Choosing and Customizing a Picture Style

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While the name Picture Styles may sound like an optional feature on the XSi/450D, it's important because it determines how the camera delivers tonal curves, color rendering, color saturation, and sharpness in the final image. The Rebel XSi/450D applies a Picture Style for every image that you shoot and it is the foundation for how images are rendered.

The XSi/450D offers six Picture Styles, which are detailed in Table 3.2, and it uses the Standard Picture Style as the default style for Creative Zone shooting modes and for some Basic Zone modes. All Picture Styles have specific settings for sharpness, contrast, color saturation, and color tone. Individual styles with different settings can mimic the look of films, such as Fuji Velvia, for rendering landscape and nature shots

How Color Temperature Is Determined

Unlike air temperature, which is measured in degrees Fahrenheit (or Celsius), light temperature is based on the spectrum of colors that is radiated when a black body radiator is heated. Visualize heating an iron bar. As the bar is heated, it glows red. As the heat intensifies, the metal color changes to yellow, and with even more heat, it glows blue-white. In this spectrum of light, color moves from red to blue as the temperature increases.

This concept can be confusing because "red hot" is often thought of as being significantly warmer than blue. But in the world of color temperature, blue is, in fact, a much higher temperature than red. That also means that the color temperature at noon on a clear day is higher (bluer) than the color temperature of a fiery red sunset. And the reason that you should care about this is because it affects the color accuracy of your images. So as you use color temperatures, keep this general principle in mind: The higher the color temperature is, the cooler (or bluer) the light; the lower the color temperature is, the warmer (or yellower/redder) the light.

with vivid color saturation, or Kodak Portra, for rendering portraits with warm, soft skin tones and subdued color saturation. You can also modify Picture Style settings to suit your preferences, and you can create up to three User Defined Styles that are based on one of Canon's Picture Styles.

Figures 3.13 through 3.19 show how Picture Styles change image renderings. The collection of objects in the image is designed to help you evaluate how each style affects a range of colors and skin tones. The images were shot using window light and a custom white balance.

Mark Portrait Picture Style

3.15 Landscape Picture Style. This offers a modified tonal curve and saturated colors, particularly greens and blues.

3.13 Window light and a custom white balance

3.15 Landscape Picture Style. This offers a modified tonal curve and saturated colors, particularly greens and blues.

3.14 Portrait Picture Style. The color saturation and sharpness are much more subdued, but this leaves latitude for RAW conversion adjustments and editing in Photoshop.

3.16 Neutral Picture Style. Color is neutral with a lower overall contrast than the Standard Picture Style; however, it provides very pleasing color.

3.17 Faithful Picture Style. This style is colorimetrically adjusted to 5500K with low color saturation.

3.18 Monochrome Picture Style and no filter effect. The option offers snappy contrast and a nice overall tonal gradations.

3.19 Monochrome Picture Style with a Sepia filter effect

Besides forming the basis of image rendering, Picture Styles are designed to produce classic looks that need little or no postprocessing so that you can print JPEG images directly from the SD/SDHC card with prints that look sharp and colorful. If you shoot RAW capture, you can't print directly from the SD/SDHC card, but you can apply Picture Styles either in the camera or during conversion using Canon's Digital Photo Professional conversion program. You can also use the new Picture Style Editor to modify and save changes to Picture Styles for captured images. The Picture Style Editor is included on Canon's EOS Digital Solution Disk that comes with the camera.

Regardless of whether you use direct printing, test Picture Styles, and then choose the ones that provide the best prints for both your JPEG and RAW capture image capture when you shoot in P, Tv, Av, M, or A-DEP shooting modes.

Choosing and customizing Picture Styles is how you get the kind of color results that you need out of the camera, whether you prefer the higher contrast and saturation look of the Standard style, or the more neutral saturation and color rendition of the Neutral and Faithful styles. Following are parameter adjustments that you can modify for each Picture Style in Creative Zone modes:

♦ Sharpness: 0 to 7. Level 0 applies no sharpening and renders a very soft look. 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. If you print images directly from the SD/SDHC card, a moderate amount of sharpening, such as level 3, produces sharp images.

Contrast. The important thing to know about contrast is that the changes you make affect the image's tonal curve. A negative adjustment produces a flatter look, but it helps to avoid clipping, or discarding bright highlight tones or dark shadow tones. A positive setting increases the contrast and can stretch the tonal range.

Saturation. This setting affects the strength or intensity of the color with a negative setting producing low saturation and vice versa. The key to using this setting is to find the point at which individual color channels do not clip. A +1 or +2 setting is adequate for snappy JPEG images destined for direct printing.

♦ Color Tone. Negative adjustments to color tone settings produce redder skin tones, while positive settings produce yellower skin tones.

With the Monochrome Picture Style, only the sharpness and contrast parameters are adjustable, but you can add toning effects, as detailed in Table 3.2. Default settings are listed in order of sharpness, contrast, color saturation, and color tone.

It seems logical that a 0 setting for one Picture Style setting would directly correspond to the same setting in another style. For example, a 0 Contrast setting on Standard would correspond to a 0 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.

Table 3.2 EOS XSi/450D Picture Styles

Picture Style

Sharpness Saturation

Default Settings


Vivid, sharp, crisp images that are suitable for direct printing from the SD/SDHC card

Slightly high High


Portrait Enhanced skin tones, Slightly low Slightly high 2,0,0,0

soft texture rendering, low sharpness

Portrait Enhanced skin tones, Slightly low Slightly high 2,0,0,0

soft texture rendering, low sharpness


Vivid blues and greens, High

High saturation 4,0,0,0

high sharpness

for greens and blues

Neutral Allows latitude for None Low 0,0,0,0

image editing and has low saturation and contrast

Neutral Allows latitude for None Low 0,0,0,0

image editing and has low saturation and contrast

Picture Style



Color Saturation

Default Settings


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





Black-and-white or toned images with slightly high sharpness

Slightly high

Yellow, orange, red, and green filter effects available

3,0, NA, NA

You can evaluate the effect of the tonal curve on RAW images in the histogram shown in Canon's Digital Photo Professional program.

You can choose a Picture Style by following these steps:

1. Press the Picture Style button on the back of the camera. The

Picture Style screen appears with the current Picture Style highlighted. The screen also shows the default setting for the style to the left.

2. Press the up or down cross key to highlight the Picture Style you want, and then press the Set button.

After using, evaluating, and printing with different Picture Styles, you may want to change the default parameters to get the rendition that you want. Additionally, you can create up to three Picture Styles that are based on an existing style.

After much experimentation, I settled on a modified Neutral Picture Style that provides pleasing results for my work. Here are the settings I used when I modified the Neutral Picture Style settings:

These settings provide excellent skin tones provided that the image isn't underexposed and the lighting isn't flat. You can try this variation and modify it to suit your work.

3.20 This is the scene using my modified settings that are based on the Neutral Picture Style.

To modify a Picture Style, follow these steps:

1. Press the Menu button, and then turn the Main dial to select the Shooting 2 (red) menu.

2. Press the up or down cross key to highlight Picture Style, and then press the Set button. The

Picture Style screen appears with a list of the preset Picture Styles.

3. Press the down cross key to highlight the Picture Style you want to modify, and then press the Disp. button. The Detail set screen for the selected Picture Style appears.

4. To change the Sharpness parameter which is selected by default, press the Set button.

The Sharpness control is activated.

5. Press the left or right cross key to change the parameter. For all the parameter adjustments, negative settings decrease sharpness, contrast, and saturation, and positive settings provide higher sharpness, contrast, and saturation. Negative color tone settings provide reddish tones, and positive settings provide yellowish skin tones.

6. Press the down cross key to move to the Contrast parameter, and then press the Set button.

The camera activates the control.

7. Press the left or right cross key to adjust the parameter, and then press the Set button.

8. Repeat Steps 4 through 7 to change additional parameters.

9. Press the Menu button. The Picture Style screen appears where you can modify other Picture Styles. The Picture Style changes remain in effect until you change them. Press the Set button to return to the Shooting 2 (red) menu, or lightly press the Shutter button to dismiss the menu.

Using Monochrome Filter and Toning Effects

While you can customize the Monochrome Picture Style, only the Sharpness and Contrast parameters can be changed. But, you have the additional option of applying a variety of Filter and/or Toning effects.

Monochrome Filter effects. Filter effects mimic the same types of color filters that photographers use when shooting black-and-white film. The Yellow filter makes skies look natural with clear white clouds. The Orange filter darkens the sky and adds brilliance to sunsets. The Red filter further darkens a blue sky, and makes fall leaves look bright and crisp. The Green filter makes tree leaves look crisp and bright and renders skin tones realistically.

Monochrome Toning effects. You can choose to apply a creative toning effect when shooting with the Monochrome Picture Style. The Toning effect options are None, S: Sepia, B: Blue, P: Purple, and G: Green.

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  • asmeret
    What is the best picture style for canon xsi for vivid photos?
    8 years ago
  • sisko l
    How change modify a canon photo?
    8 years ago
    How to change black and white in canon picture style?
    8 years ago
  • caiden
    How to use custom picture style in canon xsi?
    29 days ago

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