How to Fix Colors of Your Sony Alpha Camera

Let’s face it, we all know current-generation Sony colors suck. They’re washed out, lacking in saturation, and sometimes just look super weird with a green tinge. We’ve learned to just deal with it by creating custom LUTs, having a wheelhouse of different techniques, and spending countless extra hours tweaking the footage from the Alpha series cameras. No matter what we do, it doesn’t ever seem to match Sony’s high-end line of cameras.

Until recently, with the release of the A7S III, these convenient, little Sony mirrorless cameras seemed trapped behind this veil of imperfection, stuck between a lie and a limitation, but all of that is about to change. Caleb Pike, of DSLR Video Shooter, has a few settings that will completely change the way the images from your Sony Alpha cameras look.

High-end Sony cameras always look amazing, but for some reason, even though they are a part of the same family and offer a lot of the same settings, the Alpha series cameras just don’t seem to have the same amazing colors when we’re shooting video.

They’re just dull, and even when you try to push them to the limit they never really hit the sweet spot, do they?

You’ve seen the internet flooded with LUTs and custom profile settings to fix the not-so-grade Sony colors. Some of them do an ok job, but most of the time they seem to miss the mark. So, why would Caleb’s settings be any different? Let’s find out.

Caleb’s Custom Picture Profile Settings

There are 3 simple changes that Caleb suggests to fix the bad color of any current-generation Sony mirrorless camera. The Sony A7sIII seems to have fixed the issue, but until they’ve got enough of them into the hands of shooters, there is no real way to know for sure.

  • In the Menu, navigate to Picture Profile
  • Select any picture profile to customize
  • Go to Gamma, Set it to S-Log2
  • Go to Color Mode, Set it to ITU709 Matrix
  • That’s it.

For an added bonus, change the Detail to -7. You’ll get better results adding sharpness back in during the post process.

Gamma Setting

The gamma controls contrast and brightness values. By shooting in S-Log2, you’re recording a flat, log image with very little contrast and preserving as much of the detail in the highlights and shadows to allow you to adjust them later in post.

Most of us know about shooting in Log these days, but keep in mind that even though Sony mirrorless cameras have the ability to shoot in S-Log3 you should always shoot in S-Log2 with any Sony camera that doesn’t record in 10-bit 4:2:2 to avoid image banding in gradient areas of the image.

The only current Sony mirrorless camera that records in 10-bit 4:2:2 is the A7sIII. Everything else is capturing in 8-bit 4:2:0, so don’t use S-Log3.

Color Mode Setting

The color mode setting controls saturation, hue, and color space, determining the overall look and how the colors blend with each other.

So why not just use Sony’s recommended combination of S-Log2, and S-Gamut? Cause it’s fake.

Fake S-Gamut In Sony Mirrorless Cameras

Inside the manual, Sony states that, “this camera’s S-Gamut setting does not support the whole S-Gamut color space; it is a setting to achieve a color reproduction equivalent to S-Gamut.” This is why shooting with the same settings on a Sony cinema camera yields such drastically different results.

In addition to that, the low data-rate, 8-bit footage simply falls apart when you attempt to correct it in post, unlike the footage from the high-end Sony offerings.

When you start to correct the colors, there is so little information there to work with that you instantly begin to get nasty artifacts.

That is why the ITU709 Matrix is the superior option since the saturation values are so much higher – you can grade in post without the image falling apart too quickly and the color values aren’t too extreme to wash anything out.

Of course, this all changes the day the Sony A7sIII finds its way into your bag, and hopefully, they’ll start releasing all their future cameras with 10-bit 4:2:2 color and a full S-Gamut mode, not a fake one.

[source: DSLR Video Shooter]

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