I am wondering if there is a way to change the default 'auto' adjustment button behaviour in Lightroom. When I switch to Develop view, on an imported image, I often click the Auto adjustment button first to see what it does. However, although I often like some of the enhancements it makes in terms of lights and shadows, I find that almost always it overexposes the image. I don't think the overexposure is related to screen calibration (although I haven't specifically done this with my Macbook screen), because it seems to over expose things far too much.

I typically get the exposure right in camera when I take the picture, so I can use the auto button and then reset the exposure back to +-0, which is what I would usually do, but it would be really useful if I could disable exposure adjustment only when using auto.

I understand why it would be doing it if I'm taking a low key image (I quite like photos with a black background and light only on the subject, and I understand why Lightroom would want to adjust those, but it seems strange to me that it would quite significantly overexpose most photos that I take.

Of course in asking this question, I do recognise that the "correct" exposure for an image is highly subjective, and maybe the correct exposure in my mind is actually underexposed compared to what the developers of Lightroom would deem to be correct. I was pointed in the direction of this question Is Lightroom Auto Tone very dodgy? which explains the behaviour better, but doesn't explain whether the auto behaviour can be tweaked

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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree with you on the annoying LR behaviour, but the question is more or less asked here before: Is Lightroom Auto Tone very dodgy? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 11:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ Since you haven't checked or corrected your screen calibration, what does the histogram look like? \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 12:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BartArondson I hadn't found that one searching before I posted mine. My question focuses on if the preset can be changed. I've adjusted the question to focus on whether the the auto behaviour can be tweaked \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 12:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ Your camera's LCD screen will lie like a politician! While it is the case that the Auto button in Lightroom will rarely "get it right" for shots that don't have typical brightness profiles, if you don't have a calibrated display at some point in your work flow then the histogram is the only way to really see the exposure level. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 13:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ My comment is not concerned at all with the other question. I'm concerned if resetting the exposure to "0" is setting correct exposure or just making it look good on a couple of screens that could be grossly out of calibration. Camera LCDs and notebook computers are both notorious for being set at the factory way too bright. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 13:12

1 Answer 1


Unfortunately not. The nearest you can come is to set up automatic adjustments that happen when you import photos, but of course this will apply to everything you import while that is set. It is OK as a starting point to do this and then finishing adjustments yourself. As people have commented, you should get your monitor calibrated and also get used to using the histogram as a guide.

The camera's Lcd is never going to be able to show you enough accurate detail to make any sort of decision on the quality of the image apart from glaring problems.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the answer David, this is sort of as I thought. I use the in-camera histogram when reviewing images to get an idea of exposure rather than relying on viewing the image. More often than not the ambient light means that I can't properly see the screen anyway. I guess I can experiment with my import preset as I may be able to increase the generic stuff that it does. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 12, 2015 at 12:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ ...Also, regarding calibrating the monitor, I'm not sure how easy that is to do on a Macbook Pro (pre-retina display too I think) but I will try it and see. I should invest in a decent monitor, even secondhand, but unfortunately I have no fixed workspace so that just isn't an option at the moment. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 12, 2015 at 12:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ Not a clue either tbh. The last apple computer I used was a IIe with a couple of disk drives and a green and an amber monitor that I found at a car boot for 30 quid about 15 tears ago.. Should a kept hold of it. It would be worth quite a few quid now. </cry> Anyway. I had a quick Google and it seems that if you have osx mavericks or yosemite, there does s3m to be instructions on calibration. I don't know if that helps at all \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 12, 2015 at 13:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'll give that a go, I think I can probably borrow one of those Spyder calibration things to see if it actually works \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 12, 2015 at 13:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Cool. Good luck. But most of all have fun! :) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 12, 2015 at 14:00

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