5d MARK IV CANON LOG | “FIRST LOOK” | WRITE UP BELOW.
MY INITIAL EXPERIENCE WITH CANON LOG:
Earlier this year Canon announced that they would be introducing their famous Canon Log gamma profile to the Canon 5d Mark IV. For a video shooter who primarily shoots Canon for wedding and lifestyle work this announcement came with much delight.
With very little advice or examples on the internet of Canon Log being used on the Canon 5d Mark IV I decided to shoot an uneducated and blind test of the new gamma format before using the camera in paid production environment. The video above is my very first time using the new Log format. Here is a description of my first experience using the format.
Canon Log in the 5d Mark IV is an 8 bit file giving you a dynamic range of up to 12 stops. In 4k, Canon Log gives a 4:2:2 video compression and at 1080p Canon Log provides 4:2:0 – this is a completely new gamma setting built into the 5d Mark IV giving the 5D full tonal control over its Canon CMOS sensor.
In order to get the upgrade for you Canon 5d Mark IV you will need to send your camera away to the Canon Service Centre where they install the upgrade into the camera body.
I dropped the camera off on a Monday morning and had the camera delivered back to me the following day. Although this kind of turn around is subject to how many jobs Canon are currently working through – I was told that I would have the camera back to me within 10 days. Their turn around times were fantastic and I was told the procedure takes about half an hour to install the upgrade.
Please also note that there is a fee to have this upgrade installed onto you 5d Mark IV.
The film above was shot completely handheld – just body and lens. I wanted to see how far I could push the cameras ISO before the image broke up and became noisy – as often during weddings I am having to push the cameras ISO during the second half of the day with reception and speeches.
My general rule for ISO is 100- 4000. Sometimes pushing to 5000-6400 if I absolutely have too. But I realize that the presence of noise is a given when pushing the cameras ISO this far.
After talking with the team at Canon and trying my own tests I found that the cleanest ISO setting was at ISO 800. And the most dynamic range came in at around ISO 400.
In order to avoid unwanted grain in your clip ensure that “Peripheral Illum Correction” is turned off on your camera. This is found at the bottom of the first menu selection and will help keep any unwanted grain in your picture.
I shot this clip entirely on a 35mm at around f1.4 – f2 as my intention was to focus on details such as the surfboard bag, hands, car windows – things that I can test for detail and noise during the post production process.
When shooting Canon Log for the first time you cant help but notice how flat and “grey” the image looks. While shooting and looking at the back of the camera it took some adjusting not previewing the same crunchy contrast and even skin tones that I am so used to with the Canon cameras.
A way around this is to turn on the built in Canon LUT ( “View Assist”) in the Canon Log menu, allowing you to shoot with the Canon monitoring LUT on display. While the LUT is only applied when shooting it allows you to see what the image will look like after colour grading is applied. This monitoring LUT does not affect the flat image you are shooting – it is just a preview assist. I found this to be a very help feature when trying to expose my image the way I wanted. I tend to shoot my image with a focus on dark shadows and soft highlights.
In post production I was worried how much grading the clip would require. I shot a few clips in the neutral picture style (none of these are used in the clip) and the rest in Canon Log to compare the final image. I was blown away by how far I could push Canon Log compared to the neutral picture style. There was noticeable detail in my highlights while also being able to push the shadow detail. Usually when shooting with the neutral picture style I have to compromise either my shadows or my highlights but with Canon Log I was able to save detail in both.
My grade is usually very heavy and dark – this is a stylistic preference and I know everyone treats their grade differently. In a run and gun styled shoot like this you don’t always have time to perfectly expose each shot – and so in post production Canon Log allowed me to make minor but critical adjustments to each shot. This is something I can see as being beneficial to a wedding shoot where I don’t always have time to check my exact exposure.
In general, log formats do require a lot more attention in post production and colour grading. If you are confident in your grading capabilities then this should not be a problem. If not – then I found that Canon’s neutral picture style with the saturation adjusted by minus 2 clicks may be a more user friendly option in order to gain a similar final look with less time colour grading. I understand this setting may not be for everyone but from a videographers point of view, – I am well impressed.
I was also able to rescue a lot more shots using Canon Log. Although there is some grain found in the final shots of the clip I am well impressed by the way the camera handled in low light. We were shooting well after the sun had set and it is only because of the shallow depth of field and high ISO settings that I was able to pull so much light from the sky (from the naked eye the sky was dark and the sun had set well before we got to the beach).
One point to note – it is important to shoot on a memory card faster than 95MB/s – I found that even my 90MB/s memory card would sometimes lag and put stress on the cameras buffer. This is not necessarily a Canon Log tip but just a 5d Mark IV safety guard – files and images can get quite big in size. I would recommend a lot faster than 95MB/s if you are shooting in 4k as the codec really does increase the file size.
I was pleasantly surprised by how clean the colours were. Canon Log allows you to keep those same much loved Canon colours and Canon skin tones while giving your more flexibility and more options when it comes to tonal range.
Overall I am stoked with the way the Canon Log setting performs on the Canon 5d Mark IV. It is user friendly and works well in run and gun situations, still has those greats Canon colours and gives the videographer much more dynamic range to play around with in post production.