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I have come across several articles in which the camera settings for shooting video are explained. If the camera does not provide RAW footage it is recommended to set Contrast, Brightness and Saturation as low as possible, and also change the midtones curve adjusting lowlights to high and highlights to low, in order to get an image as flat as possible.

This way it is claimed that the footage can be easily post-produced.

I wonder if that is a valid way, or if it is better to adjust as desired the image on camera.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

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  • Good question. Usually, the low-contrast images people use for maximum flexibility in lieu of RAW are known quantities; the mathematical properties of their gamma curves, as well as color space properties and white points are standardized and published by camera manufacturers. Dialing in numbers arbitrarily might theoretically afford a similar advantage as those gamma curves are designed to give, but it also throws away the roadmap to reconstruct the scene as shot. Matching one shot to another would require reverse-engineering the camera settings in every case, for example. – Jason Conrad Dec 29 '20 at 18:24
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It highly depends on your Bit-depth and scene and post-production. If you're trying to maximize for dynamic range and avoid clipping highlights for example, you should reduce contrast as much as possible (and also expose for the highlights). However, by doing that you might lose details in the midtones (separation of colors and luma), which might lead to banding issues after post-processing the footage (adding contrast and saturation), especially if you are recording 8-Bit per channel, which most consumer cameras do.

From my personal experience if you are recording 8-Bit you are probably better off getting your exposure as finished as possible in the camera and only do little post-processing to avoid banding or similar issue. If you're recording 10-Bit, you have way more information to play with and could use LOG profiles (which are another way of reducing contrast and saturation) instead.

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    +1. The idea that "log" or "flat" recording is useful in 8-bit recording is a myth. In high-bit-depth cameras it's useful, but in an 8-bit camera you're taking detail from skin tones in order to have a small amount of extra wiggle room at the extremes. Exposing properly in-camera saves a lot of time and provides better quality. – Wayne Dec 31 '20 at 21:31

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