Lightroom: Most Important First Step

Whenever you add RAW images into Lightroom’s catalog, there is one step that is critically important. Essentially you have to tell Lightroom how your camera is set up. If you don’t, you’ll have a devil of a time trying to get the images you see in Lightroom to match the preview displayed on the back of your camera.

To get them to match, many people twiddle with the settings - adding a little vibrance, pumping up the contrast, maybe lightening the shadows. All this is done just trying to get the image to match what you saw on the camera. (We talked about this in 2017 blog post about Flat Dull Images.)

There is an easier way.

Camera Profile

There is a setting in the Develop module of which many people are unaware. After all, in the earlier versions it was hidden in some nondescript panels. But the developers must have had an epiphany since they have now moved the Camera Profile settings to the very top of the Basic panel. Definitely a position of great importance.

In fact, the Camera Profile setting is so important that it’s the first thing that you should set. The reason is that when Lightroom opens a RAW file, it doesn’t know how all the options were set on the camera. For example, Canon cameras have a Picture Style setting that helps define the images sharpness, saturation, and contrast. In the Nikon world, this is called Picture Controls. These controls have a significant affect on the overall look of the photograph but Lightroom knows nothing about these settings. Because of this the previews in Lightroom will seldom match the image displayed on the camera.

Make Lightroom Match Your Camera

Get the Lightroom Preview to match the image you see on the back of your camera.

To get the Lightroom image to match the image in your camera you use the Camera Profile setting found at the top of the Basic panel. By default, Lightroom uses Adobe profiles but to better match your camera’s Picture Styles you can use “Camera” profiles like Camera Standard or Camera Landscape.

You will find that if you set the correct camera profile, your images will better match the image that you saw on the back of the camera.

Get Creative

In recent releases of Lightroom Classic CC, Adobe has expanded the function of the Camera Profile setting to include a variety of creative profiles. The list can grow quite large and if you want to focus only on those settings that functionally match your camera, then use the Favorites setting in the list of profiles. Then, when you use the drop down menu, only your Favorites will appear.

Make it Easy on Yourself

For many of us, we shoot one or two cameras and don’t really change the picture profiles very often. In that case, tell Lightroom to apply the camera profile as a default for any images added to the Lightroom Catalog. We’ll cover that, and more, in next weeks blog.