There’s no denying that using

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There’s no denying that using Cinestyle does make focusing all the more difficult. With such a flat profile, low contrast and no in-camera sharpening it does require more effort to achieve a sharp image. I think it’s worth the effort however as it gives more freedom during grading.

You can see an example that I filmed below for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust of an Interview with Rob Law MBE, inventor of the Trunki ride-on suitcase. It was filmed using a Canon 5DMk3 with Canon 24-105mm L Series Lens:

Cystic Fibrosis Trust

Obviously lighting also comes into play here. There was a large window on the right, I used a Bowen 530 on the left and a Dedolight as a backlight (just off-screen on the right).

When filming subjects at a fixed distance the digital focus is a must and I find works perfectly well. When running-and-gunning, filming free-hand, I find the ‘over-and-back’ technique works well. Simply shifting the focus one way, then back in the other direction, allowing you to find the middle (focus) point. A large aperture (shallow depth of field) makes it easier to see the shift in focus but obviously means you have to be more accurate.

Regarding sharpness I think the first place to start is your choice of glass. My main lenses are the Canon 24-105 L Lens, 35mm f2.0 and 50mm f1.4 primes. These are way better than the 18-135 stock lens. When I first bought my 24-105 I couldn’t believe the difference… it was like owning a new camera!

Having done some tests it’s far better to use sharpening in post production than within camera. Particularly using the Lumetri Colour feature in Premiere. I also have the Cinestyle profile installed in Lumetri which effectively allows you to ‘reverse’ the flat profile in post and achieve the original look, but with a greater range across your blacks and whites.

Whilst focus peaking in Magic Lantern can be useful it can also be problematic at times. With a flat profile like Cinestyle you need to see the contrasting edges to define the correct focus, but the red focus highlights cover the edges and make it harder to find the correct focus distance. I use a Zacuto external viewfinder and the focus peaking uses a different technique to determine focus and I find this is more effective.

Finally, regarding Magic Lantern… please don’t be afraid of using it! I’ve installed ML on countless cameras for friends who have also been fearful of the terrible ‘brick’ statement on the ML website. The histograms are great for ensuring correct exposure.
My approach is to adjust exposure to keep the light range central throughout the histogram but take into account skin tones. So long as your skin tones are accurate, and you aren’t clipping the blacks or whites, you can easily grade the footage.

In summary, a big thumbs up from me for both Cinestyle and Magic Lantern.

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