X-Rite Photo Blog
Color Perfectionists Unite!

Quick Tip: Saturation vs. Vibrance


by Alan Winslow – September 4th, 2018

Today we are going to take a quick look at the Saturation and Vibrance sliders in Adobe Lightroom. We’re going to discuss where the sliders live, what they do, and the difference between them. Both tools increase the color intensity in our images but with subtle differences.

Where they live

Both sliders live in the Presence panel in the Development Module of Lightroom.

Saturation Slider

The saturation slider has been around for a long time. This slider uniformly increases the overall intensity of colors in the image. The starting point of the colors does not matter. The problem with this is that you can quickly and easily over saturate the image leaving them looking fake and unrealistic. Other problems to look out for include skin tones becoming orange and clipping colors. In general, we advise you to use this slider with sparingly.

Vibrance Slider

The vibrance slider performs basically the same functions as the saturation slider but in a smart way. This slider increases the intensity of the most muted colors and leaves the saturated colors alone. It also preserves skin tones from becoming too saturated and turning orange.

Let’s take a look at some examples below.

Original Image

Saturation at 100

Vibrance at 100

Often the saturation slider is too aggressive causing posterization or blocking of colors. We can see this in the example above. On the Saturation example we have lost all detail in the reds. On the other hand increasing the vibrance slider to 100 gave us a nice color burst but preserved the detail.


Saturation set to 0

Vibrance set to 0

Vibrance set to 0

Decreasing the sliders to 0 gives us an interesting affect. In the saturation example all the color is stripped away leaving us with a black and white image. In the vibrance example we’re left with a muted color image. Remember the vibrance slider is only affecting the most muted colors that’s why we’re left with a red flowers here.

Vibrance at 57

So we went with a vibrance adjustment of 57. This gave a little punch to the flowers that was not over done. Remember to use the sliders sparingly you do not want to make your images look artificial.

Finally, remember to check out all X-Rite color management solutions and other educational material www.xritephoto.com.

Categories: adobe lightroom, Quick Tips | Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *