Canon DSLR: Comparing Picture Profiles



With the introduction of the new Cinema Picture Profile, I wanted to do a quick post on MY favorite picture styles as well as how to use/install them. Picture Profiles/Styles (PP) are meant to optimize the dynamic range in the image. One of the hardest parts about them though is picking the right one for the right job. I find that it all depends on shooting conditions and final output.

For the longest time, I had no idea that you could load PP’s onto your camera that were not pre-loaded. I also did not really think that the results would be much different. Wow, was I ever wrong!

For some shooting conditions, I find that some of the PP’s perform worse than others. At any given time, I will have three PP’s loaded on my camera to switch between.

Final output also determines which PP I will be using. For all projects that I am producing, I always shoot the flattest image I can get. However, when shooting for others, if the turn around time does not allow for colour timing/correction, I will shoot less flat (typically neutral).

Now you ask, why is a flat profile important? Well, when you bake-in the color/contrast settings into an image (pre-set PP’s), you are unable to retrieve information that would be available if you had shot flat. Say your sky is blown out, but you wish you could see some of the clouds that were there on the day. With a baked-in image style, you are not able to recover it. With a flat image, you have a much better chance of recovering the clouds — OR if you under or over-expose something, you have a better chance to recover information that would otherwise be lost.

How to Use/Install

Installing your PP’s is very simple and only takes a few minutes. For the process, you will need your camera, a USB cable, and the EOS Utility software.

Here are some short step-by-step instructions:

1. Install or update the latest version of Canon’s EOS Utility for your PC or Mac. Make sure that you have updated the software so you don’t run into problems!
2. Connect your camera to your computer via USB and switch it on.
3. Start the EOS Utility and click the menu button “Camera Settings / Remote Shooting”
4. Select the camera icon (red) and ‘Picture Style’.
5. Click ‘Detail set’.
6. In the new window that appears, Select one of the User Def. items from the drop down menu at the top of the screen, and then click the ‘Open’ button.
7. In the dialog window that opens, select the Picture Style file you have previously downloaded. This will transfer the style to your camera.
8. The uploaded profile will now reside under the selected User Def (1..3) picture profile on your camera.
9. Disconnect your camera and you should be good to go!

General Tips

One of the toughest things once you have uploaded your PP’s is to set exposure and focus. Shooting with ‘dull’ or ‘flat’ images makes focus much harder and you are more likely to need an external monitoring system (EVF or Monitor) to ensure that you have sharp focus. Also, exposure is also much more difficult as you have no true black point as reference and have a higher chance of either under or over exposing your image.

Shane Hurlbut states that, when shooting with DSLR’s, it is key to have a PP that you want your film to look like dialed into your camera. He states that it is key to have this ‘mock PP’ to light and expose with. Before you start rolling, once you have set exposure, roll your slide over to the flat PP that you plan on using (be it Marvel, Cinema, or Cinestyle). By doing this, you will have more wiggle room in post. Great word of advice!

If you are still a little confused, watch the video below.

How To Increase Dynamic Range by Luka


I am aware that the list below is not the complete list and varies from person to person, but they are the ones that I use on a frequent basis. I would love any recommendations for USER DEFINED settings that you may use!


Before the release of the Cinema PP, Neutral flat was one of my three defined settings. Although neutral flat is perceived differently by many, here are the settings I used.

Sharpness: 0
Contrast: -4
Saturation: -2
Color Tone: 0

Sample Video Shot using Neutral Picture Profile

Marvel’s Cine

Release Date: January 19th 2011

Another PP I use is Marvel Cine. It was one of the first ones that I tried out when I started to use PP’s, and I was very pleased with the results. It is definitely not as flat as Technicolor’s Cinestyle but offers a great alternative in some situations.

About Marvel Cine

Marvels Cine uses 10 curve nodes and is based on the Standard style as a base instead of the Neutral style. The style is slightly more colourful than other flat styles, because it uses the Standard style as a basis. I find that this profile comes in handy when shooting indoors.

I know a lot of people have adopted the Cinestyle PP for virtually all shoots, but I find that Marvel’s Cine still comes in handy in some situations, especially when there is no time for grading on a project (although it should be graded!). Also, for footage that I pass off to others to colour correct, I tend to shoot with Marvel’s Cine as it is easier to bring out the colours for people unfamiliar with the Cinestyle profile on DSLR’s. That’s just my experience though and may differ for others! To download the Marvel-Cine picture style, click here.

Technicolor – Cinestyle

Release Date: April 30th, 2011

For virtually all of my shoots that I produce, the Technicolor PP is my first choice, especially when matching 5D footage with other flavours of Canon DSLR’s (7D, 60D, etc). It gives you the most flexibility out of all profiles, and I find that it comes in handy especially when shooting landscapes (ability to maintain detail in both sky and foreground).

Dan Chung interviews Joshua Pines at NAB 2011

About Cinestyle

The Technicolor CineStyle™ is a Picture Style (profile) for Canon EOS DSLR cameras that optimizes the dynamic range in the image by leveraging the capabilities of the Canon imaging chipset. To download the Technicolor Cinestyle picture style, click here.

Technicolor Footage Raw vs Corrected

Comparison video between Technicolor PP and Neutral by swissfilmmakers

Cinema Picture Profile

Release Date: September 7th, 2011

The Cinema Picture Profile (previously known as EPIC) is the newest of the bunch and although providing a flat image, it is unique in how it deals with contrast. Personally, I am very happy with the results so far. Will it replace my Cinestyle PP? Probably not yet, but it will definitely replace the Marvel Cine PP that I have been using for some shoots!

However, the CINEMA picture style is not free. It is priced at $19 which is not much at all and I personally think it is worth the money! (It is only $19!) To purchase the Cinema picture style, click here.

Cinema Picture Profile Sample Footage by John Hope

About Cinema PP

– Great perceived latitude, but with a nice contrasty image.
– Keeps details on shadows and highlights while remaining quite contrasted.
– Vivid colors on low saturated areas, no greyish or monochromatic casts.
– Analog like colors on high saturated areas.
– Sharp image.
– Kodak Ektachrome colorimetry.
– Doesn’t need color correction, but feel free to grade it.

Other Picture Profiles

I have added this section to the post that I will keep adding to as PP’s are recommended. If you have any questions, please let me know!

Flat PP by Jorgen Escher

Notes From Jorgen

I have developed a new type of flat picture profile for the Canon “d” series video DSLR cameras. This profile has been devised and tested using the Canon 5DmkII, a MacBeth colour card, two different calibrated light sources (3200k & 5600k soft floods), Adobe Color, Adobe Photoshop and a few software tools I have developed myself. This picture profile uses 10 S-curve node points and mathematically wraps correctly around the existing build-in Standard Profile S-Curve.

Goals were striving for correct colorimetric reproduction (no weird chroma artifacts), no gaps or bumps in the resulting curve, linear behaviour in the skin-color-exposure range and a few more points that are described in more detail by Martin Beek on his weblog There you can download the picture profile and read about it’s uses for video shooters (I’m a colorist and mathematician, not a film maker…).

Go have a look and use it for free in your camera – happy shooting!

Crooked Path Flat

Notes from Crooked Path

– Based of the FAITHFUL profile. Faithful is just like NEUTRAL only adds a touch more saturation to the highlights and midtones, and also pulls the midtone and highlight exposure down very slightly.
– Curve is not extreme, and is very gradable in post.
– Totally removes any muddy/terracotta/plastic look to faces.
– Totally removes any noise issues (assuming you’re properly exposed).
– Default Sharpness is set at 2. This is a very subjective area. In our testing, we noted that any setting below +2 seems to almost blur the image. Anything above +2 seems to be artificial looking. +2 seems to be perfect. We’ve also noted that the in-camera sharpness is much cleaner and un-artificial looking when compared to using the unsharp mask in after effects. It is recommended that you lower only if seeing moire issues.
– Default Contrast is all the way to the left. We don’t recommend changing this.
– Default Saturation is at zero. In 8bit 4:2:0 colorspace, it’s best to keep it here and adjust in post. Lowering will cause lost information.
– Default Tone is +2. In our testing the 5d seemed to bias toward red in the skin tones. This is to compensate for that. Adjust to fit your needs.