I've upgraded to the new Aperture 3 and noticed that they've added the ability to save and apply your own presets. I understand roughly that presets are basically a saved set of adjustments meant to speed up your post-processing work. Thing is aren't they created based on average cases and thus the adjustments won't be ideal for different photos? Based on this why should I use them versus doing it manually by myself? Are the time-saving worth the compromise (assuming there is) in the end result? How many people actually use them and how frequently?
Yes! While a preset is going to adjust for a common average and will not be perfect in most cases, they can get you close, and can be seen as a starting point.
Take for example a wedding photographer:
To greatly simplify things, you could say that there are a few basic shots that you take very often:
- posed with flash lighting
- ceremony pictures with indoor ambient
- outdoor lighting as the couple leaves
You could manually adjust each image, and you will get pretty good at making all the adjustments and knowing what it is you want... or you could set a preset for each situation, and apply the preset when you encounter it.
If you treat a preset as a starting point, and not a final adjustment, then you will see the huge benefit here. Instead of making the basic changes that you would make for every outdoor shot of a bride and groom as they leave, you apply the preset then make a few minor adjustments for the specific image.