How to use RAW Defaults in Lightroom Classic

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Adobe Lightroom (Classic) is a very powerful tool to edit your photos. I take a ton of pictures and want to automate and streamline my editing process, which gives me more time to work on individual photos.

Do you find yourself applying the same settings over and over to every image you import? Why doing it manually if you can automate the process?

For many years I created a preset with the settings I want to apply to every image. This was a pretty easy thing, as I imported all the photos into my Lightroom catalog and switched over to the develop module, selected all photos and applied my preset “Peter’s Standards after Import”. 

This is the way all my photos started out before actually edited for a long time. But there is an easier way to do this. You probably think of selecting the preset in the import dialogue window. Yes, that works too, but there is an even easier way.

Lightroom Raw Defaults

A small disclaimer before we start. You have to shoot in Raw to actually use the following settings. If you shoot in JPG, it won’t work. 

There are two ways to use the Raw Defaults in Lightroom. Eiter you use a “Master” preset or a preset “specific to a camera model”. I would highly recommend you to use the camera model-specific preset, more about it later. To apply a preset specific to a camera model you need at least Adobe Lightroom Classic 9.2.

Where to find the Raw Defaults Settings?

Open the Lightroom Classic Preferences. Click on Edit -> Preferences on Windows or Lightroom Classic -> Preferences on Mac. Now switch to the Preset tab.

raw defaults
Adobe Lightroom Classic Preferences – Presets

At the very top of this window, you will see Raw Defaults and it starts out with the Master Settings.

Master Settings

By default, this setting is set to Adobe Default. Even if you had a preset selected previously, by updating to Lightroom Classic 9.2, this setting got reset to Adobe Default. Below I will explain to you the three different options here.

Adobe Default

This will apply some Adobe defined defaults to your images.

Camera Settings

This will apply a color profile that corresponds to your in-camera style settings. This will take into account style settings you can make on your camera, for example, Canon Picture Style, Fujifilm Film Simulation, Nikon Picture Control, Olympus Picture Mode, Panasonic Photo Style, Sony Creative Style. In some cases, it also applies settings from the Basic and Details panels. If there are no camera settings found or recognized, Lightroom will use Adobe Default instead.


This is pretty much self-explaining. Here you can select any of your develop presets. Just hover over Presets and a list with all your develop presets will show up. Select the one you want. Every time you import Raw images now, this preset will be applied.

Specific to a Camera Model Settings

If you want to apply different presets for different cameras, set the little checkmark next to “Use defaults specific to a camera model”. Once you did that, the settings below, which were grayed out before, become now editable.

Here you can select a specific preset you want to use for cameras. It would make only sense if you use at least two different cameras. They don’t have to be a DSLR. You can set Raw defaults even for your (Raw) Smartphone photos if you import them into Lightroom. For this list actually, to work, you have to have at least one photo imported which was taken with the camera you want to add. You probably already imported some photos and will see a list of your cameras. I don’t know exactly how Lightroom builds this list. Maybe you have to have photos imported by a specific camera since a specific version of Lightroom? I am just wondering because my list didn’t show the Canon EOS 400D and 40D I used to own. Photos taken by these cameras are still in the same Lightroom catalog but they didn’t show up in the list. On the other hand, my GoPro shows up, but I haven’t imported any photos in the last four months from my GoPro.

How to use it?

First, you select your Camera model and below you select your desired setting. You have the same options as above: Adobe Default, Camera Setting, Preset.

Once you decided on your setting or preset, click the Create Default button below. If you look now at the table on the right side of these settings, you should see your camera model and your selected setting or preset. 

Repeat this for your other camera models if you want to and then click OK at the bottom of the Preferences window.

Extra Tip: Multiple Cameras of the same model

Adobe was smart here. You might have two of the exact same camera bodies but for some reasons you want to use different presets applied during import. It’s very easy to solve this issue. 

Click on “Show serial number” under the camera model selection. Now it will show you all your camera bodies and there serial numbers (hopefully). It worked for me with all my cameras except my Smartphone.

Now the dropdown list shows your main camera model and then the different models with the respective serial numbers. For example like this list below. It will be different for you depending on what cameras you use.

Canon EOS 5 Mark II
Canon EOS 5 Mark II – Serial Number A
Canon EOS 5 Mark II – Serial Number B
GoPro Hero 7 Black
GoPro Hero 7 Black – Serial Number A
GoPro Hero 7 Black – Serial Number B

Adobe was smart again here. For example, you can select just GoPro Hero 7 Black (the one without the serial numbers) and Lightroom will apply the selected presets to every image imported from a GoPro Hero 7 Black, no matter the serial number. 

In the same way, you can set up different presets for other cameras by serial number. Like in my case I can select my 5D Mark II with Serial Number A to apply Preset A while applying Preset B to my 5D Mark II with Serial Number B. That way, you have the option to either apply settings per camera model or specific to a camera (serial number) itself. Otherwise, you have to make entries for every single serial number you have, even tho, you want to apply the same presets for all except one specific camera model. 

I hope you get where I am going with this. If you have questions, just ask in the comments.

Deleting Camera specific Raw defaults

Just in case you don’t want to use a previously created setting for a camera model anymore, you can just delete it in the table on the right side of the Presets Tab. Just right-click on the row with the camera model you want to delete and a little menu will open up, where you could change the assigned preset as well as delete the entry entirely.

Deleting a previously created entry
Deleting a previously created entry

What should be in these presets?

One of the most common things would be applying lens corrections and removing Chromatic Aberration. I also add some clarity and vibrance to all my images. 

But the options are endless. Maybe you want everything to be converted into black & white during import. Its fully up to you and depends completely on your post-processing. The options here are endless. 

Why per camera model and not master?

As I mentioned earlier, I love that I am finally able to add these presets based on the camera model. I always add the lens corrections to all my imported photos of my DSLRs. I don’t like to add lens correction when importing Raw photos from my GoPro. Here it really depends on what kind of look I want to achieve. As the GoPro has a fish-eye lens, the lens corrections are very drastic. 


Overall this is a great feature and very helpful for probably many of you guys out there. Unfortunately by giving us the option to add Raw defaults on a per camera model basis, Adobe also took something away from us. It is the option to create Raw defaults depending on the ISO of the image. Well, that’s not entirely true. You can still have ISO-dependent settings, but you have to do it now in a text editor by modifying files, which is not a very nice way. Photographers are visual people! We like a GUI (graphical user interface) to get things done. We don’t want to poke around in configuration files and figure out how to “code” the settings we need.

Adobe, please remember: With great power comes great responsibility.

Any questions? Just ask in the comments.

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