Picture style is one of those settings that can have a big impact on the final quality of your photo or video. You can find it under different names, on Sony’s cameras it might be Creative style, on Canon’s cameras you will find it under Picture style, they do the same thing, it alter contrast, sharpness, saturation and color tone of your photo or video.

You can choose from different presets, Landscape, Fine Detail, Faithful, Portrait, Neutral, Auto, and so on, and it is a good option if you don’t do any post editing but you still like to have some alteration to make photos looks better and share them  right away.

When we set the profile style, is like doing a post processing editing at the moment we take the video or photo, the changes to the color information are irreversible, you can’t revert them in post processing, and depending on the preset you choose, you might even lose some information, with the impossibility to recover them later. There is an exception, the RAW photo format is not altered by the picture style, so you will always get the same quality no matter what preset you choose, but even using the profile style when shooting in RAW  has some advantages, the preview you see on the rear screen of your camera will have the profile style applied, so you can get an idea of how it might looks like your photo in post processing when you alter some settings later. Also if you choose the image quality RAW+JPEG, you will have the JPEG photo with the preset applied and in case you don’t like the result you can revert to the original and make a new editing.

An example of loss of information using too much contrast.
Comparison between the RAW and JPEG format with custom style applied.

Since I said that RAW photos are not affected by the profile, there is not much more to say about it, but what about videos? How to have the best from your video?

Videos, like the JPEG photo format, are affected and if you like editing in post, trying to get the best quality image possible, you might want to keep the picture style as neutral as possible, to avoid any loss of light coming into the sensor. So what I do is making a new preset starting with the Neutral, I set the lowest value for Contrast and Sharpness, on Canon cameras the sharpness is divided in three values, Strength, Fineness and Threshold, I put all three at the lowest value and I reduce a little bit the Saturation, but is not really necessary, since the quality is not affected, and you can still change it in post without any difference, also I don’t touch the Color tone since I don’t want to mess with colors before editing.

So always set the proper picture style, also I suggest avoiding the Auto preset, since you will end up with many photos having different style and you will lose lots of time later in post processing.

My pretty face

Emanuele Disco

SW engineer, film maker

Full time front and back end developer, I play mostly with Java, Javascript, HTML, Python and C#, I love programming, playing pc game, doing astronomy, studying and many other stuff and I do video as well…