Picture Styles is one of the option found in Canon DSLR’s which allow the users to process their photographs straight out of the camera so one can shorten their digital workflow. There are inbuilt presets for most common photography scenarios already programmed into the camera viz. Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Faithful, Monochrome etc. Apart from these inbuilt presets, the user can even download new picture styles from Canon’s website & install them on to the camera using the provided software onto the CD.
As with most options, the default picture style is set to ‘Standard’. However, changing the picture styles to a particular one will help in producing a good jpeg photograph which requires minimal to no editing. Do note however, the RAW files are not affected by the picture styles. So if you shoot RAW, you can always change the picture style later using Canon’s Digital Photo Professional software.
Picture Style’s are no gimmick as one knows they adjust certain crucial options. They are;
Sharpness : One can specify the image sharpness in the picture style. Often, landscape photographs demand a high degree of sharpness over portraits. Hence if you notice closely, the ‘Landscape’ picture styles has more sharpness defined than the ‘portrait’ picture style.
Contrast : Contrast can make or break the image. Contrast is the difference of luminance between the highlight & the shadow area of a photograph. Some photographs like that of a dreamy morning require low contrast whereas an artist performing on-stage may look better with high contrast. Set this as per the situation. Be aware, setting too high contrast will mean clipping(lacking) details in shadows or highlights(or even both).
Saturation : Saturation refers to the colour intensity. A higher saturation will mean more intense colours & vice-versa. A macro shot of crayons will benefit from increasing the saturation so will the colours during the festival of Holi. Like contrast, setting the saturation too high may get rid of details in particular colours of the photographs, so exercise caution while using.
Colour Tone : This affects the tone of the colours throughout the photograph making them warm or cool. Experiment as to how you can make use of it.
Filter Effect(only in Monochrome Picture Style) : The filter effect allow one to replicate the effects of using a Yellow, Orange, Red or Green filter in front of your lens. These filters help you to further refine your Black & White(B&W) photographs. For e.g. An orange filter helps to reproduce a healthy smooth skin in B&W portraiture.
Toning Effect(only in Monochrome Picture Style) : With toning effect, you can tone your photographs to Sepia, Green, Blue or Purple. For e.g. the Sepia effect lends a distinct vintage feel to the photograph. Again, experiment which one best suits the subject you’re photographing.
If you shoot only jpeg, you should definitely experiment with picture styles. You will get good photographs straight out of the camera which require minimal to no editing.