28 Picture Styles for Canon - Professional Results for Cine, Video and Photo
Read about features, instructions and see videos below with 600D T3i and 5D Mark III
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First Feedback: "Man This Picture style is insane cut all time spent in post production i just tested +h Version looking good I'm going to do more video and spread the word to videographer for ur hard work. Thank again AGAIN BIT TIME" (from A.O. Vimeo Member)
Are you tired of grading photo and video images in computer and losing time? So the Cook Picture Styles is for you. Perfect MOV videos from your Canon DSLR with real world colors, great tonal gradation and improved dynamic range without flatten the image. Perfect RAW photos converted to JPG in DPP software with shadow/highlight improvement.They are already finished in developing, ready to use and you will get them right now.
The Cook Picture Styles is an experimental project or a professional project?
The Cook Picture Styles is a professional product, I do not consider it a project because the development is already finished, they are ready to use. They can be used for professional video, cinema and photo work. They are a result of more than one year of developing since I got my Canon 600D T3i camera in November 2012. Tests was done with the 5D Mark III also. There was an experimental stage in the beginning of the development process, but everything was done silent with exaustive careful tweaking and this is the final professional working result.
Please, enumerate the main features of the Cook Picture Styles.
The Cook is a set of 28 Picture Styles for Canon to be used in camera and in Digital Photo Professional software.
To get the best results from the Canon EOS sensor inside the camera. My theory was if I could grade the raw image inside the camera before the 8 bit 420 H264 compression It would be better and fast results than grade flat MOV files in the computer and a also more fast, easy and cheap workflow than working with raw video.
What are the main goals and main achievements of the Cook Picture Styles and why did you called it Cook?
The main achieved goal is to cook the raw image inside the camera. To improve the image using the in-camera grading concept and extract the maximum quality/performance from the Canon sensor before compress into the 8 bit codec.
What do you mean with "if the user tweaks the camera settins correctly"? What does the user need to do to cook the images?
To cook the raw sensor inside the camera, the user needs to do some things correctly: A good manual white balance adjust, first setting the Kelvin scale which adjusts amber/blue and then the Green/Magenta bias depending of the light source. The user must chose the correct amount of shadow lifting among the Cook picture styles options, my advice is to load the versions 1, 3 and 6 or 0, 2 and 5 or 1, 3 and 5. These are the recomended versions to load to the three available custom picture styles slots in Canon cameras. Then you chose the best for the light situation considering how much you want to lift the shadows and adjust the contrast of the picture style according to the light differences in the image. Lowering contrast increases dynamic range, increasing contrast removes the flat look, there will be a best point for a balance in between. Sometimes increasing the contrast in camera is better than decreasing it, the user needs to perceive this. Try contrast from -2 to +2, step by step. To do a good exposure with ISO, Shutter and Aperture is important because errors in exposure can hurts the perfect point. A tip is to set the brigtness of the camera LCD to 6 between 0 and 7 and use a loupe to avoid the ambient light and perceive the global look. You need to be good in the image capture moment, it is easy, you just need to practice to get it to flow. If you commit some small mistakes some corrections in post production works ok, just do your best. For the same image, I perceived that the shadows in the camera LCD are a little darker comparing to what I see in the TN computer monitor, and more close to what I see in the IPS monitor, so pay attention to this.
How the user can perceive wich version of Cook is best suited for each scene and how to set the contrast slider?
If everything is under the shadow, the versions 0 and 1 are recomended because there is no need to lift the shadows and this choice will deliver a better global contrast and skin tones. If there are slightly differences in light in the main subject the versions 2 and 3 are better option. The versions 4, 5 and 6 are for situations where you have things under shadows and other things under light, or a bright background, because these versions lift more the shadows. After you chose the version, you experiment the contrast slider from -2 to +2 to perceive the point which increases the global contrast without crushing the blacks or clipping the highlights or to perceive the point that increases dynamic range without flatten the image. Sometimes the highlights will clip because the sensor has a limit, so it is better to get a good contrast in the image with clipped highlights instead of flatten the final look in an attempt to recover the highlights.
The Cook Picture Styles default contrast is in the middle. Why not use contrast -4 to improve dynamic range even more?
The cook picture styles does not use the contrast slyder to improve dynamic range, it uses other settings in the picture style editor. There are two reasons to do this. First because the other settings allows more precise adjusts to get better texture and tonal range from the sensor and also avoid the flat look when increasing the dynamic range with a more precise control to reach the maximum safe settings. Second because leaving the default contrast slider in the midle allows the user to increase or decrease the contrast considering the light conditions of each scene to get good images with great global contrast straight from camera. In the demo videos you can see there are different situations where I used contrast from -2 to +2 which is the safe range. You can start at -2 and increase step by step until you preceive that there is no flat look. In the Cook Picture Styles the contrast slider is used to do what it is intended to do, to adjust the final global contrast of the image.
Why just not use the Cook6 all the time considering it has the highest level of dynamic range?
Each light condition needs a different level of dynamic range in the picture style. You need to be careful if you use the Cook6 in a scene with everything under shadows because there are chances of the tonal look become not so pleasant to the eye as it would be if you use the Cook0 or 1. This is not a problem of the Cook, this is because you are lifting an image that does not need lifting. But there are some ways to improve the look. If you use the Cook6 with your main subject under shadows and light in the background, there are two things you can do to keep the good tonal range: you can increase the contrast slider to +1 or +2 to get a better tonal range in the subject which is under the shadow or you can decrease the exposure changing shutter speed, iso and aperture, or a combination of both, some decrease in exposure and some contrast increase. Do not worry because increasing contrast to +2 does not hurt the dynamic range so much, it will improve the global contrast. If you use the Cook0 in a shadow highlight scene the shadows will be dark or the highlights will clip because the Cook0 is not intended to do this, but you can decrease the contrast to improve the dynamic range. The Cook5 and 6 are best suited to be used in shadow highlight situations and the Cook0 and 1 to be used in just shadows situations. I recomend to compare the combinations in the camera LCD before start recording. There are 7 levels of shadow lifting in Cook Picture Styles in small increments: Cook0, Cook1, Cook2, Cook3, Cook4, Cook5 and Cook6. Unfortunately the Canon cameras just allows to load three custom picture styles, but I perceived that it is enough. Loading the 1, 3 and 6 or the 0, 2 and 5 or the 1, 3 and 5 to the camera solves all situations. And you can do improvements adjusting contrast from -2 to +2, this is the safe range. Another tip is to decrease the saturation slider a little when you increase the contrast slider to avoid color bleeding. Working in DPP to convert RAW photos you can experiment all the 7 levels of shadow lifting without the need of loading them to the camera.
Why there are two groups, the "_cam" and the "_dpp" groups? Are they different, and how?
The DPP - Canon Digital Photo Professional Software - process the RAW photos delivering different results comparing to the camera internal processing, so there is the need of two versions of the same picture style, one for use in camera and other for use in DPP. In the Cook Picture Styles, the "_cam" group is for use inside the camera, to load to the camera, for taking MOV videos and JPG photos. The "_dpp" group is for use in the computer for processing RAW photos in the Canon Digital Photo Professional software. In both groups the Cook behavior is the same, the only difference is each group deals with color, texture correction and highlight preservation using different settings because the internal camera processing is a little bit different from the software processing in computer. Do not use Cook DPP version in camera or the Cook camera version in DPP, this is wrong thing to do and will not give you perfect results.
Why there are versions with the sufix -h and +h?
There are two versions of the Cook for each group, the default version and the -h version for DPP group and the default version and the +h version for use in camera. The -h version in the DPP group removes the highlight preservation implemented in Cook and keeps the luminance range up to 255. In the DPP group, in the default version, the highlights are lowered a little bit. Do not worry, this does not hurt the highlight tonal range. I perceived that lowering the highlights a little bit was more pleasant to the eye. It works ok for converting RAW photos as you can see in the demo video. Also the highlight roll off is good with both versions. In the camera group the default version has the safe amount of highlight preservation which preserves the textures. The +h version has a more agressive highlight preservation for extreme situations, but it slightly reduces the textures, so use it only when needed.
How does the cook deal with the skin tones?
I did a careful study about skin color and I did shoots of lots of different people in the streets to compare to what I learned in my researches. I also hired three professional models, white, mulatto and black to help me in the development under different light sources. So I did my best to remove the color casts which I found to be common in the Canon sensor with the factory default picture styles when compared to what I see with my eyes.
How do you deal with the green color cast introduced by the variable nd filters, what do you recomend?
I recomend to adjust the white balance kelvin scale with the green/magenta bias disabled and after get the balance between blue and amber you stat moving the green/magenta bias towards magenta step by step. This is better than change the tone slider in the picture style because the green/magenta bias changes the hue in more subtle steps. Comparing the Variable ND and the Circular Polarizer in my tests, I found that the color cast in a circular polarizer is almost unnoticeable and it decreases the light by 1,66 fstops. So I am using a circular polarizer instead of the Variable ND. The Circular Polarizer and the Fader ND can also be used to increase the dynamic range a little. When you rotate it in front of the lens you perceive that dark areas becomes lighter while light areas becomes darker. It is subtle but makes difference. In this demo video I used it only in the MOV videos, not in RAW photos. The reason is because I wanted to show the maximum dynamic range I could get. And when I show the difference from Cook0 to Cook6 and also to Neutral, the polarizer filter was used in exactly the same position in front of the camera lens. The differences in dynamic range in the demo video is generated only by the picture styles, the polarizer was in the same position for each scene. A tip about using polarizer is to not remove all the reflections from the foliage to not turn them into a green mass. Some reflections in foliage is important to keep good perceiving of local contrast. In this video I removed all reflections in some shoots and I perceived this when I saw the images in the computer, so in my next shoots I will do tests to find the best balance for the polarizer filter. Do this test also when you use it.
The other picture styles for digital cinema production introduce some color grading to make the images look more cinematic and less video look. Don't you think the Cook Picture Styles are too much video look?
Let me clarify this point, because it is important. What I did was to keep the colors close to what our eyes see in the real world. And the dynamic range improvement keeps the good contrast. So the images comes from the camera ready for tv broadcast, no need grading, no need sharpening. Depending on the ISO, some denoise is welcome and cleans prettty good.
How many fstops of dynamic range the Cook Picture Styles can deliver?
What I did when developing the Cook Picture Styles was to adjust the settings in the Picture Style Editor interger by interger to find the maximum and minimum values I could use without hurting the image. This means no significant increase in noise, no gradient banding, no mud, no flat. If I went further, as I did in my tests, the results would be not professional. It does not make sense for me to increase the dynamic range and get ugly noise, texture breaking, flat, mud or banding. So I did it respecting the limits of the sensor, preserving the quality. Also I made them friendly of HTP which also increases dynamic range. So I consider the Cook6 + HTP the maximum dynamic range from the Canon DSLR sensor while keeping the image quality. For the 5D Mark III the maximum safe shadow lifting is the Cook5 + HTP. I did not measured the dynamic range in terms of fstops but in my tests The Cook6 with contrast -2 has more dynamic range than Neutral with contrast -4.
The Auto Lighting Optimizer can be useful with Cook?
No. Do not enable it when using Cook, it hurts the image quality. And the shadow lifting in Cook is already calibrated, no need ALO. Also ALO does not work together with HTP. It is better to enable HTP (Highlight Tone Priority). I use HTP almost all the time. Cook was designed to work good with HTP. It is important also to disable ALO in the Tools Palette of DPP software when converting RAW photos to JPG using Cook. Always disable ALO in camera for MOV videos and JPG photos.
In the demo video you show a feature called texture improvement. how does it work?
I did the shadow lifting and highlight preservation with lots of care to avoid gradient banding and keep great tone gradation in the image. And I found there was another problem generated by shadow lifting. This problem is the texture breaking. After shadow lifting, some textures in colors gets ugly so it needs correction. The Cook picture styles uses some settings in the Picture Style Editor to correct the textures even when using shadow lifting and highlight preservation. I consider texture breaking a little different from gradient banding because the way to correct it in PSE is different. The Cook picture styles corrects both things.
Did you use denoise in the demo video?
In the 600D T3i MOV videos yes, denoise cannot be done in camera. In the 5D Mark III videos, some images have denoise, some does not, you can perceive this seeing the noise in the images, for me the noise from the 5D is small, not annoying up to 3200 iso. I used Neatvideo for denoise. Cook Picture Styles cleans pretty good with it. In the RAW photos converted to JPG, the Canon Digital Photo Professional Software does denoise when converting RAW to JPG so I used it and no Neatvideo. I removed mainly te chroma noise which is more annoying in the cheap Canon APS DSLR sensors.
Which Canon picture style you used as a base for the Cook?
I did tests will all of them and I chosed the options considering the highest dynamic range and the colors more close to the real world for each version. I prefer not to reveal.
What you will do from now about the Cook Picture Styles?
I will use it! After this demo video, and these questions and answers, I think people already have enough information about it, the video is enough to show the quality and features and these answers have all the instructions and tips. Probably two things will happen: some people will be proud to say: I am using Cook Picture Styles. And some people will say that will not use it because they prefer raw video or other cameras or other picture styles. I can answer questions about it if needed. But I will respect the Freedom for choices, the Cook is just one more choice option.
Does the Cook work for all Canon DSLR?
It was tested with the 600D T3i and with the 5D Mark III, both with excellent results as you can see in the demo videos. Informations from internet says that the sensors in 600D, 550D, 650D, 700D, 60D and 7D are the same, so I believe it will work in these cameras also. About the other Canon EOS cameras, the Canon sensors and internal image processing are pretty equal in terms of light and color response in all EOS models, so I think all the people can use the Cook and no problem. Canon claims that the Picture Style Editor 184.108.40.206 is compatible with all EOS cameras which have custom picture styles slots. I started working with the 220.127.116.11 version which have the three panels and I finished the work with the latest 18.104.22.168 version which includes compatibility with latest EOS cameras. About the 5D Mark III, the maximum safe shadow lifting is the Cook5, for the 600D T3i the Cook6 works OK.
Why did you set the sharpness at 2 instead of 0 in the Cook Picture Styles?
The reason is to get a good local contrast and increase the perceived resolution.
So, do you have a final word?
Thanks very much for watching the video and reading the questions and answers. Please, consider also sharing about the Cook Picture Styles with your friends. If a Canon EOS is in your hands, Cook your images and enjoy!
Contact: send email to cook[at]apefos[dot]com