What is “Crispening” and how does it effect the picture?
Crispening is one of the adjustments you can make in many of Sony’s video cameras that adjusts the way the image is sharpened via the detail correction circuit. On an EX1 or EX3 it is in the Picture Profiles section. If use wisely Crispening can be used to help deal with camera noise by making it less visible, thus giving a cleaner image. Crispening works across the entire luma (brightness) range. It’s really difficult to explain how the level adjustment works, it is a threshold adjustment for the detail circuit, but I’ll have a go anyway.
First off lets consider how the detail circuit works. The camera uses delay circuits to compare how the brightness (luma) levels of adjacent pixels are changing, both from left to right and line by line. If the circuit sees a rapid change from light to dark or dark to light (or light to lighter, dark to darker etc) the circuit regards this as an edge and detail correction is applied by brightening or darkening the transition, exaggerating the edge. This is seen in extreme cases as a black or white halo around edges.
On the EX cameras crispening works by adjusting the threshold at which the light to dark transition between pixels triggers the application of detail correction. So when you set a negative number, say -99 even the slightest luma difference between pixels will have detail correction applied. Set it to +99 and it takes a much greater luma change to trigger the detail circuit.
What you need to understand is that if you set crispening such that the threshold before detail is applied is 100mV (for example) then between 0v (black) and 99mV little to no detail correction will be applied, keeping blacks clean by not applying detail correction to any noise with an amplitude less than 100mV. But if there are subtle textures in the image, going say from 500mV to 599mV (mid tones) then no detail correction will be applied here either, so the image will appear a little softer, only larger luma changes of more than 100mV will have detail correction applied. These small luma changes can be anywhere within the full luma range and it is not confined just to the darker parts of the image.
Raising the crispening level setting to a positive number raises the threshold at which detail is applied to the image, so a high number prevents detail correction from being added to small luma changes. A negative number means that detail correction will be applied to smaller luma changes, this increases the appearance of noise but also makes textures appear sharper.
One thing to consider is that the noise the camera produces is not only in the blacks. If the noise amplitude (level) is for example 5mV, then if you have a subject at 500mV (mid tones) it will still have random 5mV noise added to it. It just tends to be that noise is most visible in the blacks as 5mV of noise on a 5mV (very dark) signal is modulating (varying) the signal by 100% so it’s quite obvious, however 5mV on top of 500mV is only 1% so less obvious, but still there and still visible.
You should remember that the cleaner you can make the recorded image the less stress there is on the codec. This in turn means less mosquito noise and macro blocking giving an image that looks cleaner still and grades better. I struggle to see the difference between crispening at 0 and at +20 in most normally exposed shots, but if I look closely I do see less noise in shadow and low contrast areas. Low contrast areas tend to have little detail anyway, so being able to clean these up a little helps in post production.
Sony have a PDF about it here:?http://www.sony.co.uk/res/attachment…6605183226.pdf