Viewing the RGB histogram

By visiting the Playback menu and selecting the Histogram option, as shown in Figure 4-12, you can change the histogram from its default mode, Brightness Display, to RGB Display. In this mode, the histogram appears similar to the one you see in Figure 4-13.

To make sense of the RGB histogram, you first need to know that digital images are called RGB images because they are created out of three primary colors of light: red, green, and blue. Figure 4-12: Change the histogram mode via The RGB histogram shows you the the Playback menu. brightness values for each of those primary colors.

What's the point? Well, by checking the brightness levels of the individual color components, sometimes referred to as color channels, you can assess the picture's color saturation levels. If most of the image pixels are clustered toward the right end of the histogram, colors may be oversaturated, which destroys detail. On the flip side, a heavy concentration of pixels at the left end of the histogram indicates an image that may be undersaturated.

Figure 4-13: The RGB histogram shows the red, green, and blue brightness values.

A savvy RGB histogram reader can also spot color balance issues by looking at the pixel values. But frankly, color-balance problems are fairly easy to notice just by looking at the image itself. And understanding how to translate the histogram data for this purpose requires more knowledge about RGB color theory than I have room to present in this book.

In fact, unless you are really interested in the subject, I suggest that you leave the histogram in the Brightness Display mode and leave RGB Display mode for a day when you've mastered all the other controls on your camera. (I do find, however, that reviewing my pictures in RGB mode seems to impress the heck out of nosy airplane seatmates, especially those of the engineer and mathematician variety.)

For more information about manipulating color, see Chapter 6.

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