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Help Understanding presets already applied.


Premium Classic Member
Jul 18, 2020
Lightroom Version
Operating System
  1. Windows 11
I'm trying to start just using raw images instead of jpeg but I am having difficulty understanding presets for my existing images. I currently have thousands of raw images from several cameras. I want to understand what preset is applied to these images. I don't know what the import default was for any specific existing folder.

In preferences I now have the Global Raw Default set to Camera Settings. I have the Override checkbox for individual cameras checked and I have all of my cameras set to Camera Settings. I have a few stock pictures from a camera I don't own I'm using to experiment. It is a Canon EOS 5D. The image's Saved Preset is Default Settings.

I tried changing the Preferences Preset default for this camera to Black and White Landscape but reopening Preferences Presets showed preset Camera Settings. Choosing Black and White Landscape again caused Update Defaults to be greyed out but every time I reopened the Preferences Preset it would show Camera Settings. So selecting what is already selected must cause the Update Defaults to be greyed out. Even though opening Preferences Presets again shows Camera Settings.

Working with an individual raw photo I can change the preset to Black and White. The preview changes to B&W. I can then select preset Default, and I believe the preview shows Camera Settings because if I select Saved Preset Aged Photo the preview obviously changes. If I select the Default Preset it appears to be the Camera Settings but I can't see any change if I select Adobe Default so I'm not really sure what is being applied.

1. Apparently it is impossible to see what the applied Default Preset is for an image.
For example, if Aged Photo was applied as the default during import, how would one know that is the preset applied? The name of the preset shown is "Custom". In the Develop module it shows Vintage 10 for the Profile. Just a little more confusion.

2. Are Virtual Copies the way to save different applied presets? First make a Virtual Copy then apply a different preset you want to "keep".

3. The Preferences Default Preset must only apply on import.

I haven't found anything that clearly explains how to understand presets already applied to existing images.
Let's take a different approach to understanding. When a RAW file is opened in Lightroom Classic, it has to be converted from photo site values to RGB pixels before you can see an image. To do this, some edits adjustments are made to the tone, noise and color balance. It really does not matter too much what initial settings are used but you want a reasonably approximation image coming out of the ACR De-Mosaicing. These are called Default Profiles. This is what you have called "Preferences Preset " Think of this as your starting point. At the top of the Basic panel is a section called Profile. A preset and a Profile are different in that a Preset is applied after the initial profile is used to render the RGB image. The Profile section will tell you which profile was used to create the RGB initial image. If you don't like the default that was used, you can select another from the Profile list. From there you need to look at the initial develop settings for the image in the Basic develop panel. You can apply a develop preset from others or you can create your own. Each image will require a unique set of develop settings. Except for images shot at the same time using the same settings, every image is unique.
To add to what @clee01l said (and that I think you asked about), When you apply a preset to an image in the Develop Module, an entry is made in the history panel for that image indicating which preset was applied. This does not preclude the existence of subsequect edits that might change what the prset did or even the applicaiton of another preset that also may change all or some of the settings from the first preset.
Thank you both for your help on this subject. I do have a clearer understanding. I don't do a lot of editing on individual pictures and always reading that every raw image has to be edited to look "natural" has kept me from relying on the raw files. I still need jpgs for some folders to include in movies but that can be easily accomplished.

The downside of not have jpgs for all pictures is that I copy pictures to my phone and tablet and I need the smaller jpg files. Instead of taking and keeping jpgs from my camera maybe a better method would be to use Published Collections for everything. I would have any Lightroom edits applied to my jpgs for movies, phone, and tablet. I think I'm going to have to revise my file structure to keep pictures from cameras that only take jpgs, like my 3D camera, sperate from the Published Collections. A big but one time transition or maybe just for pictures going forward.
always reading that every raw image has to be edited to look "natural" has kept me from relying on the raw files.
As LrC versions have been released, the RGB image produced by the ACR part of Lightroom Classic has come closer to the JPEG produced by the camera but still retains al of the flexibility of the RAW file. In the Basic panel, clicking on the Auto button will let Lightroom Classic determine the best settings. You can tweak that to bring out shadows etc. DeNoise, clarity etc. enhance the image further. When you are stuck with a JPEG out of the camera, you have fixed the WB and exposure and Tone and Noise. Lightroomcan only do a limited amount of adjustment with the fixed RGB JPEG file.

I use the Publish Service instead of Export when ever I need to create a derivative file. Instead of copying photos to your phone and tablet, sync them to the Adobe Cloud from a LrC collection. This sends a proxy Smart preview to the Adobe Cloud and does not use any of your subscription plan storage. Then install the Lightroom app on your Phone AND tablet. All of the images that you have sync'e from LrC to the Adobe Cloud will be available in Lightroom on your Phone and Tablet.
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