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Currently I have my camera settings set to shoot as raw as possible. There are saturation/contrast adjustment settings, auto high ISO noise reduction, auto CA correction, lens peripheral illumination correction (fixes vignetting I assume?), etc, but I keep them all low or off and save all editing for Lightroom.

Is it better that I keep these settings off and save the editing for Lightroom? Or can the camera do just as well or even better at making these adjustments? Am I wasting extra time editing things in Lightroom when my camera could've automatically done it just as well for me?

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There are two possibilities here:

  • Shoot RAW and none of those settings matter. The only reason to set them in this case is to see something appealing on the LCD since the settings are used to render the embedded JPEG in RAW files and that is shown on the rear LCD during Instant Review and Playback.

  • Shoot JPEG and set most settings in-camera. When the camera processes RAW data for rendering the JPEG image, it does so using the full-sensor color-depth which is often 12 or 14 bits in depth. When you process the JPEG in Lightroom or any other software, the you only get 8-bits of depth to work with. This means that the camera can render more smoothly and precise.

There is a way to get both and that is to shoot JPEG+RAW. You can use the JPEG to instantly get an image from each shutter-press and have the RAW in case you decide later that you would have liked different settings. This can be very useful since it actually takes time to change all the difference levels of sharpness, contrast, color, etc which can distract from shooting. Although the time is not saved, it is only postponed since you have to go that on the RAW later. Depending on your actual camera and software, some settings may be faster or slower to change in one or the other.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It is usually faster to change many such settings from shot-to-shot with a post processing application after the fact, where most of them are available from the same interface screen, than it is to change them in camera between taking each shot, where the items may be spread all over the place within the various sub-menus. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    May 31, 2017 at 21:39
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You will have to judge for yourself if you like the results you get from applying those corrections in Lightroom better than what the camera can do.

If your camera can take both RAW and JPEG images simultaneously, set the settings in camera; they will be applied to the JPEG images it saves to the memory card. They will probably be applied to the small embedded JPEG in RAW file as well, but they won't be applied to the actual RAW data (that you edit in Lightroom).

Apply the corrections to the RAW file, and compare to the camera-generated JPEG.

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This is really a loaded question because you're comparing the camera to you but wording it as the camera vs lightroom.

A skilled and proficient user at Post Processing will have much finer control and therefore be able to consistently get better results doing it themselves. None of us know your skill level with Lightroom to know if that applies to you or not.

And then when you start asking about time it gets even more complicated because even if you know how to use lightroom to get better results do you know it well enough to do it fast? And by that I mean fast enough to be profitable? Or are the results you get doing it by hand sufficiently better to charge a higher rate covering the added expense (similar to offering basic retouching vs premium retouching services)?

So to answer your questions:

Is it better that I keep these settings off and save the editing for Lightroom? Or can the camera do just as well or even better at making these adjustments? Am I wasting extra time editing things in Lightroom when my camera could've automatically done it just as well for me?

Depends on your skill and speed in Lightroom (or whatever Post processing suite for that matter)

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