NAB this year offered several additions to evolving technologies, most notably CMOS camera sensors and solid-state recording. This year, production models from several manufactures, as well as preliminary models, were shown. One particularly attractive capability of CMOS is its ability to switch between various video formats to provide different native resolutions. Tape-based camcorders have been the norm in the industry, while disc-based cameras have started to make an impact with hard drive and optical variants.

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Learn how the relationships between these three important adjustment tools can enhance your photos…. The Clarity, Vibrance and Saturation tools are some of the most useful adjustments for enhancing digital images. So even though most image editors provide adjustments for clarity, vibrance and saturation, many photographers are unsure about what each tool does and how best to use it. The Clarity slider is a fairly new tool that has only been available in a few raw file converters. Clarity adjustments perform a similar function to contrast adjustments.

However, while the Contrast slider applies an even level of adjustment across all tones in the image, the Clarity slider works almost entirely on the midtones of the image, as shown in the examples below. In Photoshop and other Adobe applications it also applies a low level of unsharp masking with a high radius setting.

Note the differences produced by these tools on the amount of detail you can see in the adjusted images. The saturation tool is the most commonly-used and over-used adjustment of colour intensity in digital imaging. Move it all the way to the left and the colour intensity is reduced until the image changes from colour to black and white. The main problem with adjusting saturation is that the tool acts linearly, applying the same boost to colour intensity across the spectrum.

Increasing saturation can affect different colours differently because areas with different colours usually have different base levels of saturation at the point of capture, reflecting the natural intensities of hues in the subject.

The results begin to look artificial because areas that are over-saturated lose detail due to s aturation clipping. When the Vibrance tool was first introduced in , it was little more than a novelty, although it was so clever and popular it has now been adopted by most serious image editors and raw converters, albeit in slightly modified versions.

The Vibrance tool was developed to prevent saturation clipping by boosting colour intensity selectively. Areas that are already colourful receive less adjustment than those with lower colour intensity.

Note the differences produced by these tools on hues that are already quite vivid and how over-saturation can clip details. Essentially, the Contrast and Saturation sliders are relatively blunt tools, whereas the Clarity and Vibrance sliders provide a considerable degree of fine control.

When it is moved to the left, the contrast is reduced and the range of tones expands; when moved to the right, the range of tones contracts. Clarity works in a similar way to contrast but only affects the mid-tones in the image, rather than operating globally on the entire image like contrast.

Most photographers use the Clarity tool for applying just enough edge contrast to bring out crisper detail, without producing the halo artefacts associated with over-sharpening. You must simply try it out to see what changes, being careful not to overdo the adjustments. The Saturation slider applies a linear colour boost to all colours. The Vibrance slider applies a non-linear colour boost, increasing saturation in more muted hues while moderating the boost given to already-saturated hues.

Moving the Saturation slider to the right will emphasise colours that are already relatively bright. You can then bring up colours with less impact with the Vibrance slider. If you want less colourful areas in your image to stand out, consider lowering the saturation before increasing the vibrance.

But if you want the most colourful areas to dominate, reduce the vibrance and then increase the saturation. Be clear about which colours you want to boost.

Aim to achieve the best-looking balance between saturation and vibrance, without over-saturating any colour. The Vibrance tool is often used for boosting the strength of brighter colours without pushing skin tones to the point where they begin to look artificial. For all of these adjustments, your eyes will be the best judge of how far to push each slider in either direction.

Unfortunately, most of us prefer highly-saturated colours. A small boost to saturation can be attractive. But this control should be used with a light touch if you want to retain a natural-looking appearance. The saturation slider can also be used to subdue colours and impart a muted tone to images.

Moving the slider all the way to the left will subdue all hues and leave you with a black and white image. Users can seldom tweak these in-camera pre-sets to anything like the same degree as they can with editing software. Our general advice to photographers is to capture images as raw files and then tweak parameters like contrast, clarity, saturation and vibrance when converting the files into editable formats JPEG or TIFF.

This provides a much greater degree of control than you can obtain with in-camera adjustments. Besides, in-camera adjustments are only applied to JPEGs and when they are applied they are locked into the file. Excerpt from Photo Review Issue Subscribe to Photo Review magazine.

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Clarity, vibrance and saturation



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