Sony PXW-FS7 Gamma Settings and Color Grading

The creativity of Film production and video production shouldn’t be hindered by the confusion of settings on a complex camera.


I spent the last 8 days or so shooting with the Sony PXW-FS7 trying to find the best settings for gamma and ISO. This camera’s functionality goes so deep it could be a mystery to ever find the best of the best settings. But after this week I feel I’ve found a set of settings and some LUT plug-ins that I would be happy shooting with any day of the week.
There’s a lot of discussion whether Rec709 is the best setting or is S-Log3 or is Cine EI or one of the many other gamma settings. I’d like to simplify life a little bit, and share with you my discoveries.

Firstly, I only tested comparisons between Rec709, S-Log3, and Cine EI.

Rec709 while giving you an instant look, and looking not bad at all on the FS7 has a drawback. That drawback is losing dynamic range. We all know that shooting a flat Log gamma is the best method for retaining dynamic range. So unless I’m shooting something that I need to give the card to someone who doesn’t know how to grade, or expect to have to grade the footage, I won’t be shooting Rec709. In this video above you can see the results of overexposure in Rec709 verses the same shot in S-Log3.
There is a loss of highlight detail in Rec709 that is retained in S-Log3.

Many people may be used to editing and color grading in a NLE with their DSLR footage. While this may give some good results with DSLR’s I don’t believe it will work with an S-Log Gamma. There needs to be some other form of grading.
That’s where LUTs come into play. What is a LUT? Lut stands for “Look Up Table”. Basically Look up tables are calculations that know the origin camera’s footage data and how to get it to look like certain film developing methods.
In other words. There is a LUT that can convert a Canon 5diii footage to the look of Kodak 5213 film. If you’re a cinematographer, rather than a videographer, you’ll want a cinematic look to your footage. This can be obtained with a lot of hard   work with curves, and saturation and all forms of grading, or you can simply apply a LUT and start there.

What I came across was a set of LUTs from called ImpulZ Luts. They can be incorporated directly in Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro, Adobe After Effects, Davinci Resolve etc.
So for this week, until I find a shooting and editing method better than this, I will be shooting with the FS7 in S-Log3 Gamma and use LUTs to give my footage the initial pre-grade that I like.

So a breakdown of what I discovered.

1. Rec709 has a slight loss of dynamic range
2. S-Log3 gamma gives a great minimal-noise result with LUTs from
3. I lowered the R-Gain and B-Gain within the 5600k WB setting because my footage was looking purple.
4 Cine EI mode to me seemed very noisy even in light areas, and incurred a loss of detail.
5. 4k footage on the FS7 is incredibly sharp and detailed
6. 180fps with the XAVC-I codec is super high quality and can be upscaled to 4k to work within a 4k project and you won’t see macro blocking. (just don’t call it 4k footage if you do this)

My favorite LUTs thus far have been the Kodak 5213 and the Tetrachrome 400. I have to say I love the FS7 thus far.

One Response

  1. Nick Blair says:

    Thanks so much for taking the time to do this. It was very helpful and informative.
    Much appreciated. thanks Nick

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