On this video, portrait photographer Nathaniel Dodson (from the website tutvid), looks at the differences between two very important color enhancements you can control in Photoshop (and Lightroom as well as other editing software – saturation and vibrance.
So what is the difference between the two – well actually the demo in the video is possibly the best explanation (although this isn’t a dictionary definition). Basically saturation is a simple increase (or decrease) in the colors of the entire image (pretty simplistic process) while vibrance is a more subtle increase which is in a way smarter and more selective.
In the example Dodson shows in the video – increasing saturation makes the model’s face almost red as well as all the colors in the image very (well…) saturated. On the other hand vibrance increase the colors in the rest of the image but her face/skin tones seems to be kept somewhat.
In many cases you can increase or boost the vibrance of the image but actually reduce or decrease the saturation – this combination (depending on your specific image of course) can have better results than just playing with either one of these options on its won.