Just as in the days of analogue photography a particular type of film gave your images a certain look, in digital photography applying a Picture Style enables you to change the appearance of your shot with a simple menu selection. Canon Picture Styles enable you to apply a whole set of image adjustments with a click, which you can then fine-tune manually. The parameters you can adjust are the sharpness, contrast, saturation and colour tone of colour images, and the sharpness, contrast, filter effect and toning effect of monochrome images.
Picture Styles were introduced with the EOS-1D Mark II in 2004. All subsequent EOS cameras have Picture Styles. You can add your own custom Picture Style to the presets, or download and install even more Styles.
These are the preset options you can choose from:
- Auto: introduced with the EOS 600D in 2011, this Picture Style uses the camera's Scene Detection system, which automatically analyses the shooting conditions, looking at parameters such as a subject's face, colour, brightness, movement, contrast and focus distance. This enables the system to generate a Picture Style specific to each scene by adjusting contrast, colour tone, sharpness and saturation. Generally, the Auto Picture Style adjusts the colours so they look vivid, especially blue skies, greenery and sunsets.
- Standard: uses a sharpness level of 3 and produces crisp images with the colour tone and saturation set to produce vivid colours. It's a good choice for a wide variety of scenes.
- Portrait: has colour tone and saturation set to render natural skin tones. Sharpness is set to level 2, one step weaker than in Standard, and is kinder to skin.
- Landscape: colour tone and saturation are set to achieve deep, vivid blues and greens for skies and foliage. The sharpness is set to 4, one step more than Standard, so that the outlines of mountains, trees and buildings look crisp.
- Fine Detail: introduced with the EOS 5DS and EOS 5DS R in 2015, this style is configured to suit subjects with fine details and subtle textures. It also produces slightly more vivid colours.
- Neutral: produces natural colours and no sharpening is applied – it is assumed that some image processing will be done. A good choice if, for example, the image contains subtle shades of white in a wedding dress or similar subject, which might be blown out by boosting brightness and saturation.
- Faithful: like the Neutral picture style, this applies no sharpening. Where Neutral produces a perceptual rendering of colours (that is, balancing the colours much as you would see them), Faithful is a colorimetric rendering designed to reproduce colours as they would appear if shot in daylight (at a colour temperature of 5200K). In practice this will be very close to what you see with the naked eye (and usually very similar to Neutral, but with a more colour-accurate reproduction in bright highlights). The difference between perceptual and colorimetric rendering is most relevant for colour-accurate printing.
- Monochrome: turns the image black and white, with sharpness set to 3 and contrast at its middle value. Instead of colour tone and colour saturation settings, there are settings for filter effects (none, yellow, orange, red, green), enabling you to adjust the tones in the mono conversion, and toning effect (none, sepia, blue, purple, green), enabling you to add a subtle or a more intense tint for artistic effect. You'll see the effects of these settings if you're using Live View on a DSLR or the viewfinder on a mirrorless camera, so you can assess the results before you take the shot. If you've set the camera to save shots as JPEGs, the image will be saved as mono (or tinted), as you've set it. If you're shooting RAW, the colour information will be preserved, and you can remove or change the Picture Style in post-processing – more about Picture Styles and RAW files shortly.
The Standard, Portrait, Landscape and Fine Detail Picture Styles should not need major image processing work on a computer.