Sony RX-100 video settings and workflow

I have an old  Canon camcorder (a *massive* 40GB hard disk, well it was in 2006!) that produces MTS files at 720×480 or 640×480 and it turns out iMovie processes these correctly.

Shooting video settings. On my 5D2, I put in a special cinestyle designed just for video. Rungunshoot.com and Bruno have similar suggestions. Here’s a quick compendium:

  1. Use the Movie Mode dial at the top to make sure you see the image in 16:9 (vs 3:2) used for stills. It also means you don’t have this huge change in brightness when you actually hit the dedicated record button. All the settings in Movie mode are separate from the still shooting modes (P, M, A, V) so confusingly when you go into movie mode, you can be in Movie-P, -A, -S or -M. Most pro’s like full manual when they are really shooting. For the true film look, on a 5D2 anyway, you set it to shutter priority at 1/40th (they actually talk about shutters the other way in film in terms of shutter angles).
  2. Put the camera into AVCHD 1080i60 mode at 24Mbps. There is some controversy here, but this is the highest bit rate (24Mbps) per frame and most folks think that what is really going on is that although it says 1080i60, it is actually capturing at 1080p30 and still half the lines in one interlace frame and half in the other. So that a good deinterlacer will actually find the 30 frames per second progressive without an issue. Folks think that the 1080p60 mode at 28Mbp introduces quite a few more artifacts as the camera has to deal with twice as much raw input.
  3. Choose portrait creative style. Professionals like a very linear input and then add saturation and so forth in post processing. This makes it easier for the camera to compress and reduceds artifacts. Set contrast, saturation, sharpness to -3 (the lowest possible). This means that you will need to process all your film through a color chain to get back to a decent color. As an aside in the 5D2, this is equivalent to loading a cinestyle and it also means you can’t just use iMovie for instance to stitch a bunch of stuff together as the colors will appear flat.
  4. Turn on DRO. This lifts up the shadows which is a good thing. It appears to work in video mode and they recommend setting it at DRO=2, although in the still testing, DRO Auto worked better.
  5. To get the best video effect, you want to shoot at 1/50 (the so called 360 degree shutter angle), so you get a nice non jittery effect although this will blur motion, it won’t make things look blocky.
  6. If you shoot black and white, then you want to set it to the Black and White creative style. It has obviously much less to compress and looks good.
  7. To get the video over to the Mac is a little complicated as iMovie doesn’t like either 1080p60 or 1080i60 so you can just plug the camera in and import. Bruno recommends 5DtoRGB which is open source ware which converts (originall y5D content) to the professional grade prores 422.
  8. As an aside, I found it very unintuitive how to get the actual video out of the camera. Turns out that for whatever reason, when you plug the camera in, it shows files just fine on the Mac for Jpeg and MP4, but for AVCHD, you get a single filed called Private at the root. You have to Show Package Contents and splunk down until you finally find a series of 000001.MTS which are the actual files. I’m sure there is a better way, but I’m still looking for it.
  9. Most folks seem to be using Final Cut Pro for their video editing. I’ve not tried that one, but on loading it, boy did it seem complicated!

Now in terms of actual usage, you have to change the default settings to make it work for cinema as rungunshoot.com says, even when you go to Movie mode

  • Turn the Top dial to Movie Mode (so all the settings are recorded just for movie mode)
  • Go to to Menu
  • Now in the Movie Menu.
    • Set File Format to AVCHD
    • Record Setting to 60i 24M (FX), this becomes 1920x1080p30 when it gets into your editing program. This results in many fewer compression artifacts than the 1080p60 at 28Mbps mode. It is the default unless you want slow motion when you should use 60p. This is another case where using the highest setting isn’t the right choice.
    • Steadyshot is set to active if you are handheld, otherwide, switch it to standard or off so you get a wider angle.
    • Movie: Aperture Priority
  • Setting Menu
    • Grid line: Rule of 3rds
    • Peaking Level: Mid
    • Peaking Color: Yellow
      • Function Button
      • Function 1: White Balance
      • Function 2: Focus Mode
      • Function 3: ISO
      • Fucntion 4: DRO/Auto HDR
      • Function 5: Creative Style
      • Function 6: Metering Mode
      • Function 7: Quality
  • Camera Menu:
    • Funcof Center Button: Standard
    • Func of Left Button: AF/MF Control Toggle
    • Func of Right Button: AEL Toggle
    • Press FN button
      • White Balance: Cloudy (gives a warmer and more film like quality on daytime scenes)
      • AF-C
      • ISO Auto
      • DRO Level 2
      • Portrait Mode, -2, -1, -3
      • Metering Mode: Center
      • Raw+JPEG
  • Turn the Control Ring to set aperture wide open at F/1.8
  • Save this seting my going to camera Menu 5
    • Select Memory and click to enter
    • Select Register 1 and high Center button to confirm

Here are some setting notes

Maximum ISO is about 1600. Noise-wise, the reports say from DxO that its low S/N rating is ISO 390 which implies that ISO 400 is about what is best for high speed low light. However Luminous Landscape reports that up to ISO 800 works fine with little or no noise reduction required from RAW. Dpreview.com has a funky way it tests this through ACR but with NR off. This shows a noise curve identical to a Canon 5D Mark II and similar to the Olympus OM-D EM-5. Now this isn’t normalized by sensor size, but they think that about ISO 1600 is usable. I haven’t shot enough to know, but that is quite good particularly when you use the wide angle at F/1.8.

Auto ISO set to 125 to 1600. Unfortunately, Auto ISO goes up to 3200, so you can get into a bad region. It isn’t obvious, but you can change the min and max ISO, by pressing the down button on the wheel when you choose Auto Iso from the FN button or if you get it at the menu go to the Auto ISO and press the right button to change the min and max (to ISO 1600). As another aside, the base ISO is 125, so that’s the real minimum to get maximum dynamic range. That’s actually pretty high, so if you want shallow DOF, you need to get a ND filter to get the exposure down in bright light as maximum shutter speed is 1/2000.

DRO set to automatic. Also there is something called DRO, which isn’t dynamic range expansion but adjusts the tone curve instead. Seems like leaving Auto DRO is a good choice. It only applies to JPEG and what it does is look for is dark regions and boosts them to extract lost detail.