Using Lightroom Camera Profiles in Photo Editing

In this tutorial, we’ll be looking at Lightroom Camera Profiles. We’ll discuss what they are, where to find them, and most importantly how to use them in your workflow.

What are Camera Profiles

The Camera Profiles or Camera Colour Profiles as they are also known, control the translation of RAW files into images. You can think of them as being a set of instructions to Lightroom as to how to convert the RAW file data into colours and tones. This is an important part of the RAW conversion process as it can have significant impact on the colours and tones in your image.

Why are Camera Profiles Important?

It’s easy to think that you only need to use the Temp and Tint sliders to control your image colours. Don’t make this mistake. Camera Profiles control the relationship between the tones and colours in the image. When you use the Temp and Tint sliders you are just shifting all the colours. Camera profiles can change the relationship between different colours. For example, they could make some colours appear warmer and more saturated whilst others become cooler. This can even fool you into thinking an image has a colour cast when it doesn’t.

Let’s have a look at a simple example to demonstrate this.

Example of four different camera profiles applied in Lightroom

In this example we have the same RAW file but with four different Camera Profiles applied to it. There’s been no other adjustments to the image, but you can see changes to the colour, tone and saturation from the camera profile applied.

The profiles used are:

  • Pro Neg Standard
  • Classic Chrome
  • Velvia
  • Camera Monochrome + Yellow filter

Don’t worry if you can find these profiles in your version of Lightroom. I’ll explain why shortly.

The differences you can see between the profiles only become stronger as you process the image. That’s why it’s important to start by selecting the profile you want to use when you’re processing a RAW file.

Applying Camera Profiles in Lightroom

You’ll find the Camera Profiles in Lightroom’s Develop module. If you’re using an older version of Lightroom Classic CC, you will find the Camera Profiles in the Calibration panel. That’s where you’ll see a dropdown list which you can use to select compatible profiles installed on your computer.

But if you’re using a more recent version of Lightroom Classic CC you’ll find the profiles are available at the top of the Basic panel. You can see this indicated in the screenshot below.

Location of the Lightroom Camera Profiles

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Everything that follows assumes you are using a newer version of Lightroom. In older versions, you can only select the profile you want to apply using the Camera Calibration panel. In the later versions of Lightroom where the profiles are in the Basic panel, you’ll find more flexibility.

If you look at the Profile section in Lightroom you will see the currently selected profile on the left. This is a dropdown list of Adobe Camera Profiles available to choose from. Over to the right side of this you’ll see an icon with four rectangles. When you click this, you will open Lightroom’s Profile Browser.

The Lightroom Profile Browser

In the following screenshot you can see the Profile Browser open with a few numbered sections.

Lightroom Camera Profile Browser

Over to the left of section 1, you can see the headings “All”, “Color” and “B&W”. You can use these to filter the displayed camera profiles based on whether they are colour or black and white. Over to the right of this you can see the word “Grid”. This controls the display of the camera profiles in the Lightroom Browser.

In section 2 is the grid of thumbnails. Each thumbnail represents a different Camera Profile with the thumbnail previewing how the image will appear when you apply that profile. You’ll see the name of the profile below each thumbnail and that all of these are in a section titled “Adobe RAW”. That’s because Adobe provides all these profiles as standard in Lightroom.

Now look to the top right of each thumbnail and you will see some have a small star icon showing they are favourites. Click the star icon to toggle them on and off. When a profile’s marked as a favourite it appears in the “Favourites” section, just above the “Adobe RAW” section. In the screenshot above the section’s collapsed.

Camera Matching Profiles

If you look below the “Adobe RAW” section, you’ll see a collapsible group titled “Camera Matching” containing 15 profiles. These are profiles based on the type of RAW file you have selected. Whilst you will always the same “Adobe RAW” profiles for every RAW file, the “Camera Matching” will change.

In the following screenshot you can see the “Camera Matching” section expanded to show the profiles.

Camera Matching Profiles in Lightroom

All these camera profiles relate to Fuji RAW files. If instead I had selected a Nikon or Canon RAW file for processing, I would see a completely different list here. That’s one reason why you might not see the same profiles as in my screenshot.

If you look back to the numbered screenshot, you’ll notice there’s a line above and below section 2. This groups the Adobe RAW profiles and Camera Matching profiles together. That’s because you can only apply these camera profiles to RAW files. If you’re using an earlier version of Lightroom Classic CC, that’s all that you could ever do. But, in the latest releases of Lightroom there’s a new type of camera profile.

Artistic & User Profiles

If you look back to the numbered screenshot, you’ll see two more sections indicated; Artistic and User Profiles. The User Profiles are ones that someone has created using special software like the Adobe DNG Editor. This is beyond the scope of this tutorial but you can learn more by watching my video about creating Custom Camera Profiles.

One of the biggest changes in the more recent versions of Lightroom are the new Artistic Camera Profiles. If you’re familiar with LUTs (colour Look Up Tables), you can imagine these new camera profiles as being like LUTs.

Artistic Camera Profiles in Lightroom Browser

As well as a section marked “Artistic”, you can also see sections for “B&W”, “Modern” and “Vintage”. These are the special effects camera profiles that ship with Lightroom and which you can apply to any image; it doesn’t have to be a RAW file.

When you select one of these profiles, you will notice the “Amount” slider above the profiles becomes enabled. The default value is 100% but you can increase or reduce this to strengthen or reduce the profiles effect on the image.

Amount slider in the camera profile browser

Why Can’t I See the Same Profiles?

Now it’s quite possible you’re seeing different camera profiles to the screenshots used in this tutorial. Several things could cause this:

  • You’re using a different version of Lightroom.
  • You may have purchased additional “Artistic” profiles.
  • Lightroom only shows profiles compatible with the RAW file you’re editing.
  • If you’re editing an image rather than a RAW file, you’ll only see the new “Artistic” type profiles.

It’s also possible that you have different groupings visible. To the top left of the Amount slider you’ll see a small ‘+’ icon. When you click this, a popup menu’s displayed.

Manage Camera Profiles option

Click the Managed Profiles option and a dialog’s displayed allowing you to select which of the profile groups are visible.

The other option in the popup allows you to import any new camera profiles that you may have purchased or had shared with you.

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If you’re using a recent version of Adobe Lightroom Classic CC, you have access to the new Camera Profiles feature. This is a powerful tool to use when editing your photography and because it affects the colour and tones of an image, it’s best to apply profiles as a first step. You can only apply the old-style camera profiles to RAW files, but you can use the new type with any image. If you find the look of the Artistic camera profiles too strong, use the Amount slider to control the effect.

The best advice is to not overlook this powerful tool. Using Lightroom Camera Profiles can significantly improve your photo editing results.

More Lightroom Tutorials

You’ll find more high quality, free tutorials on my Adobe Lightroom Tutorials page.

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