Technicolor Cinestyle vs Neutral

I did a dynamic range test for Video vs RAW in my last post, and RAW won hands down. If you haven’t read it already, read it here.

In this post, I decided to test the Technicolor Cinestyle Picture Style for Canon DSLRs against Neutral and RAW, to find out which had the greatest latitude for post production.

The Constants:

  • F/8, ISO 100 at 1/30s. White Balance: Shade
  • Camera: Canon 550D with the 18-55mm 1:3.5-4.5 IS Kit lens at 41mm
  • Dynamic range of the scene was over 14 stops
  • Video was converted to 16-bit TIFF in After Effects, except for the RAW file which was converted in DPP.
  • TIFFs were converted to 8-bit JPEGs in Photoshop.
  • First, the Neutral shot:
    Neutral_straight

    The Cinestyle shot:
    Cinestyle_straight

    The Cinesytle shot with LUT (using Red Giant’s LUT Buddy):
    Cinestyle_Red Giant LUT Buddy

    Neutral vs Cinestyle using the Exposure tool:

    Neutral Exposure +5, and Exposure -3:
    Neutral_Exposureplus5Neutral_Exposureminus3

    Cinestyle Exposure +5, and Exposure -3:
    Cinestyle_Exposureplus5Cinestyle_Exposureminus3

    Neutral vs Cinestyle using the Levels tool:

    Neutral Gamma 1.5, and Gamma 0.5
    Neutral_LevelsGminus1pt5Neutral_LevelsGpluspt5

    Cinestyle Gamma 1.5, and Gamma 0.5
    Cinestyle_LevelsGminus1pt5Cinestyle_LevelsGpluspt5

    Cinestyle with LUT Buddy Gamma 1.5, and Gamma 0.5
    Cinestyle_RG LUT Buddy 1 pt 5Cinestyle_RG LUT Buddy plus Levels pt 5

    Cinestyle altered (via Levels and HLS) to look like Neutral:

    Cinesytle_altered to suit Neutral

    Camera RAW image:

    Camera RAW

    The three Histograms – RAW, Cinestyle and Neutral:

    Histogram_Camera RAWHistogram_Cinestyle_straightHistogram_Neutral_straight

    Some conclusions I could draw:

  • Cinestyle is nowhere near RAW in terms of latitude. RAW wins hands down.
  • Cinestyle is better than Neutral with more information in the highlights and shadows, however –
  • Neutral is better than Cinestyle when extreme highlights come into play. Look at the lamp – the Cinestyle image is greener and more dirtier, and Neutral is slightly more elegant.
  • What to take from this:

  • Use Cinestyle in controlled lighting situations with extra time/money for grading in post production.
  • When lighting cannot be controlled (especially with highlights), it is better to shoot in Neutral – especially when heavy color grading is not expected.
  • For heavy grading work, both picture styles need to be converted to a more robust 32-bit file system (to keep each iteration as loss-less as possible), or at least a 16-bit system.
  • For me personally, the main takeaway is that it is wise to use HDSLRs for feature work only in extremely controlled situations. If guerilla filmmaking is your thing, and time and money is short, the older HDV cameras are much better. If you have the money, the new AF100 or FS100 might be a better solution for run and gun filmmaking.

    For more information on the Technicolor Cinestyle Picture style for Canon DSLRs, click here.