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I have been researching picture profiles and have read mixed reviews regarding the application of picture profiles when shooting stills.

From what I have read, PP is not applied when shooting in RAW, however the PP only appears as if its turned off when the camera is in AUTO. When the camera is in manual mode or A,S,P, the PP option becomes active and you can see a visible change through the viewfinder when changing the PP. Is this a glitch on the camera end, displaying the change even though the PP has no effect on RAW, or is the PP actually being applied when the camera is in Manual?

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  • @mattdm Thanks for the question update, definitely broadens who this question is applicable too!
    – mcclaskiem
    Aug 15 '17 at 19:45
  • Picture profiles and WB settings make the pictures look much nicer in camera. Nice when evaluating the result and also very nice when showing the result to a model. I know it looks bad but it will be after post is not very motivating for a model.
    – Orbit
    Aug 3 at 14:21
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Picture Profiles do not affect RAW data itself. Except that the EVF and LCD do not show RAW data, they cannot, since that data needs to be interpolated in order to produce an image. They must show an image, so they use the settings you choose in the Picture Profile to generate what is shown. The camera also uses the same settings to generate an embedded preview in the file, so that software can show an image for a RAW file. So while Picture Profile have no impact on RAW data, they modify the RAW file. The Picture Profile settings themselves are also stored in a RAW file so that software can use that information to do a default RAW-to-JPEG conversion.

In Auto mode, the Picture Profile is locked in. It is still there and applied to show you the preview.

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In Sony cameras Picture Profiles there's only one setting that affects RAW files - the GAMMA. Some Gamma values limit your minimum ISO (especially some gammas for video). But for stills for example a gamma "STILL" allows you the extended min. range 50~100, but "ITU709" gives you only the native min. 100 ISO but gives you brighter image. I still have to make proper tests to compare noise and shadow/highlights recovery between 50 and 100 ISO at the same "STILL" gamma. But I'm guessing while ISO boosts 'exposure' linearly, gammas can have predefined curve and boost certain areas more than others - hence the need for better testing

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PP is never applied to your RAWs, but will be applied to JPEGs (in RAW+JPEG, Fine, Std modes) and RAW previews (what you see while previewing in camera).

Why it affects your viewfinder? The way I use this feature is shooting with BW profile. Rather than eliminating color information in your head this option shows me the final shot right away.

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This is a feature, not a bug. By itself, a RAW file has no interpretation and there would be nothing to preview. Some kind of Picture Profile (or whatever different brands and software call it) needs to be applied for you to meaningfully see what you're going to get. If you pick settings close to your final intention, it's easier to compose in the field.

Black and white shooting is the most obvious example of this, but it can apply to contrast, saturation, and other "picture profile" effects as well.

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Sony S-log picture profiles trigger ISO override and compensate for the resulting lower raw data values by applying a suitable tone (gamma) curve.

When the camera is set to ISO 3200 the actual taking ISO is around 400 (you can see that in the Makernotes, at least for the raw files). Here is an example:

EXIF ISO                             : 3200
MakerNotes Sony ISO                  : 384
MakerNotes Stops Above Base ISO      : 1.9

Here the actual taking ISO setting is 384, 3+ stops lower than the one that was set on the camera. Leaves plenty of room for highlights, midpoint in this case is below 2% instead of the usual ≈12.6%

You can take a shot of a gray card and analyze the raw data to be sure of the midpoint offset.

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