Developing a new Picture Profile Editor for #Canon vDSLR cameras

Posted: January 7, 2011 in colorbyjorg
Tags: , , , , ,

We all know the Canon Picture Style Editor, which is a clumsy tool that lets you draw b-spline-assisted curves on a tiny grid (10 points max), and gives you some limited control over color representation; too limited to call it a professional means of color correction. Many people flood the web with home-brew picture profiles that should give professional (better?) results when shooting video with your Canon DSLR camera. Some profiles are targeted towards shooting “flat” and try to create more latitude by lowering the contrast, others aim for cinema looks by also making the picture more flat and adding color correction to mimic specific film stocks.

All very nice and noble, but done while lacking a reliable tool to do so – and that apart from people lacking total talent, insight and knowledge (sorry guys…) – also lacking the proper means of measurement…

I have been contracted by Martin Beek of Marvels Film to develop a stand-alone Picture Profile creator that can output s-curves (and any other mathematical curve) based on 16 8-bit nodes with interpolation.
This application that i will develop, using Adobe Flex (compiling an Adobe Air application for both mac and pc), will not be all that sexy in the first version, but will calculate and draw mathematical correct curves instead of accepting mouse input. Functions for drawing typical filmstock s-cruves (and others) in respect to the existing camera’s curve and profile will be provided and can be selected from a list, as well as entered as a mathematical function.

The resulting picture profile can than be loaded either into the camera or into the Canon Picture Profile Editor (don’t touch the curve!) to allow for further “color correction”.

I did not have time yet to dig into the canon DSLR SDK to see if we can maybe blow the profile to the camera directly via USB , but i think that’s a real possibility.

The first test version is planned for the first week of february and that will be (and maybe remain) an in-house application – so NOT (yet?) for distribution. I am working on it as we speak and will continue to work on it next week. I have a meeting with Martin Beek in Venlo (which is halfway between his office in the Netherlands and my home in Germany) to finalize the functional specs.

  1. Martin Beek says:


    I have tried to find more details about Canon’s picture profile file format, but to me it looks like an encrypted proprietary format. Are you sure you’ll be able to read and write profile files in the near future? Maybe an idea to write a guy like Tramm Hudson?

    Kind regards,

    Martin Beek

    • jorgescher says:


      I have contacted Trammel Hudson by email, but he is a very busy guy, hope that i’ll get through…
      I’ll be looking into this over the weekend (the .pf2 file format).


  2. Yaros_525 says:

    Hi Jorgen.
    Would like to know about your progress on pf2 file format.
    I just would like to know one simple thing: does it contains BASE curve data (standart, neutral etc.) aside of User tone curve. Why I’m asking is that official downloadable profiles from Canon (CLEAR.pf2, TWILIGHT.pf2 etc) when loaded in PSE, appear under Base Picture style tab. It will read “CLEAR” for clear.pf2 for example. If so, than the file itself contains base tone curve that can be changed somehow, PSE just doesn’t give us such possibility. Just a thought. )

    • jorgescher says:

      It does only contain base curve data and no user tone curve. I don’t touch the tone curve anymore since the previous “Panalog” style. It messes up the whole internal processing resulting in being unable to take a correct white balance.
      The 8 bit color processing seems to be there just for fun 😉
      I have real trouble finding reliable information about the color tone curves and HLS mapping. The luminance curve is relatively obvious and “easy”, for the rest i need someone to help me with the file format, like Tramel Hudson or someone of that stature.


  3. Maximo says:

    I don’t know if you had made any progress with the file format, but I wanted to ask you if you think it would be posible to make a picture style that inverts the image (shadow-light).
    I thought it was going to be easy using Picture Style Editor, but I can’t invert the curve in the editor.
    I searched to see if someone had made an inverter profile, but I couldn’t find any.
    I’ve also searched for the file format (I’m a programmer) but I couldn’t find that either.


  4. julian ott says:

    hey, i recently digged into the .net code of the picture style editor,
    and have seen that they encapsulate all the parameters as HSL
    conversion list (+gamma and few other parameters) in theyr Edsdk
    (eos digital sdk) library, and gets back the binary .pf2 data from there.
    unfortunately no .net dll, so it’s not so easy to decompile that.

    but i agree on the issue, it would be very helpful if all the conversion commands
    where translated to separate channel curves.

    btw i would be interested in co-developing that tool, if you still planning that.
    i am experienced in .net and have a basic flex knowledge…

    feel free to contact me

  5. jim says:

    Jorgen, whats the status on your Picture Profile Editor?

  6. jim says:

    ditto whats the status on your Picture Profile Editor?

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