Whether shooting a movie, capturing a worship service, or producing a live event such as a concert or sporting event, cinematographers are tasked with the challenge of delivering exceptional image quality in all aspects of filming to keep audiences engaged. To assist in the shooting process and to provide even more precise exposure control, Panasonic released a new exposure map tool “EL Zone” as part of its VariCam firmware version 9.0 update.
Cinematographer Ed Lachman created the new EL Zone exposure map tool, ASC, who is well known for his work on award-winning films including “Erin Brockovich,” “Far from Heaven” and “Carol.”
EL Zone Exposure Map Tool
This new system offers 15 delineated steps that helps map out the cameras full exposure range. “Unlike false color methods that have limited steps and are IRE % based, EL Zone is an intuitive stop-based system that relates one-to-one with lens F-Stops and light meters,” said Mike Bergeron, senior category owner, Production Solutions, Panasonic. “The tool is easy to use and the color codes are arranged to be easy to remember.”
In EL Zone, for example, 18% gray shows up as gray. Complete over exposure shows up as white (no detail remains) and full under exposure shows up as black (no detail remains). With the tool, setting skin tones for light or dark skin is in + – ½ to 1 Stop increments above and below 18% gray. And simply assigning EL Zone to a camera user button allows the exposure map tool to be turn on or off.
This advanced exposure tool is now available for the VariCam LT and VariCam 35 4K HDR cinema cameras. EL Zone can be used in the following color modes: V-Log, V-709 and V-Look1 and V-Look2 (V-Look 1 & 2 are available for the LT only). With the free upgrade, cinematographers will have more flexibility to correct problematic shots, match shots to others and achieve highly stylized or cinematic looks in post-production.
“VariCam users now have a powerful tool that shows them the precise exposure levels of different areas in their frame, allowing them to see exactly where under or overexposure is occurring. It’s like having a light meter in your VariCam that shows you readings in all areas of the frame mapped out on the image,” said Bergeron.
In addition to the EL Zone exposure map, other firmware updates include added anamorphic de-squeeze aspect ratios 1.8x and 1.5x and an in-camera custom aspect ratio frame marker generator that dials in just about any aspect ratio. In addition, the update improves the prefixed fixed frame markers making them easier to see.