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Picture Style

In addition to image parameters the EOS 5D features Canon's new "Picture Style" approach of providing preset parameter sets. Picture Style is Canon's new approach of providing pre-programmed processing parameter sets which provide a different look suited to a particular type of photography.

Each Picture Style can be thought of as being similar to different types of 'film', each one is made up of a tone curve, color map and default sharpness. The camera comes with six programmed Picture Styles but you can download other styles from Canon. The disappointing aspect of Picture Style is that the tone curve and color map are not revealed to the user, you have to experiment to understand the effect of each Picture Style. An approximate summary of the available Picture Styles are as follows:

Picture Style Canon description Tone curve Color
Standard Vivid, crisp general setting usable for variety of conditions. Type 1
(more contrast)
Slightly more saturation
Portrait Produces a soft texture and beautiful expression of skin color. Type 1
(more contrast)
Medium saturation, skin tones get a pink hue
Landscape Sharp expression with particularly vivid results for blues skies and green hues. Type 1
(more contrast)
High saturation, blue and green emphasis, hue chg.
Neutral With post-processing in mind, saturation and contrast are low. Type 2
(neutral, flatter)
Low saturation, neutral hues
Faithful Faithful production of the subject's colors, with no exaggeration. Type 2
(neutral, flatter)
Low saturation, colormetrically accurate
Monochrome Monochrome expression in black & white, sepia, etc. Type 1
(more contrast)
B&W, can use filters (red, green, orange, etc.)

* Note it was our experience that the 'Type 1' tone curve can lead to the clipping / wash-out of highlights especially on white subjects. In this case it is sometimes advisable to either decrease the gamma setting or adjust the digital exposure compensation.

Pictures Styles compared

Place your mouse over the label to see a ColorChecker chart shot in the respective mode. The differences in both color response and tone are fairly easy to make out in this comparison. You can see that Standard and Neutral have similar color responses apart from saturation and contrast, portrait is designed to enhance skin tones and landscape for bluer skies and more natural looking greens.

Standard Portrait Landscape
Neutral Faithful Monochrome

Picture Style 'real life' example

Below are six images in different Picture Styles produced from the same RAW image. Each was saved at a reduced size to aid full size display / download speed (in these examples we're only interested in tone and color).

Standard Portrait
Landscape Neutral
Faithful Monochrome (red filter)

The Picture Style "clipping issue"

Each Picture Style has its own color response map and tone curve, this means that contrast zero ('0') on one Picture Style does not necessarily correspond to the same setting in the next. We found that Standard, Portrait, Landscape and B&W used one tone curve (more contrasty) and Neutral and Faithful used another (more like the EOS 20D). A representation of these curves can actually be seen when using Digital Photo Professional to convert RAW files, as demonstrated below. As you can see using any mode with the first tone curve (S/P/L) can lead to clipping of highlights.

Standard
Neutral

Picture Style variances, DPP vs. RIT, RAW

Anyone who has followed the various software offerings from Canon will understand that RAW Image Task (the RAW conversion portion of Zoombrowser) is essentially a 'DSP emulator', that is it emulates the image pipeline in the camera to deliver results from RAW which are identical to the camera. Digital Photo Professional however has always been the 'outsider' using its own RAW conversion it has a different 'look' to its images (often preferable).

Picture Styles now pose a little bit of a problem for Canon, because obviously they are supposed to be a 'standard look' that you will expect to be the same from the camera and through whichever RAW converter. I'm fairly comfortable accepting some variance between RIT (same as camera) and DPP but to be frank the difference is more stark than that.

Color / tone difference

  Standard Neutral *
R
I
T
D
P
P

Detail / clipping difference

  Standard Neutral *
R
I
T
D
P
P

* Note that by default Neutral would have a sharpness setting of zero (0) but when changing Picture Style in DPP the sharpness setting does not change, hence remains at level three (3) when switching from Standard to Neutral. For comparison we also set sharpness to level three (3) in RIT.

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Comments

Total comments: 7
SculptedPhotography
By SculptedPhotography (5 months ago)

The 5D was and is my first digital camera. It has served me with spectacular results. It's main minus for me has been its inability to use the higher ISO's, as anything higher than 200 produces visible grain in images that I print very large on my epson 24" printer. I almost always shoot with a monopod to assure the results.
Technology has changed and improved and I am searching for a replacement. I am invested in excellent Canon lenses and want to stay with Canon. I also want a camera that is not as heavy as my 5D (I am old and am fatigued by the weight of the 5D which I affectionately call "my brick".) Price is an issue too.
Still casting about trying to find a replacement.

0 upvotes
frosty 7
By frosty 7 (1 month ago)

hi i jus bot a canon eos 5d from a friend am i able to record video with the camera ?
thanks

0 upvotes
Ugo78
By Ugo78 (2 weeks ago)

No, unfortunately you are not able to shot video, neither by installing Magic Lantern (because the camera is not equipped with live view).

0 upvotes
KariIceland
By KariIceland (5 months ago)

I wish you guys would do a new comparison with the 5D, would love to see it vs the newer dslr's

2 upvotes
qianp2k
By qianp2k (5 months ago)

Agreed! In all cameras announced around that time, only EOS 5D still attracts many discussions in DPR forums. How many are still talking Nikon D200 that announced just three months later these days? If you don't print/view in very big size, EOS 5D actually withstands most today's FF cameras very well till ISO 800/1600 in IQ, no mention crop cameras.

0 upvotes
sh10453
By sh10453 (5 months ago)

I love my 5D.
Using the 5D with quality Canon L lenses produces images that I do not see a difference between them and those taken by a newer camera (5D II, 5D III).

If video is not needed or required, then finding a clean 5D would be prudent.
Some very well kept, used lightly by some hobbyists can be found at around a $1,000 or less.

I have no immediate plans to shell out $3,000 or more for a newer model that is not going to give me much over the 5D, in terms of image quality.

But for commercial photographers, that's a different situation.

0 upvotes
Macandts
By Macandts (5 months ago)

Ditto. I could not be happier with my 5D. I'm also disappointed that the set up for image comparison keeps changing. It makes it difficult to compare any older digital camera with anything contemporary.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 7