7 Tips to Better Sony HLG HDR Footage

  1. Custom white balance using the X-Rite color checker. This will give you consistent results. Unfortunately, Sony makes doing custom white balance much more tedious than it needs to be.
  2. ND Filters. In broad daylight, exposures can be in the thousandths of a second at f/9 or f/10. This might be fine for architectural or landscape shots, but for other subjects, it can look like camcorder footage and fast shutter speeds ruin scenes with any movement. Shoot with a strong ND filter for shallow depth-of-field. 
  3. Use the EVF. The LCD on the a7 III is completely unusable in bright light or in open shade. The EVF is a little crap too but at least it allows you to see the zebras. A monitor or recorder would come in handy too but makes shooting a real chore.
  4. Reduce sharpening. Factory default setting on the Sony is excessively oversharpened, making everything resemble a cardboard cutout. The effect is exacerbated in HDR. Dial detail down to -7. Most of the clips I’m sharing were shot with detail set at -3.
  5. Set zebras to 70% for diffuse white, skin tones at 55-60%. This is true for HLG1, HLG2 and HLG3. Shooting for HDR delivery is not backward compatible for use with Paul Leeming’s LUT. If possible, you can take two exposures, one for HDR and one for use with Leeming LUT Pro.
  6. Turn off room lights and sit at least twice the diagonal from monitor to judge brightness. Sitting two feet away from a 32” monitor is too close. Remember that HDR images should be no brighter than SDR. If the entire screen is too bright, it will be fatiguing.
  7. Color Correct. Although I custom white balance using an X-Rite Colorchecker in every situation, Sony’s HLG has an unpleasant green cast, meaning it isn’t really quite Instant HDR as claimed. It requires manipulation in post to look acceptable. But the log part of the HLG curve, which begins at around 70%, is highly compressed; those 8 bits are stretched out to the max by the display for increased dynamic range; and the image falls apart very quickly when graded. So I would say to exercise restraint here – especially don’t start recklessly lifting highlights and boosting contrast. Tinkering with the color wheels a smidgen can dramatically alter the image for the better.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑