The Simplest Way To Use Picture Control

The simplest way to use Picture Control is to use the Raw format and then select the most appropriate Picture Control when you process your images. Most of the main manufacturers have their own Raw conversion software that lets you apply the same Picture Control settings that you have in-camera. Alternatively, if you use Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw in Photoshop CS/CC to process your Raw files, the program gives you the choice of using at least some of your camera’s built-in Picture Control settings. The benefit is that when you use the Raw format you have the flexibility to process each photo on an individual basis, or even to make more than one interpretation of a photo. For example, it is easy to create two versions of the same image, one in colour, and another in black and white. Learn more at and

If you use the JPEG format, the processing essentially happens in-camera. You can still change the colour balance, saturation and contrast in Photoshop if you wish, but you don’t have nearly as many options as a Raw file gives you. Using Raw If you are new to digital photography you may be under the impression that using the Raw format is more difficult than using JPEG. This is not true. In many ways the JPEG format is more difficult to work with because you need to get all the settings, including Picture Control, correct in-camera. The aim is to get a near perfect JPEG from the camera, or as close as possible, to keep post-processing requirements to a minimum. While you can do a lot to a JPEG file in Photoshop if you have to, you may find that you lose image quality, or the image starts to pixelate, if you change the colour balance, brightness or contrast too much. Using Raw is much simpler because it gives you much more flexibility. If you use Raw, you change the Picture Control and other colour and contrast settings easily in post- processing without losing any image quality. It’s a huge advantage. My approach to photography is to keep things as simple as possible. That’s why I use Raw. However, I realise some of you will not be ready to use the Raw format yet. If this is you, then you may be pleased to know that you can alter the parameters of each Picture Control using the camera’s menu. This lets you change settings like sharpness, colour saturation and contrast to create your own look. The instructions on the next page show you how. If you go deeper into your camera’s Picture Control settings you will find that you can modify the default settings. Some cameras let you save the modified settings as a custom Picture Control. The benefit of this is that you can use one of your camera’s built in Picture Controls as a starting point, and modify it to suit your style of photography. This is more of interest to photographers who use the JPEG format than it is to those who use Raw. But it is useful to know about regardless, as it helps you understand how the colour controls on your camera work. I will show you how it works here on my Canon EOS cameras. Check your manual to see the settings for your camera. These are the six built-in Picture Style settings on my EOS 5D Mark II camera. Each Picture Style (excluding monochrome) is comprised of four modifiable settings: sharpness, contrast, saturation and colour tone. The numbers on the right show the current sharpness, contrast, saturation and colour tone settings for each Picture Style. Learn more at