When I edit (develop) a photo in Lightroom, the displayed image in Lightroom is brighter than the "real" photo. I deduce it in two ways:

  1. Inspecting the histogram, I see it is centered on the more left part of the range, representing dark pixels.
  2. When I export it and open the photo in another application, such as Photoshop CS5 or Microsoft Photo Viewer, the image is darker than it appears in Lightroom.

In the meanwhile, I get by this issue by brightening the photo in Photoshop using histogram/levels or giving the photo in Lightroom a +0.30 to +0.50 boost in the exposure before exporting.

These are not ideal solutions. The "by the book" solution is to somehow adjust the display brightness in Lightroom such that it will match the "real" brightness of the photo, and be practically compatible with other applications.

How to change Lightroom display brightness such that a well-centered histogram will look good in the monitor and not to dark?

I have the latest version of Adobe Lightroom Classic.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm going out on a limb here and assume you have a monitor profile loaded in LR (Hint: you shouldn't, since it's already being applied further down the chain before it actually reaches your monitor)? So it's being applied twice, once by LR and then again by your graphical unit output to the monitor. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Jan 20 at 12:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related (possibly duplicate): How to properly apply and use the monitor profile \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Jan 20 at 13:21

1 Answer 1


There are a lot of variables...

  • Monitor calibration for gamma response/brightness
  • Consistent ambient light levels- so monitor brightness remains consistent
  • Actual scene luminance- not all histograms should be centered in the middle
  • Color management employed by the program in use- not all will use the monitor's profile

LR and PS should be consistent for image brightness as they both use full color management and the monitor's profile. But Microsoft photo viewer does not; it is only partially color managed.

However, LR uses a variety of color spaces with different tone response curves (TRC)/gamma curves applied; and that will affect how an image appears. The working space in LR's develop module uses ProPhoto RGB with a linear TRC. The library module uses Adobe RGB (and previews are stored in Adobe RGB); this is to minimise step size with 8-bit previews. The web module uses sRGB. And Melissa RGB is used for histograms (to give a more perceptually uniform histogram).

If you open a raw file in PS/ACR you set the color space/TRC at the bottom of the ACR interface. If this is significantly different from the color space used in LR it will affect the colors and brightness notably differently. Also note that if you use different color backgrounds in LR/PS it will change the apparent brightness of the image you are viewing.

You cannot set LR's brightness separately from the monitor's brightness setting... nor any other program I know of. However you can use a gamma strip to verify the monitor's brightness is suitable for the ambient levels.

I use this image. When monitor brightness is appropriate you should just barely be able to see the difference between the alternating black squares in the top row; and you should be able to tell the difference between the brightest squares in the bottom row.

enter image description here

If you cannot set your brightness so that you can see all of the details of the test strip, then you need to calibrate your monitor; or it may just not be possible with your monitor.

The image is a png intended to be used as the identity plate in LR... if you wish to do so, be sure to save the file as a png. When added it will always be visible in the upper left corner.

enter image description here


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