Black Gamma

One of the adjustments that you can make to the Gamma curves is the Black Gamma. Adjusting the Black Gamma stretches or compresses the bottom part of the gamma curve, this makes the darker parts of the picture darker (negative setting) or brighter (positive setting). When setting the Black Gamma you will find 4 different ranges to choose from. Low, Low-Mid, Hi-Mid and High. These settings determine the range over which the black gamma works. Low only effects the darkest 10% of the image, L-Mid the bottom 20%(approx), H-Mid the lowest 30%(approx) and Hi the lower 35% (approx). So if you just want to make your deep shadows and blacks darker you would use Low. If you want to make the overall image more contrasty you would use H-Mid or Hi. I like to give my images a bit more impact so I often use H-Mid at -30. If the pictures are to be graded I would not use any negative black gamma.

15 thoughts on “Black Gamma”

    1. There are always compromises when it come to how you shoot. If you have no idea of the look that you want, then you should shoot flat and leave it to post. In which case I would not make any black gamma changes but I would set the black level to -3 to eliminate the unnecessary pedestal level. Otherwise I would tweak the image to get close to the desired final look and then just tweak and fine tune in post. This is particularly important if your only using an 8 bit codec.

  1. Hi Alister.
    I just bought 2 Sony FS7s, but I have a number of clients that just love the look of a 5Dmark3 on it’s regular colour profile. So I’d like to make a scene file that makes the FS7 look as much like the 5D as possible, so I can take advantages of all the features of the Fs7 on those shoots.
    Any suggestions on how to match the blacks properly? I have next to no experience in this.

      1. You should try using the Hypergamma 3 with the FL Light matrix. It’s not quite the same but warmer than the stock Sony look.

  2. Hi Alister,

    Does the Black Gamma setting affect shooting against a black backdrop the way auto knee affects a white backdrop?

    If I want deep inky blacks as a background but lovely roll off on light wrapping around the face what approach would you suggest? This would be shooting Cinestyle 3 with footage handed off directly to client.


  3. Hi Alister. Can you explain the difference between adjusting the black gammas compared to adjusting the master black setting? Thanks. You are an amazing resource.

    1. Master black sets the black pedestal or absolute black recording level. It has no effect on contrast or dynamic range, but if set too high instead of black the shadows will be grey. Black gamma alters the contrast in the lower part of the capture range.

  4. Good day. How to best set up a Sony PDW F330 camera? what values ??to set, Matrix, Knee, black..etc. Thank you.

    1. It’s been a very long time since I did anything with the F330. I would suggest you get a waveform monitor and large monitor and try and see what works best for your own needs.

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