Vibrance vs. Saturation: Which One to Use When? (VIDEO)

Yesterday we shared a comprehensive guide to editing colors in Lightroom, with an overview of the most basic techniques. Today we’ll take a more detailed look at two tools that often create confusion because of their similarity, and explain when one works better than the other.

This video below comes from our friends at the Photo Fitness Academy, a popular channel that consistently shares great advice on image management and editing workflow. The topic of today’s episode is the difference between vibrance and saturation.

Canadian pro David Buck is an image-editing expert with a knack for keeping things simple, and in less than three minutes he explains why both of these tools play important roles in making photos look their best. Those of you who are unsure of how these two features work will learn the nuances that determine which one to choose.

As you’ll see, the Vibrance tool enables you to selectively saturate an image more intelligently, as compared to the familiar Saturation tool that pumps up all the colors in an image. These tools are available in just about every image-editing program you use—all with the same nomenclature.

Buck says he uses both tools regularly, for slightly different purposes, and with his explanation under your belt you’ll be able to make sure that images have exactly the look you want. The main distinction is that Saturation boosts the tones that are already very colorful, while Vibrance boosts the intensity of areas devoid of strong colors.

Sometimes it seems that Vibrance adjustments deliver more pleasing results, because of the subtle effect they provide, depending upon how much color an image includes and “how many competing colors are working against each other”

Saturation adjustments, on the other hand, pump up the “high-value colors first” and then intensify every other color in a photo. This has important implications for which tool you choose, as well as how use it for optimum results. Bottom line, by watching this three-minute video you’ll become a master of these techniques today!

There’s much more to learn about image-editing techniques on Buck’s popular YouTube channel, so be sure to pay a visit whenever you get stuck.

We also strongly recommend that you check out yesterday’s comprehensive Lightroom color guide, which is a great adjunct to today’s lesson.