Picture Styles

Discover Picture Styles, what they do, how to adjust them and how to download and install additional Styles via your computer.

Just as in the days of analogue photography a particular type of film gave your images a certain look, in digital photography applying a Picture Style enables you to change the appearance of your shot with a simple menu selection. Canon Picture Styles enable you to apply a whole set of image adjustments with a click, which you can then fine-tune manually. The parameters you can adjust are the sharpness, contrast, saturation and colour tone of colour images, and the sharpness, contrast, filter effect and toning effect of monochrome images.

Picture Styles were introduced with the EOS-1D Mark II in 2004. All subsequent EOS cameras have Picture Styles. You can add your own custom Picture Style to the presets, or download and install even more Styles.

These are the preset options you can choose from:

  • Auto: introduced with the EOS 600D in 2011, this Picture Style uses the camera's Scene Detection system, which automatically analyses the shooting conditions, looking at parameters such as a subject's face, colour, brightness, movement, contrast and focus distance. This enables the system to generate a Picture Style specific to each scene by adjusting contrast, colour tone, sharpness and saturation. Generally, the Auto Picture Style adjusts the colours so they look vivid, especially blue skies, greenery and sunsets.
  • Standard: uses a sharpness level of 3 and produces crisp images with the colour tone and saturation set to produce vivid colours. It's a good choice for a wide variety of scenes.
  • Portrait: has colour tone and saturation set to render natural skin tones. Sharpness is set to level 2, one step weaker than in Standard, and is kinder to skin.
  • Landscape: colour tone and saturation are set to achieve deep, vivid blues and greens for skies and foliage. The sharpness is set to 4, one step more than Standard, so that the outlines of mountains, trees and buildings look crisp.
  • Fine Detail: introduced with the EOS 5DS and EOS 5DS R in 2015, this style is configured to suit subjects with fine details and subtle textures. It also produces slightly more vivid colours.
  • Neutral: produces natural colours and no sharpening is applied – it is assumed that some image processing will be done. A good choice if, for example, the image contains subtle shades of white in a wedding dress or similar subject, which might be blown out by boosting brightness and saturation.
  • Faithful: like the Neutral picture style, this applies no sharpening. Where Neutral produces a perceptual rendering of colours (that is, balancing the colours much as you would see them), Faithful is a colorimetric rendering designed to reproduce colours as they would appear if shot in daylight (at a colour temperature of 5200K). In practice this will be very close to what you see with the naked eye (and usually very similar to Neutral, but with a more colour-accurate reproduction in bright highlights). The difference between perceptual and colorimetric rendering is most relevant for colour-accurate printing.
  • Monochrome: turns the image black and white, with sharpness set to 3 and contrast at its middle value. Instead of colour tone and colour saturation settings, there are settings for filter effects (none, yellow, orange, red, green), enabling you to adjust the tones in the mono conversion, and toning effect (none, sepia, blue, purple, green), enabling you to add a subtle or a more intense tint for artistic effect. You'll see the effects of these settings if you're using Live View on a DSLR or the viewfinder on a mirrorless camera, so you can assess the results before you take the shot. If you've set the camera to save shots as JPEGs, the image will be saved as mono (or tinted), as you've set it. If you're shooting RAW, the colour information will be preserved, and you can remove or change the Picture Style in post-processing – more about Picture Styles and RAW files shortly.

The Standard, Portrait, Landscape and Fine Detail Picture Styles should not need major image processing work on a computer.

A girl hugs the neck of a pony in a green field with a large barn in the middle distance and green hills behind.

The Neutral Picture Style is designed to reproduce natural-looking colours (lower contrast and saturation) and applies no sharpening, on the assumption that you will be doing some post-processing of your own in your image editing software.

The same shot of a girl hugging a pony with the Portrait Picture Style applied, producing a less vivid skin colour and a brighter image.

The Portrait Picture Style applies a lower sharpness level, which is more flattering to skin texture, and aims to reproduce natural skin tones, but you can fine-tune using the Color Tone setting to make skin more yellowish (plus) or more reddish (minus).

The same shot of a girl hugging a pony with the Standard Picture Style applied, producing more vivid colours and greater edge sharpening.

The Standard Picture Style applies a sharpness level of 3 (on a scale running from 0 to 7) and boosts the saturation (overall intensity of colour) and skin colour tone. It is designed to produce images with more punch.

The same shot of a girl hugging a pony with the Monochrome Picture Style applied, producing a crisp black and white image.

The Monochrome Picture Style applies the same sharpening level as Standard, producing a crisp image, and gives you the option to adjust the tones in the monochrome conversion using four contrast filter effects (yellow, orange, red and green).

Additional styles

One of the features of Picture Styles is that you can add to the camera's preset styles. There are three user-defined settings – User Def. 1, User Def. 2 and User Def. 3. Here, you can either create your own style by adjusting the sharpness, contrast, saturation and colour tone parameters on the camera (via the Picture Style menu option), or download and install a new style file from the Canon Picture Style website.

Additional styles available include:

  • Nostalgia: produces an overall amber tone with desaturated blues and greens.
  • Clear: contrast is emphasised to provide more depth and clarity.
  • Twilight: gives a magical finish to the image.
  • Emerald: produces bright and vivid aerial images.
  • Autumn Hues: emphasises the reds and browns of autumnal scenes.
  • Studio Portrait: for translucent skin and smooth tones.
  • Snapshot Portrait: renders translucent skin with good contrast indoors or out.
  • Video Camera X Series Look: reproduces the characteristics of images shot with Canon's professional digital video cameras (X series) with softer contrast than the Standard Picture Style.

EOS Utility

In order to install a downloaded Picture Style to your camera, you'll need to download and install the EOS Utility software on your computer. Then follow these steps:

  1. Connect the camera to your computer using a USB cable and turn it on.
  2. Start EOS Utility on your computer.
  3. If requested, confirm the camera model.
  4. Select Camera settings, then Register Picture Style File.
  5. Click one of the tabs marked User Def. 1, User Def. 2 or User Def. 3, then click the button with a folder and arrow icon.
  6. In the panel that opens, locate and select the Picture Style file you previously downloaded, then click Open.
  7. Click OK and the Picture Style will be saved in your camera.
  8. Close EOS Utility and disconnect your camera from the computer.

When you turn on your camera, the Picture Style that you transferred will be selected. If you switch to another Picture Style and want to go back to the transferred one, you will find it under the User Defined setting that you selected in step 5.

A picture of two men at the footplate of a steam locomotive, in colour and in mono in Canon's DPP software.

If you are shooting RAW and take a shot with a Picture Style applied, then open the image in Canon's RAW processing software Digital Photo Professional (DPP), it will open with the Picture Style applied, but you can remove it, apply a different Picture Style or fine-tune the adjustments at any time.

A picture of a woman wearing a cowboy hat standing in front of a large truck, with colours being modified using Canon's Picture Style Editor software.

Canon's Picture Style Editor makes it possible to save a whole set of adjustments as a custom Picture Style – including sharpness, contrast, brightness, selective hue, saturation and luminosity – which you can then apply to images in-camera or in DPP for an instant effect.

Picture Styles and RAW files

If you've set your camera to save JPEGs and apply a Picture Style in-camera, the Style is "baked into" the image – so for example if you've applied the Monochrome Picture Style, the image will be mono and its colour information will have been discarded. If you're shooting RAW, however, the RAW files will preserve the full range of data captured by the camera. This means that if you've applied the Monochrome Picture Style and open the RAW file in Canon's Digital Photo Professional (DPP), it will open with the Picture Style applied but you can remove this, reapply it, modify it or apply a different Picture Style, as you wish, at any time. (Other RAW processing software will ignore the Picture Style setting and open the RAW file using its own colour settings. You can always perform your own mono conversion, but you won't get the convenience of Picture Styles settings even as a starting point.)

This means that if you shoot RAW, it's up to you whether you apply Picture Styles in-camera or in DPP afterwards. Applying (for example) the Monochrome Picture Style in-camera is a great way of assessing whether you're getting the look you're after, with the option to fine-tune in DPP or even revert to colour and convert manually using your preferred conversion method to get exactly the effect you wanted.

Picture Style files downloaded from the Canon Picture Style website which have the .pf2 or .pf3 extension can also be used with DPP and EOS Utility. The latest files created by the Picture Style Editor will be .pf3 format. Visit the Picture Style website to find more information about Picture Styles.

In DPP, it's even possible to apply Picture Styles to RAW files taken with earlier EOS digital models which do not have the Picture Style function.

Picture Style Editor

Picture Style Editor is a software application from Canon that enables you to create your own custom Picture Style files. You can select specific colours and change their hue, saturation and luminance. This means you can make some colours brighter, or darker, or change them completely. You can also recreate the characteristic looks of your favourite photographic films, including black and white. You need to work with the program for a while to understand its many capabilities, but it offers a fantastic toolbox for creative photographers.

Angela Nicholson

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