Color Photography: saturated colors in-camera vs in-computer – which is best?

Color Photography: saturated colors in-camera vs in-computer - which is best?

In the latest post of our series studying color photography and how to get the best tones, we look at saturated colors, the problems they can cause and whether to increase saturation in-camera or on the computer.

Film users who’ve migrated to digital might find that their new cameras don’t quite mirror the depth of color provided by film.

This is due in part to the pretty conservative way that digital cameras process their shots, generating images without excessive saturation or contrast so that the majority of scenes are rendered well and have the scope for further manipulation later.

It’s perfectly possible, though, to increase color saturation, either at the time of taking the photo or later on using software.

Which method, though, gives the best results? It’s important to understand the pros and cons before you start shooting.

Saturated Colors: in-camera or in-computer?

Saturated Colors: in-camera or in-computer?

Your subjects won’t always come with the kind of saturation you’re looking for. Shots taken on an overcast day can come out looking pretty dull, so try adding saturation in your image-editor.

Why bother increasing the saturation setting on the camera when you can do it in your image-editor later?

Because the camera will be able to apply the adjustment as it processes the raw sensor data.

Every time image data is processed, some information is lost and the remainder is slightly degraded. It’s better for the data to be processed only once (in the camera) than twice (later on again in your image-editor).

When you apply saturation increases to JPEG images, you’ll often start to see increased noise or blotchiness which, carried to extremes, will ruin the image.

If you want higher saturation, then, it’s best to apply it
 in-camera, even though this might be more fiddly.

The exception is when you’re shooting raw files. As we’ve explained elsewhere, with raw format files, you carry out the image processing yourself.

As well as altering the white balance setting, you can use this opportunity to adjust the overall color saturation too.

PAGE 1: Saturated Colors – in-camera vs in-computer?
PAGE 2: Problems to be aware of with saturated colors


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