Pro video blog…Produced by Philip Johnston DoP/Editor

HDW : Every now and again I get asked how best to set up a Sony PMW-350 camcorder my advice is to follow Alister Chapman’s superb instructions on how to adjust the camcorder once you get it on the bench, it’s far too sharp out of the box and in my opinion quite unusable.

Alister “I decided to write a more detailed post to continue the discussions on scene file settings for the PMW-350. This is a work in progress. Some of this may also be of interest to other camera users as I hope to give a basic description of what all the various settings do.

First off let me say that there is no “right way” or “wrong way” to set up a scene file. What works for one person may not be to anothers taste, or suit different applications. For me, my requirements are a neutral look, not over corrected or too vivid, but retaining a pleasing contrast range. I hope, as this thread develops to explain a little bit about each of the settings and what they actually do in the hope that it will make it easy for you to adjust the scene files to suit your own needs. I hope others will jump in with their suggestions too!

So… on to the PMW-350. Out of the box it’s really sharp. The camera has full 1920×1080 sensors, so even with all detail correction turned off the image is still pretty sharp. However most viewers are used to seeing picture with some detail correction, so if you turn it all off, to many it looks soft. If you were going for a really filmic look, detail off and aperture off would have to be a serious option. For my customers though a little bit of subtle “zing” seems to be what they like.”

I found that these settings worked well for general all-round use.

Detail Level -14
H/V Ratio +20 (helps balance horizontal and vertical resolution)
Frequency +35 (makes the edges thinner, if your doing a lot of SD you may want to go the other way to -50 so that the edges can still be seen in SD)
White Limit +35 (limits brightness of white edges)
Black Limit +30 (limits darkness of black edges)

Aperture -20

If you are doing a lot of grading and work with low key scenes (large dark areas) you can use the level depend and crispening settings to help prevent “detail” being added to any picture noise. This makes any noise less apparent.

A starting point for this would be:

Crispening +35
Level depend +20

For normal light levels these are not needed with the 350 IMHO. If you are shooting with more than +6db gain then raising the level depend to +60 will help with noise.


So my Gamma Choices are:

For material that will be post produced: Hypergamma 4609 (HG4)

For material that will be used straight from the camera: Standard Gamma 5 Knee at 90 with clip at 108% for non broadcast or Knee at 88 with slope +20 with white clip at 100% for direct to broadcast.


Having been working in the video business since 1988 I have amassed a great amount of knowledge of both the kit and production values over the last 30 years.

2 thoughts on “Alister Chapman’s PMW-350 Scene files

  1. Recently bought a new PMW-350 and so far am very impressed. Just need one of those expensive Nanaflash’s to make it work.

    Found your scene files of great interest. I plan to use the camera on stage and music dvd shoots with spotlights, etc. I think using your normal scene file adjusting the knee to 90 and slope to 80 should do it with wide open lens and shutter set to capture lesser lit band members.

    do you have any additional advioce. I’s love to know before I make a mess of it.



  2. Can you please post some DVCAM settings for PMW 350. DVCAM looks soft for the normal factory settings, Thanks

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