HDR Monitoring May Just Change the Way You Shoot LOG. Forever.

Here's a few reasons why HDR might just be the next big thing (and why you already may be shooting HDR without knowing it.) HDR or High Dynamic Range is a relatively new term which generally refers to display technology. This fancy new abbreviation may seem a bit daunting and cause a few "facepalms" in some of you, but truth is literally in the eye of the beholder here.


I make no claims to be an expert on the topic, however, just like to most of you out there, HDR is a new thing for us at Visual Impact, and as we do our best to stay abreast on the latest technology in our industry so as to be able to better serve our customers.

This is why we recently organised an exclusive Open-Day Event with the good folks at Atomos and Global Distribution, who brought some of their latest Atomos Flame series HDR monitor/recorders, which we paired to some cameras like the Canon C300 mark II, Sony FS7, Sony A7s II, and a Panasonic GH4 to demonstrate the benefits and de-mystify rather just what in the world is HDR. We also had our friends from Cirro Lite come over and construct a beautifully lit HDR set with their brand new KinoFlo SELECT LED lights and Dedolight LEDs.

HDR open day

The event received an overwhelming response as we packed our studio in our Teddington base where those who attended had the opportunity to grill our technical experts on all aspects of HDR and how it impacts their productions. Each production is different, however the basics are relatively easy.

  • What is HDR? 

According to the UHD Alliance "Dynamic range creates contrast in the images – the difference between the brightest whites and the darkest blacks. Images with high contrast can be shown with much greater clarity and detail. It’s designed to deliver an image that has greater details in the shadows and highlights"

In other words, HDR images on an HDR capable 4K TV simply "pop" with more vivid colours and a lot more detail. Now this is a lot different than just cranking up your saturation and contrast way up - normal TV's even if they are UHD/4K are usually still locked in the old Rec.709 colour space which is really limiting. BT.2020 is the new 10bit (also supports 12bit) UHD standard, which will replace the ageing Rec.709 hopefully in the very near future and enable TV's which support it, to be able to display true HDR content.

HDR graph Image by UHD Alliance.

However, It all starts with Rec.709 - the cornerstone colour space of your very own television set. At least at the moment. The problem with REC.709 is that it is an archaic standard; it's only 8bit and can only display about 6 stops of dynamic range maximum. The brightness levels in Rec.709 are just 100 nits! To be HDR compliant according to the UHD Alliance body, a Premium UHD TV set has to be able to display 1000 nits of brightness.

This is quite shocking considering the fact that most professional cameras sold today (if not all of them) capture images with nearly twice if not more dynamic range! Cameras like the Panasonic Varicam LT or Sony FS7 for example can capture images with roughly 14 stops dynamic range (when shooting in their respective LOG gamma curves), most of which is lost when the delivery file is locked into a Rec.709 compliant format and colour space.

In addition to the dramatically increased brightness HDR is comprised of a few other components - an increase in resolution (UltraHD 4K instead of 720p or 1080p), a Wide Colour Gamut can display more life-like and vidid colours, and faster frame rates up to 120fps (and only progressive) and more immersive audio, thus considerable transforming your viewing experience.

All technical terms and nonsense aside - HDR better in every way! This isn't just an increase in resolution - it is the only way at the moment to truly appreciate 4K content - and you don't have to sit a meter away from your 50 inch TV. That's the beauty of HDR - everything appears brighter, with more detail - it just looks better in every possible way!

ultra-hd Premium LOGO

So if you are in the market for a new TV, which supports HDR the above logo is what you should be looking for. The UHD Alliance (a group mainly comprised of the leading TV manufacturers like LG, Sony, Samsung and many others) is not the only body to certify what an HDR TV set should have, but for the sake of simplicity the following parameters must be met in order for a television set to carry the logo above.

  • Resolution: minimum of Ultra HD - 3840 x 2160 pixels
  • Colour depth: 10-bit minimum (12 bit is also supported by BT.2020, but those will cost the moon initially)
  • Colour gamut: Minimum 90 percent of the P3 colour gamut
  • High dynamic range: SMPTE ST2084 support (very important for BT.2020 contrast compliance)
  • Brightness and contrast ratios: A minimum brightness of 1,000 nits, along with a black level of a maximum of 0.05 nits (20,000:1 contrast ratio), or a minimum brightness of 540 nits, along with a black level of a maximum of 0.0005 (1,080,000:1).

But what about the content? Well, if your camera has a LOG profile - you can are already capturing HDR content. The problem is you can't see it properly with a REC.709 monitor or the built in monitors/EVF in your camera.


This is where the new HDR monitors from Atomos - the Ninja and Shogun Flame come in. They support 10bit HDR via the revolutionary AtomosHDR engine which allows users to actually see their HDR footage when shooting LOG and expose correctly. Check out the video below for more details on what Atomos Flame series can do for you.

The AtomHDR engine solves the limited colour representation issues plaguing previous generation 8-bit displayes by allowing users to view reliable, vivid and lifelike images even when shooting LOG from popular cameras like the Sony PXW-FS5, FS7, C300 Mark II or any other professional or pro-sumer camera. The Shogun Flame also supports Raw recording from the Sony FS7, FS700 Canon C300 Mark II and C500 cameras.

The AtomHDR engine not only resolves HDR brightness detail (dynamic range), with 10-bit Colour processing it also resolves 64 times more colour information than traditional 8-bit panels. For Rec.709 standard dynamic range scenes the 1500nits brightness aids with outdoor shooting as does the upgraded power management system that will keep you shooting longer in the field.

Atomos Shogun Flame Features

  • 7-inch 10-bit 1920 x 1200 HDR IPS Monitor
  • 1500 nit birghtness for bright outdoor conditions
  • AtomHDR engine and HDMI connections
  • Records 4K & HD 10-bit ProRes/DNxHR
  • 4K Raw recording for Sony FS700/FS7 and Canon C300 II/C500
  • Rugged Design
  • 2 x batteries, Sun Hood and hard case included

The Shogun Flame features a state of the art calibrated 7-inch 1920x1200 325ppi panel with upgraded 10-bit FRC, capable of resolving 1.07 billion colours compared to the 16.7 million colours of traditional 8-bit panels. This all but eliminates the colour branding seen on traditional panels and in tandem with AtomHDR lets you see images as you would with your own eyes

For scenes that do not have the wide brightness variation required for HDR shooting, switch to traditional video mode (Rec.709) and activate a Brightness slider that lets you take advantage of the impressive Daylight viewable 1500nits of brightness emanating from the Flame units. This adds huge versatility for the Flame series; if you have scenes that call for HDR then the AtomHDR engine can be activated; if don't require HDR support, switch to High Bright mode for outdoor monitoring hood free.

Shogun Flame incorporates a rugged built in armour shell around the beatiful display ensuring it is battle-ready for the field and also now inherits the Atomos patented continuous power system pioneered on our HD range. The hot-swappable dual battery system automatically swaps to the second battery when power is low, allowing hot swapping to new fresh batteries.

The Atomos Flame series will definitely change the way you shoot HDR with your camera, and just like all attendees who came to our open day saw for themselves, HDR is simply something you need to see for yourself as words can't really do it justice.

For all your HDR needs, do get in touch with our Sales Team at 0208 977 1222 or browse our website here.