Reader Retrocrank commented on this post that he’s had smashing results setting his Canon cameras to P mode, choosing Positive color, and shooting at -1/3 stop. He suggested that using these settings he’s been happy with the JPEGs the camera generates.
I’ve been shooting my Canon PowerShot S95 in RAW+JPEG mode for a few years now, but have grown weary of the post processing RAW demands. I started using it because I wasn’t thrilled with the color I got from the default settings. I really want good JPEGs straight from the camera. So I decided to try Retrocrank’s idea.
To enable color modes, I had to turn off RAW+JPEG. But then there they were, all 11 color modes. They just do some predetermined processing in the camera, things like vivid color, black and white, and enhanced blues or greens. Positive mode is meant to simulate color slide film. To set a color mode, turn the mode dial atop the camera to P (or Tv or Av or anything that’s not Auto), press the Func Set button on the back of the camera, and click the bottom of the wheel to scroll down to the menu item that looks sort of like a whisk broom. Then click the left or right edges of the wheel to scroll among the color choices.
I took the S95 with me one mostly cloudy day and shot a range of color. The only post-processing I did was to add Photoshop’s lens profile for this camera, which corrects noticeable barrel distortion.
The results are pretty reasonable, as you can see. Here’s this shot before I added the lens profile, so you can see how much distortion the camera doesn’t correct. It’s mighty disappointing. I shot this at 50mm-equivalent focal length. The wider you go, the worse the distortion.
I walked a little around downtown Fishers on a break from work. Positive color really seems to deliver true-to-life color, at least on a cloudy day.
I wasn’t choosy about subject matter — I just wanted color. So you get a pink porta-john.
That’s a super nice red. And I’m impressed with the muted green on those overhead doors. This is how I remember the scene in my mind.
Here’s a brighter green to show that Positive mode doesn’t simply mute greens.
I did enhance exposure of this shot of my sunglasses on my desk, because it was too dim out of the camera.
I made this dusk shot of a strip mall at maximum zoom (105mm equivalent). Zoomed this far out, the lens displays no perceptible barrel distortion.
I’d like to find out how well these settings perform on a sunny day. If they’re reasonable, then I think I’ve found settings I can live with. The only bummer is that I still have to correct for lens distortion. That’s just a limitation of the camera’s firmware, and one I can’t fix in the camera’s settings.