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When is Over Exposure not Over Exposure?

alisterchapman
Top Contributor

I often hear the term Over Exposure used to describe shooting with S-Log3 (or S-Log2) exposed more brightly than perhaps what we would call normal. But is this really over exposure?

First of all - shooting with log and exposing more brightly isn't something that always must be done. It may often be beneficial as it is a way of reducing noise and increasing shadow range (at the expense of some of your highlight range), but it shouldn't be seen as something that is essential in every case. Sony's earlier S-Log cameras, the FS700, F5, F55, FS7 and FS5 had sensors that were much noisier than the sensors in the newer FX30, FX3, FX6, FX9 and Venice. These newer, lower noise sensors are capable of producing perfectly acceptable results without being exposed more brightly than the suggested base levels.

But, noise is a personal thing and how much noise one person deems acceptable may be different to what another might be happy with and some projects may need to have less noise than another. So exposing more brightly to reduce noise is still a useful tool for some projects, but it doesn't need to be the default way to shoot.

So, getting back to my original point: Exposing more brightly to get a better final image is not over exposure. It is in fact the "correct" exposure - it just happens to be brighter. Generally over exposure is something that most would consider undesirable, a mistake perhaps. When you look at conventional footage that has been over exposed it generally doesn't look as good as it should. With Log, if you have exposed it brighter deliberately to gain a better looking final image this shouldn't really be considered to be over exposed (the final image won't look over exposed), it is simply a deliberately brighter exposure, that's all. If something is exposed darkly to look great this isn't under exposure, it's simply a dark exposure. But, if you have exposed too bright and the image looks bad as a result then in this case, it is over exposure.

Why is this even important? Using the term "over exposure" to describe a sometimes beneficial shooting method is quite intimidating and a little confusing for those that don't understand the process. "If you over expose your footage it will look great" is a contradiction in terms, because in many peoples minds over exposure is a bad thing, so how can doing a bad thing make footage look great? But "if you expose more brightly your footage will look great" is a more easily believed and perhaps easier to understand concept. 


Alister Chapman
Cinematographer/Producer/Trainer
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