Today’s Question: I just learned about Lightroom presets. Can you provide some guidelines for selection? How do I know which are safe?
Tim’s Quick Answer: Presets in Lightroom simply represent saved settings. That means those presets are safe to use (provided you know what they do and actually want that task performed). It also means that anything you can accomplish with a preset you could also accomplish on your own by establishing specific settings within Lightroom.
More Detail: Among the more common presets found for Lightroom are Develop presets. These presets simply save specific settings for the adjustments available in the Develop module. There is nothing you can accomplish with a Develop preset that you couldn’t also accomplish through the use of the adjustment controls within the Develop module.
In other words, if you purchase a set of presets for Lightroom’s Develop module, what you’re paying for is the convenience of having those settings saved for you. Presets can be incredibly convenient, and they can also provide creative inspiration for your photos. But those presets are just saved settings, and thus are only able to set existing options within Lightroom.
So, if you see a set of presets you like, there is no reason to avoid them. And by using such presets, you may find that in addition to getting some additional creative inspiration for your photos, you may learn how to make better use of Lightroom in the process.