Exploring the Potential of Canon Picture Styles

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Japanese Picture Style

Japanese Picture Style

With film cameras, the look of the photo depends on the film you select. For example, Fuji Velvia (recently discontinued) was favoured by landscape photographers to create high contrast, saturated colour slides. Kodak Portra is a colour negative film designed to give flattering skin tones. And if you want to shoot in black and white, you have to use black and white film.

With digital cameras, you achieve the same effect using Canon Picture Styles (other manufacturers have different names for the same thing). Your camera, assuming it’s not an older model that predates Picture Styles, has six built-in. Of these, you would probably use three the most – Standard (for general shooting), Landscape and Portrait. Neutral and Faithful are designed to deliver low contrast JPEG files for processing in Photoshop. The last, Monochrome, is for black and white photos.

There are two ways to use Picture Styles:

1. If you use the JPEG format, your images are processed according to the parameters of the selected Picture Style. You can’t change Picture Style afterwards.

2. If you use the Raw format, and process the file in DPP, you can apply a Picture Style at the processing stage. This gives you the option of selecting the Picture Style that suits the image best after you have taken it.

If you use Raw and process the file in the latest versions of Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom, the software gives you the option of using Canon’s Standard, Landscape, Portrait, Faithful and Neutral Picture Styles, but no others.

Romantic Picture Style

Romantic Picture Style

Other Picture Styles

You are not limited to the Picture Styles included with your camera. Canon has created seven more Picture Styles that you can download here. Once downloaded, you can transfer them to your camera or use them with Digital Photo Professional. The instructions are on the Canon website at the above link.

Kevin Wang

Kevin Wang is a photographer who has created his own Picture Styles using the Picture Style Editor, software supplied on the CD that comes with EOS cameras. You can see some of the photos that he’s created with his Picture Styles on his Flickr photostream here. If you would like to use any of his Picture Styles yourself, you can buy them for $US9.99 each. The details are at the above link.

You can also download three of Kevin’s Picture Styles for free by going to this interview with the photographer on the Canon Hong Kong website (there is also some advice on creating your own Picture Styles in the Picture Style Editor). I downloaded these Picture Styles and used them to process the portraits accompanying this article.

Yamato Picture Style

Yamato Picture Style

Using the Picture Styles

If you upload Kevin’s Picture Styles to your camera, you can use them as is or you can adjust them by going into the Detail settings. Here you can alter the sharpness, contrast, saturation and colour tone of the Picture Style, and save them as a new User Defined Picture Style if you wish. You can also do this with the built-in or additional Canon Picture Styles.

If you process your Raw files in DPP you can adjust the image brightness, white balance, contrast, sharpness, colour saturation and colour tone to suit the image. This method gives you the most flexibility, and also allows you to use new Picture Styles with old files (this is covered in detail in my ebook Understanding DPP).

Picture Style tutorials

Photographer Bruce Dorn has created a series of video tutorials about Picture Styles and the Picture Style Editor software for Canon. The tutorials explain the points I’ve touched on in this article in detail. They also show you how to use the Picture Style Editor to create your own Picture Styles. You can view the tutorials here.

More examples

Here are some more photos processed with the Kevin Wang Picture Styles:

Japanese Picture Style

Japanese Picture Style

Romantic Picture Style

Romantic Picture Style

Yamato Picture Style

Yamato Picture Style

Japanese Picture Style

Japanese Picture Style

Romantic Picture Style

Romantic Picture Style

Yamato Picture Style

Yamato Picture Style

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