Playing with Color – Camera Profiles – Part 1 of 3

Adobe Camera Profiles

Have you ever taken a shot that looks awesome on the back of your camera, but looks a little lacking when you import it into Lightroom?  Many people have run into this issue, and more than a few have been discouraged from utilizing their cameras RAW settings.  Short of creating a preset to simulate the look of your cameras display, there was not much that could be done.

In the past year however, Adobe released Camera Profiles for Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw. These profiles alter the color space in Lightroom itself, allowing a rendition of the image that is much more true to what you viewed on your LCD.

Using the camera profiles in Lightroom is amazingly simple.  First, open an image in Lightroom, then open the Develop Module.  On the right toolbar, scroll down to the very bottom to the Camera Calibration tab.

The very first option in the tab is the Profile option:


This will normally be set to ACR 4.4, but if you click on the current setting, a menu box will open offering you a selection of camera profiles.


The profiles in the menu will be selected based on the camera that took the image.  In my sample, the camera was an old Canon XT, and the profiles are named the same as the picture settings provided in the camera.

Your menu will differ based on your particular camera, but should reflect the picture setting options in the menus of your camera.

Go ahead and click around on some of the profiles provided you.  Keep an eye on your histogram as you do so; you will be able to see the difference the profiles make both in the histogram and image.

Here is a sample of a single images histogram, as different profiles are applied:


What is great about these profiles is that they adjust the way the image is interpreted in Lightroom’s color space without making any adjustments to the develop settings.  The profile simulate the color space used by the in-camera processing on your camera.

They are not 100% accurate as Nikon, Canon and the others do not directly assist Adobe in this endeavor, but they get close enough for most purposes.  Just so you can see the difference, here is an image from a Canon XTi (400D), left side is the ACR 4.4 interpretation, right is Camera Standard.


If you only use raw files from one camera manufacturer, and like one particular profile, you can even set the profile to be applied automatically.  Simply set the preferred profile in the Camera Calibration tab and make sure no other adjustments have been made to the image.

Then hold down Command/Alt on your keyboard.


You will see a box below the right toolbar saying Set Default, click that button and all your images will have that profile automatically applied.  If you want your images to look like they are JPEGs right out of the camera, with minimal processing, this is the way to go.

The capabilities of camera profiles don’t end there.  You can also calibrate two different cameras to the same profiles, allowing them to create almost identical images immediately on upload.  You can also create custom profiles that alter the color space in any way you desire.

In Part 2 we’ll discuss those options, as they are fairly in depth processes using Adobe’s DNG Profile Editor

Play around with your default camera profiles and see if you like what you see.  They are not for everybody, but most people will enjoy having their images in Lightroom appear more like they did as previews on their LCD.

If nothing else, it is one more tool you have to get a little bit more out of Lightroom, especially when you get into custom profiles.

Brandon Oelling

Hi there! I'm Brandon Oelling, the founder of XEQUALS. My team and I believe deep in our hearts that inside every one of us is an amazing photographer.

  1. As far as I can tell, there are no profiles for my camera (Olympus E3) – or am I missing something?

  2. No, currently their is no Adobe produced profiles for Olmpus cameras (and many other manufacturers as well). However, custom profiles can be created for individual cameras, which I will cover in my next article. You will need to make sure you have an X-Rite or MacBeth color checker card to complete the process.

    In the mean time, I found a custom profile someone else has designed. From the forums it seems that it is getting reasonable results, but not 100% accurate (which the Adobe Canon profiles are not 100% either). Either way, it should be more accurate than the ACR 4.4 default profile is for your camera.

    The best way will be to construct your own custom profile, and tune it to your needs, which I will be covering that process in the near future. Until then try out the profile I mentioned, or just google for “olympus E-3 adobe camera profile”.

    Hopefully Adobe will broaden their horizons to include Olympus profiles, you may want to add a feature request with Adobe, just to make sure they know there is an interest.

  3. Thanks for the helpful replies. I’ll post the request to Adobe and meanwhile try the source mentioned above. I’d love to do my own but i can’t afford the colour checker!

  4. This is very useful, Michael. I always forget about the camera profiles. If you use the ALT – Set Default will it apply the camera profile to all images in the catalog or only those that are imported afterwards?

  5. I –believe– that it will only apply to new imports only. As I am nowhere near my Lightroom PC, I cannot test and confirm, but I do not recall it altering any images already imported.

  6. Michael’s correct it’s only to new imports (from that particular camera id) from that point forward.

  7. Hi!

    I created the E-3 profiles on the FTU forum. To create your own, you don’t need a standard target, just the ability to match the output for a given image (I printed out a standard target and photographed it) between the DNG profile editor and the output of Oly Master.


  8. Andy – Thanks for dropping by and for making the Olympus profile, glad it was floating around when Roger was looking for help.

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