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I'm a novice shooting in RAW and find that half the time my camera JPEG images come out better than my Lightroom tweaks to RAW files.

So to give myself a better start I'd like to apply the JPEG settings that are applied automatically by the camera to my RAW files in lightroom so that initially my RAW files look exactly like the JPEG files.

How can I do this?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

In the develop module, on the right side, find Camera Calibration. From the "Process" dropdown, choose the style that goes with the one you have selected in your camera (that automatically gets applied to the JPEGs coming out).

From there, you can do whatever you want. If you want this applied automatically during import, create a new preset on the left side, and then in the import screen select that as the "develop preset" and it will automatically apply tha

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Does that really cover all aspects of JPG processing? I see profile settings for "faithful", "landscape", "neutral", etc., but I don't see any of the stuff for sharpening, saturation, etc., that are a big part of making JPG's seem nicer than RAW files. – D. Lambert Jul 11 '11 at 16:24
That should apply those parts, too. Set your camera to shoot RAW + JPEG and apply the same preset to the RAW photo as your camera did for the JPEG (like D says!). That way you can tell if they're any different. This video should help, too. – Jordan H. Jul 12 '11 at 2:23
Seems to get me close to the JPEG, but not exactly the same. But it's a better starting point. – Projectile Fish Jul 13 '11 at 0:52
What version of Lightroom are you using and what camera do you have? They've released a few different versions of the profiles, but LR3 should have the latest. – Jordan H. Jul 13 '11 at 14:41

I don't think it's possible.

RAW to JPEG conversion is very complex process. Like sharpening, saturation you mentioned, any other processing that Lightroom does might be involved as well, such as white balance, ton adjustment, noise reduction, skin smoothing, etc. Also since RAW image has much larger information per pixel (e.g. 14bit) , there's the decision of how to map larger bit depth to JPEG's 8 bit depth.

These processes are very vendor specific. If you want to get the same conversion results, you at least need to know the parameters for each of these vendor specific processes. Unfortunately, raw->jpeg conversion (aka. color rendition process) is the secret sauce of why some cameras seem to render better looking pictures than others (Think about Canon vs Sony, or Apple vs Samsung). So don't expect the parameters of the conversion process will be published by the vendor.

Pleasing color rendition is both important and difficult. First it needs to emulate the response of human eyes and brains to get a "faithful" picture, which is defined by human judgment not sensor's light response. Second, it also try to modify the picture to make it better looking than it really is. Both need to be done under thousands of difference scenarios, which may require different formula for adjustment. I heard Nikon camera stores information of tens of thousands reference scenes (Think about skies, trees, beaches, and all other common or uncommon scenes), and the formula/parameters for tuning those scenes to their best. That's why a same plant picture might look a bit green-ish on Sony/Leica camera, but more natural out of Nikon, even when they use the same sensor. For sure, Lightroom/Adobe has its own secret (very good and possibly similarly complex) formula for automatic processing RAWs, but it cannot possible duplicate the complex RAW process of other vendors.

Also, shooting RAW/JPEG pair isn't your intended solution as well, since JPEG already truncated the pixel information to 8 bit.

Still, you question is very reasonable request and I too have wished there's a such option. I think the best solution is that, in addition to RAW and JPEG, the camera would provide a third format, which let's call Post-Processed RAW (aka, PPRAW). This PPRAW format picture looks exactly like JPEG, because all RAW-JPEG processing has been applied, except it is still the 14 bit format without bit length truncation.

I don't know why Canon, Nikon haven't done this already.

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In case Jordan's solution doesn't get you all the way to reverse-engineering your JPG settings, I think this is one of the few scenarios where RAW+JPG makes sense, if you've got that option.

Using this setting, you'll end up with two versions of each file, and you can do some A/B comparisons to help you reverse-engineer the JPG settings you're looking for. In addition to color rendering (which you can see and adjust in that calibration panel), pay attention to white balance, sharpening and noise reduction - you've probably got settings in your camera to control how these are applied when JPGs are created, and these make a big difference in the appearance of your photos, too.

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