Monday Morning Maroubra

Posted by
 May 6, 2014

Last Monday morning, 6th May 2014, I heard a southerly swell was hitting the coast. So I took my camera gear down to Maroubra, with the aim to shoot some slow motion waves, fun and action happening out there. Yeah, why not, a Maroubra Surf Video.

I hope you enjoy the video. Here’s my notes on how the process went:

I have some new equipment I have not yet used specifically in this situation, so it was a bit of a task at putting my stuff through it’s paces:

  • Sony Fs-700R – Set to 200fps, S-log2 & 1/64ND
  • Odyssey 7Q mainly testing the RAW 200fps recording, also a bit of 4K2HD pro-res but not in this video (perhaps a secondary one for comparison)
  • Minolta 300mm f2.8 prime lens and 135 mm STF both with the LA-EA2 adapter (Standard APS-C)

Crazy bright morning sun!!! Wow so many challenges:

  • I also setup shooting surfers with lens facing the sun (This is where the best rides were happening). Well if I’m going to push the boundaries of what my setup is capable of this is it.
  • Firstly the dynamic range was off the chart, The reflections of light of the waves was impossible to expose for without blowing out the highlights and in 2K mode the high contrast purple fringing is unavoidable. Therefore getting a good exposure is very challenging as the lower exposure goes; the more noise creeps in, in the interesting parts. Interestingly enough, in the 4K resolution in the Odyssey 4K2HD mode none of this fringing is seen. It’s an artifact of the Sony implementation of their sensors 4K downscaling to 2K and below (bad job Sony).
  • It’s impossible to see the Odyssey7Q monitor screen in bright sunlight. I tried upping the screen brightness to 100%, but this just ended up making all my shots slightly under exposed while I could not see my waveform and image clearly. I pretty much relied on Zebras to check for highlight peaking. I should bring the camera loupe in future.
  • Decided to switch to s-log2 for max dynamic range, which is fine in RAW.
  • RAW is such a long post production workflow (huge files sizes to copy)

I later put a jumper over my head and the Odyssey 7Q and I was able to see clearly again but forgot that my O7Q brightness was at 100% (normally 50%) so all was still slightly exposed the the left. I pretty much looked just like this.

Old School

There is a school of thought for shooting RAW on the Sony FS-700 to ‘Expose To The Right’ (ETTR), then recover the highlights. I am not a fan of this and have read good reason and have experienced better results with ETTM Expose to the middle. Why ETTR is bad is because the highlights get heavily compressed in the highlight recovery area, and there’s so much lovely crashing white water to see. As a result, all of the white water in this video’s shots, are beautiful and clear, while the surfers/people and water are under-exposed and a bit noisy.

I used a little chrominance based noise reduction (Neat Video) while a little luminance noise reduction as I could set, to an ‘okay’ result, but I lost a tiny bit of the beautiful fine detail in the crashing white water, while keeping a film grain texture. I typically use more chrominance noise reduction with the FS-700, as that is what, in my opinion, is the ugly part of the noise. The luminance noise is fine and film like and still holds fine detail, which I like (compared to shooting in the old days on a GH2 which has horrible noise). I’m still working on the ideal Neat Video configuration for this.

Simple rule from now on – expose what is the most important visual part of the shot in the middle of the exposure range. And use the Odyssey false colour for checking noise and highlights.

Next time I will try and have the sun behind me, ETTM and go old school head cover. There is another big swell tomorrow!