Heliguy’s Guide to DJI D-LOG
Having sold DJI products since their days as a small manufacturer of flight controllers, Heliguy has a great level of insight into how best to go about using them. Unsurprisingly, we receive a lot of queries about the best way to shoot footage with popular models including the Phantom 4 (and Professional series), the Inspire 1 & 2, and the handheld OSMO range.
One of the most frequently asked questions concerns the various setting available within the DJI GO app, more specifically, the D-LOG setting. Why would you want to shoot in a mode that seemingly washes out your footage into a flat, boring grey? A valid point. However, this blog will show you the benefits of shooting in D-LOG and when is best to implement it in your aerial filmmaking.
What is D-LOG?
The LOG setting on higher end cameras has been designed to maximise the dynamic range of your video footage. For example, if you’re shooting in challenging lighting conditions with strong highlight and shadow components you are able to retain a lot more detail than shooting in the default settings.
Essentially, it’s used for the same reason photographers shoot in DNG RAW; data retention for greater image depth. This allows you more flexibility in post processing and the results speak for themselves, as you can see in the below image:
So basically, that is what you can expect from DJI’s branded D-LOG functionality.
It’s worth noting that in more controlled lighting situations, such as studio work and shooting green screens, shooting LOG will just make more unnecessary work for you but as we’re discussing the use of drones, you’re more likely to be out and about anyway.
How to Use D-LOG
First things first, boot up your DJI GO app and enter the camera view of your drone. Once you’re all set up you should have access to the shooting functions which will appear like so:
This is where you can select the D-LOG option but, before you do, check the Style Settings to ensure that they appear the same as the example below:
Setting the sharpness, contrast and saturation down to -3 ensures that your camera will capture more of, if not the entirety, of the images dynamic range which allows you greater control over the final product.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that D-LOG really brings out shadows within an image which has been known to cause a bit of image noise. This is easily remedied by shooting slightly overexposed (1.5 – 2.5 stops depending on the lighting) ensuring more balance between shadows and highlights in the final product.
Once these settings are in place you’re ready to begin shooting, get yourself some visually interesting footage and get ready to explore the possibilities of D-LOG in a video editing software such as Adobe Premiere Pro.
The first thing you’re going to want to do is bring up the settings that you reduced to -3 (saturation, sharpness and contrast). You will instantly see the difference in the image, here are two images to illustrate the difference this basic change can make:
As we stated previously, D-LOG lowers the saturation and maintains more colour information which can be used in post-processing and colour grading. It’s worth reiterating this in light of the images above as it shows just how useful this functionality is.
Although the default camera settings may look good in-camera and have a decent level of quality, when it’s time to edit the footage, you’ll find that you don’t have much leeway in terms of visual detail. It’s best to keep this in mind before you reach the post-processing stage and suddenly find yourself with footage that you’re unable to get what you want out of.
One thing we hear a lot is: “That sounds like it takes a lot of effort!”
While there is some truth in this, it really pays off in the end where quality is concerned. Plus, there’s always a shortcut you can take to save you messing on with editing software settings into the early hours. You can add presets known as LUTs to your footage which do the heavy lifting for you, restoring D-LOG to beautifully coloured footage with a great level of depth. LUT stands for ‘Look Up Table’ and let you view your footage during editing more naturally than the flat, desaturated image originally recorded.
However, be warned. If your shots don’t match up in terms of lighting and framing to begin with, they’re not going to match after you’ve applied the LUT. But, as with anything, there are downsides to taking the easy way.
In essence, the LOG setting (including DJI’s D-LOG) provides you with more visual control over the footage you’re taking giving you (or whoever is editing the footage) more options to bring out certain colours, deepen shadows or even change the mood of a scene. It’s no exaggeration to say that this depth of post-processing creativity simply isn’t possible if you film with standard settings.
Learn More About Drone Video Editing
Eager to get the most out of your drone footage? Want to get clients interested with a mindblowing showreel? With an increasing number of people turning to drone filmmakers to capture their events from a unique angle, there’s no shortage of opportunity if you can stand out from the crowd.
Heliguy is currently offering a Video Editing Course for drones which takes you through the basics of Adobe Premiere Pro, teaches you the importance of shooting for the edit and even gives advice on cutting footage to music.
Led by filmmaker Jon Stubbs, a seasoned pro with years of industry experience behind him, our course is a one-day intensive workshop with plenty of practical time allowing you to get the advice you need while trying it out for yourself.
Keep checking back to Heliguy’s Insider blog for more insights into DJI products, pro tips and, of course, the latest news from the drone industry.
Heliguy’s blogger and Head of Digital Content Production, John Patterson, keeps our readers informed about what’s going on in the world of drones. Living and breathing content production, his background in writing spans an eclectic range of industries.