Panasonic LUMIX S1H ProRes RAW Recording Tested – Interview with DP Matthias Bolliger

August 11th, 2020

We recently caught up with with director of photography Matthias Bolliger and his colorist Louise Temmesfeld to discuss the Panasonic LUMIX S1H ProRes RAW external recording capabilities on the Atomos Ninja V. In this in-depth interview, we talked about internal vs. external recording, dynamic range, ProRes RAW post-production and so on. Let’s take a closer look at it!

Note: this interview and Matthias Bolliger’s tests were done using pre-production firmware on the S1H and Atomos Ninja V so that results may be different on the actual production versions.

Image credit: Matthias Bolliger

Panasonic LUMIX S1H ProRes RAW Recording on the Atomos Ninja V

Recently, Atomos released a free firmware update for its Atomos Ninja V monitor/recorder that enables ProRes RAW recording out of the Panasonic LUMIX S1H’s HDMI port. It allows you to record 5.9K resolution (5888 x 3312) 16:9 mode in 23.98p and 29.97p in NTSC and 25p in PAL using the entire full-frame sensor of the S1H. For more information about this update, you can read our full article here.

Image credit: Matthias Bolliger

During the cineD Virtual Show, we talked with swiss director of photography and long-time Panasonic user Matthias Bolliger. Indeed, he had a chance to challenge and test the S1H ProRes RAW external recording capabilities with the Atomos Ninja V.

During his tests, Matthias Bolliger tried to challenge the camera and the sensor in a low-light situation to evaluate noise, with hard lighting conditions for a camera. The scene he created is very contrasty, which is the perfect setup to compare the internal vs. external recording of the camera.

Image credit: Matthias Bolliger

His side by side test compares the 5.9K 12-bit external ProRes RAW recording on the Ninja V and the 4K 4:2:2 10-bit internal recording on the S1H. As Matthias Bolliger said, it is hard to notice a big difference between the two by eye in a situation like this with only natural lighting and big contrast.

Image credit: Matthias Bolliger

ProRes RAW Post-Production – Linear Signal, no V-Log

Colorist Louise Temmesfeld did the post-production. As ProRes RAW is kind of new for post-production artists, this was the first time the experienced colorist put her hands on ProRes RAW footage. Also, as this format is relatively new, Louise tried color managed and un-managed workflows, both in SDR and HDR.

Image credit: Matthias Bolliger

As Louise Temmesfeld said, the ProRes RAW signal recorded by the Atomos Ninja V and coming out of the S1H is a linear RGB signal. In short, it means that you can capture footage in V-Log picture profile internally, but not externally.

Looking at the footage, Louise Temmesfeld found out that the ProRes RAW recording was crispier, while internal V-Log recording was slightly softer.

Image credit: Matthias Bolliger

Is ProRes RAW Worth It?

As Matthias Bolliger mentioned, it depends on what you’re doing and where you want to end. If your final product is in HD or 4K for the web, the potent internal recording capabilities of the Panasonic LUMIX S1H makes a lot of sense. Otherwise, the Atomos Ninja V and ProRes RAW capabilities unleash the full 6K potential of the S1H. You get access to more details, but there is a price to pay: a higher noise level.

Also, the S1H 4K 4:2:2 10-bit internal recording data rate is six to eight times lighter than the ProRes RAW 12-bit external recording. It means that file sizes are smaller, it takes less storage space, and files are much easier to process. In ProRes RAW, a 1TB SSD will get you around 45 minutes of recording time.

Image credit: Matthias Bolliger

Also, as Matthias and Louise said, the dynamic range is given by the sensor of the S1H. So, even if you record in ProRes RAW, it doesn’t expand your dynamic range, and you’re limited by what the actual sensor of the Panasonic S1H can capture. In short, it means that when the sensor clips, information is gone forever.

Did you already try the Panasonic LUMIX S1H external ProRes RAW recording on the Atomos Ninja V? Do you think it would be useful to you? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below!

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Diogene
Diogene
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August 25th, 2020

Prores raw is inferior raw.
And if you don’t test difference between 10bit vs 12 bit in a big contrast situation when you doit?
Come on you are embarrassing yourself.

Guillermo Peluffo
Guillermo Peluffo
Member
August 12th, 2020

Im making a 6 month documentary, so im decided not to use RAW. I will shot in 422 10 ALL I. Do i get same quality from Atomos V vs internal recording? Should i use HQ option on Atomos V?

Charles Hull
Charles Hull
Guest
August 13th, 2020

I can’t see any difference between internal and Ninja V video. Internal is really good. Sometimes it is nice to use the Ninja as a better monitor, and in bright sun. Plus you get higher quality review of your day’s shots. It’s okay to do both, they edit together okay.

 Walter Vargas
Walter Vargas
Member
August 15th, 2020

You might still get slightly higher quality from the Atomos using ProRes, but for a documentary I don’t know that it would be significant.

 Charles Hull
Charles Hull
Member
August 12th, 2020

Very interesting interviews. I’ve been using ProRes RAW since it first came out, with a Sony FS5. I also have the S1H and have been anxious to try ProRes RAW with it, and can add some comments. First, when you import ProRes RAW into Final Cut Pro X it is converted to a log format. (Of course you can leave it as linear, but almost always you use log.) So editing and color management is like working with log footage.

I usually shoot outdoors and deliver in HDR. The challenge is to keep the sky from clipping and still show good detail in the shadows. 10 bit VLog on the S1H does a good job at this, so I’ve tested to see if 12 bit ProRes RAW can do better. The answer is yes; with a scene just after sunset, I exposed for around 800 nits in the sky and tilted down to deep shadows. Then I used curves to bring up the shadows. VLog did a nice job, but ProRes RAW did much better, and it looked like daylight instead of dusk. This was ISO 4000, and it had noise that cleaned up really well.

I will mostly continue to use VLog, but it is nice to know what ProRes RAW can do, and I’ll use it under tough conditions.

Finally a tip. It is easy to edit ProRes RAW with DaVinci Resolve. I batch import the files with Apple Compressor and convert them to ProRes 4444. These convert as 12 bit 2020 PQ and edit normally in Resolve. I use ACES with the Panasonic V35 Input Transform for VLog. With ProRes RAW I use the 2020 PQ Input Transform, and then apply the new Panasonic LUT to conform it to VLog color. You can have 10 bit VLog and an equivalent 12 bit VLog on the same timeline. Yes, ISO and color temperature are baked in with this method, but they can’t be changed for ProRes RAW with FCPX or Premiere anyway so there is no difference.

Mark G.
Mark G.
Guest
August 12th, 2020
Reply to  Charles Hull

Charles, which Panasonic LUT were you talking about? I know they released one for S1H RAW to VLOG, but I’m guessing that’s not what you were talking about here. I’ve played with the RAW -> PQ 2020 (ProRes 444) pipeline like you mentioned, and I’ve wondered if this is better than using Scratch to convert to VLog/VGamut first. Also, any 10bit clips you have on Vimeo that show the difference?

Charles Hull
Charles Hull
Guest
August 12th, 2020
Reply to  Mark G.

Mark, sorry I wasn’t clear, I know Panasonic has lots of LUTS. Yes it is the recently released “LUT(Look Up Table) for V-Log/V-Gamut conversion of S1H RAW output data”. This makes S1H ProRes RAW look like VLog/V-Gamut.

I took a look at Scratch but Compressor worked so well I did not get back to it. This is all Apple with their software and formats so they should be able to get it right. But if Scratch turns out to a better I’d be happy to change. Another option, especially for Windows users to use Resolve, is to convert with Adobe Media Encoder. The default ProRes 4444 for Media encoder is Rec.709 so you need to select Render at Maximum Depth and then Rec.2100 PQ. This works well, but it runs quite a bit slower, at least on my Mac – I don’t know about Windows. Sorry, I don’t have any of this on Vimeo.

 David Patterson
David Patterson
Member
August 11th, 2020

Interesting discussion, especially the comments from Louise. It was good to see how well the full version of V-Log holds up in a low light, high contrast situation. For the majority of end users who aren’t full-time colorists, I suspect that ProResRaw may not be of much interest unless more controls are made available. Currently, Premiere Pro can only adjust exposure.

Ethan Vincent
Guest
August 11th, 2020

Curious. Shot some myself recently.

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