Many people pick up their camera and only worry about the shutter speed, aperture and ISO when it comes to creating a photo. But getting a properly exposed photo is just part of the equation, there’s a whole other aspect that needs to be addressed as well; how the photo will be edited.
If you’re shooting RAW (Nikon NEF) then you plan on editing the file afterwards on the computer, but videographers and still photographers who shoot in JPEG often expect the file coming out of the camera to be pretty much finished. For these types of shooters, the Picture Control that’s selected can have a major impact on the final image. Even if you shoot RAW and plan on processing your image afterwards, don’t think that there aren’t benefits to using Picture Controls directly in-camera. Picture Controls can benefit even RAW shooters.
First off, Picture Controls are preset profiles that are designed to optimize things like contrast, clarity, brightness and saturation for different scenes. For JPEG or video shooters in particular, picking the right Picture Control can be critical, as these options will be “baked” into the file once you take the shot.
The built-in preset Picture Controls in current Nikon DSLRs are: Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait, Landscape and Flat.
You get all of these on Nikon’s mirrorless Z system cameras and an additional batch of 20 Creative Picture Controls added.