Panasonic’s latest VariCam firmware update, 9.0, includes EL Zone, a new exposure-map tool created by cinematographer Ed Lachman, ASC.
EL Zone offers 15 delineated steps that help map out the camera’s full exposure range. “Unlike false-color methods that have limited steps and are IRE-percent based, EL Zone is an intuitive, stop-based system that relates one-to-one with lens F-stops and light meters,” says Mike Bergeron, senior category owner, Production Solutions, Panasonic. “The tool is easy to use, and the color codes are arranged to be easy to remember.”
In EL Zone, 18-percent gray shows up as gray; complete overexposure shows up as white (no detail remains); and full underexposure shows up as black (no detail remains). With the tool, setting skin tones for light or dark skin is in + - ½ to 1-stop increments above and below 18-percent gray. Assigning EL Zone to a camera user button allows the exposure-map tool to be turned on or off.
This advanced exposure tool is now available for the VariCam LT and VariCam 35 4K HDR cinema cameras. EL Zone can be used in the following color modes: V-Log, V-709, V-Look1 and V-Look2. (V-Look 1 and 2 are available for the LT only.) With the free upgrade, cinematographers will have more flexibility to correct problematic shots, match shots to others and achieve highly stylized looks in post.
“VariCam users now have a powerful tool that shows them the precise exposure levels of different areas in the frame, allowing them to see exactly where under- or overexposure is occurring,” Bergeron says. “It’s like having a light meter in your VariCam that shows you readings in all areas of the frame mapped out on the image.”
In addition to the EL Zone, the firmware update adds anamorphic de-squeeze aspect ratios 1.8x and 1.5x and an in-camera custom aspect-ratio frame-marker generator that dials in just about any aspect ratio. In addition, the update makes the prefixed fixed-frame markers easier to see.