Here’s a quick reference guide to what the various settings in a Picture Profile do. Not all of the settings are available on every camera.
Detail Level: Changes apparent image sharpness by artificially boosting contrast around edges and coarse image details by adding a black or white edge. Does NOT actually increase resolution, only apparent sharpness. See here for more in depth information. Contrast based so be careful when shooting flat and boosting contrast in post.
Detail Frequency: Alters thickness of the applied Detail sharpening edges. Positive value is thiner than negative value. High positive values can lead to flickery edges.
Detail Black/White Limit: Sets upper and lower limits for how bright or how dark the detail correction edges can be.
H/V Ratio: Alters the balance of detail applied in the horizontal and vertical axis. Almost never needs adjusting.
V DTL Creation: Chooses the source signal for generation of the detail correction information. Normally set to Y (luma) but can be taken from G only which in some cases can lead to reduced noise visibility, but images with little green will be soft.
Knee Aperture Level (Detail): Not to be confused with Gamma Knee Aperture. Detail Knee Aperture controls addition of detail correction in knee highlights. You don’t want extra sharpening in the compressed knee highlights.
Crispening: Sets the threshold level for the application of Detail enhancement. Low value makes image look sharper, but may increase noise visibility, high value decreases appearance of noise at the expense of a softer image. See here for more in depth information on crispening.
Aperture: Adds high frequency boost to fine details making them look sharper. Most noticeable on textures and subtle details. High values will make noise more apparent, no effect on contrast. See here for more info on aperture.
Matrix: Allows selection of differing colour matrices that will give different colour ranges and saturation levels. Note that different gamma settings will also alter colourimetry. See my Video on the EX matrix here and read this for differences between white balance and the matrix.
Saturation or Matrix Level: Controls colour level of the image. As there is a limit to how much colour can be recorded, too high a saturation level can result in strong colours reaching that limit and getting clipped. This is then very difficult to fix in post. Be careful using high saturation levels, often better to do this in post production.
Hue: Similar to Phase. Changes the overall colour phase of the camera. Too much adjustment may result in very strange colour response, use with care.
Color Correction: Allows selection of a single narrow colour range that can have it’s hue shifted. Allows you to pick a colour in your scene and change that colour to another.
R-G, R-B, G-R, G-B, B-R, B-G: Individual level and phase adjustments for the 6 primary colour vectors. In each case the level of the first character is adjusted while the phase of the second is adjusted. So increasing R-G increases the Red level and shifts the Green phase. This interaction makes adjusting these very tricky.
Multi Matrix: Similar to Color Correction (above) but allows for multiple adjustments to specific colour channels, for example R (Red) only. Can sometimes give unpredictable results to objects that are near to or between colour channels.
Preset White: Sets the colour temperature for the preset white balance setting. Normally 3200 for tungsten (indoors), 5600 for daylight (outdoors). 4400 for Fluorescent lighting.
Offset White: Allows an offset to be applied to the A, B or ATW white balance adjustment. Can be used to warm or cool the image. Positive value warms (redder), negative cools (bluer).
Gamma: Alters the gain of the camera at different brightness levels to match the gamma of the viewing device. The standard gamma for HD TV is REC-709. Std 3 on an EX is REC-709. Non standard gammas result in less accurate image reproduction with less accurate contrast, but sometimes this give a visually more pleasing image or allow a greater dynamic range to be captured. As gamma is a form of gain image may be brighter/darker and noisier or less noisy with different gamma curves. See here for more information on gamma and gamma curves.
Knee: Compresses image highlights to improve dynamic range beyond the 5 to 6 stops of a conventional gamma.
Knee Point: Sets the luma (brightness) level at which Knee compression starts.
Knee Slope: Sets the amount of knee compression. Note that too much compression may prevent exposure ever reaching 100%
Knee Saturation (Knee Aperture): Sets the saturation or colour level in the knee area. As the knee luma level is compressed the saturation level must also be reduced to match otherwise you get over saturated colours in the scene highlights.
CineGamma or HyperGamma: Special non standard gamma curves developed to give improved dynamic range and improved high light handling. May look a little flat compared to standard gammas.
Black Gamma: Adjusts the gain of the lower (darker) parts of the gamma curve. Makes the picture look more/less contrasty. Negative value make the darker parts of the image darker, but note that too much negative black gamma can lead to crushed or clipped blacks. For more info on scene file black gamma click here.
Black Level: Sets the pedestal or zero level for black. Large negative values will cause dark areas of the scene to be clipped. Positive values will result in a grey looking image as black level becomes artificially high. Does not increase dynamic range, despite making image look flat. Rarely needs adjustment beyond +/- 5.
Low Key Sat: Changes the saturation in low key or darker parts of the image. Useful for reducing colour in dark scenes. Can help keep noise levels under control as chroma (colour) noise can be objectionable in dark scenes.
Skin Detail Correction: Allows user to select a specific narrow colour range and then reduce the amount of detail correction or sharpening applied to anything that colour. Idea is to allow selective softening of faces.