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What’s the difference between these three types of LUTs?

3DLUT File. Dependent on color space, 3DLUT presets load and export files with 3DL, CUBE, LOOK and CSP extensions. While Gradient Map adjustments use one channel (the grayscale values of the combined RGB channel), these lookup tables use all three color channels. They don’t generate 3D effects as the name may suggest.

Abstract. Abstract presets load and export ICC profiles. These settings aren’t color space-dependent so they maintain consistent appearances during conversions to alternate color spaces and are favored when the color space of a file is likely to change during a workflow, as it may when moving files across different output devices or to video.

Device Link. Also dependent on color space, this format is smaller and more portable than 3DLUTs.

Both 3DLUT File and Device Link presets are color space (sRGB, ColorMatch, Adobe1998, ProPhoto, etc.)-dependent and are recommended for use in the color space they were created in—all of the RGB presets were designed for use in sRGB. (LAB supports only Abstract presets. CMYK also supports Device Link, but not 3DLUT File presets.) This won’t stop you from generating impressive color effects in other color spaces. You can use many presets with color spaces other than the ones they were intended for, although the visual appearance they generate will be somewhat different. You need to keep this in mind when you’re trying to achieve consistency between different files. Be mindful that if you make a color space conversion with an active Color Lookup adjustment layer, the appearance of the file most likely will change during conversion. To get around this, you can merge the effect into a layer before making the color space conversion. Remember this when you create your own Color Lookup presets.

Get Even More Control

At first glance, you may be tempted to think that you have limited control over Color Lookup effects. You either like an effect or you don’t. Don’t move on too quickly. Take another look. You actually have lots of control. When you apply a Color Lookup table as an adjustment layer, you can modify the effect by using Opacity and/or Fill (globally reducing strength with a slider), layer masks (locally reducing strength with a brush), Blend If sliders (removing the effect from shadows and/or highlights with sliders), and Blend mode (modifying the ways color adjustments are calculated). Even with all of this control, it’s likely that you’ll want to further refine the effects of a preset with additional color adjustments using other tools like Curves and Hue/Saturation.

10) Layer Styles’ Blend If sliders allow you to reduce effects from shadows and/or highlights

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