Camera Profiles, a good starting point

A disadvantage RAW format, is that the images may not give you the results you had in mind. Using digital editing software on your computer may not give you the  photos you want to achieve. Colors may not appear as you like, and  most detail is lost. Editing can restore them, but this process takes time. Adobe has tried to remedy this by adding Camera Profiles to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, and Adobe Camera Raw. And for me, they accomplished their mission.

DSLR Display ScreenA RAW file is a direct representation of what the camera  sensor has registered. In contrast to the JPG format , there is no compression, sharpening, or color change. This allows many opportunities for post processing without immediate, and noticeable, quality loss. And is one of the reasons why many photographers use this format. At the time of shooting, however, you must be  very careful. The camera shows the RAW format on your LCD screen. It shows the picture and a  histogram but includes operations on the final  RAW. The pictures displayed on camera, may not appear as they do on the computer.

in some cases, if you don’t have the correct software. You might not even be able to view the RAW file on your computer. The RAW file shows the picture, and a histogram,  but not the final changes done on the file. The result that you saw on camera, may not be the same as the image appears on the computer.

Raw Photos In Lightroom

This is good if you are importing the RAW photos in Lightroom. During the import, images load faster when they are viewed as much smaller JPG thumbnails,(by default, each RAW file also contains a JPG view,) but over time, as the RAW photo is processed,  you’ll see a noticeable change in the photo quality. The image is perhaps a little less sharp, and the colors are less intense. This is because the inserted JPG display or camera operations, are dependent on the camera settings, such as Standard, Neutral, Faithful, Landscape and Portrait.

This unaltered RAW file will allow you to revert to the original image, if you need to. After processing, colors maybe not what you  had  visualized. And the detail may be not as sharp as you wanted. The power of RAW is that you can correct this fairly easily without noticeable loss. And that the final result is usually better than if the photo was taken in the JPG format. But editing takes a lot of time, and the first step is almost always. Try to work it back to the starting point, as you  first saw the image in the viewfinder.

Wouldn’t it be great if you get straight to the image as you saw them on camera. Initially, this could be done with the Camera Calibration settings of (among other things) Lightroom. But this required a lot of work and was also not 100% dependable. With the introduction of Camera Profiles, Adobe has tried to make this process easier. At first it was only available as beta editions for Lightroom 2.0 and 2.1, and Camera Raw 4.5.


In the new 1.2 Adobe DNG (Digital NeGative) specification, it is possible to define camera profiles. These are profiles that are created specifically for a certain camera brand, and are compatible only with the settings on the camera itself and ensure to give you the best results. The profiles are defined per camera, and are to be applied only to RAW or DNG format photos. Even though  you can only see the general names, each camera brand, and model has its own profile. Lightroom and Camera Raw, (inserted by Photoshop and Photoshop Elements as an extension) automatically apply the correct profile.

Camera Profiles

The Adobe’s Camera Profiles consist of two parts. First of all, there’s Adobe Standard, the new default profile. This is the replacement of the ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) 3.3 and 4.4 profile, found in earlier versions of Lightroom and Camera Raw. Compared to the older profiles, this feature displays colors better, especially when applied to warm tones (red, orange and yellow).  If you have a Canon or Nikon SLR camera, you can also use specific Camera Matching profiles. These perfectly match with the color reproduction of the software that Canon, and Nikon developed  themselves .

For Canon, there are 5 Picture Styles: Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral and Faithful. Each profile matches the default Canon Picture Style setting with all beams (Contrast, Color Balance and Saturation) on their default value 0.

Nikon Picture ControlsThere are  8 profiles for Nikon.  The Nikon Picture Controls profiles include Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Landscape, Portrait, D2X Mode 1, D2X Mode 2, and D2X Mode 3. Also, all scrollbar’s (Saturation, Tone Compensation, etc.) defaults to 0 for a perfect match. If you are going to try out the profiles, please do so with a lot of different pictures to properly judge the results. Various conditions are sometimes better with a specific profile.

Lightroom and Camera

The great thing about Lightroom and Camera Raw, is that you can experiment with the profiles, without  altering the original picture. This software only interprets the color information from the RAW file but keeps the original file untouched.

Below are two examples of photos with the profiles applied, based on my Canon EOS 5 d camera. The differences between the pictures are sometimes subtle, dependent on the size which they appear in. For most situations, my preferred profile settings are Camera Landscape, and  Adobe Standard,  because I like relatively bright colors in my photos. In the first example  I created for Adobe Standard, there is more visible detail in the upper sheet than with Camera Landscape.

As you sometimes can see, the differences are sometimes quite subtle (especially at this size), they do not always show in the colors, but may be evident in the details. The color intensity is generally highest in the Landscape Profile, while the Faithful or Neutral Profile expresses the color intensity as normal.  If you are not satisfied with the default profiles, you can customize them also in the DNG Profile Editor. This is also how you can select a profile for other brands of cameras. It’s not the easiest thing to do, it could even be tedious, (see here a step by step guide), but I can imagine that in the future, specific brand profiles  created by third party companies can be made available on the internet.

Apply Default

To apply a profile that works best for your needs, you can make adjustments on the basis of a good starting point. However, choosing among all the available profiles can be nerve-wracking. Camera Raw and Lightroom provide a lot of tools to aid one in the selection process.


This profile can be quickly applied to multiple images by selecting a number of photos in the Develop module and using the “Sync ”  button. Make sure the “Calibration” option is checked before you apply the settings.  If you use this method  often, then you can save the camera profile with the + button at the top of the presets overview; also, add to a preset so you are left with a simple choice for the preset.This will directly  apply all desired effects to a picture. This setting can also be used as a preset shortcut when importing the photos.


It also allows you to link a profile directly on a camera model so that it is automatically applied, irrespective of a preset. To do this, select a photo in the Develop module and press the ALT/Option key. The “Reset” button changes to “Set Default.” Choose this option and press “Update to Current Settings,”  in the dialogue that appears. Please note that even the Exposure, Brightness, Contrast, etc. are  included in this default setting. In the Preferences of Lightroom, you can also specify whether these settings are specific to an individual camera (based on the serial number). The setting affects only new imported pictures, or if you use the “Reset”  button, in older photos.

Camera Raw

To quickly apply the profiles on multiple photos,  open photos in Camera Raw, and select them all. Select the desired profile from the Camera Profile menu (in the Camera Calibration tab). Choose the Synchronize  button, and make sure that Camera Calibration is selected. If you use this  option often, then you can create a preset. Press the popup menu on the right side of Camera Raw and choose “Save Settings…”. Choose “Camera Calibration” from the subset popup menu, and choose “Save .” Every time you want to apply a preset, you can select the “Apply Preset” option from the menu. If you would you like to apply this setting, open a photo file in Camera Raw, choose the desired profile to the right of the words “Camera Calibration” ,  then “Save New Camera Raw Defaults”.

Beta Profiles

If you have previously installed the beta profiles, then you can remove them in the following locations (make sure you have all  the complete programs that use it.).

Go to the following folder (based on your OS) and delete any file with Beta in the title:

– Windows 2000/XP: c: documents and Settingsall Usersapplication DataAdobeCameraRawCameraProfiles

– Windows Vista: C:ProgramDataAdobeCameraRawCameraProfiles

– Mac OS x:/library/application Support/Adobe/CameraRaw/CameraProfiles (Library on Macintosh HD)

The best way to compare against the new AD and CM camera profiles, is  to look at, and  consider them as a good starting point for further edits. Despite being standard, they give good results. In any case, everyone has their own preference of how colors are displayed. They will never be able to replace the creative vision of the photographer.

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