Outstreched arm

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Do iPhoto developers know what saturation is?

I use iPhoto for most of my day-to-day photo organizing and tweaking. Its image adjustment features keep getting better - now that it does three-point levels tweaking and shadow/highlight adjustment, it has kicked Photoshop off my "keep running at all times" list.

Except when I need to tweak saturation, which in iPhoto people's dictionary obviously means something other than "intensity of hue". Here are some examples. Let's say I have a "weak" photo which could benefit from having its colors kicked up a notch. Here's what happens when I do this in Photoshop (left) and iPhoto '08 (right, and '07 does the same) with the original provided in the middle for comparison. In both apps, I'm pushing the saturation slider about a quarter of the way to the right.

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Photoshop does exactly what I wanted. iPhoto boosts the color some, but what it does more than anything else is darken the photo. I never asked for this. Sure, hue and saturation changes will change the perceived lightness and darkness of an image, but not like this.

To illustrate this better, let's push saturation all the way. Again, Photoshop on the left, original in the middle, iPhoto on the right.

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Oversaturated, normal, DARK. What's going on?

P.S. Sorry about the ImageShacking.

There are 2 Comments:

Anonymous James said...

It looks like iPhoto makes decisions based on the assumption that the user doesn't know what they're doing, and no one really wants to jack their saturation through the roof without compensating for the high saturation by altering other levels at the same time. Photoshop, being the professional product that it is, lets you jack the saturation as high as it allows and the resulting image is left for the user to decide wether it needs further tweaking, or not.

I'm not entirely surprised to see this, considering the target demographic for each product. iPhoto is designed to be simple, so it does things simply. It would be nice if there were an advanced setting to disable other level changes. And there's the rub, it's not an advanced user product.

8:23 AM  
Blogger Neven Mrgan said...

Good comment. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find a single image which can be improved by pushing up iPhoto saturation setting.

If it were a "smart" adjustment that magically improved things, like the Enhance and Retouch tools which work in that setting-less way, I'd be happy. But it just ruins every image.

11:43 AM  

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