I have a Canon Powershot S100 and use Adobe Photoshop 5.1, up until this point I have just saved images on my camera jpeg but I decided to try saving as raw format as well. So I set my camera to save as raw and jpeg, and in Lightroom I selected Preferences:General:Treat JPEG files as separate photos so I could compare the jpeg with the raw version.

Because it was evening and I was at home I took a photo in my lounge and set the white-balance to Tungsten.

Now as I understand RAW format ignore certain options set on the camera such as white balance and has to be applied in post-processing so I was expecting to see two photos that were similar but different, and that the most obvious difference would be white balance. In Lightroom the colours were indeed different so I set white balance of the RAW file to Tungsten and instead of that changing the colours so they were similar it made the picture very yellow and it looked hideous.

Am I doing something wrong or is this a problem with the camera or Lightrooom. DO I need to process the files with something else before using them with Lightroom ?

** Edited **

Here are the files:

Jpeg as copied from camera to lightroom

Raw as copied from camera to lightroom and immediately exported to jpeg

Raw as copied from camera to lightroom, tungsten whitebalance set and exported to jpg

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Doesn't sound like you're doing anything fundamentally wrong - you shouldn't need to process the RAW files with anything else before Lightroom. Could you post the out-of-camera JPEG, a JPEG made from the RAW file before changing anything in Lightroom, and a JPEG made from the RAW file after your changes in Lightroom? \$\endgroup\$
    – Philip Kendall
    May 24, 2014 at 22:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Philip Kendall images added (Btw yes I know its a terrible pucture but thats not the point) \$\endgroup\$ May 25, 2014 at 10:52

5 Answers 5


I think your overthinking things. Every RAW file is TAGGED with a white balance value. The tag simply contains the Kelvin rating for the white balance. If you selected Tungsten in camera, then by default the image, when rendered with Lightroom, will be rendered with a Kelvin rating somewhere between 2800K and 3300K (depends on the camera.)

If you further changed your white balance bu selecting Tungsten from "As Shot", then yes, your white balance is going to be incorrect. Even the seemingly minor change from 3300K to 2800K is actually huge. One has a soft yellow-orange appearance (3300K), and the other has a deep orange appearance (2800K), and that's just relative to each other.

So, effectively, yes you are "double applying" a Tungsten white balance, since Lightroom is already applying whatever Kelvin rating was stored in the RAW metadata. If you like how the image WB is when left at "As Shot", then just leave it at "As Shot". If you want it to be more orange, choose "Tungsten". If you want it to be whiter, choose "Daylight". Pretty much as simple as that.

  • \$\begingroup\$ thankyou a nice succint answer to the question that makes sense. But I have to ask if thats the case why do you think the RAW as is image is sightly different to the jpeg, could it be that the white balance has been set accordingly but maybe I had vivid colours set and this option was ignored when lightroom renders the image. \$\endgroup\$ May 28, 2014 at 19:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ The reason your RAW image looks different is Lightroom uses Adobes algorithms, where as the OOC JPEG uses Canon's algorithms. The two are not the same. Canon publishes all the details about how to replicate their tone curves, white balance, etc. but Adobe chose to build their own system from the ground up (necessary, since they have to support hundreds of cameras in Lightroom). You can't expect LR to produce identical results to OOC JPEG images because of these algorithmic differences. They will be close, but not identical. \$\endgroup\$
    – jrista
    May 28, 2014 at 23:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ ok, thanks, Ive marked your answer correct - interesting so its not really 'secret source' after all, so I think I now get it now adobe will have different code for processing different raw formats (i.e .cr2) but will not adjust for every camera that uses .cr2. If I really wanted a more accurate representation straight off I could maybe do it by importing photo from camera direct to canon specific software and then perhaps exporting that as a dng file into lightroom itself - but not really worth it. \$\endgroup\$ May 29, 2014 at 16:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Paul: There really is no such thing as accurate or better or more correct when it comes to photography. Aesthetic appeal is 100% a human thing. You need to choose what style appeals to you, and in all honesty, I'd be willing to bet that the OOC JPEG quality is not the best possible option. Also, keep in mind, there are multiple camera profiles in LR. It's the last panel in develop. By default, Adobe's own profile is used, but replications of all of Canon's profiles are there. Pick one, and you'll probably get MUCH closer to Canon's output. It won't match 100%, but it will be closer than... \$\endgroup\$
    – jrista
    May 29, 2014 at 16:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ ...the default Adobe camera profile. Personally I use the Canon Standard or Neutral profile, which doesn't really mess with color or anything else in any way, then achieve the color and tone I want on my own with all of LR's other tools. It's also possible to edit one RAW image, then save those settings as an auto-apply profile for a given camera model, ISO setting and even serial number. That way, every time you import, your photos get the default settings YOU want, which can save you a lot of time in the long run. \$\endgroup\$
    – jrista
    May 29, 2014 at 16:26

The raw format is un-rendered, so you get to decide what the resulting pixels look like. If your comparing in camera rendered jpeg files, you can do far better to aim for what you want not what the camera provided as your goals.

If your expecting a "standard" rendering that is similar to a camera rendered jpeg file out of any raw file processor, that is not a realistic expectation. There is no standard rendering that is used bay any manufacturer of cameras or software. It's all "secret sauce" So make your own with the raw files your camera generates. Start experimenting with all of the controls in the raw file editor to see what they do. Eventually you will play it like a fine instrument. Right now it appears your not enjoying the song.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Not necessarily true. If you use Canons own software Digital Photo Professional (DPP) you can get that secret sauce built right in. It might not be the exact same implementation but is often very close. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    May 25, 2014 at 4:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ After reading up on this isnt the raw image the unrendered plus the camera settings so that whilst a raw image is undrendered when it is copied into a an application such as lightroom a rendered image is displayed and this could be the the result of rendering the image and take into account the camera settings when photo was taken as they are stored in the raw image. Doesn't a tool like lightroom have code for each supported camera so that they can correctly apply the same 'secret sauce' to the raw image so result should be as good as jpeg, \$\endgroup\$ May 25, 2014 at 11:00
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @PaulTaylor Yes the camera settings are embedded into the raw file as information only. Most raw file processors use the baked in white point and that's about all. dpollitt is correct that Canon's raw file processor will get you closer, but as I said, unless your photographic goals are to look like what someone else decides your scene should look like, i recommend you do what you like. The hardware will produce what photographers want to purchase. So in the case of pro photographers, that is raw files. \$\endgroup\$ May 25, 2014 at 17:57
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @PaulTaylor The vivid colors option on your camera has no effect on the raw file other than a tag that tells the raw file tool to use that as a base profile. What that option is really for is the LCD on the back of your camera and the way your camera makes jpegs. Raw files are not rendered so you choose that in another tool. \$\endgroup\$ May 25, 2014 at 22:36
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @PaulTaylor as I said in my answer. Since the rendering choices are not complete when the defaults are loaded into the Raw file utility, and every raw file utility has a different way to make its renders. What's not guaranteed is a match to the jepg. \$\endgroup\$ May 26, 2014 at 11:58

It all boils down to different meanings for the word "tungsten".

Lightroom (or Adobe Camera Raw) is expecting "tungsten photographic lighting" when you select the Tungsten white balance preset. That means photofloods (type A or P bulbs with high wattage ratings - typically 250W or 500W - and a life expectancy of about 20 hours) or photography-oriented tungsten-halogen (quartz) lights, such as the Lowel Omni or Tota, a redhead or blonde, or a Fresnel spot such as the Arri 650. These all have colour temperatures of 3200K, which is really quite hot (blue) compared to household lighting or utility work lights, but it is the colour of light that tungsten (type B) film, both for stills and cine, are designed to work with. ("Tungsten" LEDs designed for photography are also 3200K.) In order to use the Tungsten preset (or type B tungsten film), you would need to use an 82-series blue cooling filter (either 82B or 82C) on the camera to raise the apparent colour temperature of the lighting from the typical very low household lighting range (2800K-2900K) to 3200K - otherwise your photographs are going to come out quite yellow.

The "Tungsten" white balance setting on your camera is a different beast altogether. For one thing, a consumer camera is not going to start with the assumption that you are shooting under Certified Official Photographic Lighting. But there's more to it than that. Unless you are using a custom white balance, the white balance setting on your digital camera (assuming it's not positively ancient and not a cheap toy) is not an absolute setting; it's more of an "automatic white balance with constraints" sort of thing. You'll find that, brightness of the scene aside, you'll get more or less the same picture using the camera's Tungsten setting under 2900K household lighting, 3200K photo/cine lighting or household/utility halogen lighting, which is somewhere in the middle. (It's only when you mix the types that you'll have problems.) The camera will record not only the setting you selected, but the colour temperature (yellow/blue) and tint (green/magenta) it selected under that setting into the file.

It is those recorded numbers that Lightroom/ACR will use as the "As Shot" values. (With allowances for differences between Adobe's idea of a "pleasing rendition" and the camera maker's.) When you select the Tungsten preset in Lightroom, you are effectively saying "forget what the camera thinks, I was shooting under 3200K lighting". In this case, that's a bit of a whopper; you're off by at least 32 mireds, about the value given by an 82B cooling filter, and probably more.

If you want to get close to what the camera would have given you by itself, you can use "As Shot" plus setting the camera profile to the appropriate choice (such as "Camera Vivid") rather than leaving the default Adobe camera profile in place. It won't be exact, since it's Adobe's interpretation of the camera maker's "secret sauce", but it's usually pretty close. Or you can use the eydropper and the sliders to make the picture look the way you want it to.

  • \$\begingroup\$ another good answer. But I have to ask about the last paragraph, 1. how do i change the camera profile, 2. im still unclear does lightroom take into account other raw settings on a per camera basis or only the whitebalance \$\endgroup\$ May 28, 2014 at 19:15

It's unclear to me why you set the white balance to Tungsten, didn't like the results, and now think this is a problem. You can -- should -- adjust the white balance to whatever you think looks good.

The biggest problem as I see it is your use of tungsten white balance: Is the light in your photo tungsten? More specifically, do you know the exact color temperature of your light? I think anywhere from 2900 to 3300 is considered "tungsten" but I bet if you drag the temperature adjustment between that range you'll see a clear difference. Does your light precisely align with the value assigned to Tungsten in Lightroom? Next, was that light in the room the only light? If you turned off that light was the room completely black? If there are other lights and/or if the room is not completely black without that tungsten light, then there is some color crossover to deal with. Simply, one single perfect white balance is not going to perfectly and magically make everything right -- and of course, that is the most typical situation to deal with.

What it comes down to is that working with the raw format gives you headroom to make these adjustments yourself. Lightroom can help you by giving you a good starting place (such as the various white balance presets) but it's still up to you to decide what looks good and how you want to further adjust it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I think you are missing my point, not that setting the white balance looks terrible (although it does) but why it is different to just leaving the white balance 'As shot' because I selected 'Tungsten' on the camera when I took the shot. You make the point that is Lightrom 'Tungsten' the same option as my camera 'Tungsten' option but the 'Tungsten' option is only shown for the raw image so I assume the options are coming from the raw file itself. (If I try and edit the corresponding jpeg this option is not even available you can just select White to as shot, auto or custom) \$\endgroup\$ May 25, 2014 at 23:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ The preset options are added by the application; they're not part of the raw file. \$\endgroup\$ May 25, 2014 at 23:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ The list of preset options is the exactly the same as on my camera, why are they only shown for the raw file and not the jpeg \$\endgroup\$ May 26, 2014 at 10:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ That list is simply common names for white balance options; nothing more, nothing less. I don't know why the options aren't available for JPEG files except that making big moves to white balance is going to quickly make a mess of the photo. \$\endgroup\$ May 26, 2014 at 12:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ You can make big changes to white balance with jpeg using custom , it just doesnt provide the predefined defaults. What I cant work is if it somehow double applying tungsten, (I suppose I need an answer from someone who actually uses Lightroom) \$\endgroup\$ May 26, 2014 at 13:38

tl;dr : no. You do not need anything more than lightroom (in terms of software to process the file)

Transforming from a raw file (that is the pure sensor readings per pixel) to something that you are displaying on a monitor is a rather complex process that involves a lot of math, quite some information additionally to the sensor readings, a pinch of secret sauce, and the turning of a lot of knobs that are up to whoever does the development process.

(note that I am mostly playing with dng files, and some details may be different in vendor specific raw files, but ultimately the underlying principles are the same).

Leaving details such as demosaicing out, the main part of "raw development" is doing the math to transform from the sensors colorspace (like xy), to the target rgb one (like sRGB or AdobeRGB). Here we have generally two approaches:

A matrix (or two). Those transform the whole 3d colorspace into another by shifting, rotating, tilting etc. it. This has some drawbacks: A lot of transformations here are linear, but the sensor responses are not. Additionally the matrix is valid for a specific lighting only (often D55 or D65) and in case of different lighting, sometimes an interpolation (or even extrapolation) of the matrix calculations is done to attribute for different lighting.

A profile table. To account for the nonlinearity of some sensor reponses, there exist calibration profiles. You can find them in lightroom, somewhere in the lower parts of all the knobs. These are mostly large tables that were calculated from special image targets photographed under special light conditions. Also here you sometimes have dual profiles that allow for inter/extrapolation, which contain the data of the same target under different lighting conditions.

The dng format saves these matrices for the raw converter, along with white balance information that helps in applying the matrices. Depending on the camera, this information contains some actual sensor readings, or is just some user setting. In most raw development programs, this will just preset the white balance adjustment sliders! The aforementioned calibration tables are usually part of the raw developer, if present at all.

So how does this process relate to the one your camera creates jpegs with? Most likely not at all. E.g. my canon ixus 950is has a built in table that it uses to calculate the jpeg image, in a way quite different to what adobe lightroom does.

Perception of a good white balance is very subjective and depends on many things, even such as the color of your monitors framing. So you don't like what came out of your tungsten setting? Adjust the knobs until you find the image nice, and resemble what you saw at the point you took it. That is about all what counts. You don't want a graphical representation of sensor values, you want to capture and reproduce a moment, and tell people what you saw at that point. Call it artistic freedom if you want.

But of course starting of with something that is a quite accurate sensor reading won't hurt, so how can be best achieve that? Generally for P&S cameras I found it good to work with the "as shot" white balance setting. In your case, your camera and Lightroom probably just have a rather different meaning of what "Tungsten" actually means.

For best results, you might want to invest a bit in a color checker passport or similar thing to be able to create profiles yourself, tailored to the specific lighting condition you encountered. It can also help finding a proper white point. Just use the included gray card part, and tell lightroom this is neutral color. This can often lead to quick satisfactory results.

And also note that it is called "raw development" (and not conversion) for a reason: you need to give input and tell the process how you would like the photo to look like. Play with the knobs.


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