Discover what Nikon’s Picture Controls do, when to use them, and whether you need them at all…
Explore Picture Controls, discovering how they’re applied to images, and when you’re most likely to need them
Picture Controls change the colour rendition, contrast, sharpness, saturation and overall ‘look’ of your pictures to suit different kinds of subject.
They are completely optional, though, because there is obviously some crossover with the kinds of adjustments you might make on the computer later on.
For example, the Vivid Picture Control increases the image contrast and saturation to make colours really stand out, but you could just as easily use the Standard Picture Control to capture a more neutral image and increase the contrast and saturation in a program like Photoshop, where you can be a lot more careful and precise.
The same applies to the Monochrome Picture Control. This saves your pictures in black-andwhite, and can even replicate the effect of traditional black-and-white red, yellow or green filters to change the way colours translate into shades of grey. But many black-andwhite fans will prefer to convert their colour images on the computer, where you get much more control over the results.
Picture Controls are optional, then, and don’t achieve anything you couldn’t do yourself using software. But they do have some advantages nonetheless.
Picture Control pros
If you know the ‘look’ you’re going for when you take the picture, selecting the right Picture Control will leave you with less work to do later on the computer. They also act on the RAW data captured by the sensor, so if you’re shooting JPEGs you may get theoretically better quality than if you manually adjust your images later on to get the same look.
If you shoot RAW files, though, the situation changes. The camera will still apply your chosen Picture Control to the image you see on the back of the camera, but the RAW file will contain all the original data, so you can choose a different Picture Control or image effect later.
The Monochrome Picture Control is especially useful, even for RAW photographers, because it helps you visualise the scene in shades of grey while you’re shooting, but lets you choose your own conversion settings on the computer.
Picture Controls aren’t just for novices. Even experts could find them both more interesting and more useful than they might realise.
MONOCHROME Nikon Picture Controls change the reproduction of colours and tones in your pictures – you choose a setting to match your subject