Coming from a photography background, one thing I appreciated about stills cameras was the simplicity in the various color profiles. There’s a portrait one, something for landscapes, even just basics like vivid were there.
Looking at video cameras and recent mirrorless cameras – like the Sony a7S III – we now have Picture Profiles with vague names like Cine4, HLG, and S-Log3. Figuring out all the differences and which to use when is impossible if you are new to the system.
Luckily, filmmaker Carlos Quintero made a handy guide with commentary about all the Picture Profiles on the a7S III. He refers to it as his own reference, but it should be an amazing resource for any Sony shooter.
Spoilers! And a TL;DR. Quintero’s favorite is S-Log3 with S-Gamut3.Cine. Considering it’s the recommended option for good color and maximum dynamic range it makes a lot of sense. It’s my default as well now that the a7S III is a true 10-bit camera and the footage absolutely supports log grading.
For the actual test Quintero tried to keep the background and subject controlled. Then he adjusted the camera to the settings, going with the daylight white balance preset. As for post, he applied the standard transform if necessary or for those that don’t need that he made sure he wasn’t clipping anything and added some minor color tweaks to bring them out a bit.
PP1, using Movie gamma is a fairly standard-looking profile. And it looks quite standard. Exposing for the foreground has some of the bright background being blown out. Nothing too surprising here and a good basic option.
PP2 uses the “Still” gamma and looks very similar to PP1. Quintero finds that this profile has raised midtones and less contrast in the highlights. This means the highlights clip earlier. However, there is a bit more contrast in the shadows which is nicer looking in his eyes. A little color work was needed for the skin tones.
PP3 is a more conventional 709 with the “Pro” color setting. Quintero actually likes the color chart, but by his taste the skin tones are a little off. It also clips a ton of info in the highlights. Not a big fan of this profile.
PP4 is an ITU709 with the ITU709 Matrix color. Seems to do a better job of managing saturation and contrast, but it does shift colors a little bit. Looks like it picks up a bit of a magenta tint, which will impact skin tones.
PP5 moves to Cine1 and the Cinema color mode. You can definitely see a major change here. This is similar to PP4 where blues take a hit but now the yellows and reds are getting a saturation boost. And the highlights clip way earlier. Not a good pick for people.
PP6 is Cine2, which is actually not uncommon, especially if you are avoiding a log workflow. Less saturation is nicer up front and gives you room to push. Also, the highlights are maintained a little better. Still, magenta is still a bit of an issue.
PP7 is S-Log2 with S-Gamut color. It’s a decent profile for dynamic range. It can be tough to work with on some mirrorless cameras as the color shift can be noticed. Quintero doesn’t like it with people, though I think some care and a proper LUT can get it looking much better. If you need more dynamic range you’ll want to start looking at log.
However, with the a7S III being a 10-bit camera I would recommend going up to at least PP8, which is S-Log3 with the S-Gamut3.Cine color mode. Absolutely amazing with dynamic range and the Cine version of the color brings you good, accurate color. It’s better than S-Log2 in many ways.
PP9 is very similar, but just changes the color to the standard S-Gamut3. The main change is the additional contrast. The highlights are extremely well controlled too. You might find you prefer this over the Cine version.
Now for an, I think, underrated profile. PP10. It’s the HLG default option with BT.2020 color space. If you want something that maintains good dynamic range without getting into a true log workflow HLG is hard to beat. Quintero was also surprised. I will say you’ll want to work with it in post, but it looks great and “punchy.”
There is an elephant in the room with the release of the Alpha 1. Where’s S-Cinetone? The a7S III is the video-focused model and lacks this. Hopefully the rumors are right and we see it soon. Then we will have to find a new video going over everything.
What’s your go to profile? Make any modifications?
[source: Carlos Quintero]
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