February 24, 2017 at 2:14PM


Correct exposure for post. How far can I over expose with the 6d...?

I’m working on a shortfilm where I’ll be using low-key and middle low-key lighting. I’ll use the Canon 6D for this. In order to get a proper exposure that works in post production, I've been told to over expose the image while shooting. Then, in post, I can shrink down the shadows and get nice contrast, along with a correctly exposed image.

So, I have a few questions:

1. I want to know how far I can over expose on Rec 709 (wich is the color space I'll use, since the Canon 6D doesn't record Log files), to then be able to restore skin tones and texture in the characters’ clothings and skins. And also be able to have a nice register of the shadows, wich I will shrink down later in post.

2. Is there a way to bring the over exposed highlights down to what I was seeing on set, by not having to isolate or apply a mask in, lest’ say, Davinci Resolve? Remember I’m working on 709.

Thanks in advance.


Alweays and especially for this situation you should use some exposure tools like zebras, waveform, histogram and/or falsecolor.
You don't want to burn out parts of your image completely white. The problem of the 6D is that is has only the histogram which makes it relatively difficult to nail the exposure where you want it to be set.
The best way to get a proper lightly over exposed image is using a good monitor with the feature mentioned before.
Also shoot in a flat image profile so you don't have to much contrast in the image that could cause more burned out parts of the image.

February 25, 2017 at 6:27AM

Eric Halbherr
Director, DP, Editor, Creative Storyteller

Thank you Eric.

Caroli Lacruz

February 26, 2017 at 10:52PM, Edited February 26, 10:52PM

I strongly recommend you read the questions and answers in this recent thread: http://nofilmschool.com/boards/questions/getting-right-exposure-post-pro...

Those answers, as well as the one above (which I upvoted to indicate its correctness), all point to the same fact: if you want a good image, you have to light and expose properly. If you don't (because you don't have the right equipment or you won't rent the right equipment), you are making a compromise that will result in reduced image quality. When you over-expose, you cheat yourself out of good color as highlights burn out. When you under-expose, you bring noise into the shadows, which can become devastating in a low-key shot. When you light and expose correctly, you can get a good image, which then gives you something to work with in post.

Cameras with high-sensitivity sensors (like the SONY A7 and the EPIC-W) allow one to shoot with less overall light, but if you use those cameras and look at proper exposure meters, the reason they produce a better image with less light is because they are calibrated to deliver middle-tone gray with less total light. In other words, if you use such cameras, and proper metering, you will see that it's not about over-exposing highlights or under-exposing shadows. It's about proper lighting and exposure from the start.

February 25, 2017 at 8:08AM


Thanks a lot Michael! I get it. It's all about metering and exposing well from the start.

Caroli Lacruz

February 26, 2017 at 10:51PM

you got a few things wrong. About half of the bits of color are in the top 4 stops of dr, overexposing or rating the camera at a lower iso is good for color not bad

The red cameras place middle gray at 44-47 IRE and barely remap it up with their 1d luts, cameras like the alexa place it at 38% and map it just over 50% thats why at 800 iso the Alexa is a stop brighter.

Indie Guy

February 27, 2017 at 7:09PM

You have been fed some serious misinformation, and I've seen this happen before.

Digital compared to film blows out highlights in an extremely unpleasant way so you should never overexpose digital unless you want your film to look very harsh and blown-out.

Moreover, once an area is completely overexposed it cannot be reversed in post, especially when shooting for Rec709.

The answer is simply should shoot it right, and not rely on post to save your film.

Even if you were shooting log this would be true.

I'm a colourist by the way, and I've seen the work of good and bad DoP's and camera ops. The best material is always the stuff where they try to get it right in camera.

February 27, 2017 at 5:22AM


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