Canon DSLRs: some of the best picture profiles out there



Philip: I haven’t used the new “Cinema” picture profile, yet,  but Preston has and he has written this post looking at it and other ones he likes.

Canon DSLR’s: My favourite Picture Profiles

by Preston Kanak


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.

Comparing Picture Profiles (Cinestyle, Cinema, Marvel & Neutral)

Vimeo has developed a support group for DSLR shooters. I recommend that you have a look at some of the videos that have been added as they will definitely help!

DSLR Support Channel

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!

Special Note: Installing on 600D / t2i

ASH commented below that the 600D / t2i installation is a little different. I have included his comments below.

“For 600D it is slightly different. I loaded the picture style onto the camera using canon utility while in the P (or M) setting (in movie setting it wont let you load them).

Then once the profile is loaded, disconnect the camera from the computer, set the camera to movie mode on the dial, press the menu button and navigate to the picture style option. Click on the picture style option using the set button, scroll to the user def that you saved the picture profile to (1,2 or 3), press info, click on where it says picture style user def 1 (or your relevant user def number)using the set button, then you get two arrows up and down, using the up down buttons on your camera scroll to the saved picture profile that you desire then click set”.

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.

Marvel Cine vs. Technicolor’s Cinestyle by Mike@Indieshorts

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.

Cinema Picture Profile Sample Footage by John Hope

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.



  1. Thanks for the write up, man! Crooked Path Flat looks really good, I’m going to try it out. Also, I’ve been getting good results with the Cinema profile, so I’d say it’s worth the money if you don’t plan on grading in post… which sometimes I have no choice but to do.

  2. As the crooked path profile adjusts the colour tone, does it assume you are shooting under daylight white balance either in daylight or with daylight balanced lighting?
    Will it mess up your colours if you are shooting under tungsten lights using tungsten white balance for example?

  3. I missed info about what certain picture styles do to skin tones. My experience is that most introduce weird artifacts that cannon be removed in post.

    I prefer the Shane Hurlbut and Stillmotion approach : try to create the final look in-camera, starting from the neutral picture style, adjusting that, the white balance and white balance shift.

    Most footage I’ve seen that was shot with a certain picture style and that was graded afterwards, looks exactly like footage I shot with settings close to neutral flat. So I ask myself : what’s the point ? It only seems to add more work and rendering time in post.

    1. i have not had that experience. I certainly do not subscribe to create the final look in camera as that limits you far too much. But it always comes down to what people prefer. If someone wants to shoot in Standard then that is up to them!

    2. I totally agree.
      I don’t understand why i shoud shot superflat using half of the available bits and then crushing the footage to make it look contrasted… and devastated…

    3. Totally agree with you. I think the best way with the very fragile H264 is to shooting as close as possible to the desired final grading. I did a test side by side cinestyle vs neutral. I don’t see interest to use cinestyle but I see difficulties when filming, more work for grading and destruction of colors.
      It’s just my opinion.
      Sorry for my bad english

    4. Guitar analogy alert: I think it’s a bit like the Angus Young / Steve Vai approach, it all comes down to your instinct. Angus Young plugs his SG straight into a Marshall, finds his tone and plays. Steve Vai send his guitar through a series of processes to get the tone he is looking for. If all guitarists used the same guitar, amp, effects and cabs then music would quickly get boring. The most fun part of film making is finding a ‘sound’ that is your own. Personally I prefer the Angus approach, but veer towards the Vai style mainly because it hides some imperfections in my ‘playing’, but also because it’s great fun pushing the technology.

  4. Thanks Philip, a most useful post.

    I’d been avoiding PPs as they seemed more trouble then they’re worth but you’ve converted me. The Cinema PP looks especially terrific.

  5. Can I ask Philip – you use the Cinestyle PP more often because it gives you more grading options over the the Cinema PP… You don’t find that grading the contrast back in brings out more noise in the mids than you would get with the Cinema one or is it worth it?

      1. I tried the Technicolor PS and what i noticed is that it has less noise in the shadows, but more noise and banding in the mids.
        The shadows will be anyway crushed, but the mids are there to stay, so i was disappointed, because the most important range of the image (midtones, skin) is the less clean.

  6. I’ve done some extensive testing of flat settings and more often then not what they are doing is giving you a near 7bit image for dynamic range. here are the test with scopes, charts, and a real high contrast outdoor setting – snow, sky, shadows.

    part 1 has the video test

    part 3 & 4 have charts and

    the sensor only captures so much. by pushing the shadows up and making them brighter while pulling the highlight curve down a bit, you just shifting the bits that are already there. its possible you might get a little more gradation at either end, but what the camera has for dynamic range is what it has.

    its also worth noting in these tests that the composite video out on the camera and HDMI out show an image to hit 109 IRE, however the codec compresses this down to 100 IRE. This amounts to the values of 255-235 being curved down, loosing gradation and possibly some detail in the rounding process. some of these styles by pulling the highlight curve down may gain some gradation that was being rounded up because of camera sensor to codec processing.

    whats more, most flat settings I’ve messed with generally boost the shadows a lot, allowing you to now reduce exposure giving the apparent sense of a gain in dynamic range which really isn’t happening.

    I’m with Shain H – basically get it right in camera. its the way you shoot with film. I’ve been shooting for 25 years this way. not every project can spend a ton of time or $ on color correction in post. I know thats a shocking concept to some, but its reality for stuff that has to get done and out the door quickly. Minor contrast / color cast clean up yes, treat it like its a big dollar feature, no.

    1. I’ve been shooting a local kids program at the weekends. It’s on snow and the conditions change VERY rapidly. I have tried putting settings on c1, c2 and c3 to cope with the changing situations but you can not plan for everything. It is a live event so to speak, which means I have to get something in the can that I can use. There are no “take 2″‘s.

      To this end Technicolor PP works fantastically. I still have different setting on custom modes, but using the Technicolor PP allows me to tweak each shot for the optimal look.
      I have taken 5 shots with out changing ANYTHING on camera but due to cloud rolling above the slopes at some point the middle 2 shots were different to the end shots and to each other. They graded up easily and with out fuss. I check the metering on every shot before hitting record but the quality of the light on a ski slope can change in funny ways due to light reflecting from the snow up, clouds at different levels and sooo many factors that it may be imperceptible to the eye, the temp of a shot can change with out notice…also with all the UV your eyes take abit of punishment at times mistakes happen, TPP gives me room to move.

      I know i could have graded them to match a Standard PP also but standard seems not to be able to POP like a graded Technicolor PP.

      I treat all my shoots as a Million Dollar Feature- it may only be a “kids program” to some but to me it is the future memories of families, its my work, and I’ll give 110% every time, even if it means longer time grading.

      That is my 2 cents on the topic!

  7. John Hopes statement of “perceived latitude” and “keeps details in highlights and shadows” is a bit misleading.

    He uses a subtractive curve which means that you have to open up a stop in order to get correct exposure. The camera clips at the same point with ALL of the picture styles, so that means clipping will start one stop earlier for cinema picture style users.

  8. Thanks for the write-up, Preston. On a recent shoot, I noticed that I came back with over-exposed (1-stop) images, even though I was sure I exposed correctly in-camera. This was consistent whenever I shot outside in bright sunlight.

    I was using the CineStyle PP, so I will take Shane Hurlbut’s advice and double-check exposure next time on my default Flat PP (-4,-4,-2) when shooting in such bright light conditions. Otherwise, I love the Cinestyle as it gives you a lot more to play with.

    I am considering now to give the Cinema Picture Profile a try as well ($19 indeed is not a lot): this may be my PP whenever I’m doing a job that doesn’t have the budget for proper CG.

  9. I’ll probably never get the point of shooting flat, and then the first thing you do in post is apply a curve that restores the footage back to the way it looked without the picture style …

    To me it’s an unnecessary extra step that might have a marginal effect that can probably be measured, but the codec is simply too limited to allow much leeway to begin with. And (as I said before) I firmly believe in Shane Hurlbut’s approach. Who doesn’t use any charts, but simply relies on the Canon LCD.

    This whole picture style thing bring back memories of the mass amount of HDV shooters with DOF adapters that ended up shooting nothing but flowers but never got any decent project done …

    1. harsh words.

      let me correct you. the first thing you do is NOT apple a curve that restores it to way it looked. That is just for reference purposes. You add a curve to your liking and can choose how much highlight and shadow detail to keep.

      As someone who shoots S-Log on the F3. Log-C on the Alexa and RAW on the Epic. Flat is a dream come true to shoot with.

      1. But with an Arri and a Red, you shoot in raw, and with an F3 you shoot in 10bits.
        And with a Canon you shoot 8-bit codec with a highly compressed. And what is true for the first 3 cameras isn’t with this codec.
        the H264 Dslr Canon is like a false painting, a fake. With a Canon you can make beautiful pictures that can compare, even on a large theater screen with a red or Arri. But it’s not because you can compare the end result that you can work the same way and follow exactly the same workflow. with 8 bits of what you win on one side, in the shadows, you lose the other side, in the colors. And the H264 is too compressed, to baked. The more you change it during the grading, more damaging to you.
        Look at this article.
        Richard Allen Crook found a great formula for the PP Cinestyle.
        “…the Technicolor CineStyle is a dream curve trapped within a codec that just doesn’t do it justice.”

        Sorry for my bad english.

          1. Yes, you’re right. But the meaning of Raw is not quite the same for Arri and Red. And the difference between the log 10 bit Apple Pro Res Arri and the Arriraw is the same as the difference between the different levels of Red raw.

      2. Apparently the way I type doesn’t translate too well … I didn’t mean to sound harsh or attack anyone … I’m just referring to what 90% of the people using Cinestyle do … check online and you’ll see this is what most people do and even recommend to others (some even have no clue how to apply a LUT or the reasoning behind doing so …)

        And you know better than comparing the F3, Alexa or Epic to a DSLR codecwise … I’m familiar with both the Alexa and Epic (not the F3) & Canon has done the best they could with the H264 codec in their DSLR’s, but it’s still heavily compressed and won’t take the amount of grading or processing more expensive cameras will take.

        An Alexa or Epic is also typically used in conditions or situations where shooting flat is always done, becos the cameraman/DP is not the person grading or deciding about the final look. Commercials DSLR projects are typically shot by one person who will probably be doing the editing and grading too.

        Anyway, don’t feel like bickering about part of a workflow. In the end, we all have our ways of getting where we want to get. It’s the result that matters.

      3. I think that with the Canon DSLR’s you need to shoot half and half. A profile that will bring some detail out in the extremes, but not at the expense of tonal range. The flat styles such as the Technicolor one would be fine if used in at least 10-bit colourspace. But the trouble with recording in 8-bit is that the tonal range with such Picture Profiles is restricted quite considerably.

        I have run tests and especially where you might have an area of subtle graduation such as a sky, or a room with a white wall that has light coming in from one side, the resultant banding can be quite horrendous, even more so when the contrast is brought back.

        I think that people need to shoot within the limitations of the cameras. These extreme gamma curves give with one hand and take with the other. Tonal range is just as important as contrast handling. Problems with skies blowing out? Use a graduated ND, or change the shot to something that works, wait till another time of the day, or make the compromise.

        Compromise has become a bit of a dirty word in recent times with regard to video. But sometimes you just have to accept the limits of the technology that is being used.

  10. I’m really curious about some videos I have seen lately.

    a lot of films I see that have been cut using Adobe Premier, have looked less contrasty, which can be nice at times. Has anyone experienced this? I mean I know that it’s H.264 native, but how much does that change the image?
    I remember the DP of House saying that too.

    I’m using FCP, and I love the CineStyle PP…COME ON CANON!! can you please just give me Prores? I feel like there’s such a huge bottleneck here. ;(

  11. Hello everibody

    i don’t have the chanche to find my canon cd with Canon’s EOS Utility
    can somebody reccomend e a link where i can find the install file and not the upgrade please?

    thanks for this beautifull post!

  12. I have had issues uploading the picture styles to my Canon 60D in M mode cinestyle shows instead of user def x but in Camera Mode user def is not replaced.

    The question now. Is this a bug, is there a way to change it and if I change the settings manually do I have the same picture style or would that not work meaning that I don’t use the cinestyle in the end?
    Anybody know?

  13. Is anyone else having problems purchasing the Cinema PP? I can’t get any of the links on the page to work.

  14. Thank you Philip!

    One question, i just bought Cinema PP. Factory Preset is showing Sharpness at 3. From what i learned from you is to stay away from digital sharpness. Should i turn it down to 0?

  15. Thanks to Preston and Philip for posting this! I’m filming a BBC Doc from next week on a Canon 60D. I have been using Philips suggestions at the moment for a standard Picture style: Sharpness 0 Contrast -4 Sat -2 Tone 0. I’ve been slightly afraid at using a PP but reading this has been a great help. I’ll do some testing with Cinestyle and Cinema PP this week see which one is right for me.

    The film will be on BBC iPlayer from the 17th October so I suppose you’ll be able to see the results then.

    I’ll keep you posted and thanks again.

  16. Hi Phil and all readers.

    There is an update to the Marvels picture style online since april 2011. This is version 3.4 and is available from it’s own page at:

    This latest version differs from the previous in the following way:

    “This version is a replacement for our (latest) standard Marvels Cine Style v3.3. It uses a slightly altered curve, made to preserve luminance linearity in the 65-75% (skin tone) range. It further uses the internal Canon Neutral style instead of the Standard style, but this can be altered from the selected style settings menu in the camera.”

    Cheers, Martin.

  17. Just a note for kids using 600D t2i and trying to import picture styles for use in movie mode…

    For 600D it is slightly different. I loaded the picture style onto the camera using canon utility while in the P (or M) setting (in movie setting it wont let you load them).

    Then once the profile is loaded, disconnect the camera from the computer, set the camera to movie mode on the dial, press the menu button and navigate to the picture style option. Click on the picture style option using the set button, scroll to the user def that you saved the picture profile to (1,2 or 3), press info, click on where it says picture style user def 1 (or your relevant user def number)using the set button, then you get two arrows up and down, using the up down buttons on your camera scroll to the saved picture profile that you desire then click set.

    Hope this helps 600d users. Thanks to the big kids for all of the above info re picture profiles.

  18. Are you suppose to apply the technicolor Lut and then add aditional correction or are you just suppose to let their lut do all the correction for you? I am confused!

    1. You basically do what you want Shawn. You need to grade Technicolor PP. The LUT is strictly speaking for reference. You could apply it as a quick and easy grade, but you’ll get best results by grading every shot (without the LUT applied).

    1. Jumped through the hoops to try out the Shutter Down but still awaiting confirmation e mail of subscription to be able to access the downloads area… Did I miss a step?

  19. Thank you for the post, just got 2 7D’s and this is one of the things i’m trying to get caught up on….but now I feel more confused than before (in a good way).

    i think i’m going to go with the cinestyle first and see where that brings me.

    thank you!

  20. Hi Allz,

    I´m always wondering at which level you put your middle gray when shooting with cinestyle? Or at which Zone you are putting caucasian skin.

    How do you expose?

    Using the Waveform and pushing the contrast to its limit scale, so nearly touching overexposure and carefully quite before underexposure??

    Would be interesting to know, cause I couldnt find a statement, which IRE represents middle grey regarding the CineStyle curve

  21. How would I profile/color match two different cameras A Sony HDR FX7 & Canon 60D? Load neutral into both and match by eye via monitor before shooting then color match further in post?

    Would any of these picture profiles help?

  22. Hi, I just wanted to say I thought I’d give these a shot and provide my input. I only tried marvel and technicolor’s pp. I shot standard marvel and technicolor then graded it on my computer. Technicolor was sadly disappointing since it seemed so talked up. It washed out all the color of the image and when I restored it in grading it was extremely hard to do it without crushing the blacks to much and edges of certain details softened giving it a surreal look. Which I don’t exactly like. My I shot this in decent light if anything it was a little bit to dark and technicolors pp made it too bright but I imagine in an extreme low light situation this pp might be handy but other than that it was more of a nuisance.

    Next was marvel. I actually like this one it was flat but not outrageously flat like technicolors. After grading it and slightly grading the standard pp on my camera the difference was miniscule. Regardless of the fact I had more control of my shadows with marvel after I got it to where I liked it and the footage looked good it was hardly different. If I told someone each piece of footage as shot on a different pp and one has slightly more detail in the shadows after close observation they would guess it is marvel. But if I were to never mention it and just show people I assume they would think it was the same footage.

    In the end it’s not worth the trouble unless you have a lot of shadows in your footage. For example a lowlight shot or a shot with a lot of blacks.

    I film on a Canon 7D in case anyone was wondering. I might make a video of the comparison later if I have time.

    1. I would like to say I went back and had a second whack at the technicolor and it is not as bad as I made it sound. I still think it is overrated but it is not absolutely terrible.