Presets for Raw+JPEG


Today’s Question: I import both RAW and JPG files [into Lightroom]. Do Develop presets apply to JPG files when imported even though the photos had in-camera adjustments made such as aberration and distortion corrections?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Develop presets applied during import would affect all photos regardless of file format. However, the net result will be different since the JPEG captures will have had in-camera adjustments applied, while raw captures would not have.

More Detail: Quite frankly, as a general rule I recommend not using the Raw+JPEG capture option in the camera if you’re using Lightroom to manage your photos, other than to serve a specific purpose such as to provide a reference from the in-camera adjustments to be used while optimizing your raw capture.

By default, Lightroom actually doesn’t import JPEG images that are part of a Raw+JPEG pair. In order to actually import those JPEG captures into your Lightroom catalog you need to turn on the “Treat JPEG files next to raw files as separate photos” checkbox in the General tab of the Preferences dialog in Lightroom.

If you apply the same preset during import (or later in your workflow) to both images in a Raw+JPEG pair, the same adjustments will (for the most part) be applied in the same way. Of course, there are some adjustments that apply based on the actual image, such as the “Auto” adjustment for the Basic adjustments.

Of course, for many of the other adjustments, you could be doubling up on the effect. In many cases that doubling up of adjustments won’t cause any significant issues. For example, applying the chromatic aberration correction twice shouldn’t result in any problems in the photo. But for more general adjustments, there could be issues.

And, of course, the simple fact that applying the same preset to both a raw and a JPEG image from the same capture pair will result in images that don’t match each other could create confusion or other challenges in your workflow.

In general though, I don’t consider there to be a significant advantage to importing both the raw and the JPEG of a Raw+JPEG pair into Lightroom. I prefer to simply work with the original raw captures, optimize to suit my vision for the photo, and then export copies of the image (such as to create a JPEG copy) as needed when sharing the images.