Are you one of those people that just can’t seem to pull the trigger when it comes to shooting RAW files in your DSLR? Don’t feel bad, there are a lot of people out there who shoot JPEG and get great results. One of the real keys to getting better looking JPEGs is to make sure you are using the right settings in your camera. I’m not talking about choosing the right JPEG format (hopefully you are using the highest quality setting available). What I’m referring to are the custom settings that are included with most DSLR cameras for applying a certain “look” to your images. Nikon calls them them Picture Controls and Canon refers to them as Picture Styles but whatever the name, the goal of these settings is to apply specific scenario-based post-processing to your images.
Canon’s Picture Styles include 6 different presets including Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Faithful, and Monochrome. These settings are pre-defined to improve the look of your image depending on the subject that you are shooting. The great thing about these styles is that they can be customized to your particular tastes. If you dig into your menu, you will find that you can make changes to things like sharpness, contrast, saturation, and color tone. In the case of the monochrome setting you can even add filter effects (yellow, orange, red, green) and toning effects such as sepia toning.
Nikon has similar settings that include Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait, and Landscape. And just like Canon, you can make adjustments to the controls to customize the final image to your liking.
Whichever camera system you are using, you should take some time to explore the preset camera styles to add more creativity and control to your JPEG files. Another great feature of these settings is that you can save the customized styles as your own presets. By spending a little time in customizing your camera, you can be sure to get some great looking images right out of the camera with no need for post-processing.