I’ve been doing a lot of research into flat picture profiles for a while now. For those who may not have noticed, there are options for picture profiles in cameras. If you’re shooting RAW, it rarely matters because although, the camera may apply them during playback. The underlying data has not undergone any change.
Flat picture profiles are useful when you are using a compressed photo or video because it is a very common issue to lose detail in the highlights or shadows. The RAW image actually looks pretty bland with very little contrast and saturation. But, if you dive a bit deeper, you can see where it shines.
On my D5300, it doesn’t possess a flat profile in it’s setting (an option that was added in the D5500, carried over from the D7x00 series). However, a little Googling returned plenty of alternatives and the fact that it’s possible to copy new picture profiles into my camera. After some research, I concluded on Cineflat. Cineflat actually borrows traits from two other flat profiles: Tassinflat and Yus. (It’s not actually YUS. I forgot it’s actual full name. It was made by a photographer called Alvaro Yus). Here are some samples I took.
You must have noticed have that the flat profile has way less contrast but, is also slightly brighter. But, you have to overlook those and the real magic comes when you start grading the footage. But, even from this picture, the benefits are obvious.
Disclaimer : This is not a scientific test nor am I diving deep into the aspects. I have taken a conventional case.
The flat profile has maintained the detail available in both the shadows and highlights. If these were RAW files, the data would have been intact but, these are JPEGs, resulting in data loss when compression is applied. Flat profile are really of use when shooting video. Since most DSLRs doesn’t allow for shooting video RAW (mine actually does but, it requires a $200 adapter) using flat profile is an alternative. It’s not all sunshine and butterflies, the source footage is pretty noisy at ISOs above 1000 however, a simple movement of the blacks and shadows slider makes the video worlds apart. It makes sense because noise is dominant in the low light portions of the footage.