March 29, 2017

Free HDR Firmware is Coming to Economical Cameras

It's time to get up to speed on HDR.

Sony recently announced HDR support by implementing the Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) standard in free firmware updates for the FS5 and Z-150 cameras, to be released in July 2017.  

Sony has been quietly updating multiple video product lines for over a year to be HDR-compliant. We expect this trend to increase in pace over the next year, industry-wide. Panasonic also recently pre-announced a summer HLG firmware update for its new GH5 DSLR. 

What is HLG, and why should you care?

 

HLG is a broadcast standard developed to economically deliver 4K HDR video across large networks. The most important thing to understand is that HLG combines a gamma curve (rec. 709 is an SDR gamma curve) in the darks with a log curve in the highlights. This hybrid creates an overall greater dynamic range in images.

The HLG Curve Credit: Wikipedia Commons
Color spaceCredit: Wikipedia Commons

Because HLG does not rely on metadata, like the HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR standards, it is much simpler and cheaper to implement into production and distribution workflows. HLG requires few hardware updates, meaning upgrades can be implemented incrementally, rather than having to create entirely new—and expensive—broadcast production pipelines. By comparison, Dolby Vision HDR requires that all hardware in the process be Dolby Vision-compatible.

HLG also allows for a more gradual adoption rate by end-users because the signal is display-independent. Since a large portion of the HLG signal is a gamma curve, the image will appear correctly on legacy SDR displays. This flexibility is the ticket that broadcasters are hoping will make HDR an everyday reality. (To be clear, at this moment there is little HLG consumer content being broadcast, aside from limited proof of concept experiments.)

Media producers will need to be on top of the trend, especially as networks start expecting HLG content. With camera manufacturers now implementing HLG into all levels of their gear via firmware, HDR is becoming more accessible for all creatives.

Are you dreading learning HDR or relishing the creative possibilities? Let us know in the comments.     

Your Comment

7 Comments

Who else just realized they have an awful lot more to learn about video?

March 29, 2017 at 5:56PM

6
Reply
avatar
Tom Trainor
Shooter/Producer
90

I hear that. It's a treadmill that does not turn off. I do think that it is great news for lower-budget shooters that manufacturers are integrating HLG into more entry-level cameras. It gives everyone time to experiment with exposures and settings. One of the links in my article points to a piece Charles Haine did in November regarding using S-log with HLG. It really feels like Sony is in front of the curve on this transition. The good news is that there is time. It's like Rec. 2020, this stuff keeps moving, but generally at a predictable pace.

March 30, 2017 at 8:08AM

8
Reply
avatar
Craig Mieritz
Color, Light and Camera Geek
687

dreading.

March 29, 2017 at 9:32PM, Edited March 29, 9:32PM

16
Reply

Thanks.

March 30, 2017 at 1:09AM

0
Reply
avatar
Sameir Ali
Director of Photography
1533

I think I'll hide under some coats until this is adopted everywhere and becomes the norm.

March 30, 2017 at 3:41AM

0
Reply
Liam Martin
DP, editor, part time director
1245

Well, there is a bit of wisdom in that. Keep Calm and Carry On.

March 30, 2017 at 11:19AM

5
Reply
avatar
Craig Mieritz
Color, Light and Camera Geek
687

So, is HLG simply a standardized, cross brand log curve--kind of like Sony's Hyper Gamma?

So the benefit is that it's a standard, sort of like Rec. 709, where you can output HLG and it's automatically converted to some flavor of HDR?

But for narrative work, or work you're grading, HLG wouldn't be as good a gamma curve as the already establish curves like S-Log2/3, V-log, etc. Am I getting that right?

April 3, 2017 at 1:16PM

0
Reply