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.

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: 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.

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, but sometimes this give a visually more pleasing image. As gamma affects gain image may be brighter/darker and noisier or less noisy. 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 makes 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. High negative values will cause dark areas of the scene to be clipped. Positive values will result in reduced contrast and grey looking image. 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.

14 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 camĂ©ras 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.

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