The Importance of Camera Testing

cinematography, color, chart, testing, Black Magic Design, Rokinon, LED, LUMU
This is the color chart we used for this test.
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Today we are going to discuss a recent camera test we conducted in our studio.  The purpose of the test was to explore the differences between under and over exposure on the Black Magic Cinema Camera.  Mastering your film and video tools is a vital part of the filmmaking process.

Why Test?

Testing is an important part of learning your craft.  Knowing how to get the best performance out of your film and video equipment is crucial to the final product

Tools

Let's start with the filmmaking tools we used create this test.  It includes:
  1. Black Magic Cinema Camera on a tripod.
  2. Rokinon Cine-DS 50mm T1.5 lens.
  3. A color chart - We used THIS one.
  4. LED Light Panel.
  5. LUMU light and color meter.
A shot of the back of the camera.

How We Did It

First we set up our camera to frame the chart out, like this.  We lit this with an LED light panel from over camera.  Be sure to put the light high enough that you don't get a refection on the chart.  This will distort the top of the chart and affect your test.  The light was dimmed to exactly f/2.8 on our LUMU Power light meter.  We also adjusted the color temperature to a 3210 with the LUMU and put the camera at 3200.

Next, we ran through a series of exposures from ev-4 to ev+1.  We controlled the exposure with the shutter angle of the camera instead of the aperture.  This left the only variable the time the sensor was open to receiving light.

For post-production, we selected the black and white points from the chart.  Check out this video to see the final results of the test.

Black Magic, cinematography, lighting, color, video, editing
The final results of the test.

Conclusion

Overall, we found that for this limited exposure test, the camera handled it pretty well.  There is a slight difference in the contrast of the underexposed images.  The really surprising take-away was the difference in the chomatic aberration of the lens between the ev-4 and the ev+1.  The slight over exposure reduces the aberration significantly.

This pretty much goes along with most digital filmmaking cameras.  The mantra of 'expose to the right' on the histogram is going to give you the most out of your sensor.   It's interesting to note that in this case it also gives you the best out out of the lens.

I hope you enjoyed this overview.  Let us know what testing you have done in the comments below!  Happy shooting!

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