Canon Picture Styles: how to use in-camera effects on your EOS DSLR

Canon Picture Styles: a complete guide

Using Canon Picture Styles

In-camera effects may be seen as a bit of a marketing gimmick by some, but the ones offered by your EOS DSLR form a powerful and creative set of tools that has the potential to save you time and improve your photography.

The most versatile of the built-in effects in your EOS DSLR is the Canon Picture Style function. This gives you control over the sharpness, contrast, saturation and colour tone settings of your pictures via a simple set of menus and sliders.

There are six different preset Canon Picture Styles available in most current EOS cameras (the EOS 600D adds a seventh ‘Auto’ option as well) and each is tailored to a different scene or colour preference.

You choose a Canon Picture Style as you might have chosen 35mm film to match different shooting opportunities, moving from sharp details and punchy colours for landscape photography to a softer, more natural look for portraits (see our free photography cheat sheets for landscape photography and portrait photography).

The parameters can be customised too, and favourite combinations saved in three User Generated slots.

Canon Picture Styles can be used when shooting with any of the four main ‘creative zone’ modes – Program (P), Aperture Priority (Av), Shutter Priority (Tv), Manual (M). Picture Style processing occurs at the point of capture when you’re using JPEGs. What you see is what you get, and you can’t go back and tweak the effect later if you don’t like the result.

However, if you choose to shoot .CR2 RAW files instead of (or in addition) to JPEGs, you can! Like many camera settings, you can alter the parameters of a Canon Picture Style when you process the RAW file, without affecting the underlying image data.

You might have originally taken a picture of a rural scene using the Monochrome Picture Style, complete with red filter and sepia toning effects, but you can change the image to a lush, full-colour one by simply switching to the Landscape Picture Style instead.

You’ll need to do this RAW conversion using the Digital Photo Professional software that came with your EOS however, as third-party RAW software, including Adobe Camera Raw, doesn’t replicate Picture Style information.

The introduction of in-camera RAW processing, as seen on the Canon 60D, enables you to take one shot and save out multiple JPEG versions of it, each with a different Picture Style applied. This gives you the best of both worlds, saving you time in front of a computer and enabling you to stay out longer with your Canon camera.

On the next page… How to set and customise your Canon Picture Styles

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