Lightroom Classic – Cameras, Profiles and White Balance

This article is not meant to be a “do it this way” style post, more an “Oh! I didn’t fully understand that” … and probably still don’t!! Don’t stop reading though, as there might just be something (like me) you hadn’t grasped, or hadn’t stopped to think too much about it before.

The starting point is that you’re shooting in RAW, if you’re not then a lot of what follows will be academic because you will just have to accept and set in camera the colour profile one of the ones your camera manufacturer provides. [Ref. How to Use Your Camera’s Color Profiles in Lightroom]

... manufacturers started adding color profiles to their cameras. I’m using the term color profile deliberately because every manufacturer has a different name for it. They are listed below:

Canon: Picture Style
Nikon: Picture Control
Fujifilm: Film Simulation Mode
Sony: Creative Style
Pentax: Custom Image
Olympus: Picture Mode

Fujifilm’s approach is interesting because they have named their profiles after genuine film types. As a result, Fuji color profiles are more nuanced and subtle than those made by the other manufacturers. This new approach to color profiles is one of the features that sets Fujifilm cameras apart from the competition.
I will be using the Sony A7rIII as the camera that I refer to when discussing colour profile, but it shouldn’t be too difficult to see how this applies to other cameras, so I will be using the term Creative Style to refer to the in-camera profile you can set.
So you have the option of choosing a Creative Style, but perhaps you should pause and consider whether that’s the best approach. You’re almost certainly going to be post-processing in Lightroom, so perhaps it might be a good idea to start from a base that never changes. So from the choices in the Sony camera – Standard (default), Vivid, Neutral, Portrait, Landscape, Black & White. The default is Standard, but I’ve chosen to use Neutral as I don’t want any in-camera adjustment.

The same logic applies to White Balance. In the Sony you have the choice of Auto WB (default), Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Incandescent, Flourescent, Flash, and a few more specialist ones. It would seem “obvious” to leave the camera on the default setting as you could be assured that the “best guess algorithm” it adopts would be the best base to start from. But better perhaps to choose a “known” setting such as Daylight (5050K) and to change that in post-processing. [NB not all Daylight White Balances are the same. In Lightroom, Daylight is 5500K – just to confuse everyone.]

Then we turn to Lightroom. At Import you are able to apply Develop presets, and this is your opportunity to change both of the above in-camera settings, or to adopt the camera settings to work from, as the base of your post-processing. This is what I do and I have set the Develop settings on Import to be the Camera settings, ie Neutral and Daylight.

By now you’ve probably begun to think, “does this really matter?”, so we better get down to some specifics. I’m going to use some images taken in Llandaff Cathedral to demonstrate the variety of results you can get. Just to re-iterate, if you’re shooting in RAW you can change these; if JPEG you can’t – they’re baked into the image.

First of all, shots taken with the White Balance set to Daylight (5050K) – my preferred setting as an everyday base.

The differences are subtle, I grant you, but there are differences in the colour casts and if you’re taking shots in different locations, and in different styles, it might be best to have one that you know, you really really know, to have as your base. As I’ve written above I’ve chosen to use Camera Neutral, but I could quite easily have also chosen Adobe Neutral as I’m using the Adobe RGB colour space in my camera, rather than sRGB – the other alternative.

Now let’s look at the same shots when a Lightroom Tungsten White Balance setting of 2850K is applied after Import.

Again the differences within the Tungsten White Balance with the chosen Colour Profile are subtle. What these shots show is how much White Balance (not unexpectedly) will change the image, but I’m satisfied that either of the two Neutral Colour Profiles provide me with a suitable base image to work from, and I can then successfully chose the most appropriate White Balance using the eye dropper in Lightroom to the image to get the best result to then start post-processing work on.

The featured image at the head of this post was created using a Sony Camera Neutral Creative Style, and using Daylight White Balance on capture, subsequently changed to Custom 3950K, and then Auto Basic Settings applied in the Develop module.

Browsers and Search Engines – 2022

It’s always worth reviewing which search engine you should use, as it is the browser of choice to “surf the web”. The reasons you might wish to consider which search engine you might wish to use are greater privacy, enhanced security, minimise adverts being displayed, or to get more meaningful pages being displayed, but first we’ll look at the web browser you might want to use.

First things first. If you’re using Internet Explorer you must seriously consider moving to Edge as Microsoft are removing support for Internet Explorer and one day you’ll find it just doesn’t work. If you’re using the initial release of Edge you should also upgrade to the latest version. It’s faster, more stable and uses the same code base (which is the open source Chromium) as some of the other browsers I’ll talk about later.

The next thing to remember is that Google is not a Browser. If you have a Google app on your smart device, it’s just Google’s “convenient” way of getting you to use their search engine and capture lots of useful marketing data from you! Google’s browser is called Chrome, and it uses the same code base as Edge (as mentioned above) – others include Brave, Opera and Vivaldi.

Chrome is by far the most popular browser accounting for more than 80% of the internet browser traffic, it has a wide range of useful extensions, and if you can be bothered to create a Google account and navigate through the preference screens, you can make it reasonably private – but you may wish to install the AdBlock Plus extension – an advert blocker, to stop intrusive adverts appearing on your web pages. [Another way of doing this is to look for Reader View, created for users with visual disability originally, which simplifies the view of a page on your browser screen.

But why use Chrome when you can use another browser which has built-in privacy. I’m talking about Brave. You can deploy many of Chrome’s extensions in Brave and virtually everything you see looks like Chrome, but without tying you to Google. I seriously recommend you look at Brave.

If not Brave, why not Microsoft Edge. The complete re-write of Edge using Chromium and with the support of Microsoft behind it makes this an excellent choice for those who use a lot of Microsoft applications (eg Office 365 which you can run in the browser, just as you can run the Google apps in Chrome) and is growing fast in popularity even if it’s Preferences menus are a bit tricky to work your way through.

If you’re an Apple user, I suggest you look no further than Safari, although all of the others can run on MacOS. It’s optimised for the Apple platform and integrates well with the other apps in the Mac/iPhone/iPad ecosystem.

That leaves two “outliers”. Firefox was one of the first browsers growing out the original work done on Netscape, it’s open source and has a huge and committed user-base. I have nothing to say against it, and nothing much to say for it either. It’s a good solid internet browser.

A couple of references to follow this up then …

The best web browsers for 2022 – ranks them under various categories.

The top ten internet browsers for 2022 – reviews the pluses and minuses of various browsers.

So we turn to Search Engines. You want to find something out on the internet – you just google it, don’t you? Well you can, but there are other choices as well, and this is where privacy concerns might suggest you might want to look at an alternative.

I’ll be upfront. I’ve been using DuckDuckGo (often in combination with Brave) for a couple of years now. I value the fact that my activity on the internet isn’t tracked and the results that are returned are not slanted towards my prior search history, and most importantly my activities are not farmed off to marketing agencies.

There’s nothing wrong with Google Search – it’s the most popular on the internet, but that’s by default rather than choice. The results are presented well, but there is a slant towards promoted results and results based on previous searches. You can change your search preferences a bit, deploy an ad blocker (see above), but why should you haver to!

DuckDuckGo is now presented as an alternative search engine in most, if not all, browsers and exists as an app on smart devices as well. Give a try! It’s my default search engine on my Apple devices.

The only real alternative to Google Search and DuckDuckGo is Microsoft’s Bing. The service has its origins in Microsoft’s previous search engines: MSN SearchWindows Live Search and later Live Search. Bing is now the code base for Yahoo’s search facility as it is for Ecosia – an ethical green alternative. Ecosia importantly doesn’t use any third-party tracking tools, meaning that any search made on the service won’t be seen by any party other than Ecosia. Furthermore, any search made on Ecosia becomes anonymized after one week. In contrast, Google and Bing will hold onto bits of search data (such as the device or date), even after deleting browser history and cookies.

That’s about it, some references then …

The ten best internet search engines of 2022 – a review, like the one above that highlights strengths and weaknesses of the various search engines.