One of the responsibilities of my day job is to write instructions for people who don’t want to read manuals. The stuff I write tends to be in the form of step 1, step 2, etc., and I am always sure to use little words and include a lot of white space.
I understand why people just want to cut to the chase. I’m generally just as bad as the next person about reading manuals, since I’m always too eager to get to the job at hand instead of delving into details. But after spending time this morning gazing longingly at web sites about the camera of my desire, I decided to revisit the manual for my Canon XS to see if there might be a few more tricks that I could get it to perform.
Well, well, well. It turns out I had forgotten all about “Picture Styles”, which allow you to adjust sharpness, contrast, saturation, and color tone in-camera instead of relying on a program like Lightroom. Once I saw them discussed in the manual, I remembered that I had first come across them when trying to capture the nesting herons last spring. After that, though, I had semi-permanently set my camera to Landscape mode.
I thought it might be interesting to take multiple pictures of the same subject to see what the difference was. I created my own Picture Style and set it so that the sharpness and contrast were all the way up on the dial.
Here’s the before version, taken in standard mode:
And the after version, taken in user-defined mode:
Both of these are “SOOC” (straight out of camera), except for a little cropping. I really prefer the user-defined settings, but I understand that it’s a question of taste. Last year in Jackson Hole, I remember hearing a disagreement between the pro-that-works-for-Nikon and the pro-that-works-for-Sports-Illustrated, with one saying that it was better to sharpen in-camera and the other saying it was better to sharpen with software after the fact. Right now I’m leaning towards the in-camera sharpening.
In case you’re not seeing much of a difference, here’s a close-up:
Like a couple that is told by the marriage counselor to start dating again, I’ve found that I’m re-discovering things that my camera had all along.