Sony a6400

Discussion in 'DSLR Video Discussion' started by VidThreeNorth, Oct 17, 2020.

  1. VidThreeNorth

    VidThreeNorth No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Oct 21, 2016
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    Sony a6400, Firmware version 2.00 w/SELP1650 Lens
    [2020-11-08 23:08 added above subtitle.]

    In the early part of the year I decided that for video, I would buy a Panasonic G95 and a Sony a6400, and a couple of expensive lenses. The was going to be the core, around which I would add accessories like a good tripod and microphone, and other accessories. Not much went as planned. I got the G85 instead of the G95, and a couple of good mics and a good tripod with a powered pan and tilt head, and that was good.

    Then things went badly wrong with a particular store, which failed to honor a sale price. Months after I was supposed to have my a6400, I still had all the my money -- I was not ripped off in that sense, but the opportunity to get a good price (the Sony Spring sale) was over. The situation put me in a generally bad mood, and I looked around for alternatives. A good price on the Sony FDR-AX53 camcorder came up and I settled on buying that instead. It was a major change in plans. I still set aside money for a good lens or two for the G85, but I was re-thinking my kit.
    [2020-10-17 18:16 slight re-write.]

    The AX53 camcorder is weak on the wide-angle end. I was already "adequately" covered on the wide angle end, with the Panasonic 12-60mm 3.5-5.6 kit lens effectively covering down to a full-frame camera 24mm equivalent view. I also had my 8mm SLR Magic lens that, actually, for video really does work well enough within its limits (essentially limited to F8.0 and optically "ok" but not great). I could still get something nice to improve that coverage.

    Then the "semi-unexpected" happened. I found an a6400 at a slightly better price than the Spring Sony sale. It was the camera I had planned, and the better price was nice, but despite its advantages -- even over my current setup with the G85 and the AX53, I simply did not really need it now. The main advantage now is the better auto-focus system. Beyond that, it has better stills resolution, better dynamic range, the flip up screen, better mic placement, weather resistance (not generally as good as the G85, but definitely better than the AX53) and the Sony "Picture Profiles", including Log gammas. But none of that is really critical. And buying it meant using up the money I had left for the better lenses and further accessories for this year.

    So I was not enthusiastic about buying the a6400 at this point. But thinking about it, I could see that someday later, I would might find its advantages useful. And now, with less chances to work on my preferred projects, I have time to start learning how to use the "Picture Profiles" -- which is not going to be an easy topic for me.

    That is what I have done. For now, I am still busy learning to use the AX53 and the G85 for video, so I have decided to use the a6400 mainly as a stills camera. As such, I will not be posting much about my (almost non-existent) experiences using it for video. Occasionally, I might have something to post here. But if there are questions about this camera, I might have a better chance of answering than otherwise.

    What a strange year. . . .

    Last edited: Nov 9, 2020
  2. VidThreeNorth

    VidThreeNorth No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Oct 21, 2016
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    As a "studio camera", whether for stills or for video, the flip-up screen can be handy for a quick setup. I have a small HDMI screen which I can use, but, for a horizontal layout, the a6400 screen will often be enough. It also allows me to avoid plugging a cable into the easy-to-damage "micro-HDMI" port.
    [2020-10-17 18:12 clarification.]

    Here I've pictured a fake setup where a front facing display can help. Setting up lighting around a small table display can be done more quickly when one does not have to walk back behind a camera to see what has been done.

    Picture taken on my GF3 with a quick process in Corel Paintshop Pro.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Oct 17, 2020
  3. VidThreeNorth

    VidThreeNorth No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Oct 21, 2016
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    a6400, Picture Profiles, SLOG2, Stills

    I have been keeping an eye on LOG profile issues for quite a while now. I was not trying to learn it all. Since I did not have a camera using any particular Log profile (unless you count Panasonic CineLikeD as a Log). But I was fairly sure I understood the issues and particularly, what was causing them and generally, what to do about them. I felt that the bulk of the problem was coming from the fact that people were trying to stretch 8-bit colour too much.

    So a while back I made the general comment that if you are starting with an 8-bit camera file and aiming at an 8-bit distribution file, then you should try to come reasonably close to your final "look" while you are recording (my wording is probably not exact).

    There have been a few attempts to correct the issues with varying results. I will post one right now, and eventually another that I expect will probably work. There may be more, but I am not really that interested in continuing on researching this. Simply put, I will only look further until I find a couple of solutions that work well enough for me.

    The following video by "DSLR Video Shooter" (Caleb Pike) is one that explains the problems and proposes changes that I expect will work well enough. However, I probably will not end up using it unless or until I start using something other than Pinnacle for processing. Actually, I expect to start using DaVinci Resolve eventually. The problem with Pinnacle is that the interface for these corrections does not correspond with the controls in other programs -- even with Corel Paintshop Pro, and the analytical tools I need are also not present. So although I can come close to a target "look", it is difficult to get exactly what I want.

    "Why Sony Video Color SUCKS and How to FIX IT!",
    Posted Sep 15, 2020 by "DSLR Video Shooter", [Length 7:15]

    But I have set up my a6400 the way that is recommended and will be evaluating it, at least for now, by using it for stills.

    The method I am using to evaluate it is to re-define PP10 as recommended in the video, and then apply it to still pictures, and save both JPEG and raw versions of the stills. Then I can process the raw version in Paintshop Pro (or any other still processor) to create a "target" image, and then reprocess the camera's JPEG and see if I can come close to the target, or maybe even produce a picture that I prefer over the "target".

    I am uploading a pair of files as an example of this.

    "V3N00078 -1b-rsz1080-C4.jpg"
    - this version was created directly from the raw file, mainly based on Corel PaintShop Pro "Smart Photo Fix" recommendations

    - this version was created by the camera using the custom "Picture Profile" described by "DSLR Video Shooter" in the above video.

    So I will be trying to adjust the version created by the custom picture profile to either look like the version I created from the raw version, or perhaps even better.

    [2020-11-07 19:21]
    I have added another pair of files showing a processed raw and the PP version, this is just to add a little variety.

    - the processed raw, adjusted to my taste.

    - the modified S-Log2 version created by the camera.

    [2020-11-17 16:25 Uploaded "V3N00044-slog2-GIMP-Histgrm.jpg"
    The histogram shows a lot of extra room at either end despite having a very high dynamic range with the bright clouds in the sky and dark shadows down around the river bank.]

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    Last edited: Nov 17, 2020 at 3:32 PM
  4. VidThreeNorth

    VidThreeNorth No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Oct 21, 2016
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    I researched the basics of the Picture Profiles and I have Sony's official general descriptions of the intentions of each profile. In order to better understand them, I decided to list out the options for a Picture Profile and the two main parameters in the default settings:

    Default Picture Profile List:

    --Black Level 0
    --Gamma Movie
    --Black Gamma
    ----Range Middle
    ----Level 0
    ----Mode Auto
    ----Auto Set
    ------Max Point 100%
    ------Sensitivity Mid
    ----Manual Set
    ------Point 95%
    ------Slope 0
    --Color Mode Movie
    --Saturation 0
    --Color Phase 0
    --Color Depth
    ----R 0
    ----G 0
    ----B 0
    ----C 0
    ----M 0
    ----Y 0
    ----Level 0
    ------Mode Auto
    ------V/H Balance 0
    ------B/W Balance Type3
    ------Limit 7
    ------Crispening 0
    ------Hi-Light Detail 0
    --Copy [PP2 etc]

    [2020-11-07 01:26 Re-done: the forum text editor removed my formatting spaces, so I replaced them with dashes]
    [2020-11-08 23:03 Corrections: I missed some data in the original post. Now it is complete.]

    [NOTE: Because of the number of parameters possible I decided not to record them all for each Picture Profile. Instead, I have removed everything except the "Gamma" and the "Color Mode" for the other Picture Profiles in this list. The parameters are there, I am just leaving them out for now. If you change them in a particular "PP", then to get the defaults back, just select the "Reset" for that PP. Right now, I am now sure whether the "Copy" option is to "Copy to" or "Copy from". Eventually I will have to test it and see.]

    Gamma Still
    Color Mode Still

    Gamma ITU709
    Color Mode Pro

    Gamma ITU709
    Color Mode ITU709 Matrix

    Gamma Cine1
    Color Mode Cinema

    Gamma Cine2
    Color Mode Cinema

    Gamma S-Log2
    Color Mode S-Gamut

    Gamma S-Log3
    Color Mode S-Gamut3.Cine

    Gamma S-Log3
    Color Mode S-Gamut3

    Gamma HLG2
    Color Mode BT.2020

    Sony's General Descriptions for the Default PP's (what they intended)

    "Picture Profile presets

    Example setting using the [Movie] gamma
    (Standard setting for movies when not using Picture Profile)

    PP2 Example setting using the [Still] gamma
    (Standard setting for still images when not using Picture Profile)

    PP3 Example setting for natural color tone using the [ITU709] gamma
    PP4 Example setting for a color tone faithful to the ITU709 standard
    PP5 Example setting using the [Cine1] gamma
    PP6 Example setting using the [Cine2] gamma
    PP7 Recommended setting for shooting with the [S-Log2] gamma.
    This preset is a combination of the [S-Log2] gamma and the [S-Gamut] color mode.

    PP8 Recommended setting for shooting with the [S-Log3] gamma and the [S-Gamut3.Cine] color mode.
    This preset is a combination of those two configurations.

    PP9 Recommended setting for shooting with the [S-Log3] gamma and the [S-Gamut3] color mode.
    This preset is a combination of those two configurations.

    PP10 Example setting using the [HLG2] gamma and the [BT.2020] color mode
    • When you shoot images using S-Log gamma, select among the PP7, PP8, and PP9 presets for shooting. "
    [2020-1107 15:11]

    The following are lists of all the "Gamma" and "Color Mode" options for the Picture Profiles in the a6400. Apparently the PP options might be a bit different from camera to camera, and maybe from firmware version to firmware version. For example, I have heard of "S-Log" and "S-Log1" Gammas which were available on at least one other camera in the past. Neither is on the Sony a6400 version 2.0.

    Gamma: (14 options)
    Movie, Still, Cine1, Cine2, Cine3, Cine4,
    ITU709, ITU709(800%), S-Log2, S-Log3,
    HLG, HLG1, HLG2, HLG3

    Color Mode: (11 options)
    Movie, Still, Cinema, Pro, ITU709 Matrix,
    Black & White, S-Gamut, S-Gamut3.Cine,
    S-Gamut3, BT.2020, 709
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2020
  5. VidThreeNorth

    VidThreeNorth No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Oct 21, 2016
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    More About the Picture Profiles:

    There is more information about the Picture Profiles online. I think that a good place to start is:

    "Setting basic contrast/coloring (Gamma/Color Mode)"
    "| Help Guide for Creators | Setting basic contrast/coloring (Gamma/Color Mode)"

    As I wrote above, there is too much for me to look into in detail. As I have mentioned before, I do not intend to study PP's in depth. Instead, I intend to find a couple of settings I like and get to know them as best as I can, and probably limit myself to using that much.

    The second setting that I will be looking at is in "The Hybrid Shooter"'s review of the a6400.

    "Sony A6400 Review + Thoughts about Sony A6600",
    Posted Sep 12, 2019 by "The Hybrid Shooter", [Length 15:57]

    At ~07:00 he mentions his custom version of PP8 (Gamma changed to Cine4). I have a feeling that this might turn out to be my "general use" setting. If this is what he was referring to in his G85 review, then it should suit me well. I have been using his "modified Natural" setting in my G85 and it has worked well on that camera, and he describes that setting as an attempt to come close to the setting he uses in the a6400. This seems to be the setting he was referring to in that video.
  6. VidThreeNorth

    VidThreeNorth No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Oct 21, 2016
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    My Current Picture Profile Settings on my A6400

    For now, I have reset all the Profiles and then changed PP7 to the "DSLR Video Shooter" S-Log2 w/ITU709 Matrix, and PP8 to "Hybrid Shooter's" Cine4 w/S-Gamut3.Cine. I am planning to use "PP9" in the future to test other new combinations that might be useful.

    "PP10", for now is being left standard (HLG2 w/BT.2020), though in the future, I might change it to another HLG combination. I think it might be a good idea for me to record some clips in a setting that can, at least theoretically be for newer HDR TVs fairly directly. I do not have such a TV right now, so this is another idea I might abandon fairly soon.

    About This Set of Tests:

    This set of tests was done primarily to evaluate the two custom settings I am using for my PP7 and PP8 (see the above note about "My Current Picture Profile Settings . . ."). Beyond that, it is the first time I am looking at an HLG setting (PP10) which is intended for fairly direct viewing on a High Dynamic Range TV. All the files in this set are EV = 0.0.

    About the Uploaded Frame Samples:

    I recorded the "control" clips in Full HD, but all the a6400 clips were UHD @ 60 mbps. As I write this, I plan to upload versions of the frame captures all in 1920 x 1080, since I was concerned with the gammas and the colours, which will not be affected by the reductions. In retrospect though, after months of uploading sample captures from many cameras, I wish I had uploaded more "full resolution detail crops". While I don't want to comment on general image quality which is generally more dependent on particular lenses, noise levels are important, and in this case, particularly relevant when deciding on usability of the lower contrast modes. Researching experiences using S-Log2 in particular, just about everyone comments on bad shadow noise performance, and most recommend "exposing to the right", often to an extreme level. Pictures I have taken, and these sample frames, definitely confirm that the noise level is an important consideration. If I only upload reduced samples, you will not have the opportunity of seeing how bad the noise actually is, unless you do some further research on your own.


    - from Sony a5000, Natural, EV=0, no modifications

    The "Control" for this test was my Sony a5000 using its "Natural" picture mode with no changes. As I recorded this, the zebra (set to 100%) was showing, so I followed it up with another at EV = -1.

    I also recorded a second clip at EV= -1.0 but looking at the numbers for this clip, it does not look like I will need the second clip. There is no clipping at either end of the gamma here.

    "black" Luma: 68.5
    "black + 1" Luma: 91.7
    "black + 2" Luma: 135.0
    "white - 2" Luma: 178.4
    "white - 1" Luma: 214.9
    "white" Luma: 242.4

    Contrast = 214.9 - 91.7 = 123.2


    This baseline setting PP=Off with EV = 0.0 is Sony's version of "rec709". The "white" chip was completely clipped with every pixel I measured at 255 for all colours.

    "black" Luma: 85.9
    "black + 1" Luma: 107.7
    "black + 2" Luma: 150.9
    "white - 2" Luma: 201.1
    "white - 1" Luma: 245.9
    "white" Luma: 255.0 (Clipped)

    Contrast = 245.9 - 107.7 = 138.2


    This is my modified PP7 using S-Log2 with ITU709 Matrix as recommended by "DSLR Video Shooter".

    "black" Luma: 64.1
    "black + 1" Luma: 73.9
    "black + 2" Luma: 92.4
    "white - 2" Luma: 110.8
    "white - 1" Luma: 128.0
    "white" Luma: 144.6

    Contrast = 128.0 - 73.9 = 54.1


    - Cine4, S-Gamut3.Cine, EV = 0.0

    This setting is almost noise free from "white" down to "white - 1", and then noisy, but still not visibly, to "black + 2", and then moderately noisy down to "black". Unfortunately, I don't know of any standard that can be used to quantify this opinion -- at least not yet. If I find one, then I might have to re-evaluate this comment. The bottom line is that it looks more generally usable than S-Log2, both from the generally low noise level and because it should handle colour corrections.

    "black" Luma: 84.4
    "black + 1" Luma: 106.5
    "black + 2" Luma: 142.3
    "white - 2" Luma: 181.9
    "white - 1" Luma: 206.9
    "white" Luma: 226.3

    Contrast = 206.9 - 106.5 = 100.4


    HLG2 w/BT.2020. The HLG settings are intended for fairly direct display on HDR TV's. I do not have such a TV, so I cannot judge how well that works. But as a general colour mode, subject to post production, it does look fairly usable.

    "black" Luma: 70.6
    "black + 1" Luma: 85.6
    "black + 2" Luma: 114.7
    "white - 2" Luma: 145.3
    "white - 1" Luma: 170.9
    "white" Luma: 192.6

    Contrast = 170.9 - 85.6 = 85.3


    This graph is based on the data currently completed. EV = 0.0 for all the tests so far. It was interesting to see that the only set of data that "clipped" was the "PP1"/PP="Off" default "Movie" setting. The default "Natural" setting for the a5000 which was the Control had enough dynamic range to cover it.

    Looking at this much, I think that the "modified PP8" using Cine4 and S-Gamut3.Cine certainly does look adequate for general use. However, PP10 "HLG2 and BT.2020" does not look bad either, though I would probably replace "BT.2020" with "ITU709 Matrix" if that is possible.

    Regarding the "modified PP7" using S-Log2 with ITU709 Matrix, looking at how low it is on the graph, clearly there is a lot of room for raising the exposure. The captured frame was certainly noisy. The general advice I have heard for dealing with the noise is to "expose it to the right". Some people are using it by setting the zebra at 95% and then adjusting exposure to just below the point where the zebras appear. I ran into a suggestion to over expose by about 2 stops. It looks like either will work.

    [2020-11-18 14:34]
    I apologize for my clumsiness. There is a small error in the above graph. The "PP1" end point at the "white" was put at 250 instead of at 255, which is clipped. But I used a broken line to indicate that it was not a trustworthy data-point anyway. I have always done that when the values were clipped. I am not planning on posting a corrected graph because there is no practical effect and so it is not worth the effort. Just ignore the broken line section.

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    Last edited: Nov 18, 2020 at 1:43 PM

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