October 31, 2015 at 7:31AM, Edited October 31, 7:32AM


Isn't Waveforms the only reliable tool for judging exposure on set?

As I am reading more and more about how to rescue over and underexposed footage, please educate me.

I am on an imaginary shoot, I got a waveform monitor. My camera has a decent dynamic range. I am going to make sure my highlights are max in the 100-110% range (Super white, still rescueable) and my shadows are not crushed.
I am in post production and happy that I have no problem at all.

Second shoot: I only have histogramms, I am not sure if I am in the 100-110% range highlight wise while still maintaining most of my shadows uncrushed. I am screwed.

What I am asking myself right now is: Who in their right minds would use anything but a waveforms monitor on a shoot?
I know that's polemic, cause it is a very budget question (I currently dont have one for the same reason)
But am I right that it's much superior tech?
What are useful applications for a histogramm?


Some years ago this topic was discussed on REDUSER.net (in part because RED cameras have a built-in histogram display but no built-in waveform display): http://www.reduser.net/forum/showthread.php?63751-waveform-vs-histogram . TL;RD: waveforms are preferred to histograms for judging on-set exposure.

Since I shoot RED a lot, I've gotten used to using a histogram, and here's how I do it. When I shoot in a theater (or other dark environment where subjects tend to be specifically illuminated), I know I'm going for a low-key look, and it's OK for the histogram to be heavy on the left. But I also know that to have some decent shadows, the bulk of the histogram bump should be off the left hand side...it should not be at its highest fully at the left hand side.

When I have lots of natural light and diffusion, I should have a nice wide histogram, with some separation from the left and right sides.

When shooting a high-key shot, the histogram should line up to the right, but the highest part of the histogram should be comfortably off the right hand extreme.

Many, many times we see images posted on REDUSER which either have dynamic range that doesn't fit within the histogram window (i.e., the histogram intersects the left and right sides well above zero) or, more commonly, a left-heavy histogram where the leftmost side of the histogram is is not only well-above zero, but well above 90% of the other histogram values.

When exposure is critical, I connect a waveform monitor and read it, in addition to what the histogram tells me.

October 31, 2015 at 8:02AM


Thanks for the insight and the tips! Much appreciated. And thanks for the link.


October 31, 2015 at 8:34AM


Waveforms are much more useful than histograms in that they give (partly) localized information. They are certainly not the only useful guide though. You can use a light meter or a digital spotmeter with even better local precision. False color and zebras can be very helpful too. Check this two part article for an overview of available tools: http://www.shutterangle.com/2012/exposure-tools-for-digital-video-part-1/

November 2, 2015 at 11:44AM

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February 22, 2017 at 8:30AM, Edited February 22, 8:30AM


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