This week we decided to upgrade our in house GH5 up to V-LOG L and having shot a few bits and pieces with it, we are really impressed! But what is LOG and why do we love it so much?
What is LOG?
If you're unsure, LOG is a color profile that for a long while was dedicated to the very high end of the digital cinema camera market. But today it is much more accessible through the means of Sony's S-LOG profiles and Panasonic's V-LOG L.
LOG essentially opens up your cameras dynamic range by recording a very flat image which basically retains all of your cameras shadow details and gives you much more room to grade your footage when editing.
Some similar footage comparing GH5 VLOG to LOG C from ARRI ALEXA footage.
From left to right:
LOG C ProRes 4:4:4 2K - ARRI ALEXA
VLOG L 4:2:2 10bit 4K - Lumix GH5
Custom CINE-D 4:2:2 10bit 4K - Lumix GH5
RAW vs LOG
RAW and LOG are two very different things that I often see people get confused between. RAW is a format in recording where the footage is completely uncompressed and physically changes the way in which your camera records. LOG on the other hand is just a color profile within the camera which just changes the color and tone of the recording (in very basic terms). Shooting in LOG will allow for more shadow and highlight depth when editing but RAW allows for much more changes in regards to the color correction of your image. For example, if you set you white balance wrong in camera, RAW will give you more leeway to correct it afterwards.
The before and after of a recent shoot we did using VLOG L for the first time
VLOG L 4:2:0 8bit 1080p 180fps VFR - Lumix GH5
Pro's and Cons
There are several reasons for and against using LOG. In my opinion, the positives do out weigh the negatives as they offer more in the overall final image.
First of all it allows you to grade to the best of your cameras abilities. With our GH5, we can have 12 stops of dynamic range as apposed to the standard 10 usable stops it has as standard.
The biggest downfall to using LOG is the time it takes to process it in post production. As you can see from the stills, the raw image from the camera is not in a presentable state and therefore needs a great amount of color grading. But once it has been graded, the final output is incredible.
If you're a person who prides themselves on quick turn arounds with minimal post production in their work, then LOG isn't for you. But if you can really sit down, learn how to expose it to the correct settings and color grade it to its maximum potential, then I would hands down recommend investing in LOG for your GH5 too. We previously used a custom CINE-D profile that gave us a flatter image than what is standard, but it doesn't come close to using the V-LOG L profile.
Below is an example of the differences between V-LOG and and a custom profile. Between them you can see that V-LOG is the least contrasty image and holds the shadows very well against the highlights.
The second image is the exact same settings but switched to our custom CINE-D profile in camera and you can see that the image is completely blown out in the brighter areas.
Finally, the custom CINE-D profile but adjusted to the correct exposure. You can see that this has much more contrast compared to the shot with V-LOG. This means that when it comes to balancing the footage when color grading, V-LOG will have a lot more shadow detail and give us a greater range when trying to retain this.
Comparison of footage from the Lumix GH5
From left to right:
VLOG L 4:2:2 10bit 4K - Lumix GH5 - ISO 800, 180 Shutter, F/8
Custom CINE-D 4:2:2 10bit 4K - Lumix GH5- ISO 800, 180 Shutter, F/8
Custom CINE-D 4:2:2 10bit 4K - Lumix GH5- ISO 200, 180 Shutter, F/8
So in short, if you want the most cinematic images that give you the most freedom to freely grade your images, LOG is 100% worth the upgrade.
Here's a quick video that i shot to show VLOG L straight out of camera and then color graded.