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Getting Acquainted: In-Camera Editing

Last updated on 07/19/2013

Some in-camera editing options are downright useless--but there are a few that can enhance your photos without using a computer. Here's a few of the best options for in-camera editing.
By Hillary Grigonis

As more cameras become wi-fi enabled and skip the computer altogether, manufacturers are packing in the in-camera editing options. Some of them are downright useless. Some of them are eye-brow raisers. But some of them are quite helpful. Not every camera will have all of these options, but here are a few of the editing options that actually warrant a try.

D-Lighting or High Dynamic Range. Different manufacturers have different names for this one, but Active D-Lighting (Nikon) and High Dynamic Range are one and the same. What this setting does is prevent details from being lost in the shadows by creating a more even lighting. Try this editing technique in photos with harsh shadows. Many cameras offer this as a shooting setting as well, and if that's the case, it's always easier to shoot it right the first time than it is to go back and edit.

Straighten. Be honest, unless you use a tripod, there will also be a few pictures that aren't quite level. The straightening tool is a quick and efficient way of leveling images, and in many cases, easier to use than editing software.

Monochrome. Black and white and sepia images can be more dramatic than their colorful counterparts. The in-camera editing option is quick and efficient, plus there's always the original color file if you change your mind.

Color balance. An option offered on many advanced cameras, the in-camera color balance option can be useful for making quick color adjustments, though not quite as precise as with a software program.

Filters. Adding a filter in the retouch menu is a nice compromise for users who don't have a DSLR but like some the effects that filters can offer. The common options are warming (adds a bit more of an orange glow), cooling (adds more blue hue to the image), soft (a out of focus, dreamy effect) and cross screen (turns light points into stars).

Creative effects. A few of the eye-brow raisers come from this category of in-camera editing, but there's a few neat options too. Selective color will make everything in the image black and white except one color. There's usually a few aged or retro options that aren't half bad that Instagram users may appreciate.

Portrait editing. Again, this option may be under one of many names, like Nikon's Glamour Retouch, but the concept is the same—making pictures of people look a bit more flattering. There's a few neat options here, like skin softening, eye brightening and teeth whitening. Beware though, that it's easy to get an unnatural over-processed look through this process. There's also a few oddballs here—I have yet to find a purpose for the “small head” option that doesn't just look, well, like a strangely small head.

In-camera editing options are generally found inside the playback menu or a separate retouch menu (if you're not sure, check the manual). Cameras can't edit images the way a high quality computer program like Photoshop can, but they have come a long way in making a few basic edits, plus they are useful for making adjustments for beginners without the know-how to use a computer program.

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