Choosing and Customizing a Picture Style

Photography Masterclass

Photography Masterclass Online Course

Get Instant Access

Picture Styles have risen in popularity with so many photographers that Canon has given the 5D Mark II a dedicated Picture Style button on the back of the camera. From this menu, you select one of the six preset styles or create your own style and save it as one of three customizable Picture Style settings. Having the ability to create three distinct customized Picture Styles and recalling them quickly for different shooting situations is a huge timesaver.

The 5D Mark II attaches a Picture Style to every image you shoot. Picture Styles are the foundation for how the camera delivers tonal curves, color rendering, color saturation, and sharpness in the final images. The 5D Mark II offers six Picture Styles, and it uses the Standard Picture Style as the default style. All Picture Styles have specific settings for sharpness, contrast, color saturation, and color tone. You can also modify the settings to suit your preferences, and you can create up to three user-defined styles based on one of the Canon Picture Styles. Figures 4.13 through 4.18 show the differences in Picture Styles by using a similar scene.

Whether you customize an existing style or create a new one, you have sufficient latitude in setting parameters. The 5D Mark II offers the widest range of adjustments, with nine levels for contrast, saturation, and color tone and eight adjustment levels for sharpness.

Eos Picture Styles Sharpness
4.13 Standard Picture Style. ISO 100, f/8, 1/50 sec.
Mark Picture Style Portrait
4.14 Portrait Picture Style. The color saturation and sharpness are much more subdued, but this leaves a good deal of latitude for RAW conversion tweaks and editing in Photoshop.

Besides forming the basis of image rendering, Picture Styles are designed to produce classic looks that need little or no post-processing so you can print JPEG images directly from the CF card that look sharp and colorful. If you shoot RAW capture, you can't print directly from the CF card, but you can apply Picture Styles either in the camera or during conversion by using DPP.

4.15 Landscape Picture Style. It offers an obviously modified tonal curve and saturated colors, particularly green (and blue).
4.16 Neutral Picture Style. Color is neutral, with a lower overall contrast than the Standard Picture Style. However, this rendering provides very pleasing color.

Choosing and customizing Picture Styles is the process of getting the kind of color results from the camera that you need for your workflow, whether you prefer the contrasty, saturated-color look of the default Standard or Landscape style or the more neutral color rendition that the Neutral and Faithful styles provide.

4.17 Faithful Picture Style. It is colorimetrically adjusted to 5200 K. Although not so bad, the color temperature of the scene was higher than 5200 K, giving this shot a slightly cooler look.

4.18 Monochrome Picture Style. The Monochrome option offers snappy contrast but produces a nice overall tonal range in the middle and high ends of the tonal range.

To change histogram displays, press the Menu button and then tilt the Multi-controller ^gj until the Playback (blue) menu appears. Turn the Quick Control dial to highlight Histogram and then press the Set button. Turn the Quick Control dial to select the histogram you want and then press the Set button.

Parameter adjustments you can modify for each Picture Style are:

► Sharpness: 0 to 7. Level zero applies no sharpening and renders a very soft look (due largely to the anti-aliasing filter in front of the image sensor that helps ward off various problems, including moiré, spectral highlights, and chromatic aberrations). Using a high range of sharpening can introduce sharpening halos, particularly if you also sharpen after editing and sizing the image in an editing program. Standard uses a level 3 for sharpening.

► Contrast: -4 to +4. The important thing to know about contrast is that the changes you make change the tonal curve. A negative adjustment produces a flatter look but helps to maintain the dynamic range of the data coming off the sensor. A positive setting stretches the tonal range. High settings can lead to clipping (discarding bright highlight tones and dark shadow tones).

► Saturation: -4 to +4. This setting affects the strength or intensity of the color. The key to using this setting is to find the point at which individual color channels don't clip. The Standard Picture Style uses a level 0 for saturation. A +1 or +2 setting is adequate for snappy JPEG images destined for direct printing.

► Color Tone: -4 to +4. Adjustments to color tone warm up or cool down the color hue. Negative tone settings increase the blue hue; positive settings increase the yellow hue.

With the Monochrome Picture Style, only the sharpness and contrast parameters are adjustable, but you can apply toning effects as detailed in Table 4.1.

Table 4.1 5D Mark II Picture Style Descriptions and Settings

Picture Style


Tonal Curve

Color Saturation



Vivid, sharp, crisp

Higher contrast

Medium-high saturation



Enhanced skin tones, soft texture rendering, low sharpness

Higher contrast

Medium saturation; rosy skin tones



Vivid blues and greens; high sharpness

Higher contrast

High saturation for greens and blues



Allows for conversion and processing with low saturation and contrast

Low, subdued contrast

Low saturation; colorimetrically accurate



True rendition of colors with no increase in specific colors; no sharpness applied

Low, subdued contrast

Low saturation; colorimetrically accurate


Picture Style


Tonal Curve

Color Saturation



Black-and-white or toned images with slightly high sharpness; RAW images captured in Monochrome can be converted to color by using the software bundled with the camera; however, in JPEG capture, Monochrome images can't be converted to color.

Higher contrast

Yellow, orange, red, and green filter effects available


It seems logical that a zero setting for one Picture Style setting would directly correspond to the same setting in another style. For example, a zero Contrast setting on the Standard Picture Style should correspond to a zero setting on the Portrait style. But that's not necessarily true, and the differences in the tonal curve are sometimes enough to result in clipping. You can evaluate the effect of the Picture Style's tonal curve on RAW images by viewing the image histogram in DPP.

To choose a Picture Style, follow these steps:

Was this article helpful?

+1 0
Digital Camera and Digital Photography

Digital Camera and Digital Photography

Compared to film cameras, digital cameras are easy to use, fun and extremely versatile. Every day there’s more features being designed. Whether you have the cheapest model or a high end model, digital cameras can do an endless number of things. Let’s look at how to get the most out of your digital camera.

Get My Free Ebook


    What tone in bw correspont to tone in color?
    9 years ago
  • duenna chubb
    How to adjust sharpness, contrast, color saturation 5d mark ii?
    9 years ago
  • harold
    How to pick picture style in a canon?
    7 years ago
  • onni
    How to change saturation levels canon 5d mark ii?
    7 years ago
  • samwise
    How to change photo style on eos 5d mark ii?
    2 years ago
  • Liberata
    What are the picture styles on the canon 5d mark ii?
    9 months ago

Post a comment