Preview Changes for the Worse


Today’s Question: When first import new images into Lightroom Classic they look great, then almost immediately the preview changes to something not so great. Can you help so the initial preview doesn’t change?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The solution here is to update the default settings so that the interpretation for the images in Lightroom Classic is closer to the interpretation from your camera.

More Detail: When you initially browse images with Lightroom Classic, Adobe Bridge, and some other applications, the preview will be based on a JPEG that is embedded in the raw capture by the camera. Shortly thereafter, the preview will be updated based on the interpretation of the raw capture by the software. In some cases, this can result in a preview that doesn’t look quite as good as the preview that was embedded in the image.

In Lightroom Classic you can improve the preview by applying different settings from the Develop module. I recommend using a preset for this purpose, which you can apply as part of the process of importing new photos into your catalog. That will result in improved previews right from the start of your workflow.

You can work with a sample image in the Develop module to create the new preset. I suggest looking at the profiles available in the Basic section of the right panel as a good starting point. In particular you might look at the “Camera Matching” section, since those are most likely to represent a closer match to the preview generated by the camera.

You can also apply other adjustments, such as to increase the value for Vibrance to boost the colors, and increase the value for Clarity to enhance midtone contrast. Any adjustments that provide a better starting point for the image can be applied as part of this process.

When you are happy with the adjustments you’ve applied, you can click the plus symbol (+) to the right of the Presets heading on the left panel in the Develop module. Choose “Create Preset” from the popup to bring up the “New Develop Preset” dialog.

Enter a meaningful name in the Preset Name field, and choose the Group you’d like to include the preset in. Then make sure the checkboxes are turned on for all adjustments you want to include in the preset. If you’re going to apply this preset when importing new photos, you can simply click the “Check All” button to enable all adjustments for the preset. Click the Create button to create the new preset.

This preset can then be applied at import, or at any time later in your workflow by selecting the preset from the Presets list in the Develop module. This will update the settings for the images, so you’ll have a better preview and a better starting point for further refining the adjustments for the image.