—A misconception exists in the industry that camera test charts are not always necessary. Actually, they're a crucial part of any camera engineer or DP's workflow.
The DSC Laboratories Ambi camera test chart
Panasonic cameras are known for producing some of the clearest and most vibrant images in the industry and we rely on DSC Labs' test charts in our labs on a daily basis for optimizing camera performance and alignment of all of our cameras for the highest quality images possible.
A LASTING FIRST IMPRESSION
In 2004, I was introduced to DSC Labs products, and was amazed by the difference in a camera's picture quality after using the company's charts for setup.
DSC charts are all made to the latest SMPTE 274M international colorimetry standards and have been designed with months and sometimes years of suggestions and input from expert users for continuous image quality improvement.
Currently, Panasonic uses a variety of DSC charts, both in the lab for product evaluations, and also on-the-go for calibrating cameras at client sites and at industry tradeshows. We own some of DSC's most popular charts, including the Fairburn 3D, ChromaDuMonde 28-R, Ambi Illuminator, Resolution, CamBelles and others.
DSC created the Fairburn for use with a 3D beam splitter and side-by-side stereographic rigs. It has a variety of test elements for pinpointing differences when aligning 3D cameras. At the last NAB Show, the Fairburn 3D chart allowed our factory engineers from Japan to tweak our AG-3DA1 integrated dual-lens 3D camcorder for optimum performance. The engineers liked the chart so much that they purchased one to take back to the factory.
The ChromaDuMonde is DSC's best-selling chart and I use it almost daily. It provides precise information about how camera matrix, color correction and gamma adjustments affect color reproduction. In addition to normal camera calibration, it's great for matching multiple, as well as different model cameras.
The DSC Ambi chart provides us with an externally mounted illuminator for light evenness in most shooting conditions. It's also extremely portable. Since it's best to use the Ambi with another DSC chart, I set up our camera's color matrix and color correction using the ChromaDuMonde and a waveform/vectorscope. I just put the vectors in their targets on the scope, save the camera scene and all cameras match.
Most high-end cameras need calibration for the best picture results. DSC Labs' charts are some of the most important tools in use at Panasonic. They optimize camera performance by allowing us to precisely align our cameras for the highest quality colors and images. The charts are simple to use and you can't beat their accuracy.
CHARTS CAN TAKE A BEATING
The DSC charts are also extremely durable. Working out in the field, they get beat up and are sometimes rained on, but they continue to serve us well.
Anyone that's serious about video production should have DSC's charts, whether they're shooting independent films, feature films, or television programming. Whatever it is, DSC charts are invaluable; they're the most important tool in my kit.
Barry Russo has been an independent video engineer since 1986, and has been part of the Panasonic team since 2008. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For additional information, contact DSC Laboratories at 905-673-3211 or visit www.dsclabs.com.