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Defaults: A Double-Edged Sword

Whenever you import new photos into Lightroom, they always come in with the same basic set of settings. Every control is generally set to zero, with a few notable exceptions, such as the controls in the Detail panel. And these default settings seem to be the same for every camera. But did you ever wish that you could change that?

At their most basic level, customizing your Lightroom and Camera Raw defaults is child’s play. For instance, if you want your photos to come in with a bit more Contrast or Vibrance, setting that up as a Develop default is easy.

Here are the steps to create a simple Develop default in Lightroom. (Note that Lightroom and Camera Raw share Develop defaults, so they can be set up with either processor. We’ll use Lightroom in these examples.)

Start with one photo selected in Develop from the camera that you want to create a new default for. Each camera model that you use will have its own defaults, so this is important.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1 Click the Reset button to make sure you’re starting with the defaults. Or, better yet, shift-click the Reset button to start with the Adobe defaults.

Fig. 2

Fig. 2 In the Develop panels, set any new defaults you want for that camera, for example, +10 on the Vibrance control.

Fig. 3

Fig. 3 Choose Set Default Settings from the Develop menu. Notice in the Set Default Develop Settings dialog that it clearly shows you the camera model you’re about to create a default for.

Fig. 4

Fig. 4 Click Update to Current Settings, and you’re done.

So the process is very straightforward, and you now have new default Develop settings for that camera. But when you dig into it just a little deeper, you start to find out that Lightroom and Camera Raw defaults can be a lot more powerful—and complicated—than they appear on the surface. This is because of two preferences that govern how defaults behave. One will make defaults specific to a given camera serial number, and the other will make defaults specific to the ISO setting.

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