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Vibrance vs Saturation Explained – What’s the difference between vibrance and saturation?

Vibrance vs Saturation Explained

What’s the difference between vibrance and saturation?

If you’ve ever asked yourself what the difference is between vibrance vs saturation inside of Lightroom, Luminar, Capture One or Adobe Camera Raw, you’re not alone.

Regardless of which photo editing software you’re using, the differences between vibrance and saturation are the same across all of them.

This is the difference between vibrance and saturation:

The saturation slider works by increasing the saturation of ALL of the colors in your photo equally, while the vibrance slider increases saturation selectively.

When you set the saturation slider to +10, the reds, greens, blues etc all receive an equal increase of +10 in saturation.

When you set the vibrance slider to +10, the greens and blues might go up by +10 in saturation, but the reds and oranges (skin tones) might only get +3 saturation.

The vibrance slider is different from the saturation slider. It’s meant to adjust the saturation of your images selectively, so that skin tones and already saturated parts of your image are not oversaturated.

The easiest way to explain the difference between the vibrance and saturation effects is to show you in this quick saturation vs vibrance example video:

Hopefully by now you’re getting the hang of when to use vibrance and when to use saturation.

Let’s pretend your photo is like a house.

Using the saturation slider is like lighting up the entire house, while using the vibrance slider lights up some rooms more than others, adding more light to the rooms that need it, and less light to the rooms that don’t.

Is your whole house dark and needs light? Use saturation.

Is some of your house lit already, and you just want to add light to the dark rooms? Use vibrance.

To really get a grasp on all this, the best thing you can do is take what you’ve learned in this tutorial and practice it for yourself on a few of your own images.

Vibrance and saturation are essential editing tools. Understanding when to use each of them will improve your photography.

Now go create something awesome!

-Ryan

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