When to Use Vibrance vs Saturation in Lightroom

The Vibrance and Saturation sliders are probably two of the most often used color adjustments in Lightroom. How you use them and what the difference is, is important to understand so you know how making changes will affect the colors in your photo.

Both Vibrance and Saturation enhance colors and their intensity but in different and important ways. View my Lightroom Vibrance and Saturation video tutorial to see the tools in action and for tips on how to best use them.

What is Vibrance

Vibrance is a saturation tool but it’s more subtle than using the saturation slider. Vibrance brings more life to subdued or muted colors without oversaturating or over-coloring every part of your image. You could say it's more intelligent. It looks at areas that already have a lot of color and areas that are more muted, and it will make bigger adjustments to the muted areas while protecting the areas that are already vivid so they don’t get oversaturated. It creates a nice balance and is especially useful for skin tones.


Adjusting the Saturation slider will increase or decrease the intensity of every color in your photo depending on if you slide it left or right. As you slide it left, colors become soft and muted and completely gray when you get it all the way to the left. If you slide it too far right, It can make the image look overly saturated, sometimes garish, and you can lose some detail.

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