BasicsPhoto RetouchingPhotoshop Tutorials

What’s the Difference Between Lightroom Profiles and Presets?

Lightroom profiles are better than presets, but there are some things you should know. Profiles solve significant problems with presets – many that could not be solved without introducing something new. In this post, you’ll learn the difference between profiles and presets and why profiles are the future. Although this is about Lightroom, the same applies to Photoshop’s Camera Raw filter.

1. A More Sensible Interface

Lightroom has a new Profile browser. You can find it in Develop mode under the Basics panel.

With presets, you have to hover over each one to preview the effect. Profiles do it better. They show a thumbnail preview, so you know how it looks without hovering. If you want to hover, you still can.

2. Make Your Profiles Lighter or Stronger

It’s finally here! You can make your profiles lighter or stronger with the “Amount” slider.

3. Separate Color Grading From Your Retouching

Presets can, and often overwrite your develop settings. Imagine retouching a whole catalog only to redo it after using a poorly-made preset. Presets were a big headache for photographers.

Profiles don’t touch your settings. But it’s a double-edged sword because it also means you can’t fine-tune the profiles. I say it’s worth it for the better workflow.

4. Lightroom Profiles Are Faster

Lightroom presets are inefficient. Every setting was another calculation for your CPU to process. Some are GPU accelerated, but not all.

Lightroom profiles remap color. It’s fast even on old computers. I tried it on my old phone (Lightroom CC for Android), and it was fast. This is important as more people are editing on their phones.

Right now there’s not a lot of good Lightroom profiles. Most developers are still sticking with presets. But keep an eye out!

5. Lightroom Profiles Give You Better 3D Color Grading

Get ready to see better color grading from photographers. Photographers are not limited by Lightroom anymore. They can use profiles created in other software.

I’ve created many profiles using Photoshop, DaVinci Resolve, and my custom scripts. This lets me achieve effects such as skin tone protection, vibrancy masking, and more. I’m happy about this change.

The image below shows a comparison between orange and teal with Lightroom settings and VOXCOLOR orange and teal. The presets have a flat look.

Bonus: LUTs vs. Lightroom Profiles

In 2018, we’re starting to see LUT-compatibility in other software. LUTs stand for lookup tables, or in simple terms, they’re color grading files.

Lightroom profiles work like presets, but let you combine it with LUTs. How do Lightroom profiles stack up with LUTs?

Lightroom Profile Pros:

  • It works with Lightroom (duh)
  • It lets you combine LUTs with Lightroom adjustments (ex. Clarity, Dehaze, Sharpening, etc.)

Lightroom Profiles Cons:

  • LUTs are universal. Profiles only work in Lightroom.
  • Profiles take more steps to create.
  • Developers can still rely on develop settings instead of LUTs. This means slower performance.
  • The marketplace has more LUTs than profiles (Will this change in 2019?)
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