Lightroom Raw Conversions without Lightroom Color
I've been playing around a bit with Lightroom and Nikon's free raw processor Capture NX-D.
I really like the convenience of Lightroom for making raw conversions that I can take into Photoshop for final processing. However, I am not always happy with the rendition of colors in Lightroom. The colors are very saturated, and independent of white balance there is a color cast not seen in other processors (yes my monitor is calibrated).
In Capture NX-D there is a profile called "Flat" which renders a low contrast file with colors that are more neutral than Lightroom and definitely less saturated. However, Capture NX-D is a clumsy program to use and lacks many of the other features of Lightroom.
Maybe others already know this, but I recently discovered (or perhaps rediscovered) that one can actually use the Nikon camera profiles in Lightroom. In the Develop Module under profile, there is a place where you can click and get access to the camera profiles. In theory I can use the Nikon camera profile, yet still use my standard Lightroom adjustments to prepare my files for Photoshop.
So I tried it out and indeed it works. I prepared a TIF in Capture NX-D using the Nikon Camera Flat profile, and I then did the same in Lightroom. No other adjustments were made. I loaded both TIF files into Photoshop as layers and I could not tell the difference between them.
Screen shots of the relevant menu items are attached.
While this is not something that will interest everyone, it does show that one can escape from the Lightroom color rendition when desired and still not lose the ability to do cropping, raw sharpening and other adjustments as usual.
I've been looking into Camera Profiles that can be created using a standard color checker chart, and either open source software - Dcamprof (or it's paid version, I believe called Lumariver) or the Adobe Profile creator, which is free. This allows creation of DCP camera profiles under various illuminants and theoretically allows uniform color across multiple cameras. I got interested in this because DxO now supports DCP camera profiles too.
If there is interest, I'll be happy to share what I have learned.
I believe your approach is the right way - profiling the camera bodies and creating specific illuminant camera profiles for various lighting conditions removes another variable from the process. I like the idea of getting pretty much the same color response from different bodies, though I don't shoot color that often! I have to admit, I am getting interested in making some color images of late. 🙂
John - thanks for the reminder. It seems each camera body has different "Camera Matching" options - my D700 and D800 files do not have your Camera Flat option, so Camera Neutral is probably the closest match.
This would be a good setting to add to my LR ingestion preset, along with Lens Correction and zero capture sharpening (Detail).
Years ago I was a rigorous Color Checker Passport guy, but found that that rigor just wasn't needed for landscape and abstract images.
@John, thanks for sharing this. I've never experimented with that Profile selector, and should start doing so.
I just started looking at Capture NX-D and in the hour I played with it, I found that:
- I liked the color rendition out of the box better than in Lightroom.
- While it was faster than Lightroom at loading and zooming, it is slower at making adjustments.
- While it has a full set of global adjustments, I miss the local adjustments (brush, gradient, and radial filter) that I get with LR, especially as I do 99% of my work in LR, not PS.
@Char, I was wondering the same thing about my D800 and the lack of the same profiles that John was showing. Couldn't find anything on the Adobe site, so glad to know it isn't just me.
A follow-up: I wondered whether these camera matching profiles were based on lookup tables in the raw files or from info that the camera manufacturer provided Adobe. Based on the following link, it seems that these profiles are created by Abobe to emulate the manufacturer profiles - hence the name camera "matching" profiles. At least that's the way I read it. I any case, they seemed to have done a good job with it.
In response to Char's comment: I went through all of the Nikon cameras I have in my Lightroom catalog - all cameras have the camera Neutral profile but only cameras beginning with the D810 have the camera Flat profile. I have never used any of the Nikon cameras with 4 digit model numbers (example D5000) so I cannot comment on those. Here is what Nikon says about the newer profiles: "Only available with the D810 or cameras released after the D810..."
You can read more about Nikon's own description of these profiles here: