ETTR: Noise, Dynamic Range and Skin Tones

I just did a very quick test with the Lumix G85 in natural light which leaves little doubt that there is greater dynamic range and less noise in the shadows when exposing to the right. Colors are a little trickier, first of all, because I’m not a professional colorist, so I couldn’t exactly match the ETTR clip to the one that was underexposed by 1/3 of a stop. Also, detail that is plainly visible in the shadows in the original ETTR clip is obscured somewhat by YouTube compression. But the most startling revelation is that noise in the shadows, which manifests itself as ugly macroblocking due to YT compression, is somewhat reduced by ETTR. Look at the back of the flapjack LED to the left in the ETTR clips, in which macroblocking is virtually absent, and compare to the clip that is underexposed by 1/3 of a stop. Many YT and Vimeo videos suffer from this unsightly macroblocking as a result of underexposure. Applying the Leeming LUT to the footage would have restored the proper rec709 color space. My takeaway is that, while correct exposure is critical, proper white balance in camera and in post is paramount for good skin tones. But the fact of the matter is, the G85 is a great camera for the money, content is king, and I wouldn’t get my panties all tied up in a bunch over exposure.

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