Camera setup for a raw workflow

This seems to be something most people don't do, but it's something I always do when I get a new camera.

I match my camera to my processing software defaults... I'm using Lightroom. The purpose of this is to save me time and "confusion."

What I do is frist take several "random" images. A few at base ISO and a few at a higher ISO (but something "reasonable"). I then import them into Lightroom. And adjust two things to "averages" which works pretty well for all of the images.

I set the Camera Profile,( For the D4/D800 I have it set to "Camera Neutral," The D7000 was set to "Adobe Standard") and fine tune any color settings. I'm not using any color adjustments but some complain that the D4/D800 have a greenish WB; I don't see it but that would be corrected here.
I then set my default capture sharpening in the details pane. I set sharpening at 90 and masking at 100 as my defaults. Radius is set to 1 and detail to 25.
If you hold down the alt key while making these adjustments you can "see" what's being done in a view that looks like "luminance."

Noise reduction is handled on an image by image basis so I have it set to "zero" in my defaults. But at higher ISO's I tend to end up with luminance and color set to around 25 with detail set to 50.

Of course, I'll often tweak even the settings I have defaults set for.

Everything else is left at zero adjustment, but that's all up to you.

Then I go to the develop menu and set these as my defaults for the camera. Now every image imported from that camera will have those settings automatically applied.


Next I match my camera's LCD preview to my default processing settings. For the Nikon's the settings are in the "shooting menu". With an image open in LR and the same one on the card in my camera I try different picture control settings to find the one with the best color match.. (for the D4/D800 I'm using "neutral"). Once I have the best "default" color match I then go and fine tune the chosen picture control for sharpness/contrast/color etc. On the D4/D800 I have the sharpness set to 3 and the hue set to -3 (the LCD's do have a green cast). The other settings are at zero...again, your preferences dictate the default settings you choose. This takes some jumping back and forth between image preview and the menu...

Now that this is all done, my LCD preview looks like the image will when it is opened in LR (or as close as possible) and LR will have already done my "default processing" for me... Life is good...

How I have mine set up isn't really the point. You should set your defaults to suit you. Many may choose to have contrast/clarity/ saturation defaults; I don't...After a while it may be beneficial to go back and redo the process with the settings that you find yourself almost always using for your style.


This is the first step in creating an efficient/speedy workflow. The next step would be to develop and save "presets" which can be applied with 1 click...This is where  I would set contrast/saturation/ etc etc for a specific subject such as landscapes, portraits, or any type of shot you tend to "duplicate" frequently.

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