Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Powerful processors and software enable DSLRs to do things never before possible in-camera
Picture Styles: Before
Picture Styles (Canon's name for the feature, since it was first to include it in DSLRs) let you choose an appropriate "look" for your images, then fine-tune it as desired. These might include presets such as Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Natural, Vivid, Muted and Monochrome. Once you choose one of these "looks," you can further fine-tune the contrast, sharpness, color saturation, color tone, and in Monochrome, the filter effect and color toning.
Picture Styles: After Monochrome
Nikon calls this feature Picture Controls, Olympus calls it Picture Modes, Pentax calls it Custom Image, and Sony calls it Creative Styles.
If you encounter higher-than-normal contrast in a scene, you might want to try your camera's contrast-control features. Canon's Auto Lighting Optimizer, Nikon's Active D-Lighting, Pentax's D-Range Shadow and Highlight Correction, and Sony's DRO (Dynamic Range Optimizer) help maintain detail in bright and dark areas in such scenes. While early versions of these features were just "on" or "off," versions in newer DSLRs give you the option of choosing the strength of the effect if you wish. Canon's related Highlight Tone Priority feature provides improved detail in bright areas.
High-dynamic-range (HDR) images provide better detail in bright and dark areas, and originally were created by shooting a series of bracketed exposures, then combining the best details from each into a single HDR image using your image-editing software or special HDR applications. A number of digital cameras now do this in-camera automatically. Set the camera for HDR, and it shoots a normal exposure, an underexposed image for highlight detail and an overexposed image for shadow detail, then combines the best of each into a single HDR image. (Some cameras just do two shots in HDR mode, one under and one over the "normal" exposure; that's really all you need to improve detail in bright and dark areas of a high-contrast scene, and reduce registration problems with handheld HDR images.) While it's best to do HDR photography with the camera mounted on a tripod, some cameras incorporate technology that even compensates for minor camera movement between handheld shots.
Canon's recent consumer DSLRs offer some Creative Filter effects you can apply to already-taken images in-camera. The filters include Grainy B/W, Soft Focus, Toy Camera, Miniature and Fisheye. You can adjust each effect to "tweak" the result.
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