EOS 550d Zebra Stripes Workaround

Many people have said that it’s a shame the 550d has no ‘Zebra Stripes’ and whilst this lack of functionality is certainly a pain for some people… it needn’t be! All it takes is a few seconds of pre-planning.

Now, to put this in perspective: I didn’t buy my 550d as a video camera, silly as this may sound. I’m a FILM maker and when shooting with an HDSLR, I treat them in much the way as when shooting on film, the only difference being the capture format so this small workaround fits in really well and is worth the few seconds it takes:

First, record a second or two of the scene, fully lit. Stop the recording and press the [Play] button.
The first frame of the image will display on the LCD.

Press the [DISP.] button (fig. 1) to enable the R.G.B. HISTOGRAM view (fig. 2).

fig. 1

fig. 2

With the true R.G.B. Histogram displayed, you can see the spread of light across individual wavelengths (a valuable feature of the EOS range) and you can immediately look for clipped colours.
Press [DISP.] again and it will also display the WHITE Histogram (fig. 3).

fig. 3

Being armed with this information is a step in the right direction, but we’re not done yet.
Press [SET] to play the clip you just recorded and if any areas are clipped, they will flash on the LCD to warn you, in much the same way as a Zebra stripe would (fig. 4).

fig. 4

A major benefit of this method is that clipping is measured from the Histogram, not the display (as with Zebra striped on almost every camcorder that uses them) so you don’t need to worry about your LCD screen being too bright and affecting the reading.

As I said, it’s a workaround that fits nicely into my workflow when working on a set or under controlled circumstances. Appreciate this isn’t ideal for everyone, but it’s better than nothing and, in some ways, better than true striping.

Hope it works for you too.


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