Color swap - Changing color on product photography

In this article I will explain some of the difficulties, advantages and cases when changing the color of a product is better done in Photoshop and when it is better to photograph all colours.

I selected a few jobs where I had to use this technique. The first one is these masks. The client asked that each mask be exactly in the same place. This is one time when this technique should be considered.

This photo is un-retouched, so you can see what the product looks like without any adjustment.

Masks with multiple colours - Unretouched
Masks with multiple colours - Unretouched

The color-swap technique works better when we have "simple" colors. That means if the blue is very blue, red is very red and so on. Complex or mixed colours such as yellowish-green may be harder to change than one that is super yellow or super green. This is true when we decide to use the colour as the basis of the selection in Photoshop (Select+color range). Photoshop may not be able to select all areas we need.

The most used Photoshop technique is to mask the area of color and change the hue of that using an adjustment layer. In photoshop we can adjust the hue (color), saturation (how much color) and luminosity (how bright/light or dark). When we adjust the luminosity, in most adjustment layers, it affects a lot the saturation of the colours. When you make an image darker, the colours look more intense. So, the final result in many cases requires a combination of small adjustments one on top of the other.

Layers in Photoshop 1
Layers in Photoshop 1
Layers in Photoshop 2
Layers in Photoshop 2
Layers in Photoshop 3
Layers in Photoshop 3

Another technique that is not really a true color-swap but that should be considered is the photography of all products in a similar position and by carefully masking, we replace the areas from one photo to the other. This may create the most precise colour on all photos but brings other problems such as the changes in the position of the product from one photo to the next that may require stretches, moves, transforms, etc.

You will almost always find other issues caused by color contamination. It is when the light bounces from a color area, and illuminates another area with the light of the same color as the object. In our case, the filter caps reflect their colour on the white body of the mask.

There are times when we need to change the colour of a product for other reasons. Perhaps due to changes in the production color by the manufacturer or to explore how the product would look like in other colors.

For this product, the client asked for some variations on the color. Click on the images to see larger.

Diffuser large open on bathroom close to plant_- Color change in product photography sample
Diffuser large open on bathroom close to plant_- Color change in product photography sample
Diffuser large open on bathroom close to plant and approved logo applied color change in product photography sample
Diffuser large open on bathroom close to plant and approved logo applied color change in product photography sample
Brown Diffuser large open on bathroom close to plant and approved logo applied color change in product photography sample
Brown Diffuser large open on bathroom close to plant and approved logo applied color change in product photography sample
Black diffuser large open on bathroom close to plant and approved logo applied color change in product photography sample
Black diffuser large open on bathroom close to plant and approved logo applied color change in product photography sample

The perception of the colour varies depending on what is close to the product and how bright or dark the scene. See these other samples:

Diffuser metal top Fill lifestyle in operation on work computer table with approved logo Color change in product photography sample
Diffuser metal top Fill lifestyle in operation on work computer table with approved logo Color change in product photography sample
Brown metal top Fill lifestyle in operation on work computer table - Color change in product photography sample
Brown metal top Fill lifestyle in operation on work computer table - Color change in product photography sample
Black Diffuser metal top Fill lifestyle in operation on work computer table - Color change in product photography sample
Black Diffuser metal top Fill lifestyle in operation on work computer table - Color change in product photography sample

My opinion is that while this is a valid option and should be used, when necessary, it is an expensive option and sometimes risky. Here at Zoom Studio, our objective is to always have the best quality images and keep the client happy.

These products were photographed and retouched by Jose Aguiar .

Click on the images to see them larger. Please leave a comment and share. 

Read more about Product Photography and contact us.

Cambo Actus movements 00777_Cameras and lenses

More quality images with medium format and 100 megapixels camera and lenses

It is now close to 3 months since I am using more and more the new Fujifilm GFX 100s camera and a range of GFX lenses and adapters. This article will tell you about the new equipment and what I used them for.

Some 35 years ago, when I started photographing professionally, while still living in Brazil, another professional photographer told me that we should do anything to improve the quality of our image. He said It does not matter how you do it, even If you need to kill or steal, do it. Haha. I would not go as far as killing or stealing to buy a new lens or camera but I agree that we need to try to improve our images always. I prefer to invest more in elements that are directly linked to image capturing, that are lenses and camera body and less on flashes, bags and accessories.

With the development of the digital camera's sensors, you can now see very clearly that some lenses that were very good when you used on a 20-megapixel sensor show problems when used on a 50 or 100-megapixel camera. Do we need all this resolution?

When a client commissions me to take a picture of a person, product or place, they normally tell me where they will use it. Most of the time they end up on a website or on small market printing material. The clients have never complained that my images do not have sufficient resolution but I know how important it is to have good, sharp, large images we can crop and get all details we need. Some clients that asked for images for the web end up printing large banners and displays. The changes from 20 megapixels to 50 megapixels to 100 megapixels were not asked by any client, they are driven by the constant desire to improve the image quality and to deliver a better product to the clients.

When I moved from 23 Megapixels to 50 Megapixels, I wrote an article explaining the advantages. You can read this article here.

This photo (click to see larger) shows almost all the cameras and lenses we have. We used a Canon 5DS (50 MegaPixel) and a tilt-n-shift Canon 90 mm lens to photograph the other cameras and lenses.

Fujifim blackmagic and Canon Lenses and cameras_Cameras and lenses
Fujifilm Blackmagic and Canon Lenses and cameras_Cameras and lenses

There are 4 cameras in this picture, the Fujifilm 100s, a Canon 5D MK3, a video camera Blackmagic production 4K and a technical view camera from Cambo. I used a Canon 5DS to take this picture.

All these cameras can be used for filming. The video quality captured by the Blackmagic production 4K that records in 4K Raw on a super 35 sensor using Canon EF lenses is quite special. The Fujifilm 100s is also a super good video camera with constant focus, great low light sensibility and a great 4K medium format sensor. The Cambo camera is also great for filming when correcting the perspective of buildings and rooms is important.

The selection of the "correct" or "best" lens for each condition is subjective. I believe the lens selection is much more than simply trying to frame everything or to close up on something. This is the main reason why we need so many lenses. Some are quite specialized types such as the super wide angles, the macro lenses, the perspective correction lenses and adaptors.

These are the new medium format Fujifilm and Cambo cameras and lenses that allow us to capture with resolution from 100 to 400 megapixels (pixel shift).

Fujifilm gear_Cameras and lenses
Fujifilm gear_Cameras and lenses

From left to right:

  • Super wide angle 23mm that is great for architecture, realestate and interiors.
  • Macro 120mm for product photography, close-ups on features on products and also a very good portrait lens.
  • Medium zoom 45-100mm is super flexible for architecture, large products, travel and fashion.
  • Tele-zoom 100-200 is my most used lens. It is great for product shots and portraits. I love it for architecture details and landscapes.
  • The tele 250mm is a heavy but super good lens. I use it on portraits and product photos when I want a bit of compression.
  • Actus 90mm (lens on the Cambo camera) is a great lens for product photos of medium and large products.
  • Actus 15mm (lense on the far right) is wonderful for architecture, realestate and on small rooms.
  • Macro extension tube 45mm is used when we need to go super close for a super macro photo. I use this extension on the Cambo camera to get more of the products in focus, even on super macro conditions.
  • Techart EF-GFX converter is to use Canon EF lenses on the Fujifilm 100s. Not all Canon EF lenses would have an image circle and quality that can be used on the Fujifilm 100s body.

1 - Sensor size and resolution

The image quality of modern sensors is incredible. The companies are packing more and more pixels on small sensors but there is always a trade-off in every area. The decision to invest in a medium format camera is to get more quality and higher resolution, great and accurate colours, low noise, great dynamic range.

This is a comparison of the size of the sensors:

Sensor sizes
Sensor sizes

The Canon cameras 5D MK 3 and 5Ds are all full-frame cameras.

This shows a crop of a portrait, so you can see the amount of detail that is captured by this new camera. (click to see it larger)

Andjela Matijas 00224-Model Portfolio Photography
Andjela Matijas 00224-Model Portfolio Photography

Andjela Matijas 00224-Model Portfolio Photography 1
Andjela Matijas 00224-Model Portfolio Photography 1

2 - Correcting perspective and improving focus with tilt-n-shift lenses

Tilf and Shift movements Cameras and lenses
Tilt and Shift movements - Cameras and lenses

This is one special Canon lens the tilt-n-shift 24mm (TS-E 24mm). It is a great lens for architecture and interiors. I also use a TS-E 90mm that is a 90mm manual lens that is great for product photography.

You can play with the focal planes of the lens allowing you to increase or decrease the area in focus, correct perspective on buildings, photograph items on difficult angles and create panoramic and higher pixel composites.

These are the tilt movements of the lens and are very handy to have selective areas in focus. Great for product photography.

Tilf and Shift movements 00798_Cameras and lenses
Tilt and Shift movements - Cameras and lenses
Tilf and Shift movements 00796_Cameras and lenses
Tilt and Shift movements - Cameras and lenses

The shift movement is used to be able to photograph large objects such as buildings with fewer perspective distortions.

Tilt and Shift movements - Cameras and lenses
Tilt and Shift movements - Cameras and lenses
Tilt and Shift movements - Cameras and lenses
Tilt and Shift movements - Cameras and lenses

We can also rotate the lens and change the focal plane at an angle.

Tilt and Shift movements - Cameras and lenses
Tilt and Shift movements - Cameras and lenses

2 - The movements of a technical view camera - Cambo Actus GFX

The focus is achieved by increasing or decreasing the distance between the camera body and the lens.

Cambo Actus movements - Cameras and lenses
Cambo Actus movements - Cameras and lenses
Cambo Actus movements - Cameras and lenses
Cambo Actus movements - Cameras and lenses

With a technical view camera, you can not only tilt and shift the lens plane but also rotate, shift and tilt the backplane (camera body) as well. It allows for a more precise adjustment for perspective and focuses area improvement.

These are some of the movements (Click to see them larger):

Cambo Actus movements lens tilting - Cameras and lenses
Cambo Actus movements lens tilting
Cambo Actus movements lens tilting
Cambo Actus movements lens tilting
Cambo Actus movements lens tilting
Cambo Actus movements lens tilting
Cambo Actus movements camera plan shift
Cambo Actus movements camera plane shift
Cambo Actus movements camera plan shift
Cambo Actus movements camera plane shift
Cambo Actus movements camera plan shift
Cambo Actus movements camera plane shift
Cambo Actus movements lens rotation
Cambo Actus movements lens rotation
Cambo Actus movements lens rotation
Cambo Actus movements lens rotation

3 - Storing lenses and cameras - Humidity control

With many cameras and lenses, we invested in a cabinet that has a de-humidifier to keep all equipment in perfect optical shape. Humidity and dust are not good for the lenses and sensors.

Gear cabinet with humidity control- Cameras and lenses
Gear cabinet with humidity control- Cameras and lenses

Thank you for reading and send me your comments and questions.

Remote shooting touch screen

ASUS ProArt Display PA148CTV test in a commercial studio

I received the ASUS ProArt PA148CTV screen from ASUS Australia to use and test for a couple of weeks and give my opinion regarding the product and its use in a commercial advertising photography studio. If you are not interested in all details you can jump and read my conclusions at the end of the article.

I identified 3 areas where the monitor could be very useful for my work.

  1. As an extra screen close to the camera and product when tethering in Capture One.
  2. As the main screen on a location also tethering with Capture One (or Lightroom)
  3. As a video monitor when filming.

To read all technical specs of the monitor, click on this image:

Asus Website
ASUS Website

Let's go to each of the specific uses:

1 - As an extra screen close to the camera and product when tethering in Capture One or Lightroom.

There are many advantages of photographing with the camera directly connected into a computer (Tethering) and the most important is to be able to inspect well the composition, exposure, colour and focus.

This is my current studio setting:

Large screen and keyboard
Large screen and keyboard

I use this large screen attached to a small computer, a small wireless keyboard and a mouse. This stand has wheels and I can move it around the studio when shooting but it is heavy and not really mobile.

My workflow goes like this: Place product on the table, adjust camera and lights, shoot. Walk back to inspect results on the large screen. Walk back adjust, shoot, back to screen. Walk back and forth until it is perfect.

With the ASUS as a second screen, the time and walking have reduced. This is how it looks like as a second screen closer to the product.

Two screens connected
Two screens connected

As you can see, both screens are connected to the same computer as an extended desktop. In this test, I was using a short HDMI video cable and the product is close to the main screen. You can have a long HDMI cable for extra flexibility.

What I love about the screen:

Good resolution, sharp, good colour but the best is IT IS TOUCH SCREEN!

Seriously, it is fantastic to be able to do what you need directly in the screen.

Image zoom touch screen
Image zoom touch screen

Zoom in and inspect focus and exposure. In this picture, I have the focus mask and exposure warning on.

Remote shooting touch screen
Remote shooting touch screen

And you can change the camera settings and fire directly on the screen.

This next image shows the small PC with the Tethered cable (orange) connected, the monitor on a standard light stand and the PC in a clamp attached to the same light stand. Note that the screen is non-reflective and very comfortable to use.

Small computer and screen on Light stand
Small computer and screen on light stand

Extended desktop, touch-screen settings and how it all works

It took me a few hours testing and researching to find out how to get the two screens to work well together.

The two screens have different native resolutions, the larger Benq is a 4K screen and ASUS is Full HD. I did not want to reduce the resolution of the large screen, so the solution was to extend the desktop to both monitors.

Extended desktop

Extended desktop

The monitor started showing the extended desktop on the correct resolution but for the touch screen to work, we need to tell Windows which screen has the touching capability.

This is done by adjusting the "tablet PC Settings" and clicking Setup.

Tablet PC touch screen setting
Tablet PC touch screen setting

It will show the following message on each screen, one at a time. You press "enter" or touch the screen to select the one with the touching capabilities.

Touch screen identification
Touch screen identification

USB C Cable - Video and Touching functionality

The monitor sends the touching screen information to the PC via a USB cable. The video signal goes normally with the HDMI but with my PC, it all goes with the USB-C. So, only one cable can supply the video signal as well as the mouse movement signal.

This small PC I am using inside the studio is an Intel NUC, formally called "Skull Canyon". It is very good and fast.

Preparing Capture One for a second monitor.

Capture One has a "Dual Screen" mode but I found it not to be a good solution here. It spreads the panels over two screens and this is not what I need. I want the main large monitor to show all the normal Capture One tools and panels while the second smaller screen to have only some of the tools.

I need a viewer where I can zoom in on the image and inspect it well, a panel with a histogram and a panel with the camera adjustments.

This is how I did on Capture One. First I created a new Viewer (Windows + Viewer) or F10.

Extra View panel
Extra View panel

I moved the new viewer to the ASUS monitor. You can create as many floating tools as you need and move them to the ASUS monitor.

Duplicaing panels for extra screen
Panels for extra screen

Of all tools that you may float and have on the extra monitor, I selected the Camera and the Exposure Evaluation tools. They are the two most important to me. The following image shows how I am using the monitor. Note that the viewer has only two tools and was customized with the Focus Mark and Expo Warning.

View on Asus Capture One
View on ASUS Capture One

Canon and Fujifilm Cameras X Capture One and Lightroom

I have used Canon cameras (5Ds) and Lightroom for many years and most recently I have started using the Fujifilm GFX 100s and Capture One Pro.

I can talk about the advantages and differences between the cameras and these two great products when capturing images but not in this article. Here I just want to say a few things that are relevant while using the monitor as a second screen.

Capture One and Lightroom normally work a lot better with Canon cameras while tethering. The Live View of Capture One using a Canon camera is close to "perfect". Responsive, full of options and a great pleasure to use. The Live View (CO and Lightroom) for the Fujifilm GFX100s do not work that well. You cannot fire or adjust the camera while on Live View.

I am not saying that it is all perfect with a Canon and not good with Fujifilm. There are things that Capture One communicates better with a Canon camera but there are others that Fujifilm does just as well or better.

This is just to say that if you use a Canon camera (I do not know anything about Nikon or other brands), you may have the Live View on the ASUS screen instead of the viewer as I have.

2 - As the main screen on a location also tethering with Capture One (or Lightroom)

There are times when we have to move out of the studio to a location but do not want to stop tethering and limit our capacity to judge the results on a large screen.

I have used wireless SD card transmitters, CamRanger wireless, laptops and even carried tables, monitors and computers to warehouses, hotels, restaurants and factories. All these options have their advantages and work well but this touch screen creates a very nice, small, light and reliable solution.

The studio computer is very small and light. It is currently attached to the light stand using a clamp with a flexible arm. If you want to have something more permanent, I suggest a double-stick tape and place the computer on the back of the monitor.

It is very easy and fast to move from the studio to a location. All I need to do is to remove the tethering cable from the PC and the HDMI cable from the large screen. It makes for a super-light, fully portable set to take anywhere that has electricity. No need to transfer files in any way. It is just like if you were working in the studio.

When you are back in the studio, no need to transfer anything. It is all on the same computer.

Have a look at these photos where I was photographing using only the ASUS screen.

On-location tethering
On-location tethering

Note the PC with the flexible arm and clamp. A "flexible" solution but works.

On-location tethered
On-location tethering

PC connected to the camera and the monitor.

On-location tethered
On-location tethering

It shows the main screen of Capture One on the ASUS monitor with all your tools on the right place.

In this configuration, I can still have the Capture One "Capture Pilot" server running and the client can see what I am photographing on an iPad/Web/Phone. It does not require any other WiFi software.

I think this solution is better than a notebook because of its price, performance, flexibility and ease of use. You would need a quite good notebook to have the same processing power, hard disk and memory as this small PC. It is easier to move around, it is well secured on the light stand and no need for a keyboard, mouse/mousepad or a table/support for the notebook. You can fit it in a very small place and it is light and powerful. The only disadvantage is that this configuration does not run on batteries.

3 - As a video monitor when filming.

It is not a surprise that the ASUS PA148CTV works very well as a video monitor.

My Fujifilm GFX 100s camera has a micro-HDMI video out and the ASUS PA148CTV also uses this as a video-in port. I used a relatively long (close to 2 meters) cable. It is in fact, for this camera, I used two cables. One is a micro-HDMI to a Female HDMI small cable and the other was a micro-HDMI and a full-size HDMI longer cable. Sometimes we need to place the camera in hard-to-reach places and have a long cable helps.

There are many small video recorders such as the Atomos range that are great. They are an almost required tool for many video producers. This ASUS screen can be used as a larger monitor attached to a recorder or directly connected to the HDMI output of the camera when the main recording is taking place inside the camera. In both cases, its colour quality and precision are very important.

Filming products and monitoring on ASUS

With the Fujifilm GFX100s, you can select the film simulation or the Log type you want to have on the memory card and on the HDMI output port. You can have the HDMI port set to output the video with a Velvia film simulation or any of the 10+ other looks while on the card you record on a low saturation and low contrast (better for colour grading) log-based file.

Focus and Color checking with ASUS

It can also be used to compare each film simulation mode and decide which one is better for a scene. The ASUS screen is of very high image quality, sharp, excellent colour sRGB reproduction and calibrated. A good monitor is very important when filming.


ASUS PA148CTV is light, has good resolution, mat finish (low reflection), great colour rendering, well built, easy to use and adjust. It has a nice support flap on the back for desktop use with plenty of working angles. It comes with a nice padded pouch for transportation as well. All of these are great but for me, what makes it very special is that you can mount it on a light stand or tripod and it is a touch screen.

It can be used as the main screen on light and portable capturing computers for tethering shooting or as a second screen closer to the shooting area. The touch screen allows you to inspect the images well, adjust the camera and all controls fast and easy.

It is also a very nice screen to monitor your video production.

I did not know I needed one but now I want one.

Please send me your comments and questions. Thank you.

Image size dialog for 170dpi - Instructions for fine art paper printing

Adjusting your image size for printing - Image resolution, paper size, margins.

Learn how to adjust the size of your image to print. Page size and margins.

It is important to set the image size for the paper size you want to print. This document will show the parameters to change in Photoshop and the effect on the printing.

Let's start by saying that you should keep all the resolution of your file. The image size dialogue is dangerous as it can delete pixels from your image and create other ones as well.


What is "dpi"? Does it need it to be 300 dpi?

DPI means dots per inch. It is how much information (dots of colours/greys) that are in each inch.

The higher DPI, the better quality printing you can expect as the printer has more information to work with but it is limited to the printer resolution as well. 

Most printers would perform at its best when receiving a file with 300 DPI or higher.



A4 @ 300 dpi

A4 at 300dpi

If we want to print a photo on an A4 size @ 300dpi you will need a file with and an A3 size also @ 300dpi, we would need a file of size 24.9M as 2480 px X 3508 px.

A3 @ 212.15 dpi

A3 size at 212.15 dpi

The same file (2480 x 3508), when printed on an A3 paper, would have  212.15 DPI.

So, DPI is relevant to the size of the file you want to print. As you can see, the same photo will have less "quality" when printed larger.

The image size dialogue in Photoshop

Image size dialog

This photo from inside St Francis catholic church in Melbourne Australia has the size of 8544 px X 5051 px. If I want to print it with a size of 28 cm wide, it will be 16.55 cm high.

The file to be printed at that size has 775.063 dpi. That is a number quite more than our "best" famous 300dpi.

Note that the Resample tickbox is NOT ticked. This is SUPER IMPORTANT.
If you tick this box and change the size of your image, you will delete pixels or artificially add pixels to your image.
Note that the image size and dimensions remain the same when you change the image size.

What would be the max recommended size you can print? (Print at 300dpi)

Image size dialog for 300dpi

As most printers will produce an excellent result when printed at 300 dpi, just change the resolution to 300 dpi and see the max recommended size to print. In this case, a 72 cm x 42 cm print is the maximum recommended print size.

What would be the max size the print will still look good? How much bigger can I go?

Image size dialog for 170dpi

You can normally get a good print at 170 dpi. So if you want to have a larger print without artificial creation of pixels, change the resolution to 170. In this case, you can get a 1.2 meters long print.

Note that there is special software that manipulates the image to produce files that print well on super large sizes or when the original file is of very low resolution for the desired print size. These programs analyse the image and create extra pixels based on other pixels. If you need any of this, contact me.

Why it is a good practice to adjust your print size before sending the file to a printing company?

The answer is to tell the printer the size of the image you want. 

Let's say that you ask to print on an A3 paper. It does not mean that you want to use all the paper. Your image may not have the same aspect ratio of the A3 paper. The aspect ratio is width/height. In this sample, I want to print the church on 28 cm long. 


Print preview on page - Large margin

Note the image was scaled to 100% that means that it will be printed with the size specified on the image size dialogue and centred on the paper.

As the paper in this sample is an A3, we have a significant margin.

What if I want to use as much of the paper as possible?

There are two options. The first one is to change the size of the image on the image size dialogue to the size of the paper - margins.

The second option if to click the "scale to fit media".

I have never noticed any difference between both options.

Image Scale to fit media

The image now goes almost at the edge of the paper. It also has also top and bottom margins as the image aspect ratio is not the same as the paper aspect ratio.

This small margins represented in this image as areas with diagonal lines are defined by the printer's manufacturer. They are useful when placing the image in frames and mats. It is good to have an area to glue.

Can we borderless print?

The printer can print edge to edge and the results are very good despite this warning.

In our example, as the aspect ratio of the photo is not the same as the paper, we will still have the top and bottom margins. 

I have never noticed any difference between both options.

Bordless printing edge warning
Bordless printing preview

So, my suggestions are:

  • Decide on the size you want to print after inspecting the image size window. Change the width and height and notice the resolution. Attention, do not tick the Resample
  • Consider that the image needs to fit on the paper. Example the A3 paper size is 297 x 420 mm.
  • Decide how much margin you want to have or if you want to crop the image to achieve the paper aspect ratio.
  • Always set the image size to your printing size and save the file to be sent to the printer.

If you want to print significantly smaller than the paper size, you will have margins and you can decide the size of each one. You can have the image sitting lower or higher on the page. It does not need to be always in the middle.

Please contact me if you need any printing. Thank you. 


Resolve-Edit-page 2

Pos-production of a music video clip

Article introduction:

This article was initially created in 2016 when we were still using Davinci Resolve 12. Now we are in Resolve version 15 and some of the steps here we no longer perform or perform differently.

Apart from these technical differences, the value of the article remains. The activities and reasoning behind remain relevant.

Post-production workflow overview:

This article explains the post-production steps we took to produce a video for the very talented pianist, Elga Zhara.

The post-production activities are really defined when we plan the video we want to create. The purpose of the video, main messages, emotions and the script will define not only what and how we film but also the post-production activities.

Elga is a classically trained piano player and has recently decided to learn popular tunes and perform professionally.

This video has the main objective to show Elga’s skills and some of the repertoire that she wants to perform professionally.

Instead of showing many long songs and produce a long video, we decided to have only a few bars of each song.

Elga and Daniel (our studio musician and composer) selected the songs that would appeal to a large number of potential clients and created a mix that is pleasant to hear and at the same time demonstrates piano skills and a sophisticated repertoire.

On the filming day, we execute the shooting plan/schedule and have all the footage we need for the plan.

We always film more than we need to reduce risks and to create quality alternatives.  

The amount of extra footage is defined by the type of video and experience.

Let’s jump to this case study and see how we did it.

Watch the video.


Equipment used:

As you probably noticed, we used a few cameras in this video. We used one 4K Black Magic Production camera (4K raw 35mm) to capture Elga’s side showing part of her body and most of the piano keys, a Canon 5D MK3 camera close-up on her face, a Canon 5DS close-up on the hands activity on a 90 degree angle and a Canon 5D MK2 over the top of the keyboard. We also used a GoPro 3 black on some close-ups and difficult angles.

The audio was captured by a 4-channel recorder where two channels were inputs from the keyboard and two from external studio microphones. The external microphones on the cameras capture “reference” audio that will be used only to “sync” each video with the other videos from other cameras.

This is a behind-the-scenes video showing part of the recording session.


Footage inspection before we finish the filming day.

We inspected the videos and audio cards. We checked that we had sufficient good quality material to work with.

During the recording, we stopped and re-started several times to mark parts that we want to use and to separate one song from the next. We check cards from all cameras and several files from each one camera.

At this point, we start to have our favourite songs. It was also a good time to check with Elga which parts she liked best.

Post-processing hardware required:

Video and audio editing is a very intense activity for the computer and you will need one with very fast disks, lots of memory and a super-fast video card or multiple cards (as in our case). These video cards also need to have lots of fast memory if you want to have real-time 4K raw editing.

We also used two large colour calibrated monitors (wide gamma of colours), good speakers and a good coffee machine. I cannot work without coffee. πŸ™‚

Grouping the footage keeping it all organized:

This is a very important task and one that takes a long time.

We back up all footage to an external disk and place a copy of all files into the fastest disk on our fastest server.

The first part is to separate the footage in categories and rename the files as required. Rename the files with the song name and camera. Example: Song1_Camera2 or Song1_Closeup.

I like to create directories for each camera as you can see here:

Folders-with-footage 2Renamed-audio-files 2

Audio editing, enhancements and mastering:

Audio quality is important on all video projects and music videos require special care. We need a more polished audio editing that may include pitch corrections, reverberations and precision frequency adjustments in addition to noise reduction, level and brightness adjustments. 

I used Adobe Audition to cut, mix, fix and master each track for this video. Currently, I execute some of these tasks using the fantastic Davinci Resolve 15 in the Fairlight module

The first step is the selection of each file that has the same music. I mean the same take of the same music.

As you can see from the files on the previous image the music “Beauty and the Beast” (take 1) was recorded by 3 devices. The “BeautyAndBeast 1” is from the main recorder that was capturing from an audio feed from the keyboard, the “1B” is from one of the studio microphones and the “1C” is from the second microphone.

I cut the parts that are not necessary of each audio file.

I clean any noise (clicks or bangs) and reduce background noise.

Then I adjust volume levels and add reverberation, brightness and tone adjustments.

These activities are quite challenging when multiple instruments and voices are used together.

Adobe Audition CC is a great tool to visual inspect frequencies and amplitudes. It has filters that sample and removes background noise.

The following is a screen showing one of the audio files in Audition CC.

Audition-with-Single-Audio-track-1024x491 2

In some projects, we mix multiple audio files and create a multi-track audio file.

For this production, we decided to use only the audio feed from the keyboard.

We separated the stereo audio file into two mono files and re-mixed them back together. This allows us to create channel separation and apply corrections and enhancements in each track separately.

See this multi-track audio mix screen.


Video and audio sync and original audio track replacement:

We have many video and audio files that need to in sync. That means that every video file of the same scene to be at the same point in time with one camera in each track.

The audio files also need to be in sync with each other and in sync to all video files.

When this is done, we can mute the bad (reference) tracks and leave only the best audio tracks.

Not all projects need to have all the files in sync.

If all clips are of only one song (not the case in this project), having all footage in sync at the beginning of the editing process is an advantage. It gives you an overall view of all files and where they can be used.

We use a great tool named Plural Eyes that integrates very well with Adobe Premiere CC but not so well with DaVinci Resolve studio 12.

This is what the Plural Eyes screen looks like. You can see multiple cameras and audio files and how they were positioned one over the other by this amazing tool.

The task of video and audio syncing is still required today but most of it can now be done directly in Davinci Resolve 15. My last 5 projects, I did not use Plural Eyes. 

Plural-Eyes 2

First-cut with DaVinci Resolve Studio 12:

Up to last year, I used Adobe products for all my main video editing tasks.

The NLE (Non-Linear Editing) program was Adobe Premiere CC and complemented by Adobe After Effects CC.

For the colour grading, I used Adobe Speed Grade which integrates well with Premiere and was somehow good to use.

With the new Black Magic DaVinci Resolve Studio 12, I only rarely use Adobe products for videos.

Nowadays I am using very rarely Adobe products for video editing.

I used Resolve Studio 12 for most of the tasks in this project except for the creation of the first timeline. I used Adobe Premiere for the first timeline (first cut).

The first thing required in Resolve is to bring the media into the software and get it organised in “bins” (folders). 

For this project, I used the XML (information file) that was generated by the Plural Eyes 3 and exported back to Adobe Premiere. 

After importing back the timeline, I exported the timeline via an XML generated by Premiere into Davinci Resolve 12.

This last task was required because Resolve 12 does not interface with Plural Eyes well.

With the timeline with all footage synced in Resolve, I started editing, cutting and moving things around.

I trim tracks, move them around and add transition and effects as part of the basic cut phase.

This is a screen of the timeline with the video and audio tracks in Resolve 12.


Resolve-Edit-page 2

Colour grading:

With the basic cut done, it is time for improving the scenes. This phase is called “colour grading” and who does this is called a “colourist”.

At the colour grading phase, the video is enhanced, corrected and aesthetically changed.

It is also when artistic changes are applied to induce emotions or to help in telling the story.

I perform the colour grading in at least two main steps. 

The first one I adjust the video to have a “neutral” colour balance (greys are greys not yellow, green, etc.). Adjust the highlights and blacks to the level of contrast I want that looks natural. I also bring the skin tones to somewhere close to what they look natural.

At this point I am not trying to add any “artistic” look yet. I am just setting a starting point to all other adjustments. The software allows me to save a still image from the video and use it to compare one scene with another.

I still call basic grading all global and local corrections, even if they require tracking (when the adjustments move based on the scene) that have the objective to get to a baseline of a natural-looking video.

I call second grading all adjustments done over the basic grading that have more artistic intent. It can be a conversion to black-and-white, desaturation, high contrast, strong vignette, etc.

In this image you see scopes. I use them to analyse the amount of each colour and luminosity in each scene. The Vectorscope (bottom left) shows the saturation of colours. It is also very handy to adjust skin tones.

Davince-Resolve-12-Scopes-page 2

Create a uniform look among multiple cameras and scenes.

The idea is to have a video where you do not notice that we used different camera models and changes in lighting. A harmonious look among all scenes and cameras.

I adjust all scenes from all cameras to the same levels (greys, highlights, blacks and skin tone) using the scopes, the colour calibrated monitors and stills captured. 

In this screen, I was comparing scenes from multiple cameras. My main interest was to have a similar skin tone, similar dark black and bright whites from one scene to the next.

Davinci resolve edit page

Image stabilization, camera movements, zoom effects and transitions.

I introduce zoom effects where I want to zoom into a part of the original scene.

I also add camera movements effects that simulate a true camera movement.

If required, I apply image stabilization to reduce camera shakes.

Here I also adjust some of the transition effects from the basic cut.

Localized corrections:

Imagine that we want to light up only the face of a person or to add some “skin softness”.

As this person moves around on the screen from one frame to the next, we need to adjust where the corrections need to be applied on every frame.

It required some “masking” and “tracking” to apply the corrections only on the areas we need.  There are many ways to create masks and many options to adjust tracking paths.

See the following screen:

Davince-Resolve-12-Colour-panels-screen 2

Applying adjustments using nodes:

I apply the corrections using nodes (small thumbnails on the right).

They work similarly to layers where each node is applied in sequence.

You can copy and move them around, change the sequence, divide channels of colour and many more sophisticated adjustments.

In this screen, you can see that I have a mask on Elga’s face to apply some adjustments only on her skin.

One very common use of masks is to create vignettes. Vignettes are very effective in leading the viewer eyes to important parts of the scene. 

The artistic look and versions

The artistic look of the video is one of the last phases of video post-processing.

Before I start with any creative changes I save the project with all the basic adjustment.

The version controls inside Resolve 12 are very good for this.

I reset the timeline to the “clean” version many times before I made up my mind on which look is best for each video.  

The version control is a great way to present options for the client and to be able to switch from one version to the other without too much work.

For this video, I decided to keep it as real as possible to pass the message that Elga is a true, honest and real person with a crisp and polished technique and repertoire.

The video was not to create any particular emotional reaction and I did not want to add anything that would distract the viewer from her technique.

Titles, logos and final reviews:

The very last steps are to introduce titles, logos and to watch the whole video one time.

In other projects, we may need to add a voice over audio, background music, rolling titles, special effects, slides/stills and many other enhancements.

When I am happy with the video, I export a version to the client to approve. I add a timer on the screen to assist them in marking the place they need changes.

Render the final video:

This is where we can render the video to multiple media servers (YouTube, Vimeo, etc). Here that I adjust the resolution and compression mode based on where the video will be played.

Davince-Resolve-12-Deliver-Page 2


Now you know the number of tasks that are required on a simple video production to make them look and sound their best. It is quite normal to spend many days editing a 3 minute video.

The best way to keep every video project on schedule and "on budget" is to plan it well and have a good execution of the plan.

A good editor and colourist can process a video quite fast when they know what is to be done, the sequence of scenes and the story. They will take much longer if they need to “come up with something” from a sequence of video files.

We offer all our customers an initial free of charge 1-hour meeting. It allow us to understand the idea and come up with a plan and estimated cost.

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Zoom Studio logo animation using particles. Graphics animation and special effects.

Logo animation using particles. Video produced using Davinci Resolve 15 fusion by Jose Aguiar.

5D S at 100 Zoom Sharpenned


Do you need all this resolution? Why and when you need it?

The original article was written when Zoom Studio was named Aguiar Photography.

In my commercial photography business, I always try to have the best equipment for the job and Canon has just released the Canon 5D-S with a 50.6-megapixel full-frame sensor. Firstly I would like to say that I do not have any business relationship with Canon and I am not sponsored by Canon. I have been using Canon cameras for a long time. I used film cameras such as the Canon AE1,  A1 and T90 as well as a long list of digital cameras.

A few weeks ago I received a 5DS and a 5DS-R from Canon Melbourne (Canon Professional Services) to test and choose which model would be best for us in the studio. I selected the 5DS as it is a more versatile camera.

This post is not about the new features or the comparison between the two models. It is a practical test comparing images from a Canon 5D Mark 3 with 22 megapixels and the 5D S with 50 megapixels. The objective is to see if we have practical advantages using the new camera.

The test was to photograph a simple but detailed object using the same lens, location, angle, exposure and only change the body of the camera from the 5D MK 3 to 5D S. The second part is to inspect both images and compare the results.

Firstly you can see the two images without any cropping. You can click on the image to see it larger. These are 1200 px wide Jpg images.

5D MK3 Full Image
5D MK3 Full Image
5DS Full Image
5DS Full Image

Canon 5DS full frame image

Observation 1:

Looking at these two photos, when they are reduced to a web-friendly size and JPG compressed, there is not any significant advantage from one camera to the other.

That is only true if you know that you will only need these images on relatively small sizes such as the ones currently used on the web and will not need them any significantly larger. Ever.

Let's see these two images at 100 % view. That means the "print" size.

The Canon 5D MK III is really a great camera and you can read a lot of what is in the posters. Click on the image to see it larger.

The Canon 5D S at the same 100% view presents a larger image. Note that these two images were not sharpened.

5D MK 3 at 100 Zoom
5D MK 3 at 100 Zoom

Canon 5D S Image at 100% View

5DS at 100 Zoom
5DS at 100 Zoom

This is the 5DS 100% View after a sharpen filter is applied. Click on the images and see if you can read the small prints.

5D S at 100 Zoom Sharpenned
5D S at 100 Zoom Sharpenned

Observation 2:

The 100% view shows already the amount of extra information that the 5DS has when comparing to the 5D MK 3. It means that you can have a very large, super sharp, top quality print without any special software,

Nowadays we have very good programs that prepare small images to be printed bigger than it would normally be acceptable. They work on creating pixels based on nearby pixels. The final results vary a lot from product to product and from image to image.

The "native" (300 pixels/inch) of a 5D MK 3 using all the sensor would produce a print 32 cm x 48 cm and the 5D S would produce a print 49 cm x 73 cm.  These sizes are only indicative and with a properly exposed image, you should be able to produce much larger images.

I do not want to go on defining how large one print can go as it depends on so many factors such as the subject, artistic interpretation of the image, paper, where it will be displayed, the distance it will be seen, sharpness applied and so on.

Basically, big files, big prints, huge files, huge prints.

Now let's imagine that our client wants to have a print-only the poster "The Gondoliers". It would be such a small part of the whole frame. Could we do it? See these images:

To get that close to the poster, I have to zoom 732%. It shows each pixel.

5D MK III at 732 Zoom
5D MK III at 732 Zoom

I do not think the Canon 5DS image of the poster can be used as is but at a bit smaller size parts of it could be used. Compare the faces on the poster on the left side.

Canon 5DS at 465% zoom.

Observation 3:

Having a bigger resolution image gives you more crop options and gives you more future options for the images. You may decide later to enlarge only parts of one image showing more details or a different perspective.  Having big resolution files will help your images to be useful for longer. Currently, our TVs and computer monitors are only up to 4K resolution (8 Mega Pixels) and a 20 megapixel image is approximately 1.5 bigger than the resolution of the TV. How will that image look like in the TV 10 or 20 years from today?

The disadvantage of having big high-resolution cameras:

  • Price
  • Storage - Memory cards and backup disks
  • Time copying and processing files
  • Need to have top quality lenses
  • Need to have good technique when capturing the images. Vibrations and all small problems become big problems.

There are many other technical items of the two cameras such as noise during low light conditions and high light details recovery that I have not compared. I still love and regularly the Canon 5D MK 3 and probably in a few months I will be able to give my impressions on other aspects of the 5DS body.

There are two features of the 5DS that I love. One is the "Mirror lock" at 1/8s or 1/4s. It moves the mirror up and shot after 1/4s. A great way to reduce vibration without needing to press the shutter twice as with the 5D MK 3. I wish Canon releases an update for the 5D MK3 including this feature. The second one is the USB 3 cable. It is so good to work tethered (connected directly to the computer) and have the full RAW image transferred in seconds. The cable has a plastic part that screws onto the body of the camera and keeps it all well connected.

To close this article, I have prepared the following image showing the size of the images of some popular cameras and sizes.

Sizes Compare
Sizes Compare

Please leave your comments, questions and share this post. Thank you.

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