Find answers to common questions asked about Color in Lightroom CC

In what color spaces does Lightroom render colors?

In the Develop module, by default, Lightroom renders previews using the ProPhoto RGB color space. ProPhoto RGB contains all colors that digital cameras can capture, making it an excellent choice for editing images.

Library, Map, Book, and Print modules in Lightroom render colors in the Adobe RGB color space. The Adobe RGB gamut includes most colors that digital cameras can capture together with some printable colors (cyans and blues, in particular) that cannot be defined using the smaller, web-friendly sRGB color space.

Lightroom also uses Adobe RGB for:

Lightroom uses sRGB by default for:

  • Slideshow and Web modules
  • Images exported as JPEGs destined for the web and email
  • Uploaded web galleries and PDF slideshows
  • Images published to Facebook and other photo-sharing sites using the the Publish Services panel
  • If you export books as PDF or JPEG from the Book module, you can choose sRGB or a different color profile.

To find related Help articles on these topics, refer to Lightroom User Guide.

Why do colors seem to shift when I import images into Lightroom? How do I solve this issue?

When you import raw images into Lightroom, the first thumbnails you see are the embedded thumbnails in your images. Your camera automatically generates the thumbnails based only on your camera's settings; not Lightroom's default settings for camera calibration.

After importing images and applying Preview settings (whether you chose to generate "full-sized" previews upon import), Lightroom generates thumbnails and previews based on its default settings for camera calibration, in addition to any Develop module preset you may have selected to apply while importing images.

Solution

In the Camera Calibration panel of the Develop module, instead of using the default Adobe Standard profile, select the appropriate Camera Matching profile for your camera model to approximate the look of how your camera processes the image.

Camera Matching profiles attempt to match the camera manufacturer’s color appearance under specific settings. Use Camera Matching profiles if you prefer the color rendering offered by your camera manufacturer’s software.  

For more information, see these resources:

Why does Lightroom convert my raw monochrome images to color automatically after importing?

Lightroom is working in the expected manner when you see your raw images in color in the Develop module. Raw images are always captured in color, if the sensor in your camera is a color sensor. Raw image files contain the raw sensor data, which has all the color information embedded. 

When you apply any in-camera settings such as monochrome or black-and-white while capturing images, those settings are useful only for JPEG images and not the raw image. The monochrome preview that you see on your camera's display screen is either the captured JPG file (if you shoot JPEG + RAW) or the JPEG preview thumbnail embedded in the raw image; your camera automatically generates these thumbnails based only on your camera's settings.

When you import raw images into Lightroom, the first thumbnails you see are the embedded thumbnails in your raw images. 

You can convert your raw images to monochrome grayscale images in Lightroom using the Black & White Mix option in the B&W panel of the Develop module. Additionally, you can also choose to apply these develop settings to your images during import.

For related information, see the following help resources:

From a color perspective, what are the advantages of shooting raw images?

An advantage of shooting raw images is that the resulting capture is open to various renderings without any destruction of the original data. You can change and alter the image to make it look the way you want.

To know more about the public archival format for digital camera raw data, read Digital Negative (DNG).

Why do my images look different in the Library and Develop modules, or in the second window?

The Library module and the second window use different color spaces and methods of rendering image previews than the Develop module. To speed up the curation process inside the Library module, pre-rendered image previews are displayed. These previews are lossy compressed 8-bit JPEGs in Adobe RGB. Depending on the photo, some loss of image details and color differences might happen.

Previews in the Library module and the second window are displayed using the Adobe RGB color space. In the Develop module, by default, Lightroom displays previews using the ProPhoto RGB color space.  

These differences, sometimes, make images look different.

Colors may appear different in the Library and Develop modules

What is the best way to preview my images in the Develop module?

View your images in the Develop module at 1:1 zoom level or higher. Develop module previews are the most accurate at these zoom levels.

How do I set a camera profile in the Develop module?

You can select an appropriate camera profile in Camera Calibration panel of the Develop module to approximate the look of the way your camera processes the image.

Adobe Standard: Standard profiles significantly improve color rendering, especially in warm tones such as reds, yellows, and oranges, from earlier Adobe camera profiles.

Camera Matching profiles: Camera Matching profiles attempt to match the camera manufacturer’s color appearance under specific settings. Use Camera Matching profiles if you prefer the color rendering offered by your camera manufacturer’s software.

The Camera Calibration panel

Can I set a color space as the default one for all Lightroom modules?

No; such a setting is not available at the moment.

Why do my Lightroom images look different when I print them on a hard paper?

Lightroom's Print module uses Adobe RGB color space to display image previews and when printing in the draft mode, the Develop module by default displays previews using the ProPhoto RGB color space, which is a large gamut that contains all the colors that digital cameras can capture. Printer devices use CMYK to describe colors.

Because of these varying color spaces, image colors often look different depending on where you view them. To reconcile the color differences before you actually print your Lightroom photos, use the Soft Proofing panel in the Develop module to preview how colors look under various color-managed printing conditions.

Note:

Make sure that your display monitor is calibrated. To know more, see Calibrate your monitor.

Soft-proof your photo in the Develop module

Soft-proofing in the Lightroom lets you evaluate how images appear when printed, and adjust them so that you can reduce surprising tone and color shifts in the printed output.

Profile: Use the ICC profile of the specific type of paper on which you want to print your photos. Lightroom translates the image's colors to the printer's color space, so the colors appear correctly in print. Usually, the ICC profiles for different paper types are installed together with your device's printer driver. If the ICC color profiles for specific paper combination are not installed on your computer, you can download them from your device manufacturer's website.

Note:

Lighroom does not automatically show the ICC color profiles installed on your computer. You need to manually select the individual profiles to appear in Lightroom. To do so:

  1. In the Profile pop-up menu, choose Other. 
  2. In the Choose Profiles dialog box that appears, select the individual color profiles to appear in Lightroom.

Once added, these color profiles will now appear in the Profile pop-up menu of the Soft Proofing panel (Develop module) as well as the Print Job panel (Print module).   

Look for the Destination Gamut Warning in the Proof Preview area. Adjust those colors in your photo that are outside your printer’s rendering capabilities, denoted with red highlights in the preview area.

For more details, see Soft-proof images.

Set color management settings in the Print module

Before your print your Lightroom photos, soft-proofing allows you to adjust colors in your photos that are outside your printer's rendering capabilities. To achieve accurate color when you print on a specific type of paper, ensure that you choose the same ICC color profile that you used while soft-proofing so that Lightroom converts your photos before sending them to the printer. In the Print module, the Profile setting is present under the Color Management area of the Print Job panel.       

For detailed information about the print settings in the Print module, see Set print color management.

While exporting or printing photos, can I specify a color space for the target device?

When you export or print photos from Lightroom, you can choose a camera profile or color space to determine how the colors you see in Lightroom will appear on the target device.

For example, you can export using sRGB if you’re going to share photos online. If you’re printing (other than Draft mode) the images, you can choose a custom color profile for your device.

Help resources:

  • Soft-proofing in the Lightroom lets you evaluate how images appear when printed, and adjust them so that you can reduce surprising tone and color shifts. For details, see Soft-proof images.
  • For detailed information on setting print color management, see Work with print job options and settings.

Why do images look different when I export and view them in a browser or on a social website?

Many browsers are not color managed and display images in sRGB no matter what color profile they use.

In addition, some social networks apply aggressive compression when you upload images to them. Therefore, your images may have more artifacts or slight color shifts from how they look when first exported from Lightroom.

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