Have you ever wondered why images on the back of your camera look different after you load them into Lightroom or Photoshop?
Perhaps the colors and skin tones are off?
Do you find yourself making lots of adjustments with your editing to get them to look the way they did when you viewed them on the back of your camera?
Is your mind playing tricks on you… or is something else going on here?
In this article, we’re going to explore the reasons why this happens, and how you can get truer colors in your boudoir images.
Why Colors Are Not Accurate In Lightroom (and Photoshop)
I suppose a better title for this section would be, “Why Colors Are Not 100% Accurate in Lightroom and Photoshop… Or Any Other Third-Party Editing Software You May Be Using”
Sony, Canon, Nike, Fuji are all different companies, obviously… so is Adobe, who makes Lightroom and Photoshop.
For the most part, all these different cameras have a good time playing in Adobe’s two playgrounds (Lightroom and Photoshop). If you listen closely, you can hear their cries of joy and laughter in the distance.
As much as they appear to get along with Adobe on the surface, Sony, Canon, Nikon, and Fuji all harbor secrets… or in corporate speak, proprietary information.
Color Profiles and Image Light Optimizers
All camera manufacturers have their own “look” to their images because of different technology and software which distinguishes them from one another.
This filters down to the user through their color profiles and image light optimizers, which in turn when photos are taken, get embedded into the RAW files.
All these options serve to enhance your image in a particular way with choices such as Standard, Vivid, Neutral, Landscape, etc.
So, even if your camera is set to Standard, your RAW files contain proprietary information that Lightroom and Photoshop can’t entirely interpret with 100% accuracy.
Now, they do a pretty good job at getting close, but to get completely accurate colors you would have to process your RAW files in your particular camera manufacturer’s editing software.
You know… it’s that free software you never use because Adobe’s Lightroom and Photoshop make it so much easier with a lot more bells and whistles.
I’m talking about Canon’s Digital Photo Professional, Nikon’s Nikon Studio, Sony’s Imaging Edge Desktop, and Fuji’s X Raw Studio (as of 2023).
I bet a lot of you weren’t even aware that Canon, Nikon, Sony, and other brands all provide (for free) editing software. That’s how much Adobe dominates this space.
But the reason these editing programs aren’t as popular as Adobe’s is because they just don’t have the ease and versatility that LR and PS provide.
They will, however, interpret color taken with their native cameras exactly the way they’re supposed to.
(By the way, links to these different editing softwares are at the end of this article)
How Off Are Colors In Lightroom and Photoshop (as well as other third party editing software)?
Well, it can vary from a little to a lot.
The is because some colors get interpreted more accurately than others. So if your image contains a lot of one or more colors that don’t get interpreted as accurately, a larger percentage of that image will be off.
Processing Your RAW Images With Your Camera’s Free Editing Software Comes At A Price
As I mentioned earlier, if you process your images using your camera brand’s free editing software, you’ll get 100% accurate color interpretation, but… you’ll also face several obstacles.
First, it’s not going to give you the ease and variety of tools that Adobe’s Lightroom and Photoshop offers.
Second, it’s probably going to be more frustrating and take more time since there was noticeable lag time in making just simple adjustments in both Nikon’s NX Studio and Canon’s Digital Photo Professional (I didn’t use Sony’s or Fuji’s).
And third… and this is big…
Processing your images in your camera’s editing software first, then exporting them as TIFF files before importing them into LR or PS could make them up to six times larger than what you started with.
So, if you have a 50 megabyte image (like from my Canon 5DSR), your TIFF file could be any where from 150MB or more… actually it was 300MB 🙁
That is a very large file to work with and for your computer to process and could drastically slow down your workflow depending on the computing power you’re working with.
Multiply that by the number of images you have to process and it could become impractical.
However, if you decide to do this, the reason you want to export those RAW processed files as TIFF files is so they retain the color data from your camera manufacturer’s editing software.
However, with all that being said, if you want the absolute truest colors you can get then process the color of your RAW files in your camera manufacturer’s editing software first, export them as TIFF files, then import those TIFFs into LR or PS or any other third party editing software to finish editing them… or skip LR and PS altogether if you have no further edits you need to make.
But I think you’ll find you’ll need additional edits in LR or PS to finish them off.
Case Study Of A RAW Image Processed With Nikon’s Nikon Studio Verses Adobe’s Lightroom
I took a RAW file from a shoot and processed the color in Nikon Studio, then took that same RAW file and processed the color in Lightroom.
The only sliders I adjusted were the exposure (both up 1.15 stops), tint (both at 0), and color temperature (both at 5500) so we could compare apples to apples. More adjustments could be made but I wanted to give both images the same starting point.
Now, everyone’s monitors are going to be slightly different but if you look closely you can see they processed the colors differently. Notice how the skin tones and floor in the Nikon Studio version are less red. Also, the blue chair is more blue, and the gray wall is more gray, both truer to their true colors.
In the Lightroom processed image, the skin tones and floor have more red in them. There’s also more yellow in the chair making it blue-ish/green, and the wall is more green-ish/gray.
I realize this is not the greatest context to compare images, but if you look at the wall behind her head I think you’ll see the biggest difference in color. (Also, make sure your monitor is not set to Night Shift (on Mac) where it adds yellow to the screen to cut down on the blue light it emits to keep your eyeballs from melting.)
Overall, the difference is slight, but a difference none the less.
You may not have been aware that the colors you’re getting in Lightroom aren’t 100% accurate and it may not matter to you if your colors are slightly off. However, for those who want the truest colors your camera can produce, you now know how to accomplish that.
Thanks for your time!
Download Links For Editing Software For Nikon, Canon, and Sony
Below are links to Nikon’s, Canon’s, and Sony’s free editing software.
To download Nikon’s NX Studio editing software, click link below:
With Canon there are a lot more steps involved so prepare yourself for the journey.
https://www.usa.canon.com/ (if in the U.S.) or the official Canon site for your country
Type your camera model into the search bar on the home page, then once you get to your camera’s page, scroll all the way down to the bottom where under “Product Support” you’ll see “Software and Drivers”.
Click on “Software and Drivers”
Under “Downloads” you’ll see “Software and Drivers”, click on the drop down menu button on the far right.
Under “Operating System” it should automatically detect whether you have a Mac or PC, but if not you can change that.
Next to that, select your current version of your operating system.
Then scroll down until you see “Digital Photo Professional”, then click the “Download” button on the right to download the software.
Once you click “Download” you’ll be taken to a page where you have to enter your camera’s serial number.
By the way, this is also the area where you can find firmware updates for your Canon camera model.
To use Sony’s Imaging Edge Desktop click link below.
Choose PC or Mac.
How To Choose A Color Profile For Canon, Nikon, and Sony Cameras
To choose a color profile with Canon go to Picture Style
With Nikon it’s – Set Picture Control menu, then select a profile.
With Sony it’s – Creative Style / Creative Look / Picture Profile options, and choose from there.
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