Opinion: Clarity Is the Feature Every Camera Needs

Clarity adjustment should be included with every single camera release from now on.

When the Fujifilm X Pro 3 launched and added clarity adjustment, I was incredibly thrilled. Even better: it seemed to add my changes to the RAW files. “Why doesn’t everyone do this,” I wondered to myself. And then, more and more, I started to see camera manufacturers add the feature. But I think everyone needs it at this point. With so much of a heavy emphasis these days on the post-production aspect, there is a vast need to differentiate between a photographer and a photo editor. A photographer, does most of the work in-camera. But, a photo editor does most of the work in post-production, and that’s created a culture of merely just fixing images in post-production. By adding clarity to a camera’s functionality, a photographer can focus on shooting and continue shooting rather than spending more time in post-production. I think that’s huge.

I sincerely think there is something compelling to be said about the joy you get when you nail an image in-camera and don’t even feel like you need to do post-production to it. I realized this years ago when Olympus came out with the Olympus Pen F. Do any of you remember that camera? It gave you a black and white render that captured your heart–and you wanted it to stick around with you forever. I wasn’t the only reviewer to think so. Every other reviewer on that trip was obsessed with it. Olympus did it first, but for some odd reason, no one ever took their Art Filters seriously. When Fujifilm came around and gave us film simulations, everyone loved them. When ACROS dropped, people were excited. When you could add clarity adjustments to your ACROS images in-camera, folks were even more excited.

I think this is all very important in defining what a photo is. Social media, Reddit, Marketers, and more will blend the idea of what a photographer is with other things. A photography composite isn’t a photograph taken with a camera. There wasn’t set building, etc. That’s a composite, not a picture. So giving photographers more tools to create in-camera and to spend less time in post-production is a significant effort.

Camera manufacturers already give you various color options in addition to saturation, sharpness, contrast, and other adjustments. Clarity is a huge one. Highlight and shadow adjustments have been around for a while now. If anything, the interface needs to change soon, too, to make it even easier. And that’s why camera manufacturers need to embrace the touchscreen instead of fighting it the way some have been.

What else could camera manufacturers offer?

  • Simulated ND filters (Olympus has this, but I mean Graduated ND filters)
  • Less terrible skin softening
  • Something like the Adobe Upright tool
  • Color channel editing
  • Vignetting control

These are just a few ideas. But I think that if cameras are going to continue to survive, camera manufacturers could lean really heavily into the tech aspect and go all in. Make them better image-making devices than what’s possible on your computer. Give us an all-in-one package. The processor in a camera is already much more powerful than what’s in a phone. Just imagine a world like this! The Zeiss ZX1 is a dip into this. But everyone should do it.