I noticed that (on my slow laptop) when I first open a newly imported RAW file in Lightroom the first view of the photo (non-thumb view, while the loading spinner is still there) is noticeably different with more vibrant colours and brightness than when Lightroom finishes processing it and the loading spinner disappears. Loading the RAW subsequently results in the latter being displayed.

It's a bit difficult to explain so here are some screenshots. This is what I see when I first open a newly imported RAW while Lightroom is "loading":

during loading

This is what I see after Lightroom has finished loading the file less a few seconds later:

enter image description here

What exactly is happening here? Also, it seems to me that Lightroom must be applying some default settings when opening RAWs, can those be changed/viewed etc?

  • huh, would have thought it would give me some credit for acknowledging the duplicate by clicking the button :)
    – Darko Z
    May 2 '15 at 21:01
  • Thanks for the find though mattdm, I was clearly searching for the wrong terms.
    – Darko Z
    May 2 '15 at 21:02
  • Yeah, it does seem like the system could give you a few points for that. In any case, yes, this is a frequent question, because it's hard to know what to look for until you already know the answer.
    – mattdm
    May 5 '15 at 12:08

As far as I know Lightroom shows the JPG preview which is stored in the RAW file when you first view a picture. This preview is created in camera based on the current settings and is used for things like the histogram in-camera as well as reviewing pictures in-camera.(This is the higher contrast, vibrant picture)

After Lightroom has applied its default settings you then see the "rendered" RAW file in Lightroom. (This is the lower contrast, duller picture) You can apply develop presets when importing if you want perform some default processing on a batch of images.

As a result of this I find it useful to shoot with very netural in-camera settings when shooting RAW to avoid this issue and get a better idea of what I have actually captured.

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