cinematic photo style for the Panasonic Lumix GH4

Is the Cinematic Photo Style Revolution for the GH4 Already Here?

by Karin Gottschalk6 Comments

Danish moviemaker Michael Medgyesi has formulated a revolutionary cinematic photo style for the Panasonic Lumix GH4 and it is already making waves. The primary difference between his and other cinematic photo styles? It is based on Portrait.

The second? It results in far less time in post-production spent getting skin tones looking just right. I am excited, impressed and can’t wait to try it out for myself.

GH4 Optimal Film Setting – works in stills too

Via Michael Medgyesi's Vimeo:

This is – sort of – the documentation of my setting (the thumbnail is 6400 ASA).

Kindly see for the actual setting and reasoning: supertone.dk/#!GH4-Optimal-Film-Setting-works-in-stills-too/c24o4/8E18836A-F271-4A14-AF0D-C575B9D5F4B6

Do not be alarmed due to the lack of Panasonic lenses used for this test – I love all of mine (6). But the test is also a test of the amount of digital noise that the lenses leaves in the work flow, and I have used manual focus to eliminate the potential for mis-focuses in the different sequences. That is – if you view the full ASA range test here – try to imagine how difficult it would be to review the results if the focus point varies: vimeo.com/112699788

See full video description here.

Conventional photo style wisdom — “flat is everything”

Since Technicolor released its free CineStyle picture profile for the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and other Canon DSLRs, conventional wisdom has been that the flatter, the better.

The rationale was that flat picture styles equate to longer dynamic ranges than the camera’s default settings. To some degree that is correct. But there was a downside, that more time needed to be spent in post-production and that many moviemakers did not have the required color grading skills.

While flat picture styles benefited both ends of the dynamic range — high values and shadows — the upper middle part of the curve — skin tones — seemed to suffer.

So an aftermarket for free and commercial picture styles sprang up. A major selling point for many of them was how well they rendered skin tones. The list of alternative picture styles for Canon cameras and other DSLRs seems to grow each time I google for them. Today, for example, I came across Canon Video Camera X look, Cine Vision Plus, Cineplus, Film Picture Style by Ive Lotus, Marvels Cine Picture Style, Prolost, Similaar Flat, and several by Visioncolor.

There are more of them out there and some I don’t have direct links to are listed in these two articles:

When the Panasonic Lumix GH4 appeared it seemed that conventional wisdom prevailed and it came equipped with two log-like photo styles, Cinelike D and Cinelike V. Cine style mavens began modifying them, making them even flatter, reducing their saturation, modifying their noise reduction and changing their sharpness amongst other changes. A countermove appeared based on the Natural photo style. But skin tones seemed to suffer still and time spent in color grading continued to mount up.

But what about logarithmic?

Did the answer lie in a true logarithmic picture style instead? Perhaps. After all, many pro-level camcorders come with at least one logarithmic profile as does Sony’s A7s with its S-Log 2.

The excitement spread like wildfire when Matt Allard of News Shooter spotted a logarithmic photo style, V-Log, on a Japanese photographer’s GH4 at Inter BEE 2014. “This Log profile,” Allard wrote, “is similar to the one in the much more expensive Varicam 35.”

It would be, he continued, “a very welcome enhancement for anyone trying to get the best possible image from the GH4, and a huge advantage for colourists trying to match the GH4 with other cameras.”

V-Log and its Varicam color space counterpart V-Gamut failed to make the cut in January’s GH4 firmware update. Allard had been informed by Panasonic that they “were just testing it”. The GH4 he spotted at Inter BEE 2014 had been running beta firmware.

There is no guarantee that V-Log may ever make it to the GH4 though Panasonic is one camera maker more likely to listen to its customers needs and wants. The V-Log plus V-Gamut combination will be revolutionary if it finally arrives in a future firmware update. Even V-Log alone would be welcomed by many.

But it appears that another, quieter, photo style revolution has been bubbling up right under our noses.

A Danish moviemaker came up with a revolutionary photo style for the Lumix GH4. We’re excited! Click To Tweet

 

A GH4 photo style revolution from Denmark

I first got wind of this other revolution from comments under a recent Shane Hurlburt GH4 lens lens test – B&H Review: Micro Four Thirds Lenses that add Cinematic Imagery to your GH4. Astromann’s comment linked to a page on a Danish moviemaker’s website, titled GH4 Optimal Film Setting – works in stills too. The name of the moviemaker is Michael Medgyesi.

There is plenty to read and digest, then try, in that page and the Vimeo page linked via the movie at the top. This reply by Mr Medgyesi to a Vimeo user impressed me:

My setting is already pretty much at the primary grading stage, so go for LUTs that are “looks” as opposed to the LUTs that you need to salvage the flat idea. As the setting is almost “printable”, you save a lot of time grading, and a lot of time rendering, because the filters need are much easier to use, and much “lighter” to render.

The essence of Mr Medgyesi's approach lies in basing it on the GH4’s Portrait photo style, one that many other users seem to have skipped over. In reply to another Vimeo comment, he said that “Portrait was the best suited, having the brightest mid tones.”

“All the other Film Types had some flaw or the other compared to Portrait,” he concluded. Basing a cinematic photo style on the GH4’s Portrait photo style makes a great deal of sense given that most moviemakers using the GH4 will feature people and thus skin tone in their movies.

There is more discussion about Mr Medgyesi’s revolutionary discovery at dvxuser in this thread. GH4 owners trying his settings are modifying some of them to taste and circumstance.

Such personalizations are perfectly appropriate. Mr Medgyesi has explained that his own variant is based on the fact that he owns and loves Russian-made and vintage German lenses with what he describes as 1940s movie looks in their optical renditions — a Zenit Helios 44-2 58mm f/2.0, a Jupiter-8 50mm f/2.0 and an Ernst Leitz Elmar 90mm f/4.0 lens from 1956. More contemporary, sharper lenses may demand small modifications.

 

Mr Medgyesi also writes about the need for his variation to account for the nature of Scandinavian skin:

When set to zero – we turn pink, whilst Asians turn “white”, so we have to turn down the pink in order to remain “neutral” – leaving Asians “yellow”. It is a conflict between “reality and “fashion”.

I have barely put Mr Medgyesi’s revolutionary GH4 photo style settings to the test yet but I am raring to go as soon as I am out in the cold, grey streets of Sydney in this rather winter-like summer. I can barely wait.

The positive comments by other users who tried the same settings as Mr Medgyesi or have varied them slightly have me very excited indeed. Like others I have come up against the limitations of conventional flat profile wisdom. I urge you to watch, read and try them out so you can see for yourself.

Meanwhile here is a simplified recipe for what Mr Medgyesi seems to have simply named his “Film Setting”:

  • Photo Style = Portrait
  • Contrast = +3
  • Sharpness = +1
  • Noise Reduction = 0
  • Saturation = -5
  • Hue = -2
  • Highlight/Shadow = -5/0
  • I.Dynamic = 0
  • I.Resolution = 0
  • Master Pedestal = 0
  • Luminescence Level = 0

Optional modifications you may wish to consider include changing the Hue back to 0 if your subjects are not Scandinavian and setting Sharpness at 0 if using contemporary lenses.

Best of luck and happy shooting!

(cover photo credit: snap from the video)


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Comments

  1. Stephen Knifton

    this puts this camera right over the top. i’ve owned one for about a year; sold every scrap of canon gear and move over, and never regretted a thing. my clients love it, i love it … and this looks like it’s going to push it into the next realm.

  2. steenknarberg

    Hi all
    This is not to be negative or criticise my Danish colleague, (I am also Danish) but the indie film businnes is just so funny.
    Every time a new lut, setting or specific way of using a piece of equipment everybody goes wow and for the next three months you see a lot of footage shot like that and then we’re on to the next style.
    Hey fellow DP’s, remember, we’re here to explore new artistic ways of expression in images, colors, moods, music etc. etc, not to copy each other.
    Of course it’s OK to learn and get inspired by others, but why not experiment more on your own, develop new styles, gradings. After all, that’s what made all the big DP’s.
    I may paint it a bit roughly, but I think there is something to think about.
    Steen

  3. Timmerdude

    I did one production with this settings and I am very hapy with the results.
    The next production will be with the flas settings from Andrew Reid.
    After this I will compare.

  4. PascalGarnier

    Can we please stop with the “revolutionary” talk ?  Nothing groundbreaking about this picture style, and I find the results anything but wonderful or cinematic.  Plenty of shots that have a colour cast and look like they weren’t white balanced properly.

  5. blazer003

    I tried these settings on our action short and was very happy with the results.  Revolutionary?  No.  Nicely thought out and good looking striaght from the camera?  To my eye, yes.  It almost has a bleach bypass look out of the camera, but with all the detail still present.  I found that when I graded it, depending on the look I was going for, it was mostly just small tweaks instead of jacking in contrast and detail.  IMO, it’s a great look to get straight from the camera, and I’ve saved it as a preset. Cine D and V will have their uses, but I really have to say I do like the look of this setting.

  6. jlippencott

    steenknarberg 
    A lot of us who aren’t experts or who don’t understand the “science” behind these settings sometimes need those who are to give us examples or starting points along with explanations in order for us to learn more about the mysteries of this technology. I have been using Cine-D, which was supposed to be a panacea according to nearly everyone, but wasn’t getting great results. Some of have no idea how the settings affect the results, interact with each other or work with correction and grading, so we need to learn, too. I have been searching the forums for information that everyone can understand, but only find conversations between people who have been in the business for years, or others that that are completely clueless. I would like to see someone publish a guide to those of us that need more detail with simple explanations for this craft. Where else can I look?

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