Shotting with D-Log on Phantom 4 Pro/Adv

Last Saturday I had my first experience shooting D-Log on my Phantom 4 Advanced during sunrise at Otmoor Reserve near Oxford, England. It’s basically a big swamp. Since D-Log profile is locked at 500 ISO my main concern was obviously the noise. I as per many recommendations I was shooting with +2.0 EV, following ETTR method – exposure to the right – in reference to the histogram, where you try to expose footage in such a way where most of the data is stored towards the highlights. The theory is that D-Log is optimised for preserving highlights more than shadows, i.e. the profile allocates more bits for highlights. So by overexposing you shift shadows towards midtones.

Now as you see from the screen grabs (not yet properly colour graded) I got absolutely stunning footage.

Once I got home I immediately imported the footage and started playing with colours in DaVinci Resolve 15. And yes, there is absolutely no noise. However, the issue I faced was somewhat overblown highlights in some parts of the footage. I must note that the drone was facing the sun directly and this is somewhat expected.

As one might expect colour grading footage taken during changing lighting conditions is quite tricky, but still doable. I feel I am able to get out more details whilst having more flexibility from D-Log profile as opposed to any other profile. To rip the full benefits though you need to be well versed in colour correction and colour grading in DaVinci Resolve. I found that Premiere Pro is far behind in colour adjustment tools especially when it comes to those tricky lighting conditions.

My workflow has been the following – do a basic cut in Premiere Pro (DaVinci Resolve is still behind when it comes to editing) and then export the footage in XML. Then use Resolve only for colour grading. Then using “export individual” clips feature you can easily bring back all the colour graded footage back to Premiere and start working on the final edit. This is when you add speed ramps, transitions, effects, titles etc.

Now, in retrospect, I think +2.0EV for D-Log is a bit too much. I think it would have worked during the middle of the day when the sun is high and the drone is not facing it directly. However, in my case, I should’ve probably used +1.0EV.

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