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Judging Exposure and the Histogram 5D Mark II/III

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Randy Rubin
Judging Exposure and the Histogram 5D Mark II/III
on Jan 23, 2013 at 11:29:13 pm

Hi All,

I've been shooting video with the 5D Mark II for a while now and am finding I am still guessing a bit when it comes to exposure. I've got a basic idea of what's close, but am never absolutely confident in my chosen exposure.

1. Spot Meter (in-camera) my area of interest
2. Check Histogram
3. Judge LCD
4. on certain shoots I will check contrast with my light meter

My issue is I don't think I have completely honed in my understanding of the histogram. I've always heard expose to the right but it seems this really only applies when shooting RAW (~3/4 sensor data in first two stops). H.264 is more equivalent to JPEG so I need to be a lot more confident in exposure.

I color correct all of my shots so I'm trying to figure out how to get the best image for post-manipulation. Should my area of interest (i.e. interview subject's face) be in the middle of the histogram?

I know a broad question but any pointers appreciated.


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Steve Crow
Re: Judging Exposure and the Histogram 5D Mark II/III
on Jan 24, 2013 at 12:48:59 am

I'm going to take a different viewpoint and point out that exposing to the right of the histogram really risks blowing out your image and loosing data forever if you are not very careful. I've taken the opposite tact and let my images be a bit underexposed if anything. Details can be pulled out of shadows - and I would rather deal with fixing noise than having a white blown out areas of my video frame that cannot be recovered.

In video mode you are not dealing with a RAW format where so much can be fixed - that's a luxury denied to us video shooters for the most part - so we have to be extra careful with making sure we have an image we can work with in post. When I was just starting out in the business I totally blew out important interview footage that couldn't be recovered and I still cringe when I think about it today

Steve Crow
Crow Digital Media

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Sareesh Sudhakaran
Re: Judging Exposure and the Histogram 5D Mark II/III
on Jan 24, 2013 at 9:19:01 am

Exposure to the right is easier for still photography, and even then you have RAW to save your rear if you misread the histogram. Lower-end cameras (by which I mean professional 35mm DSLRs) don't have the ability to display a RAW histogram over all three channels (or even one channel).

I would recommend you study the Zone System and learn to use a light meter. Use the histogram and in-camera meter only as a backup.

Hope this helps. - Workflow information and support for filmmakers, photographers, audiographers and videographers.

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