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skiphunt

Nikon & LUTs

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Hi, 

 

Experimenting with the D5300 before I take it on a little trip to Mexico. Trying to get something close to a decent look before I leave, and with minimal gear. 

 

Have decided that the 18-200mm VR lens, while not perfect, is close enough to my manual glass to sacrifice some shallow DOF for the benefits of the VR stabilization. The trade-offs are worth having a wide range, macro, AF for stills, VR for handheld, etc. 

 

So, now I'm trying to get the in camera settings where I want them to be for grading in FCP X. I've been playing with the LUT Utility with test footage I shot using the Flaat 10 profile, and a modified Standard profile. 

 

I didn't think I really needed the LUT Utility or any LUTs to start with... however, I just graded the same footage the best I could by eye and several different shots. Then used the Fuji 3513 to Rec709 at about 50% and miner tweaks to the exposure, etc. Added a little bit of grain and sharpened. Consistently, despite my best efforts, the footage using the LUTs comes out better and closer to natural film stock. I can get close starting with the Teal + Orange Look built-in to FCP X, but it's always better using the LUT. I'm sure a good colorist wouldn't need the LUTs but it's just so much quicker to get it right if you're a relative noob like me. ;)

 

Anyway, what I've figured out is that I get better results with a tweaked Standard file than I do the Flaat 10 one. 

 

I don't think the LUTS that come with LUT Utility are the best for the Nikon, but they're not bad. I've seen really nice stuff from Brandon Li using Osiris, but it's mostly been from cameras like the Sony RX10, 5D3 & BMPCC which I think that LUT is particularly tuned to. 

 

Can anyone using Nikon here, recommend some LUTs that you find most appealing? Not going for Film Convert at the moment. Sticking with LUTS and tweaking my own profile. 

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EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

I made a picture style to use with the Luts (fuji,kodak) a guy called Juan Melara posted on his blog. The Luts used in Resolve are the basically the same (Rec to ***). I made it so that it protect sthe highlights, this means you will get plenty of noise in the shadows, the live view also might show you a well exposed image but it's heavily underexposed to protect the highlights. Give it a try if you want.

I just spend a few hours with it as I don't like compressed video files anymore D:

 

It's for the d800 but I think it will work with your d5300.

PICCON01.zip

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I made a picture style to use with the Luts (fuji,kodak) a guy called Juan Melara posted on his blog. The Luts used in Resolve are the basically the same (Rec to ***). I made it so that it protect sthe highlights, this means you will get plenty of noise in the shadows, the live view also might show you a well exposed image but it's heavily underexposed to protect the highlights. Give it a try if you want.

I just spend a few hours with it as I don't like compressed video files anymore D:

 

It's for the d800 but I think it will work with your d5300.

 

Cool. Thanks! Will give it a shot. 

 

Will look for the Melara LUTs. Have you tried any of the commercial LUT bundles with your Nikon?

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Nope, right now I have stopped filming (although I'm downloading the vision luts to give them a try just for fun), I'm just taking photos. I will give it a try when some good cameras are around because I mainly look for stills quality, I don't tell stories, I just want to do moving stills.

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Nope, right now I have stopped filming (although I'm downloading the vision luts to give them a try just for fun), I'm just taking photos. I will give it a try when some good cameras are around because I mainly look for stills quality, I don't tell stories, I just want to do moving stills.

Hey, I used your picture style on some quick tests, then played with grading. Compared yours to the Flaat 10, 11, and a tweaked Standard. Yours produced an image that gave me the absolute most room to play with the image. The Flaat 11 was better than the 10.

 

Now I'm torn as to how to handle my shooting on the road. If I use either your profile or the Flaat 11, they'll require much more grading work, but the LUTs and effects, etc. are easier to start with. If I just continue to tweak my Standard profile to where I get very close to where I want to be straight out of the camera, it doesn't leave me much wiggle room at all in the grade. 

 

In FCP X... do you know what the difference is between using a preset "Look" or color table "preset" (i.e. "Alien Look") then adjusting to taste, and using LUTs? Seems like they both make good starting places to tweak from. Just wondered if one method is preferred over the other. 

 

Also, I've been starting with a LUT I like, then dialing back the opacity, then adjusting my various exposure, saturation, etc. balance levels. Is it better to do all the basic levels, color, exposure stuff first, then apply LUTs, presets, Looks, etc. afterward? I'd assume it is better to adjust the basics first before the style, but I'm not certain that it really matters as long as the final look is what you want. 

 

Not clear on what the difference is in applying a look to the actual clip, or adding it on an adjustment layer instead. Anyone know?

 

Didn't want to get too far into the grading stuff yet, but I just want to make sure I shoot for the best image while traveling soon. Don't want to find out after the fact that I should've shot everything one way or another when it's too late to reshoot. ;)

 

I know you said you're more into moving pictures and such, but I figured it couldn't hurt to ask in case someone else has good advice. 

 

Thanks for the picture profile. I'm definitely keeping it on the camera for shots that I want to have the most range to grade from. :)

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I'm glad it will serve you sometime. I created it while trying to recreate on the d800 an adobe preset for my raw stuff, but the nikon tool won't let you make a linear curve and adjust it to S so the highlights don't roll off nicely. It compresses a lot and in 8bit you loose a lot of information, it's also a pain to remind yourself that you are underexposing a lot, which results in lost blacks sometimes with some banding. The color is also so compressed  that you might get banding or poor color. So make shure to test it more ;)

Personally, and specially when starting with a picture style like this one, I apply the LUT on top with an adjustment layer (after effects), or with LUT option in Resolve. Then I do whatever I like till it pleases me (a lot of times I just add some saturation or do nothing -with the kodak and fuji luts-).

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I've sort of backtracked on this approach quite a bit. Although, shooting with your excellent color profile or the Flaat 11 one, I can get a great deal of grading flexibility for sure... especially for not being raw. The problem is, I can't tell for sure what I'm getting in the field. Then there's all the extra time spent trying to get the grade right. 

 

All these extra steps and not knowing what I'm getting, sort of defeats the whole reason I got the D5300 to begin with, ie. to be able to get a decent image right out of the camera without having to deal with all the extra grading hoops, extra storage, etc. 

 

So far, I'm finding that in practice I'm starting to get a much better image with either the Neutral or Standard picture profiles, contrast all the way down, some sharpness added in camera (can't tell much difference from camera sharpened vs FCP sharpened) and, I can nail focus much easier with a little in camera sharpness added. Can't tell if I'm in perfect focus with the sharpness all the way down and can't tell if I nailed exposure with a completely flat image.

 

Now I'm going to just tweak a couple of the picture profiles to give me a little room for grade tweaking in a couple different shooting situations, then fine-tune in FCP CC. I've found just adding an adjustment layer (using Color Grading Central's layer effects tool) and creatively adding a LUT on top at a reduced percentage, is getting me much closer to where I want to be much faster, more accurate, and without as much guess work. 

 

I can certainly see the appeal of the raw workflow for those who want ultimate control of their image, but for me... getting it as close as I can in-camera is going to suffice for now I think. And, as long as I nail exposure and at least back off saturation and contrast, there's still some grading wiggle room to be had. :)

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Skiphunt I am curious about your experience with Flaat11 and the D5300. I own a D7100 and using Flaat 11 in relatively low light situations (not even night time) brings up some horrible artifacts and noise. Does the D5300 resolve low light images that much better that you aren't seeing any artifacts?

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Skiphunt I am curious about your experience with Flaat11 and the D5300. I own a D7100 and using Flaat 11 in relatively low light situations (not even night time) brings up some horrible artifacts and noise. Does the D5300 resolve low light images that much better that you aren't seeing any artifacts?

 

This is just a guess, but I think what's happening is that because what you're seeing on your viewfinder is so flat, it's difficult to judge if you've got proper exposure, so you tend to end up unintentionally underexposed more often. I noticed that when I'm using the Flaat 11 picture profile and my exposure looks good on the LCD (overall balanced with information throughout), then shoot the exact same shot with one of the default picture profiles like Standard for example, the shot will look waaay underexposed. So, when you go to adjust/CC/grade... you're working with an image that's a good 3 stops underexposed. That's obviously going to introduce all sorts of noise and artifact. 

 

I'm still learning the camera myself, and only just now trying to get up to speed with FCP X, Color correcting, LUTs, etc. So, I'm by no means any authority... but I can say that from my testing/experience so far... if I wanted the maximum dynamic range from my D5300, and didn't mind have to pay extra close attention to focus and exposure... I'd use either the Flaat 11 or the picture profile araucaria provided in this thread. 

 

The absolute most information I've captured in any of my testing, i.e. maximum shadow and highlight detail has been from araucaria's picture profile with the Flaat 11 a close second. The problem is that it's so freakin' flat that it's hard to tell what you've got. You need to expose so that it looks sort of milky and washed out on the LCD. And, take your best stab at hoping you're in focus because it's so soft that it's hard to tell. Then, you have to know what you're doing with grading or spend a lot of time tweaking. 

 

If I absolutely need the maximum DR,  I'd use the flat profiles and likely at least crank up the in-camera sharpening so that I could see enough edge in the LCD to focus. And, I'd back out, set my exposure via the LCD using one of the default picture profiles, then go back to either the Flaat 11 or araucaria profile to shoot. Or, possibly use a handheld light meter (haven't tried that yet) 

 

For my taste, and for the least amount of fiddling and LUT/CC tweaking... I'm currently using either the Standard profile with the contrast at -3, everything else at 0, and sharpness about +5/6. The color is nice and punchy without being too much. If the scene has good contrast and rich color, I'm using the Neutral setting with the contract at -3, Saturation +1, and Sharpness +5/6. I sharpen up the last bit in FCP X. I'm sure many will balk at using the in-camera sharpening as opposed to letting FCP do it all, but I'm not seeing there's that much difference as long as you don't over-sharpen to the point of getting halo effect. And, letting the camera sharpen gives you a crisp image to focus by in the LCD.

 

The ONLY time I've seen any artifact at all so far, was a couple days ago when I was playing with the Flaat 11 profile and a Rodenstock Circular polarizer. But, I think that had more to do with being underexposed without knowing it.

 

Like I mentioned in my previous post, I've decided I want to know I've got close to what I want, on the spot without having to wait until I've tweaked it to death with LUTs and CC in FCP.  I'm not an experienced colorist by any stretch of the imagination. If I was shooting a short film with the D5300, I'd likely shoot with either the Flaat 11 or acaucaria's picture profile, make sure I've got perfect exposure, and figure out what style I was going for beforehand. Kind of like you used to do when you'd choose the film stock you wanted to use. Then, instead of waiting on dailies, I'd do a quick grade on the set to verify it's all good before proceeding.  

 

Currently, I'm going to just shoot some stuff while traveling and want to know I've got something decent to work with on the spot and in a wide variety of situations without having to verify with color correction all the time.

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You can crank up the sharpening in any profile. There are also the gamma profiles, shoot with the profile to preserve DR and just add some gamma correction to the whole thing to bring it back to normal.

http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/showthread.php?303215-Nikon-Gamma-Controls-v0-1-Beta-Test

 

Yes, I discovered that yesterday and cranked up the sharpening to both the profile you provided and the Flaat 11. I've kept both of those installed for scenes where I want maximum DR, but also have sharpening cranked up so that I can more easily verify focus on the LCD. 

 

What I haven't quite figured out though... is the best way to know I've got perfect exposure when using either Flaat 11 or your picture profile. Yours retains a significant amount more in the highlights than the Flaat 11 one does. Haven't tried tweaking gamma on either though. Thanks for the link, looks very informative. 

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You could select matrix metering and tell the camera to underexpose 1 stop, then watch your exposure meter on the top lcd screen (or wherever the d5300 shows that info) and keep it at 0. Or use any other photographic technique that does not rely on live-view/playback.

 

The link shows how to use the profiles, the gamma adjustment just makes everything normal again so you don't need to tweak everyshot, but this only works with these profiles (not with flaat or mine).

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What I haven't quite figured out though... is the best way to know I've got perfect exposure when using either Flaat 11 or your picture profile. 

 

This is why the lack of histogram is my number 1 dislike of the D5300. It's an awesome camera with an image I like more every time I use it, but even using standard picture profiles we're all 'shooting in the dark' to some degree when it comes to exposure. And those of us using manual lenses are really lost.

 

It hasn't cost me too many shots yet though - I'm learning how to expose 'by eye' on the LCD, and a loupe is very useful for doing this critically.

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This is why the lack of histogram is my number 1 dislike of the D5300. It's an awesome camera with an image I like more every time I use it, but even using standard picture profiles we're all 'shooting in the dark' to some degree when it comes to exposure. And those of us using manual lenses are really lost.

 

It hasn't cost me too many shots yet though - I'm learning how to expose 'by eye' on the LCD, and a loupe is very useful for doing this critically.

 

I can get it right nearly every time, even by the LCD, if I'm using one of the profiles I've tweaked a little (Standard and Neutral). It's the flat picture profiles that are difficult to expose by the LCD. However, getting my exposure by the meter or by LCD while in Standard/Neutral, then switching back to a flat profile, works decent too.

 

My evolution has been that I got pretty good images right out of the box without doing anything. Then, I started monkeying around with different profiles, grading, LUTs, etc. and learned there's A LOT of variation you can get if you want to experiment. Some of it looks very interesting... some of it, not so much. ;) 

 

Now, I'm back to tweaking the profiles that came on the camera to give me a little room for grading. Then getting a nice image that's sharp, with good color, and not too contrasty first, then playing with style on top. 

 

The new stuff Vision Color is working on, but hasn't release yet, looks very interesting: http://vision-color.com/2013/11/18/announcing-visionlog-ucs/

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