Picture Profile Guide.

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.

300x250_xdcam_150dpi Picture Profile Guide.

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.

460x150_xdcam_150dpi Picture Profile Guide.

53 thoughts on “Picture Profile Guide.”

  1. Hey Alister,

    I wanted to shoot a documentary with either an ex1, ex3, or wait for the PMW200 – which I thought was supposed to come out soon…

    I would go with ex1 or ex3 with nanoflash because I can see the BBC profile settings for those cameras… Which I want to follow because, hey, ya never know – maybe they’ll be interested! 🙂

    But, to save money on the external recorder, I want to wait for the PMW200.

    My question is: Would I be able to use the same picture profiles of the ex1/ex3 with the PMW200 for the BBC’s recommended set up? Also, the PMW200 isn’t approved yet… So I am worried… Would there be any reason for it not to be approved?

    I’m editing this in Avid MC6, so I can follow their editing guidelines from the site. There’s still my basic questions such as: what dB level/ranges should the DIAL stem, Music stem, and Effects stem be?

    Also, I would mix the footage with several GoPro Hero II cameras. I know I’m limited to 20% of the content, but how will it mix up? Should I use the Cineform Neoscene converter since the other footage would be 1080/25p at 50 MBs w/ 4:2:2 Color?

    Sorry for all the questions, but I hope you can help.


    1. I’d wait for the PMW-200. The BBC will I’m sure issue some preferred settings for the PMW-200, but as with the EX1 etc, these are just for guidance they are not compulsory. You should always use the most appropriate picture profile for YOUR production and type of shots and these may well be quite different from the BBC’s generic settings.

      The BBC are not going to reject your material because you didn’t use their PP settings. The BBC and other European broadcasters now follow EBU R118 and the PMW-200 complies with Tier 2L so should be fine for long form production.

      The GoPro will always look different to a PMW-200 or EX, but then the types of shots you do with the GoPro will be very different. A little bit of post production grading should make them close enough that they won’t jar. In my “Night of Wonders” video I mix GoPro material with PMW-F3 material and while it may have a slightly different look it doesn’t detract from the flow of the film.

      Sorry I can’t help with stem settings, I’m not even sure what they are! Maybe someone else here can jump in?

  2. I am an amateur especially camcorders like Sony A1, V1, H5 and lately the PMW-EX1R. Similarly, over time I have followed his reporting, analysis, reviews you posted, thanking so appreciable support all or hobby than necessity we are dedicated to the shooting. But on this occasion, to the despair that causes me the circumstance, I trouble you with support and advice to see what shape the PMW-EX1R camera you can modify the look muddy brown clay type in the default setting that chamber sample. Thank you.

    1. If you change the “Crispening” setting to -99 in a picture profile you will get a less muddy image but there will be a little more noise and grain.

      1. Alister, I appreciate the information provided regarding the profile of the image, which I immediately implemented with very good resultados.Thanks!

  3. Hi Alister,

    I’m a french Dop who gonna use 6 caméras sony F3 for a very dark captation of dance show.
    So I need to complete my knowlege about picture profil.

  4. Hi Alister
    I recently purchased the pmw 200 which I very happy with.

    My question regards shooting a green screen with this camera and I wanted your opinion on what settings, or PP, you think would be best for this. the framing will be a 3/4 to half body shot as the person is talking to the camera.

    thank you!


    1. If you have control of your lighting then a standard gamma (STD5) would be best, maybe even turn off the knee. Reduce the detail level to -10 or turn it off. Remember with chroma key, lighting is the secret of success. Get good background – foreground lighting separation with your green nice an bright, ideally between 50 and 70% to keep it noise free. Consider using the camera on it’s side to shoot the head and shoulders in portrait to make more use of the full frame and get a better key.

  5. Hello,

    The NEX-EA50UH PP has Color Depth setting for GRBCMY and I believe FS100 and FS700 have it also. As far as I understand, the Color Depth setting is for saturation but I am not sure how to pick the best value for each color. Would you like to shed some light on this? Thank you.

    1. The color depth setting is a bit strange. It works by altering the luma level for each of the colors, Green, Red, Blue, Cyan, Magenta and Yellow. As the saturation remains fixed, when you change the luma the ratio of colour to saturation changes so the colour becomes either more washed out or more intense. But you have to be careful, for example trying to make the sky bluer by increasing the B level makes the brightness of the sky lower, so the color becomes less washed out. But a dark blue sky can then look odd on a sunny day.

  6. Hi Alister
    Is there any good picture profiles you could suggest for the F5 other than the Abel Cine ones? I am trying to dial out some red on the Normal abel cine profile but it is to the detriment of other colours which is how it works, I know,but I cant seem to find a happy medium where my greens and reds are true to the eye .Any advise on this would be appreciated as I know you get great stuff out of your F5 and the storm cells you posted recently were outstanding.Trying to get that same natural colour to the eye as a start point.

  7. We recently got a PMW-100 to act as a secondary camera to our EX-1. However, I’ve noticed a lot pf noise from the PMW-100 when I shoot against the green screen, colors are a bit washed out and it’s almost impossible to key. We’ve never used any kind of Picture profile, but would one help in our current situation?

    1. I don’t think a picture profile is going to make a significant difference. Unfortunately the PMW-100 is not a great camera. It only has a single sensor and uses a bayer filter so it’s considerably less sensitive and much more noisy compared to an EX1. The single sensor design means the colour resolution is much much lower than an EX so keying will be very difficult.

  8. Hello friends,

    next friday the 18th of jan 2014 I need to shoot a videoclip with my EX3.
    The whole clip is filled with white balloons ans people wearing white.
    I need a good exposure. Preserve the details in the whites, and not crushed shadows.
    Which gamma curve or picture profile settings do you guys/girls recommend?

    Thanks a lot. Hope there comes a quick anwser because i need to start filming friday.


  9. Hey, Alister

    This is what I was looking for. Thank you for posting this un-documented information! Help me a lot. I have a question: which is the best picture profile to avoid noise and grain shooting outdoor with natural lightning?

    Thanks again

  10. Hi All,
    I want adjust my XDcam profiles for the best possible results for profile to IMAG.
    My crew uses two PMW-350 and one PMW-355. I’ve tweaked a bit here and there but just can’t seem to figure out what is best.
    My Lighting Guy usually blasts every color onto the stage and my frequent dilemma is usually low light. Very often things are often softer than I like. I think it would be a good idea to boost detail, but really want the best combination.
    In addition, the IMAG is projected which always tends to make my blacks more grey.
    Plus, things can get a bit grainy. I would love any suggestions.

  11. Hi,

    Very interesting informations. Thank you.
    In EX1r it is possible to change gamma curve in Picture Profiles. But the camera works also without gamma curve correction. What gamma and color space has EX1r without applying any picture profile?


  12. Hi Mr A
    I have used your “film” picture profile but when I did it made some strange colours that the Sony repair shop tells me its due to the PP “film”. Basically it makes the reds / orange come out pink. Here is some footage I shot with a crew and you can see the guitar of the singer is pink on the left camera (me) but on all other cameras its an orangey red…. any help or advise gladly taken. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7YkBnIxPAw&spfreload=10
    Regards Philip

    1. Well the film look PP’s are there to create a stylised look that mimics the way modern films are graded. It’s not meant to be accurate, it’s meant to create a style.

  13. Hi Alister.

    At Sony I was updated the firmware to the latest version available for my camera PDW-850 Xdcam HD.
    Unfortunately, not having saved the setting of the picture profile before, now I have all parameters reset. I wanted to ask if the setting of the picture profile from the BBC concerning the PDW-700 can go just as well or, if you could give me a little help.
    (sorry for my english!)

  14. Hello. I read your guide. Compliments.
    In short I have to buy a sony rx 10ii for video. I need some presets on how to make the most of.
    Thanks for the reply.

  15. Hi Alister

    Many thanks for your insight and advice over the years.
    I have three XF305 and despite using your BBC picture profile Im disappointed by the colour rendition and contrast particularly in tungsten . Also low light performance is pretty dreadful ! Anything I can do please ?

    I still love my Sony PMW 350 despite not being 50mbs

    If i was to sell the three 305s which doc style camera would you go for ?



    1. The XF-305’s achilles heel is the 1/3″ sensors. Small sensor = poor low light and restricted dynamic range. There’s nothing you can do about that. It’s also an older design now (6 years is a very long time in electronics these days).

      There is such a massive range of “doc style” cameras these days. Everything from DSLR’s to high end ENG cameras. FS7 is a great all-rounder large sensor camera, PXW-X200 is a modern take on the 1/2″ handycam with a great lens and nice features and the new PXW-X320 is 1/2″ broadcast ready shoulder cam and the x400 is a full 2/3″ broadcast cam.

    1. Shoot a MacBeth chart and use the color chart match function in resolve to match both cameras. Then make a LUT that you can use in any grading application based on the correction that resolve makes.

  16. Hy. thanks for that. Just one question. When i use picture profile (EX3) i have to set my white balance manually in the picture profile and the WB button on “preset”. So in an action situation, i should have one profile with each white balance setup ?
    sorry for my english !

    1. You can still white balance using a white/grey card and the push to set function when using picture profiles.

  17. Hey Alister.

    Are there any BBC settings for the PMW300? I’m setting up a shoot in Australia. Shooting conditions are in most quite harsh sunlight. All our talent wear hats, which means their faces are quite dark against the background. Could you suggest settings that might help with this, please? Bear in mind that we’ll also be using Gopros, Inspire X5 drones and Osmo X3 cameras, so there will quite a bit of grading happening.

    Currently I have my black levels and black gamma both on 0. Low Key Sat – 0. Gamma on level 0 on HG2.

    Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you.

  18. Hi Alister

    I have a job shooting black and white on A7R coming up, is there any picture/technical advantages to desaturating in camera over doing it in post?

    thanks in advance

    1. There may be the smallest noise improvement by desaturating in camera. I’ve never tested, but any difference would be very, very small. I’d do it in post.

  19. Hello Alister, I’m on a behind the scenes type job on a horror feature and am using the Sony PXW-Z100 for the first time. What picture profile settings (in paint menu) should I use to allow the most dynamic range for color grading ? I’m looking for something perhaps similar to the technicolor cinestyle profile for a 5D. Thank you in advance! Z

    1. The Z100 has a fairly limited dynamic range (about 10 stops) and non of the gamma choices offer more dynamic range than any of the others. So really it’s a case of picking the gamma curve that is closest to the look that you want.

  20. Hi Alister
    Sorry if this may drag down the more technical-oriented direction of this forum,…
    As an AX100 owner, I’m curious how you would characterize the ‘Cinematone’ setting? Is it related to any of the ‘Cine’ gamma settings in the picture profiles found on the newer AX700/NX80/Z90?

    1. Cinematone is not like the Cinegammas. The Cinegammas extend the cameras dynamic range. Cinematone does not extend the DR as the cameras that have Cinematone only have a limited dynamic range anyway. Cinematone creates a slightly less video, more film look, but don’t bring any dynamic range or other advantage.

  21. Hi, Alister,
    How do I match the FS7mk2 with the a7smk3 – if we do not want to use slog? Setting with the Alpha: PictureProfile2 with movie colors. Is there a scene file for the fs7 that you provide that matches that Setting?

    1. You don’t. The sensors are very different, so the colour response is very different. You might get close under one particular lighting situation with a set of setting, but change the lighting and it will be different again.

  22. Hi Alister, Have you had any experience matching the FX6 and FX30 when both are shooting S-Cinetone? I understand they are going to have inherently different tints but Sony says the Cinema line cameras should all match up relatively well. These two cameras in particular don’t seem to match well at all when shooting S-Cinetone. Would it be a matter of slowly dialing in some new tint values on the FX30 until it’s a bit of a closer match to the FX6?

    1. I find they match extremely closely when you use the same lens etc and you do a white balance off a white card rather than relying on the preset values to be the same (which they almost never are).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.