Sunday, June 27, 2010

Picture Styles for the 7D


The 7D “Picture Styles” are selectable sets of adjustments to sharpness, contrast, saturation and color tone that are applied to JPEG images. In a way, the Picture Styles are canned RAW conversion and post processing procedures that are applied to RAW image files in-camera. Picture Styles were not available on my 20D or G9 as such so are new to me and I’m trying to learn more about them.

The photos above are crops from one of my swamp tour pictures and compare four of the preset Picture Styles.  As often seems the case, the differences are not so obvious in the cropped blog version.

Instead of Picture Styles, the 20D has Processing Parameter 1 and Parameter 2 options but, in truth, I did not learn to use them. According to the 20D manual, Parameter 1 boosts contrast, saturation and sharpness by +1 as compared to Parameter 2. In the Basic Zone modes, the in-camera JPEG is processed according to Parameter 1; in the Creative Zone modes, an in-camera JPEG is processed according to Parameter 2. In RAW mode, the Parameter setting does not apply so I did not concern myself with it. In addition to the preset Parameters 1 and 2, the 20D has a Black and White parameter as well as customizable Sets 1, 2, 3. Sets 1, 2 and 3 provide for independent adjustments of contrast, saturation, sharpness and color tone.

To be fair, the G9 has a “Scene” mode (SCN on the top right hand dial) that makes adjustments for typical situations such as portraits, landscapes, snow, fireworks, etc. I’ve rarely used the Scene mode because I prefer to shoot in RAW and post process in Photoshop. But I must admit to being sorely tempted by the in-camera JPEG – especially when I’m taking many snapshots at family events. In those situations, I usually shoot RAW+JPEG. With the G9, I can make an adjustment to the JPEG through the “My Colors” function. My Colors includes settings for Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, Black and White and many others. My Colors also has a Custom Color selection in which contrast, sharpness, saturation, red, green, blue and skin tone can be independently tweaked. My normal practice is to turn down the contrast, saturation and red adjustments one notch each. Custom Color settings do not apply to the RAW image but do apply to the JPEG when shooting in RAW+JPEG mode.

“Picture Styles” for the 7D are: Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Faithful and Monochrome (Black and White). In addition to these six pre-set styles, there are three User Defined Styles. Also, each pre-set style can be tweaked with respect to contrast, saturation, sharpness and color tone. Tweaked styles remain tweaked until reset to the default values. A tweaked preset style can be saved as a User Defined Style and then the preset returned to its defaults. Canon also provides software, Picture Style Editor, for further customization of Picture Style.

Picture Styles are much more versatile than the Processing Parameter of the 20D and the Custom Color of the G9. For example, there are additional styles available for download from Canon. The Canon RAW conversion program, Digital Photo Professional (DPP), can load Picture Style files and apply the style during RAW conversion. Although I don’t really intend to use DPP, it seems that I should be taking advantage of Picture Styles for my in-camera JPEGs.

In an early post, I switched from the new camera default of "Standard" Picture Style to "Landscape" but I'll be trying "Faithful" with a bit of added sharpness for a while.