I want to take a moment and talk about camera settings. Many shooters out there don't even realize there are different ways to setup their camera which is unfortunate because it can really make the difference between a good shot and an excellent one. To be honest with you, I was one of those shooters for awhile. I figured I'd be editing the photo (or video) after the fact anyway, so what's the point of worrying about settings? Ha! I was such a fool.
There's a few different schools of thought when it comes to camera settings. Some people like to get the RAW file looking as close to the final product as they can. Others prefer starting out with a flatter, more neutral RAW file so they can really push the editing in post. I'm one of the latter people. I think going for more neutral grading in camera gives me a little more security. It's easier to control the lighting situation indoors in a studio, but outdoors on location things get pretty unpredictable. Especially if it's a partly cloudy day or if I'm shooting in and around different structures. Setting the camera for neutral means I don't need to fret as much about blowing out my highlights or crushing my blacks. If I miss exposure, I'm more likely to be able to recover it than if I had pushed it from the get-go. Now, I'm referring specifically to stills but this very much applies to video as well. Probably even more so, actually.
With the Panasonic GH3 it's really easy to preset a few different looks to play around with (C1, C2, C3) but I find that I really don't switch it around much. I'm pretty happy with my default. First and foremost I drop the contrast to -2 in the custom settings menu. Next I drop the sharpness setting all the way down to -5. Saturation gets -2 as well. Finally, noise reduction goes to -5. Grain isn't necessarily a bad thing. I mean, it's what gives actual film stock its character and substance. Yes, digital noise from a DSLR or DSLM isn't the same as film grain, but I find with the GH3 it's beautiful nonetheless. Besides, Adobe Lightroom does an excellent job at noise reduction in post. I prefer to have the flexibility to choose.
So that's what I'm shooting with most of the time.
- Contrast -2
- Sharpness -5
- Saturation -2
- Noise Reduction -5
I still suggest everybody play around with their cameras and find what works best for them. There's no one right way to "art."
Here's a video I shot testing out the GH3. It plays through twice, first with the color grading I applied in Final Cut, then without the grading as it was straight from camera. I'd love to know which one you guys like better.