For anybody shooting with a Sony camera, here’s how to take advantage of the Black Levels in your Picture Profile settings.

Image via Harv Video/Audio Stuff.

In Harv’s latest video tutorial, we dive into how working with the Black Level in the Picture Profile setting can drastically extend your dynamic range, offering more accessibility with your grade while shooting at a lower ISO. In doing so, you’ll be able to mimic the S-Log profiles or the dynamic range (to a certain extent). It’s an interesting look into how the setting works and how you can take advantage of this technique to capture a more striking image.

For this particular example, he chooses to shoot in Cine4, but shooting in Cine2 will give you the same result. Using a shot of a telephoto lens for comparison, you can see the differences and similarities between the different profiles. Compared to (-15), shooting at the opposite end of the spectrum will bring you much closer to S-Log2.

How to Improve Your Shots with Black Levels on Your Sony Camera — Black Levels

Shooting in -15 will give you the high-contrast image you’d find with Canon cameras. For any Sony shooter out there, the Canon and Sony profiles are drastically different. If you are trying to get close to the dynamic range of shooting in S-Log2 or 3, shooting at Cine4 (+15) will bring you somewhat close but still not give you as much dynamic range as 2 and 3. As Harv shows in the video, applying a simple grade to your S-Log footage will give you a similar look to the +15 shot. If you’re not used to working with Log footage in post, here’s a brief introduction.

Shooting with these different profiles will not determine the end result of your work, but it can only help in the post-production process. Whether it’s achieving a very specific look or color scheme for your film, maximizing the capabilities of your camera should always be a priority when shooting anything.


Have you worked with the Black Levels before? Has it helped your images or only complicated your workflow? Let us know in the comments.