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Sven Luetzenkirchen

Rich blacks with no noise

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I will shoot a commercial in a cinema and the director wants it really, really low-key. A lot of black and only some bright dots in the backround. We will use the HDX900.


Before I do some testing, does anyone have some suggestions how to avoid grain/noise etc?





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Getting solid blacks isn't hard, it's the shadow region that carries the noise in HD.


Noise and gamma correction go hand-in-hand. HD cameras create their "filmlike" gamma curves by boosting the signal in the shadows and mids to flatten the transition to highlights, and this adds noise. If you want to retain the benefits of the filmlike gamma curves, the only thing left to do in camera is reduce the gain to -3db. Detail Coring can be used to control the amount of detail applied to noise in the picture, but it's relative to the master detail you're using -- in other words, if you have the detail turned "off" (or down very low), the Coring doesn't help you much.


Otherwise, try switching to SD or HD gamma and see if that reduces the noise in the shadows. Your contrast and highlight response will become much steeper though.

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You can also try lowering the Black Stretch, to push the shadows a little darker. But it's still the same tradeoff; less noise = more contrast.

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