Updated Sony EX1 film-look picture profile

UPDATED april 26 2010: https://marvelsfilm.wordpress.com/2010/04/24/all-new-sony-ex1-picture-profile-for-cinematic-look/

I have spent many many hours adjusting and experimenting with these settings on both a pure technical ánd perceptual level. Using test charts, waveform monitor and a HD reference monitor, and my eyes…

The following settings are meant to mimic the film look.

Camera settings suggestions (only mentioning settings that differ from the default):


  • Gain Setup: use -3/0/6 as defaults, preferably shooting with 0 where possible,  -3 gives just 90IRE
  • Shutter: Angle : 180  (this is the angle of a filmcamera’s shutter – given 25fps that comes to an exposure of 1/50th)
  • Filcker Reduce: off
  • TLCS: AGC limit: 12, AGC point: F/2.8, A.Sht point: F/5.6 (this all is limiting the iris aperture versus the  automatic gain control, so we don’t get lower dan a F/5.6) – i personally use manual iris.


  • Marker: Aspect Select: 14:9
  • Zebra: Zebra-1 level: 70 (our over-exposure early-warning-system for the caucasian skin), show both


  • i.Link I/O: Enable
  • Video Format: HQ 1080/24p or 1080/25p (NTSC or PAL)

Now… let’s get to the serious business. Nicely un-documented by Sony: the Picture Profile


  • Matrix: On, High-Sat, Level 0, Phase -5, R-G 75, R-B 0, G-R -18, G-B -23, B-R -27, B-G 13. This gives a beautifully balanced color matrix.
  • White: on, Offset A +2, Offset B +2, Offset ATW +2. This will give you a beatiful warm picture, by elevating the reds a little bit
  • Detail:  On, Level 0, Frequency +65, Crispening 0, Black limiter +75, White limiter +75. This gives a very nice definition without the artificial sharpening artifiacts. Ideal for DOF adapter shooting.
  • Gamma: Cine-1 for rich-contrast situations, Cine-3 for low-contrast situations. Make cine-1 your standard and avoid cine-4 (too noisy in the shadows). Use Joe’s Levels plugin for FCP to enhance contrast in post.
  • Black: -3  or -4 (use the Adobe OnLocation waveform monitor or another soft- or hardware level monitor, then cap the lens, set camera to Gain-0 and you’ll see that only -3 produces the correct black level – lower will crush the blacks. It’s better to control the blacklevel per-scene in post. -4 will give you zero pedestal; giving you a tiny bit more headroom. June 6 2009 update: i nowadays set black level to 0 (zero) and adjust the black level in post with FCP using Joe’s levels plugin. This further helps reducing noise in dark parts of the image!
  • Black gamma: -2. Will help to reduce noise in the blacks.

Shooting tips:

  • The EX1 and EX3 cameras show softening and color-fringing effects due to diffraction-effects in the iris, with lens apertures smaller than F5.6! So, please do not use F stops smaller than 5.6 by using the ND filter when shooting with bright light.
  • If shooting with tungsten lighting, try using blue filters on the lights (don’t apply a 80-a/b filter to the lens – it will cost you 2  F-stops). This will result in lower amplification in the blue channel at time of white-balancing – that will significantly reduce the noise in shadows (blacks) .
  • Switch off the image stabilizer
  • Try to shoot on manual focus if you can; pull the focus-ring of the lens back towards you to click it into full manual focus mode.
  • If you don’t own a Depth Of Field adapter, try to use a longer lens all the time, e.g. zoom in as much as possible and stand back… Shallower depth of field (characterstic of film and cinema lenses) can be achieved by using an aperture of max. F/4 (don’t go lower) and a minimal of 50mm. lens length. It’s just a suggestion, just play around with minimal aperture without Gain (even use ND filter to open the lens if it’s over F/4) and zooming in.
  • You might want to consider buying a Depth Of Field adapter. I advise the Redrock Micro M2 Encore for best performance – the winner of all our lab-tests.
  • Buy a nice matte box (Cokin has an affordable one, RedrockMicro a very good one) and some nice filters (e.g. grading filters are cool, giving dramatic look and/or detail to skies)
  • Install a skyfilter (UV filter) on your lenses, for protection and for filtering that extra bit of UV that will get through the lens in very bright sun-lit conditions.
  • Move the camera like a film camera! Avoid jerky or fast pans. Brusque movements will lead to flickering images – the 24 or 25 fps rolling shutter (simulation) will react just like a film camera would, if you jerk the camera from left to right: show flicker. Use smooth slow pans.
  • One last tip for wannabe-film-cameramen: don’t zoom – film cameras usually don’t have zoomlenses! Move the camera, not the zoom. Make yourself a dolly, or even tracks – use a skateboard, whatever, but try to keep your hands off that zoom handle…

The EX-1 and EX-3 are great cameras, but – alas- they are not film cameras. Instead of the current 8-bit image processing, 10 bits would have made more sense in capturing a film look, e.g. the famous 10-stop dynamic range. Nevertheless, you have a great camera with unparalelled image quality for a below-10K-dollars camera. Adding a DOF adapter like the RedrockMicro M2 Encore improves the filmic quality by enableing the use of 35mm lenses (e.g. standard Nikon lenses) and thus achieving a shallower depth of field.


Martin Beek
Mail me at m.beek@marvelsfilm.com


10 Responses to “Updated Sony EX1 film-look picture profile”

  1. April 15, 2009 at 10:31 am

    Ugh, I liked! So clear and positively.

    Thank you

  2. 2 Gaetano
    June 11, 2009 at 8:34 am

    Grazie! Ottimo profilo, tra i migliori in circolazione.

  3. 3 Ricard
    July 21, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    Amazing post!

    Thanks from Barcelona!

  4. June 9, 2011 at 12:50 am

    Trying the EX1 .. fantastic camera. TKS 4 sharing your opinion. Very important 2 newbies with courage!!

  5. July 21, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Good one – spent the day in the part with your “recipe”…
    cheers, Arthur

  6. 6 Cachemir
    August 6, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    wow!! great!! thx arthur!
    I got 1 question for the ex1, which format is the best 2 shoot with?
    the 1080/60i or the 720/60p?
    Many many thx!!

  7. March 14, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Hi there, I’d just like to thank you for this post Martin. I used these settings as a blueprint for shooting a music video on the EX1. The results were exactly what I wanted. Cheers sincerely.

  8. August 8, 2013 at 4:08 am

    Hmm is anyone else encountering problems with the pictures on this blog
    loading? I’m trying to determine if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.
    Any feed-back would be greatly appreciated.

  9. April 2, 2014 at 4:27 am

    I’ve learn several excellent stuff here. Certainly worth bookmarking for revisiting.
    I wonder how a lot effort you seet to create this type of excellent informative web site.

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