Sony FX3: Zebra Levels Tutorial

Sony FX3: Zebra Levels Tutorial

In this tutorial we will go through the correct zebra settings for the various monitoring modes on the Sony FX3.

Mastering Log

Shooting in log gives us the ability to capture much more than simply recording Rec709 images, but it comes at a cost; it can be quite cumbersome to work with if you don't know how to correctly exposure your log images.

Sony's S-Log3 — featured in their latest line of cinema cameras like the FX3, FX6 and FX9 — can sometimes be tricky to exposure correctly, but with the correct zebra settings you'll have a fool-proof system to lean against when shooting.

Sony FX3 Zebra Levels

These are the recommended zebra levels for S-Log3 from Sony themselves:

Mode Middle Grey Skin Tones 90% White Highlights
S-Log3 41 48-52 61 94
s709 45 55-65 77 83

These zebra settings will allow you to get correct exposure in either the S-Log3 monitoring mode or the s709 monitoring mode.

Setting Zebra Levels on FX3

To activate zebras on your FX3, simply go to the Fn menu and select Zebras. There you can set two different zebra levels and toggle between them. It might be a good idea to set two zebra levels when using Cine EI:

  1. one zebra level to observe highlight clipping
  2. one zebra level to observe exposure at 18% grey

That way you will always be certain that your scene is at the correct exposure and that no light is clipping.

Using Zebras and Cine EI Together

The key to these numbers is to use them in conjunction with the Cine EI shooting mode, which allows you to adjust the monitoring s709 LUT exposure without actually adjusting the shooting ISO — almost like shooting raw, but saving lots of harddrive space in the process.

Expose 1.7 Stops Over using Cine EI

If you want to overexpose your log images by the popular 1.7 stops, simply do the following:

  1. Enter Cine EI shooting mode
  2. Lower the Exposure Index (EI) from 800 to 250 — or 6.0 to 4.3 (since 6.0 - 1.7 = 4.3). The camera will still record at 800 ISO but once the LUT is applied, it will show the darker image
  3. Turn on the s709 monitor LUT
  4. Expose for 45 % middle grey on your zebras in s709 mode

You now have a perfectly exposed image at a 1.7 overexposure, retaining details in your shadows when shooting dark scenes. Your camera will always record at 800 ISO when using Cine EI, but the exposure is adjusted when monitoring using the s709 LUT.