Understanding The Difference Between Vibrance and Saturation In Under 3 min

A quick and easy to follow description and demo of how Saturation and Vibrance are different.

Maybe you are a seasoned post-producer, maybe you are not. But chances are at some point you have wondered (if you don’t still) what exactly the difference between vibrance and saturation is in relation to image processing. On the base level it would seem that saturation is a more intense adjustment, and vibrance a more fine-tuned one, but that both adjustments effectively do the same thing – but is that all there is to it?

After dialing down the saturation of the red channel, we’re left with some amazing tonality in these rose blossoms.

Well, the quick answer is no. That is not all there is to it. As noted above, saturation and vibrance effectively do the same thing (ie increasing the intensity of the colors in your image); however, they both go about it and effect it differently. Youtuber Evan 5ps recently published this informative video which runs just under 3 minutes, and he discusses – with examples – the differences between saturation and vibrance. Check it out on your break at work, it will help you better understand what you are doing when you modify your colors with either slider during your next editing session.

Just to recap, with saturation (the processing equivalent of pressing down really hard with a crayon on paper), every color in the image is amped up or pulled back equally. For vibrance, you are mostly affecting colors that find themselves in the mid-tones of your image or video. In effect leaving the brightest colors and darkest colors in your image changed the least.

So the next time you find yourself in that processing workflow and think to yourself ‘should I change the saturation or vibrance for the edit’ stop and think about the colors you want to – or don’t want to – effect in the image. These are both tools that can and should be used often, so taking a few minutes to understand what they are and how they will affect your work is key.

Make sure and check out Evan 5ps over on Youtube for more great videos like this one.

Feature Image A Screencapture, All rights to Ryan 5ps.

Anthony Thurston

Anthony is a Portland, Oregon based Boudoir Photographer specializing in a dark, moody style that promotes female body positivity, empowerment, and sexuality. Besides The Phoblographer, he also reviews gear and produces his own educational content on his website.