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Expert
Posts: 90
Registered: ‎03-16-2013
Message 1 of 90 (8,479 Views)

The NEW SONY FS5 NOISE ISSUES ON LOW LIGHT IMAGES

Well we just tested the new SONY FS5 and compared to the SONY F55. What we came up with was that the FS5 seems quite noisy at 3200 ISO and even at 1600? Any one else concur?

Expert
Posts: 1,607
Registered: ‎11-19-2012
Message 2 of 90 (8,297 Views)

Re: The NEW SONY FS5 NOISE ISSUES ON LOW LIGHT IMAGES

slog, cinegamma, etc??  

 

 

Expert
Posts: 228
Registered: ‎12-18-2012
Message 3 of 90 (8,190 Views)

Re: The NEW SONY FS5 NOISE ISSUES ON LOW LIGHT IMAGES

I found the camera to be generally noisy overall.  Even in broad daylight at a skate park, there was significant noise and compression blocking in dark clothing that the subject was wearing.  This was in both slog 3 and standard gamma.  I find that with the Sony cams in Slog 3, my F55 included, the image is often slightly comprimised in darker areas. So if you want to have shadows and darker tones in the frame that are slightly lifted then you will see these issues.

If you want, say, your subject's face lit to correct levels so to speak and then want a dark and moody background then these noise and compression artifacts are going to be there.  I find shooting in slog 2 to be preferable to my style.  The advice to over expose by +1 or even +2 I find works really well on a landcsape or wide scene that doesn't have a lot of range required.  But if you want a broad range and actually want to have dark areas in your frame then this technique doesnt always work as it can blow your highlights and drag the shadows up and sometimes push the skin tones into the more highly compressed range and muddy them up.  It can be a challenge when you want to preserve contrast amd not actually blast light into all corners of the scene to avoide noise.

 

I find that when pixel peeping the images on a paused frame in an NLE it looks quite noticeable, but when played in realtime through an external broadcast monitor I find a lot of things I thought were bigger issues can often smooth out and just look like inherent film grain.

 

Having said that, when it comes to the internal codec of the FS5 I think it's just too ambitious to cram 14 stops of range, Slog 3, 3200 native ISO and 4K resolution into an 8 Bit 4.2.0 long gop low bitrate codec. Something's gotta give!

Enthusiast
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎12-19-2015
Message 4 of 90 (8,083 Views)

Re: The NEW SONY FS5 NOISE ISSUES ON LOW LIGHT IMAGES

I second everything you said. But it's not only noise, there are also blocking artefacts in the dark areas of the image. Have a look at this comparison, sums it up pretty well: https://vimeo.com/149383051

At the moment I'm pretty disappointed with the internal recordings of the FS5. Would be great to see an improvement with firmware updates.
Expert
Posts: 226
Registered: ‎03-27-2013
Message 5 of 90 (7,898 Views)

Re: The NEW SONY FS5 NOISE ISSUES ON LOW LIGHT IMAGES

[ Edited ]

>>If you want, say, your subject's face lit to correct levels so to speak and then want a dark and moody background then these noise and compression artifacts are going to be there...if you want a broad range and actually want to have dark areas in your frame then this technique doesnt always work as it can blow your highlights and drag the shadows up and sometimes push the skin tones into the more highly compressed range and muddy them up.  It can be a challenge when you want to preserve contrast amd not actually blast light into all corners of the scene to avoide noise.<<

 

100% agree MJ.  And I get your point about maintaining mood.  Uncontrolled situations (run & gun or verite work) present serious challenges for controlling noise in low mids or shadow details with Slog-3.  Sometimes it seems like you're left with no choice but to crush it. And I'm speaking about the F55.  My experience is to expose properly at around 800 iso or suffer the consequences.

 

Sometimes it's hard to beleve that this could be the same camera I'd shoot in Slog2 with middle gray around 33% and white at 59 while rating at 1250.

 

-Eric

Expert
Posts: 2,286
Registered: ‎11-23-2012
Message 6 of 90 (7,864 Views)

Re: The NEW SONY FS5 NOISE ISSUES ON LOW LIGHT IMAGES

I think many people really need to re-visit their log post production workflow.

 

Above middle grey each stop is recorded with the same amount of data. So, over exposing skin tones by a stop or two will not significantly change the contrast or the amount of information in those skin tones/mid tones. It will bring up the shadows and that then allows you to extract more useable picture information from them. 

 

Yes, you do loose some highlight range by pushing up your exposure, but even the very brightest stops contain a ton of information that would not be there with a conventional gamma curve with a highlight roll-off or knee as log does not have any roll-off.

 

If you are finding significantly different end results between using S-log2 and S-log3 at the same exposure levels then your workflow is definately suspect as the differences between them are really quite minor. 

 

The macro blocking issues with the FS5 appears to primarily simply be down to people trying to pull information out of under exposed shadow areas. In 4K  the recordings are 8 bit and deep shadows + highly compressed 8 bit will mean compression artefacts. If you then start pulling up the shadows they will look poor, you can't extract something from nothing. I think people ignore the fact that log not only extends the recorded highlight range but also the shadow range, so you are "seeing" down, further into the cameras noise floor compared to standard gammas (that's why the ISO increases between standard gammas and log but the picture does not get any brighter, more shadow range + more noise). As there is going to be very little useable picture information down in these deep shadows, any attempt to pull the data up will reveal the limitations of the codec. The solution is to light properly and put some light into the deep shadows or expose 1 or 2 stops over.

 

Log is the absolute opposite of standard gamma. With standard gamma we are all taught to protect our highlights as over exposure results in a poor image due to large amounts of highlight compression. So we protect the highlights and if anything under expose as the limited shadows range generally just falls into place. Log is the opposite. There is no highlight roll-off, instead the shadows roll off as you are going down to a very extreme shadow range. With log the key to the best possible image is to protect the shadows by over exposing and ignor the highlights as even a small amount of clipping will not look bad. In addition log is just about the worst gamma you can use for low light.

Expert
Posts: 97
Registered: ‎11-01-2014
Message 7 of 90 (7,842 Views)

Re: The NEW SONY FS5 NOISE ISSUES ON LOW LIGHT IMAGES

Alister,

I appreciate the fact you are trying to help. I really, really do. But my test in particular was apples to apples factual proof that the Sony FS5 is a mess in the shadows compared to the FS7 and A7RII and so on. But let's put my test aside for a moment. After all, my face isn't on the FS5 brochure.

But ******'s is. You don't think he knows what he's doing? Sony hired him to do the launch video. He's had work featured by tons of heavy hitters and Sony hired him to show off the camera. I'm sure he had access to more Sony engineers than any of us could dream of. You don't think he knows how to expose for slog ?!

If HE thinks it's noisy, it is.

My much less experienced tests just proved them. I have not seen much FS5 footage not full of artifacts and noise, which GOES AWAY if you shoot externally. It's a flawed camera when shot internally. It has severe macro blocking and odd smearing digital artifacts on graduated contrast junctions. And it does this in the exact same conditions Sony's other cameras don't, and those aren't exactly the cleanest cameras in the world.

I kept the FS5 for what it is: a small b/c camera with a wonderful body to get shots where compromise is ok (doco, news) in order to get the shot. And knowing I can strap a recorder larger than the whole camera to mitigate those shortcomings in a more controlled shoot.

****** quite simply correct about this camera. It is what it is. And he would know better than anyone but Sony themselves. Because he was the first to work with them to show it off.
Enthusiast
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎12-19-2015
Message 8 of 90 (7,800 Views)

Re: The NEW SONY FS5 NOISE ISSUES ON LOW LIGHT IMAGES

I'm a frequent reader of your blog Alister, have worked with FS7 a lot, F5 quite a few times and shot even tons of SLOG2 footage on A7s. I'm pretty sure my SLOG workflow is fine and by now I now what I'm doing Smiley Happy (also thanks to your articles!)

 

But please have a look at AnticipateMedia's test footage, which really shows the problems with the FS5 codec. 

https://vimeo.com/149383051

 

And there are even artifacts which don't go away by bypassing the internal codec:

https://vimeo.com/149915169

 

So something's going on with the FS5, maybe the reduced processing power (compared to FS7) in combination with lower bitrate? 

 

I even got some severe artifacts in a product shot in 1080p, have to reproduce this to share it with you guys.

I'm not expecting a low light monster, but when the A7s with a 8bit codec and lower bitrate can produce images free (by visual comparison) of artifacts, a camera double the price should also be able to.

Expert
Posts: 97
Registered: ‎11-01-2014
Message 9 of 90 (7,732 Views)

Re: The NEW SONY FS5 NOISE ISSUES ON LOW LIGHT IMAGES

 I shot a ton with this camera today.  Let me say that It truly is a joy to use. That aside, I've noticed a couple of patterns. First of all, the Cine  profiles are broken. There's something wrong with the processing in the camera the causes these horrific digital macro blocks and streaks when used in that mode on any kind of soft contrast edge in motion. A very strong pass of neat video noise removal will help mitigate it to an extent but it still doesn't disappear. It's a truly nasty digital artifact that is clearly  some kind of huge bug that does not show up in the slog profiles. It also happens at 4K and 1080. 

 

 The second problem is more generic, but the camera is a noisy camera when  recorded internally.  I don't mean sensor noise either, I mean compression artifacts. There is macro blocking even in areas that are well exposed and well lit. I shot some scenes outside in full sunlight and any area that was a solid color or remotely shadowed shows all kinds of digital macro blocking and artifacts.    The artifacts are light if you don't pixel peep or grade, and they can be tuned out by adding some grain, or a lengthy noise reduction pass.  But they are absolutely there, and the only way to remove them entirely is to record externally with the recorder that is almost as big as the camera body itself.

 

 The real sad and head scratching part of this, is that the a A7 series does not have this problem. Even though in some cases these cameras are noisier, and have less dynamic range clearly than the FS 5/7 sensor, they show no signs of the horrible macro blocking and other digital type artifacts  at the exact same bit rate and color depth as the FS5.  Given that comparison, there was absolutely no reason then to call this what it is, flawed noisy processing that is only evident on this particular camera - the FS5. 

 

 The F5 and Fs7 are much cleaner,  and in many respects we should anticipate that because they have deeper color ranges and much more bits and data to work with.   However the A7xII series does not, and the compression on those cameras, even with more subjective noise, is much cleaner. It just looks like grain, and not all kinds of blocks of color dancing around like constellations in shadows and in areas of a single color. It just looks really bad. 

 

 This is not about learning how to expose, because all the other cameras are exposed the same way and they look much better. This is a fundamental flaw in a product.  combined with one nasty overt bug in CIne mode.  

 

I am frankly tiring of engineering laiden "you're not doing it right "  excuses that fly in the face of reality of the provable facts that some camera bodies from Sony process better than others. This is not a lack of expertise, this is not a reason to downgrade many professionals who have shot their whole lives and tell them they don't know what they're doing. It is not a reason to tell someone to light shadows, because shadows are dark for reason:  they are dark. The whole world isn't bathed in six stops of light and we should not have to light darkness  because of someone at Sony screwed up . It's contrary to the fact that it is darkness for crying out loud 

 

 Having shot or edited videos for nearly 30 years, I have enough experience to be able to hide these artifacts. I can add grain, I can devote an enormous amount of processing power at using a fantastic plug in like a neat video to reduce or eliminate all the artifacts without losing detail.  I can use an external recorder and a combination of some of these techniques to do the same.   But I shouldn't have to. My a 7rII which costs much less does a better job processing image than this camera which is not cheap.  This is a professional camera from Sony's professional group and it has artifacts that look worse than an iPhone. Should we not expect more from this company, then blaming its customers for doing it wrong?  It's obscene.

 

 Because I have the ability to work around these limitations, and the body is so incredibly wonderful to work with for run n gun, and I can effectively use the camera with an external recorder as a perfect B camera to my FS7 or an F5 in used in conjunction with the recorder, I am keeping the camera. It can produce some truly lovely images. But those images must be worked over  it can hard to get there, and it is the hubris of Sony's and engineers to release such a flawed a product that attends to some of the needs of camerapeople but not the needs of people that have to deal with the images in postproduction that makes me question what this company is doing. 

 

  Now don't get me wrong, I still have faith that they are listening to the voice of the customer. after all, they have steadily improved the FS7, and the latest firmware will make it nearly perfect one year later. The A RII also has been significantly improved to remove recording time limitations and to add uncompressed raw. The F5 and F55 have been continuously improved over the last few years.  There is no doubt that Sony is pushing far ahead of other competitors and getting the price down to make quality cinematic video more accessible for everyone at every level.  I have faith and confidence that Sony will listen and correct the flaws with this camera somehow.

 

But If they can't, or don't, the next round of camera purchases for me a few years from now will undoubtedly be Canon or Arri. Because, while much more expensive, you know what you're getting out of the box: excellence  without nonsense. That's why most Hollywood productions and TV shows shoot on Alexa, that's why so many organizations shoot on the C300. It just works. There remains much some to that. With the release of the FS5, I have both renewed confidence and faith, and also a growing sense of concern that Sony is on two divergent paths between functionality, and visual quality, that are growing further apart with the release of the FS5.  

 

 This is not about exposing properly. Period. 

Rookie
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎12-27-2015
Message 10 of 90 (7,625 Views)

Re: The NEW SONY FS5 NOISE ISSUES ON LOW LIGHT IMAGES

[ Edited ]

I had the FS5 for about two weeks. Then I found the time to properly test it. And I couldn't help that nagging feeling that my A7s that I sold to help finance this just looked better, with the exception of rolling shutter. I really wanted to love this camera. The size, weight and especially the ground breaking variable ND, really had me trying to find ways to justify keeping it. 

 

I performed a battery of ISO tests in Cine 1-4, Slog 2 and 3. The noise threshold was far lower than an FS7 and A7s. Then I attempted to shoot 120 fps and 240 fps night scene in 1080p 10 bit. Despite having enough light for a decent exposure high speed and black areas break the codec. Macro blocking and massive noise artifacts to the point it looked like bad super 8. This was not so much an issue in bright daytime shooting. But high con night scenes become unuseable, this camera really loses one of its key selling points. 

 

At the end of the day, needing a camera more for promo, narrative, interview, and B Roll, not news, I returned and bought an A7s II. The moment I put it on a big display, I breathed a sigh of relief.

Sony kills me with their segmented marking. BMC will stuff the best tech they have per given body type. 10 bit Pro Rez in a Pocket Cam. Surely Sony at perhaps hundreds of times the size of BMC's R & D dept could easily come out with a ground breaking camera with the egonomics of an FS5 and the ability to record in a real codec and do it well?

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