile either--just the basic out-of-the box image--so easy to make it look good and then go on living a quasi-normal life.

With enough study, experimenting, and cajoling I may be able to get something that looks decent out of the FS5 in regard to skin colour--but the effort reminds me of a saying we commonly had back in the mountains of eastern Kentucky where I was reared. "Trying to do that is like trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear." 

For someone like me, who is clearly not a professional, who has a LOT of stuff on my plate running my own business, this is doubly frustrating.

I'm not familiar with all the makers, but I don't find the ones I do know, panasonic, canon, and JVC, to have anything close to this problem of what seems to me to be a magenta cast that dominates over red in the color mix and makes is super difficult to get a warm image out of the camera. Canon is the best as far as I can see, but none of the others are nearly as bad as Sony. I've owned several Sony cams and have never been really happy with the colours, and now I have some idea of why.

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3 minutes ago, tomsemiterrific said:

Do you agree (with the exception of the crappy lighting) that the colours of the X70 screen shot were decent?

I don't. I find them too orange. Perhaps you are allergic to magenta. Allegedly, it should be 'porange' - between pink and orange. But I feel that with real HD (due to debayering and stuff like that, UHD cameras are true HD for the first time) it isn't sufficient anymore to fill a large area in your image with the right color.

Here is what I mean:

There isn't one skin color, there are thousands, and the texture of the skin is composed of them. This is beauty. Note, that this clip was not recorded in UHD, it's just 1080p, and also not raw, just 10-bit..

With 10-bit, you record more colors. Skip 4k, you have true HD. Your image looks too sharp to me anyway (sharpness in-camera is embossing edges, it's ugly in HD). Now top priority is to find a preset/style/profile for 1080 10-bit with a wide range of warm colors. Preferably a rather flat one. S-Log is perfect for 10-bit with LUT in post. Good luck!

 

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6 hours ago, Axel said:

I don't. I find them too orange. Perhaps you are allergic to magenta. Allegedly, it should be 'porange' - between pink and orange. But I feel that with real HD (due to debayering and stuff like that, UHD cameras are true HD for the first time) it isn't sufficient anymore to fill a large area in your image with the right color.

Here is what I mean:

There isn't one skin color, there are thousands, and the texture of the skin is composed of them. This is beauty. Note, that this clip was not recorded in UHD, it's just 1080p, and also not raw, just 10-bit..

With 10-bit, you record more colors. Skip 4k, you have true HD. Your image looks too sharp to me anyway (sharpness in-camera is embossing edges, it's ugly in HD). Now top priority is to find a preset/style/profile for 1080 10-bit with a wide range of warm colors. Preferably a rather flat one. S-Log is perfect for 10-bit with LUT in post. Good luck!

 

I agree with you. And I thought you might say the skin tone was too orange. Bringing the image back to "Porange" is simple with the vector controls of the Color Finale program with Canon colours---child's play. But I pushed the image toward yellow which created the orange tone because, unlike the Canon, what shows up if you go very far the other direction is more magenta rather than red (and, no, I'm not allergic to red--just magenta because i find it not just an ugly colour, but a colour utterly foreign to any skin tone I know of--something that looks totally unnatural). 

Beyond that, your sage advise it taken to heart, and I really appreciate what you say about 10 bit. Thanks so much.

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