This is a guide covering Adobe Lightroom presets.
In this all-new guide you’ll learn about:
- What Lightroom presets are
- Difference between a preset and a filter
- Benefits and drawbacks of Lightroom presets
- And more
Let’s dive in.
So, you have decided to enter the world of Photography. Have you started editing your photos?
Did you know that presets are a very important tool in editing photos?
Imagine being able to edit your amateur photo and ending up with a photo on par with a professional photographer.
Well, this is the magic of presets!
What Are Lightroom Presets?
Lightroom Presets are like a template that can be applied to any of your photos to improve its style, lighting, blur, and many other factors based on its settings.
These small changes can make a big impact to your photos and also on you!
With presets, you are able to edit your photos consistently due to the simplicity. Which in turn saves you precious time which can be used for other activities, such as taking more photos!
When people first hear about “what are lightroom presets”, they believe they are the same as filters. This is incorrect, although both of them do perform in many similar ways.
So, to avoid mixing them up, let us learn more about what photo presets are, and what a photo filter is.
Differences Between a Preset and a Filter
What is a preset for Photos?
Yes, it may seem to be a subtle difference. But in the world of photography every detail provides the key to improvement.
All presets are unique and highly customizable if the preset seems a little off. In addition, they are more consistent. Even if it is your first time using a preset, you can generally produce a higher quality photo than by just slapping filters on it.
Sadly, presets take some people a little more time and skill to set up properly and produce quality photos. If you are in a rush or just want to post an image to your friends, it may be quicker to apply a filter.
However, the use of presets in your business or portfolio will surely help demonstrate your photographic ability and will earn you some respect from your fellow photographers.
Now, let’s talk about filters, shall we?
There are many types of filters out there right now.
From physical filters that are added to our cameras lenses to add the desired effect, to electronic filters that are applied in many social media apps (such as in Instagram, Snapchat, and many others).
About Photographic Filters
Traditional physical filters have many uses, from protecting the camera’s lens, to making certain colors stand out more, helping reduce reflections from objects (polarizing filters), to diffusion filters that can change the focus of the lens, along with many others.
These filters are very welcome and can help photographers achieve better quality photos when used correctly.
About Filters That Are Commonly Used in Social Media
These electronic filters have notable disadvantages, especially with regards to consistency. By saying consistency, I mean the results on the detail, (not on the filter) will differ.
For example, if you take 5 photos from a variety of angles, and lighting, then simply slap a filter on it, the results will become inconsistent between photos. Some will look good, some average and some will just look bad.
But, filters from Instagram or Snapchat may be your best choice if you are in a rush and the photo is only used for personal purposes.
Lastly, never use a filter and upload it to your business account or portfolio, it does not demonstrate your true photographic abilities.
At the end of the day, when you compare what are Lightroom presets to its brother, photo editing filters, it all lies in the usage or purpose.
In short, if you want a more consistent and professional look to your photos choose a preset. If you want a faster, less consistent photo for personal purposes then a filter would be your best option.
Do Professionals Use Lightroom Presets?
Yes, professionals do use Lightroom Presets.
Lightroom Preset’s most prized feature is its photo editing presets.
So, what are Lightroom presets commonly used for? They are commonly used for global adjustments.
This is the type of editing where the editor modifies the entire images contrast, white balance of the picture, exposure, etc.
Lightroom Presets also provide a Higher Dynamic Range option. This helps to level out the differences between the lightest and darkest part of an image.
What are the Benefits of Lightroom Presets?
Professionals usually use them as a foundation to their edit. In photography, people really appreciate a fast workflow, and Lightroom Presets provide this.
For example, if professionals need to make a global adjustment to correct a factor in an image, they will usually pick a preset and fix the individual parts later on. Although not all professionals work in this particular way, many do.
What are the Drawbacks of Lightroom Presets?
Lightroom presets generally provide global adjustments. Which means they cannot fix small flaws in the image itself.
Because of this, professionals often do not use them for detailed edits. Detailed edits such as flaws in the background, or even on the subject itself cannot be repaired using Lightroom presets.
Should You Use Photoshop and Lightroom Presets?
Yes, you should consider using both of them together!
However, this decision will depend on your photographic goal. If you are someone who wants highly detailed photos that are heavily edited, then you should use Photoshop.
Taking photos of models up-close may sometimes show their imperfections which are usually edited out using Photoshop to make them look more smooth, getting rid of their crow feet, or even making some body parts… more toned.
On the other hand, if you are someone who does not need a very detailed edit, Lightroom Presets should be just fine for you.
Lightroom Presets provide you with many options in relation to presets which can be purchased at a reasonable price!
These presets are also customizable, which means that you can use them as a starting point before doing some more individual editing.
In the end it all comes down to what you are aiming to do with the software, perhaps having them both and using them appropriately as required is also the right way to go.
10 Reasons Why You Should Use Lightroom Presets
1. Simple to Learn
Although it might seem daunting to start using these “techy” presets, they are in fact simple to use.
Simply choose one of the presets that you have in Lightroom on the List of imported custom presets in the Presets Panel. A handy step-by-step guide on how to use presets is provided below.
2. Saves Time
Time and a steady Workflow are both a key factor in ensuring one’s success in becoming a better photographer or a more professional one.
Many professionals say that using Lightroom Presets makes their workflow faster and steadier than without it.
A preset works like a template. When you have a photo that you would like a certain preset applied to, you only need to click the preset option and voila! You now have a preset applied to your fabulous photo.
3. Compare Multiple Filters
Have you ever had the feeling that something is a little wrong? Maybe you think that another preset would be better, but you do not have enough time to click each filter one at a time and see its result?
Worry not, because in Lightroom there is a feature which allows you to preview the preset! This can be found in the navigator box.
4. Increased Consistency
With presets you can apply the same treatment to all of your photos. This can make your photos look like each other or give your photos your own distinct “touch”.
For example, perhaps you have one favorite preset that you always use, and it becomes your “signature” preset. Even if you apply the same preset on multiple photos, they will still look uniform and not awkwardly disjointed.
5. Make Adjustments and Custom Presets
Maybe you do not have that perfect preset that you desire, do not worry my friend, Lightroom has got you covered. Lightroom users are free to change, customize, and even save their own presets.
This allows you, the user, to put all of your creativity and time in to make the perfect preset. A bundle of presets that are created can also be sold on the internet
6. It Becomes the Foundation of Your Edits
Using Lightroom Presets does not mean they automatically finish your editing job. Often, after you apply a preset, you only need to perform some minor adjustments to make the picture just the way you like it.
The adjustments may range from a quick change of contrast or adding another preset on top of the earlier one.
With so many people joining social media as influencers or as a business, they need to perform fast edits with maximum results.
Lightroom Presets (which are now also available on mobile devices) are able to deliver that and provide a professional edit for them.
7. Batch Editing
One of the features that everyone points out when they talk about Lightroom is batch editing. Batch editing is the process where you edit a large quantity of photos at the same time.
Let’s say you took 88 photos of your beloved pet.
Usually it would take a long time to manually edit every single picture, but with Lightroom presets you are able to apply a preset to all of the pictures at once.
Although you need to add some minor fixes. These minor fixes will only take a couple of minutes and some adjustments to the settings.
In the end they are still worth the trouble.
8. Surprisingly Affordable
With all of the ease that presets provide, people often think the software is expensive to buy.
Luckily, most presets are sold with a quite affordable price.
Usually they are sold in bundles. Which is a win-win for both your photo quality and bank account.
9. Safe from Overwriting the Original
This is one of the great advantages that Lightroom has.
The app does not edit the original image directly, it only edits a copy of it. Which means that the original photo will be safe!
The file from Lightroom can also be exported as a different type of file which makes things a little easier.
10. Side by Side Comparisons
Many image editing apps do not provide a side by side comparison.
Users are often forced to manually open two tabs and put them side by side.
However, in Adobe Lightroom this problem is solved by providing you the “split modes” which allows you to easily compare the photo before and after the editing process.
How to Use Presets in Lightroom
Now you may be wondering how to use presets, there are only a few steps required, which makes them pretty simple to use!
First of all, select a photo and click the “edit” icon. Click Presets at the bottom column of the edit panels.
Second, choose a category in the panel to access its presets. If you find what you like, click to apply and voila! Photo editing presets are also stackable which means you can overlap one preset with another.
In order to see how a preset would affect your photo, hover your mouse over it and the picture will change itself as a preview(but will still not be fully applied). Deleting or removing the preset can be done by simply using the “Undo/Revert to Original” command.
Lightroom Presets are very useful in producing quality photos with minimum effort. These tools are used by both the casual social media poster, to professional photographers and editors in the photography industry.
Although they may appear the same, filters are different from presets. Presets are able to provide global adjustments towards the photo and are highly customizable, while filters are not.
Professionals highly recommend Adobe Lightroom Presets to use for a quick overall editing.
Although both Photoshop and Lightroom Presets have their advantages and drawbacks, both should be used as required to achieve the best results in photographic editing.
Lightroom is often used for an overall image adjustment, while Photoshop is used for a more detailed edit on specific areas of the image.
Lightroom Presets provide a multitude of benefits. They are simple, efficient, and provide a high level of consistency.
There is a large variety of presets available. Lightroom Presets also allow you to edit in bulk. Lightroom also only edits a copy of the original, leaving the original safe and protected. Lightroom is surprisingly affordable.
Do not forget that all presets are customizable, you can check out free Lightroom presets for portraits.
Presets themselves are very simple to use, just open the edit icon, click on presets, choose the desired preset and apply!
Nate Joaquin Torres is a portrait photographer based in Southern California. As a photographer, Nate loves testing different photography styles and gear to expand his skill set. Outside of photography, Nate enjoys learning about new digital marketing strategy and new ways to think creatively. Nate is also the founder of Imaginated.com, DEEP IN THE MIX, and Blue Hour Candle. Connect with him on Instagram.