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Lightroom camera profiles

Guest plesbit

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Hoping someone like Mark or Bruce might be able to fill in some blanks here but anyone with any info is welcome to help! The question concerns camera profiling in Lightroom.

I've got to grips with Lightroom reasonably well now and have a fairly clear idea of how to work with the RAW files my camera has been producing. I have two principal cameras in use, a Sony A200 for out and about work and an older but slightly more advanced Minolta 5D for "studio" stuff (still life and wot not). Despite the change of name the two cameras are essentially the products of the same design team and came out of the same factory in Malaysia so it's not entirely surprising that they think and act in largely the same way and are treated accordingly by Lightroom.

But last week two became three with the arrival of my new Nikon D90. So far the arrival of this camera has been non-stop problems (see footnote for details)* but most of them have been resolved with the application of grey matter. But one thing which I find rather odd is the way that Lightroom is treating the RAW images from the D90. As I work with two screens I always have the right hand screen set to display full screen the picture which is selected in the left hand screen. Generally when I first import the images I have to wait a moment when viewing each one as it comes up with "building preview" or "loading image from preview". I'd noticed with both the Sony and Minolta files that what Lightroom tends to do is build up the image and then apply some sort of alterations of its own choice to them. Generally speaking the results were only slightly different when applied and, knowing the cameras pretty well I had a fairly established work flow for detailing with the stronger and weaker elements of their captures. But the Nikon is a whole different ball game - the preview brings up a nice image, builds it up and then applies settings in much the same way but the difference here is that resulting shot is significantly degraded compared to the initial preview. The Sony has (on paper at least) greater dynamic range, particularly in the shadows, and the Sony (Minolta) lenses, tend toward rich colours and above average contrast. Also the metering tends towards more average exposure. Whatever Lightroom does to its images suits the way the camera behaves. The Nikon, on the other hand, has similar headroom in the highlights but poorer in the shadows and tends to meter for a brighter exposure - indeed there are lots of complaints on the Nikon DPR forum that the D90 has a tendency to blow out highlights. My tests so far do not support this complaint HOWEVER, the when the images are loaded into Lightroom and then pre-processed by Lightroom it seems to apply a huge contrast adjustment to the picture, blowing out the highlights, clipping the shadows and generally ruining a decent picture. Having checked the default settings in the "development" screen they match exactly those for the Sony so my general conclusion has to be that the adjustments are made PRIOR to turning the file over to editing and the development screens are set to a general setting which is the same for all makes and models.

I don't want to have to waste a load of time unpicking Lightroom's attempts to "enhance" the pics but I don't know where to start! I hope I am making sense! Any ideas anyone?

* The list of problems so far includes the package being intercepted on delivery, never reaching reception but ending up disappearing into a warehouse (perhaps an attempt to steal it) where it was eventually located by the warehouse manager and his co-ordinator who'd set out especially to search for it. I then discovered one of the key features about its handling that I'd liked so much in John's D80 has not been carried over into the D90 so the handling is not what I had been expecting. I then discovered the SD card slot on my card reader doesn't work properly so I've had to install the actual camera in Windows to get pics off it, then I discovered LIghtroom couldn't read the NEF files it produced, attempts to update ACR from 4.5 to the latest simply refused to install without giving a reason as to why, then an attempt to upgrade from 4.5 to 4.6 which adds the D90 couldn't work because the plugin that needed to be replaced was allegedly missing (!) which I finally solved by upgrading the whole of Lightroom to the latest version. And then I discovered this latest issue!

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Hi Simon

I may be a million miles off the mark here, as this is only my interpretation of what Lightroom does....

The initial preview you are seeing when first importing files I believe to be built from an embedded jpg within the raw file. This is only to give you something to look at quickly whilst LR renders the raw data into a picture. What you are therefore seeing when the picture is finally displayed is just the raw data as captured by the sensor. Assuming you are not using any global presets when you import, I don't believe LR is adding anything at all to the raw image. Therefore I would have thought any difference between the raw files from the Nikon and the Sony are purely down to the sensors in the camera.

Personally, I don't use any presets when importing, preferring instead to add these to the pictures as I see fit. I also shoot in raw only, not raw+jpg as I can't see the point in having an image post-processed by the camera, when I intend to develop the raw files myself anyway.

With the Canon raw files, I find that LR first displays a slightly soft image (probably lower resolution for speed I guess) and then sharpens up once the preview is rendered. However, the raw files are always fairly flat and dull, requiring some tweaking with saturation and exposure/fill light/recovery, but this is just because that's what the sensor saw.

Like I said, I may have this completely wrong, so one of our LR experts will need to confirm, but I think that is what happens anyway :grin:

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I'm not sure I agree ref the treatment of the RAW files. The reason for that is simply that the files are indeed flat and detailed with good highlight and shadow detail when they are rendering. They are soft at first but sharpen up considerably when the preview is fully rendered. It makes for a nice image. Then, and only then, does it suddenly apply a huge shift in contrast which has the effect of blowing out the highlights and clipping the shadows. I can't see how this can be the native image as I cannot believe that Lightroom would render a good and well detailed preview of a file with highlights and shadows blown to hell. The preview would have to be just as bad or worse than the real thing so if the real thing has all those problems, so will the rendering preview. I also doubt that a camera company as accomplished as Nikon would be producing such bad images out of its cameras. The D90 sensor is also found in the D300 and the Sony A700, both of which have formidable reputations for IQ.

I think I will have to do some Googling but it is going to have to wait its turn on the big priority list. For now I'll just have to hand unpick all the stupid settings that have been applied.

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Simon, I used to have exactly the same problem when I used the D300 - the auto settings overcooked the images by whacking the contrast up too far - I've no idea why it does it, but the solution is in the develop settings that you apply when importing the images.

In the import settings there's an option for "develop settings" at the top of the "information" section. See what your default is - if it's "auto tone" try setting it to "none". If it's anything else, try "auto tone". I think what you are seeing initially is the image before Lightroom applies any develop settings, and the point where it goes contrasty is as you see the default develop setting being applied.

You can experiment with the default develop setting - try a number of the different ones that come bundled with Lightroom to see if any of them consistently represent the best starting point for your D90 images, or create a new preset yourself in the develop module - it will then appear in the drop down list as being available to apply as an import setting. If I were you I would produce one called "Sony" and one called "Nikon" to make them easy to apply - you can copy standard Lightroom ones as a starting point, rename the copies as new presets, and then either tweak them as needed or just leave them as they are if they work out of the box.

My Canon 5D Mk II seems to work very well with the "out of the box" auto tone preset, so I now have that as my default in the import dialog - but using the same setting with the D300 usually produced horrible results.


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Bruce I owe you a drink. :clap

Or perhaps I should say another drink! cheers

I've fixed the issue this time round by block selecting the entire import and resetting the development settings. For whatever reason, auto tone simply doesn't work well with the Nikon files. Curious - you'd think Nikon sell enough cameras worldwide for Adobe to have noticed this oddity. But there's more - I noticed that by selecting certain images individually and applying the auto tone option again it did a much better job of toning the picture. Encouraged by my success I block selected the entire import again and applied the auto tone option to them again - this time with even worse results, in fact some of the pictures of ducks from Saturday could have been taken during an eclipse! I'm obviously going to have to do a bit of homework on the best way to treat pics from this camera.

Isn't it bizarre that your Canon and my Sony both work well with the default auto tone but both your Nikon and mine really don't? :?

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Isn't it interesting how you learn things sometimes....!

My import dialogue has develope settings set to "None" which is probably why I've never noticed the issues you have had Simon. I knew at soem point I would have to delve into the world of presets, and it seems like this could be that time, as I always seem to add a similar basic tweak to my photos.

Out come the Luminous Landscape videos again then ...... :ugeek:

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