Lightroom Camera Profile explanation

I guess some of you never use the Camera Calibration panel in Lightroom, perhaps because you don’t know what it does?
A Camera Profile is the color, contrast, saturation etc. setting that your camera vendor have set for each camera model. What it really means is that they have some guys in their office who have calibrated the camera software to achieve a specific look for each kind of photo you take. Let’s say you want to take a nice portrait photo of your mom.

This is what it looks like when shoot in JPEG-mode

The color information of that photo is mainly filled with skintones (at least that is what the guys at the office thinks). If you’re shooting in JPEG-mode, this calibration setting is embedded into the file, so Lightroom or Photoshop Camera Raw won’t be able to apply a new one. The drop-down menu in the Camera Calibration panel will only give you one choice: Embedded.

If you shoot in RAW you have more possibilities…
Let’s go back to that photo of your mom (shoot in RAW-mode).
When you select the Camera Profile named “Camera Portrait”, you are applying the color settings that the vendor thinks will give you the best result for portraits with colors of skintones. The same goes for “landscape” photos etc.
Adobe is continuously adding new camera profiles for new cameras.

Now, you might wonder why these settings not are applied as default when you open your images in Lightroom? Well, it’s up to you and not your camera since it doesn’t know what kind of photo you have taken, unless you have told it by selecting a “mode” on it (most pocket cameras have a wheel/setting so you can select the kind of photo you want to shoot, portrait, landscape etc.)

Camera profiles for Nikon users (RAW-mode)

I have a Nikon camera but what does “Camera D2X mode” mean, mine is a D3!?

Despite the name, the D2X Mode 1, D2X Mode 2, and D2X Mode 3 profiles aren’t actually profiles for the D2X camera. These are profiles designed to match the corresponding Nikon Picture Controls of the same name. To make this easier to understand, open Nikon View NX (or Capture NX) and examine the Picture Controls menu. There are six built-in settings: Standard, Neutral, Vivid, D2X Mode 1, D2X Mode 2, and D2X Mode 3. Those last 3 contain the “D2X” name even for non-D2X cameras. In other words, this is Nikon’s naming convention.

Depending on what camera you have, these settings (the camera profiles in the drop-down menu) change accordingly to your image’s embedded camera settings. If you’re using a Canon camera, this list will be populated with other profiles to chose from.

The best way to use these camera profiles is simply to try them out. If you like what you see – keep it, if not – dump it :-)

You can read more about Camera Profiles here


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  1. I am just wondering if it is possible to use Canon’s picture profiles with photos taken with a Nikon camera. I like the look of the Canon color profile but shoot with Nikon since I have all Nikon glass.


  2. “The best way to use these camera profiles is simply to try them out.”

    I need to have exact colors reproduced. Thus I have Expodisk, Eizo CG monitor, colorimeter…
    And I’m very annoyed with the amazingly different colors between “Adobe Standard”, “Camera Neutral”, “Camera Faithful” and “Camera Standard” profiles. After all hardware invented to do get exact colors, I need to choose which color I think is correct, because the software has no idea about it???
    And this is the most professional software? That’s tragedy!

  3. I appreciate the explanation. Have been frustrated at how my raw images appear in LR4 when using the Adobe Standard profile (red hue), but now it makes sense. Did not realize the other profiles matched Nikon’s Capture NX. It will be interesting to compare.

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