The Camera calibration panel in Lightroom’s Develop module gives you the ability to quickly, and sometimes greatly, improve your pictures’ colors before you start playing with the other tools. I’m not talking about adjusting specific settings here, which I admit I never do, but just checking the available profiles and selecting the one that gives the best results.
Before I continue, let me say that, as far as I know, multiple profiles are listed only if you shoot in RAW. With JPEG images, you’ll only see the default (“Embedded”) profile. You’ll still be able to make changes to each individual parameter, though.
Whatever camera you use, the default profile is called Adobe Standard. Personally, I consistently get better results with either the Camera Faithful and the Camera Landscape profiles.
Most of the time, I end up with Camera Faithful, since Camera Landscape often adds too much saturation for my taste, in at least one color. I occasionally check the other profiles as well, but rarely stick with them.
Advantages of the Camera Calibration over the other tools
While you can usually get the same results with other tools (tone curve, contrast, HSL, etc…), I see two main advantages to using Camera Calibration:
- It’s faster, since you only select the profile from the dropdown list. Often, getting the same result through other means would imply making multiple adjustments.
- The sliders for all the remaining tools remain at 0, giving you more room for further adjustment. This doesn’t really matter with well-balanced colors, but it is useful to get that extra flexibility when dealing with extreme cases, such as over-exposed pictures.
That’s why I think it’s a good idea to at least check some of the profiles anytime you open a picture and are disappointed by the way it looks. And if you overwhelmingly use a profile other than the default Adobe Standard, I’d recommend to either add it to the default develop settings or save it as a preset and apply it when you import new pictures into Lightroom.
Here are some sample pictures with the default Adobe Standard profile, Camera Faithful and Camera Landscape.
I think you’ll agree that in those pictures (as in many, many more), Adobe Standard is definitely not the best of the three profiles, with washed up colors and less contrast.