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Digital camera features: Picture Style

Canon’s Picture Style function brings together the settings for image processing parameters (previously tone curve, sharpness and contrast) and colour matrix settings (previously standard, portrait, high and low saturation and Adobe RGB). It combines these into one easy-to-use point of access for the control of sharpness, contrast, colour tone and saturation.

In the past, some users of the EOS-1D range had difficulty understanding the effect of the range of different settings on final image characteristics. Also, some thought that their images looked soft because they did not recognize that Canon’s default setting for EOS-1 series digital cameras deliberately applies no sharpening.

Picture Style makes it simple for users to get optimum image quality by making a selection – more or less like selecting a particular film type in the past on the basis of colour characteristics, contrast and sharpness.

The first three Picture Styles - standard, portrait and landscape - include sharpness levels 3, 2 and 4 respectively and should not need major image processing work on a computer.

  • The standard image looks crisp, like a successful snapshot, and the colour tone and saturation are set to obtain vivid colours.
  • The portrait style has colour tone and saturation set to obtain natural skin tones. Sharpness, one step weaker than in standard, is kinder to skin.
  • With the landscape style, colour tone and saturation are set to achieve deep, vivid blues and greens for skies and foliage. The sharpness is set one step more than standard so that the outlines of mountains, trees and buildings look crisp.
  • The fourth style, neutral, is the same as the default setting for previous EOS-1D series cameras. Natural colour reproduction is obtained and no sharpness is applied – it is assumed that some image processing will be done.
  • Like neutral, the faithful picture style applies no sharpening. It is the same as Digital Photo Professional’s faithful setting. When the subject is photographed under a colour temperature of 5200K, the colour is adjusted colorimetrically to match the subject’s colour, even with JPEG images.

Each of these five preset Picture Styles can be altered manually in the menu for sharpness, contrast, colour tone and saturation, so personal settings are easy to develop.

  • The sixth Picture Style is monochrome, identical to the EOS 20D camera’s monochrome setting. Sharpness is preset at 3 and contrast is at its middle value. Instead of the inappropriate colour tone and colour saturation, settings for filter effects (none, yellow, orange, red, green) and toning effect (none, sepia, blue, purple, green) are available - an in-camera digital darkroom.

These images are all from the same RAW file. They have been processed with Digital Photo Professional (DPP) using the six different Picture Style settings. Although some of the changes are fairly subtle, they give some indication of the scope of this new feature. Picture Styles can be set on the camera and applied to JPEG images processed in the camera, or you can choose the style when you process RAW images. Selecting a Picture Style is rather like selecting a make and type of film for EOS film cameras.

Setting Picture Style

Picture Style is accessed via the camera menu. This is the menu screen of the EOS 5D.

Each built-in Picture Style can be selected. The numbers show the settings for sharpness, contrast, colour saturation and colour tone.

The settings for each Picture Style can be adjusted to suit your requirements. You can return to the original settings by selecting ‘Default set’.

Additional styles

One of the features of Picture Style 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 a new style file from the Canon Picture Style website at

Additional styles 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 – expresses translucent skin in smooth tones.
  • Snapshot Portrait – reproduces translucent skin with good contrast indoors or out.

To transfer the new style file to your camera you need EOS Utility software, version 3. If you are using an EOS 5D or older, set the camera ‘Communication’ menu item to ‘PC Connect’ (5D) or ‘Print/PC’ (30D); no communication setting is needed with the other compatible models. Connect the camera to your computer via the USB cable supplied as part of the camera kit. Open the EOS Utility application and confirm camera model (if required). Select ‘Camera settings/Remote shooting’; then select the camera icon (red) and ‘Picture Style’. Click ‘Detail set’. In the new window that appears, Select one of the User Def. items from the drop down menu at the top of the screen, and then click the ‘Open’ button. In the dialog window that opens, select the Picture Style file you have previously downloaded. This will transfer the style to your camera.

These are the EOS Utility windows that you use to transfer a Picture Style file to your camera (windows are different for the EOS 5D and 30D).

Cameras with Picture Style

Cameras with the Picture Style function include:
EOS-1D Mark II N, EOS-1D Mark III, EOS-1Ds Mark III, EOS-1D Mark IV, EOS-1D X, EOS-1D X Mark II, EOS 5D, EOS 5D Mark II, EOS 5D Mark III, EOS 5D Mark IV, EOS 7D, EOS 7D Mark II, EOS 30D, EOS 40D, EOS 50D, EOS 60D, EOS 80D, EOS 400D, EOS 450D, EOS 500D, EOS 550D, EOS 600D, EOS 1000D, and the EOS 1100D.

Compatibility with DPP

If you shoot RAW files, Picture Styles can be applied post-exposure using the latest version of Digital Photo Professional (DPP), supplied as part of the software package with the camera.

However, Picture Style files downloaded from the Canon Picture Style website which have the .pse extension cannot be used with DPP 4.5. You need to return to the website and download the latest file, with the .pf2 extension. The latest version of the files is also needed for EOS Utility version 3.

Picture Style can also be applied to RAW files taken with earlier EOS digital models which do not have Picture Style as a camera function.

More information about Picture Style is available at:

Picture Style Editor

Picture Style Editor is a software application from Canon that allows you to create your own custom Picture Style files. You can select specific colours and change their hue, saturation and luminance. This means that you can make some colours brighter, or darker, or change them completely. You need to work with the program for a while to understand the many capabilities, but it offers a new toolbox of tricks for creative phorographers.

If not supplied on the EOS Digital Solutions Disk supplied with your camera, Picture Style Editor can be downloaded at:

Picture Style Auto

All EOS DSLR cameras since the EOS 600D feature an EOS Scene Detection system that automatically analyses the shooting conditions, looking at parameters such as a subject’s face, colour, brightness, movement, contrast and focus distance. The results of this Scene Detection are used by the Picture Style system to generate a Picture Style specific to each scene by adjusting contrast, colour tone, sharpness and saturation for optimum results. In general, the Picture Style Auto setting will adjust the colours to look vivid, especially blue skies, greenery and sunsets. As such it is particularly good when shooting landscapes and outdoor sunset scenes.