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One thing I don't fully understand is why, when I take a photo with a Nikon and import it in Lightroom, the colors immediately appear desaturated and visibly different than what it looked like in the camera. What little I do understand is that it has something to do with Adobe Camera Raw versus Nikon's proprietary raw format.

So I get around that by importing first into ViewNX, which I fully expect to stop working with the latest version of Windows every time I upgrade. From there I export JPGs that have accurate color into Lightroom.

But I'm wondering if I'm missing something obvious that would allow me to ditch ViewNX and just use Lightroom for editing of raws. That Adobe seems to butcher the colors of all my raws drives me nuts, and given my current workflow I'm questioning why I shoot raw in the first place.

If I set my camera to shoot in Adobe RGB then would Lightroom accurately interpret my raw files? I understand there are tradeoffs involved with Adobe RGB when it comes to digital media but there seem to be a lot of unqualified opinions regarding this. I trust you guys though.

So, any advice? I'd like to shoot, import into Lightroom, see the images there as the camera displayed them and do my editing there as well.

marked as duplicate by Michael C, scottbb, Community May 15 '16 at 16:31

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That Adobe seems to butcher the colors of all my raws drives me nuts

You are wrong here. What you see on the back of your camera is not the raw file, but the JPEG preview, which includes whatever setting you dial in your camera. That includes contrast and boost of saturation. LR cannot reproduce the same look from the raw file, because the process is propriatery and owned by Nikon.

LR applies almost no modification to the raw data hence the image looks so flat. But this is what the raw file actually "looks" like (as much a raw file can look like anything because it's not actually an image).

The idea is that you improve color, contrast and all the other things in LR, not in-camera. This is what puts the post in post-processing: you do it after capturing the image.

From there I export JPGs

This totally defeats the point of shooting raw. You could just shoot JPEG directly on camera instead. It's the same thing. When you convert to JPEG you give up all the benefits of raw.

If you want to have the benefits of raw in LR and start with the in-camera settings and look of the image you'd have to export to TIFF format from ViewNX and import those files into LR. It can handle the additional bits per channel that make raw files so advantageous.

If I set my camera to shoot in Adobe RGB then would Lightroom accurately interpret my raw files?

No. AdobeRGB is a color space, which is something entirely different alltogether. Apples and oranges. Very basically speaking, a color space is a definition of what real colors stand behind the numerical color values of pixels.

If you use AdobeRGB (or any other color space), you should do so consistently throughout your entire workflow: camera, monitor, printer, etc. Viewing an image that's in one color space on a monitor with a different one can cause more problems.

Given your current confusion I recommend that you use the standard sRGB for now. Using AdobeRGB now will not solve your problem but likely introduce additional ones.

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    Note that a TIFF does not contain all of the information of a raw file. WB is more or less baked in, as are black point, white point, and gamma. You do have more adjustment latitude with a 16-bit tiff than you would with an 8-bit jpeg before it starts to fall apart, but you don't have near the flexibility of a raw file. – Michael C May 14 '16 at 3:43
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One thing I don't fully understand is why, when I take a photo with a Nikon and import it in Lightroom, the colors immediately appear desaturated and visibly different than what it looked like in the camera.

This is just a different interpretation of the raw data. Lightroom can't read the preset information from Nikon files, it seems and applies some sort of neutral preview instead of matching the camera preset. You can create your own presets in LR, so create one that matches your camera settings and make it default for the camera.

So I get around that by importing first into ViewNX, which I fully expect to stop working with the latest version of Windows every time I upgrade. From there I export JPGs that have accurate color into Lightroom.

This way you are making all your LR edits on a compressed 8 bit file dropping all advantages of raw processing. Find a workflow that uses raw all the way and convert to jpg only as the last step during export. Different workflows are possible. I suggest using LR end to end and fixing the preview/starting point settings issue with custom preset.

If I set my camera to shoot in Adobe RGB then would Lightroom accurately interpret my raw files?

The Adobe Rgb or sRGB are only applied in JPEG, not raw. So it can impact how the embedded previews look like and how JPEGs look like if you shoot JPEG and not raw. If you shoot RAW, this part is completely ignored by LR.

I am a bit uneasy about your expression "accurately interpret my raw files". I believe that what you are calling accurate interpretation is actually matching a Nikon camera profile. I am not sure how accurate such profile is, but accuracy is not always the best thing - most likely the dull and flat version LR throws at you by default is possibly more accurate.

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