In continued preparation for shooting Damnationland, I really wanted to refine the process of getting the darkest image possible while retaining high image quality and low noise. After doing some basic underexposure tests I found that I really enjoy the look of 2 stops under for the key. With that in mind, I tested a few ISO’s to see what would be the best to shoot with. Considering the native ISO for the 5D is 320 it wasn’t surprising that ISO 320 and 640 were the best noise while underexposing.
Trying to bake in the look as much as possible I did a test shooting at ISO 320 at 2 stops under as the base exposure and unfortunately the noise levels really became unacceptable. This led me to testing grading down in post, first using a proper exposure and then a base of 1 stop underexposed. The results were that starting at 1 stop under as a base flattened the highlights, retained image quality, had acceptable noise, and allowed me to grade the image down to closely match the in-camera 2 stop underexposure look.