Lightroom’s Camera Calibration Panel may be the most under discussed feature of the whole Lightroom/Adobe Camera Raw processing engine. Camera calibration allows you to control how Lightroom pre-processes imported raw images. By default the Adobe Standard profile is applied when raw images are imported into the Lightroom catalog. Available profiles depend on the make and model of camera that captured the image. These profiles are active only when processing raw files. When jpeg files are imported the profile assigned in the camera is used to create the jpeg in camera and can not be changed by Lightroom.
Digital cameras come with a set of predefined profiles for processing images you can choose to create jpeg as output to the camera’s SD or compact flash. Some adjustments can be dialed in to allow for more or less contrast, sharpness, and color rendition. Even if you are exporting as a raw file the currently selected profile is applied to the internal jpeg created to display to the camera’s LCD screen.
In a number of cameras the profiles are pretty generic in their description. For instance the Nikon D600 includes the following 5 profiles:
Even if you record in raw format the profiles are used and the images are processed to the current camera profile for viewing on the LCD on the back of your camera.
I know a couple of well known photographers who usually just shoot jpegs and do only minimal processing in Photoshop or Lightroom. The in camera processing of images to jpegs can get pretty sophisticated with the modern digital camera. In camera you can use these profiles to determine how the camera software converts the image. The profile may be based on the type of shot it is or it like on the Nikon or can be based on a replication of an analog camera film as provided by Fujifilm.
Actually all cameras always capture in raw mode even if the users chooses to only save the jpeg. Once the image is processed, if saving only the jpeg image, the raw data is thrown away. To me it makes sense to import the images into Lightroom as raw files and apply the camera profiles after import.
If you are using Lightroom to retrieve, catalog and develop your images you gain quite a lot from importing your images in raw format. Lightroom allows you to apply any of the camera profiles to your raw images once you have downloaded them to your computer. Using virtual copies of a single image you can have profiled images for all the available profiles that your camera provides. Applying a different profile does not make any changes any of the develop modules sliders.
Once you enter the Lightroom develop module with your selected raw image you can open the camera profile panel and select any of the profiles. Please note to use the latest Process Engine (right now that is 2012 (Current)).
My Fujifilm X-T1 has the following profiles available:
You can try all the profiles until you find one you are happy with or like I said create virtual copies and apply one to each. Remember the profile is applied to the image without changing any of the develop module sliders so you can have a clean start at making adjustments beyond the applied profile.
But wait there is a better way. You can create presets for each of the profiles. Then you don’t even have to go to the camera profile panel. One advantage to creating the profiles is that when you scroll over a preset it is applied to the Navigator image so you can see how the image will look with any of the presets. You can also apply a preset when importing images so your preferred profile is automatically applied to each imported image.
To create a preset go to the Develop Module and click on the plus (+) sign next to the Preset Panel to add a new preset. The New Develop Preset dialog will display. I would suggest you create a folder for the presets for each camera you have. Name the preset with the profile name. Uncheck all the settings except the Process Version and Calibration check boxes. Click the create button and the preset will be added to the Preset panel under the folder name you created.
The advantages to processing images from a raw file are many. Applying camera profiles as provided by the manufacturer is a great starting point for getting the most out of the image. Here is the same raw photo with 4 different profiles applied.