Raw Defaults in Lightroom Classic 9.2

In Master Photography Roundtable by Jeff HarmonLeave a Comment

April 2020 Updates from Adobe

Before we get into the meat of the show, many of you rely on my Photo Taco status for updates to Adobe products and Adobe just released a number of minor updates for Photoshop and Lightroom Classic.  I have yet to give my Photo Taco seal of approval for Photoshop 21.1. That release has been very buggy with crashing and negative impacts to extensions like Lumenzia from my good friend Greg Benz. I hope that the release of version 21.1.2 here in April 2020 I can finally give that seal of approval but as it was just barely released it has to be at least a week before I can do that.

Same goes for the update to Lightroom Classic with version 9.2.1, has to be at least a week before I will give my approval there, but I have already given my approval for 9.2.0 and I expect 9.2.1 will be good to go next week.

You can always check out my most current status through my Software Updtes page.

Lightroom Classic Raw Defaults

This new feature in Lightroom Classic version 9.2 applies only to shooting raw files.  If you shoot JPEG then you can get a similar effect by manually applying import presets, but it will have to be entirely manual.  Let’s get into what this is.

This raw defaults feature is the ability to tell Lightroom you want to have a preset applied to the raw images automatically during import based on the camera that was used to create the images.  Even if you have two cameras of the same make and model, Lightroom knows the serial number of the camera and you can choose to have a different preset applied to the raw files of each camera on import.

If what I just told you doesn’t make much sense to you, hang on and let me break it down a bit more.  Let’s start by talking about presets.

Lightroom Classic Presets

Lightroom Classic has had the capability to apply presets to images on import, or after import, for many years.  A preset is a snapshot of the sliders in the Develop module. You can set the sliders to achieve an effect on one of your images, then create a preset based on how you set those sliders.  If there is something you are ALWAYS doing with the sliders in Lightroom as you process your images, like say enabling profile corrections in the Lens Correction panel, you could enable that checkbox in the develop module on one of your images and then on the left hand side of the Develop module you could click on the plus button in the upper right of the Presets panel to create a preset that had the Lens Corrections box checked and save it is a custom preset.

Now when you are working on an image in the Develop module, you can select the “Apply Lens Corrections” preset to your image by clicking on it under the User Presets in the Presets panel on the left hand side and Lightroom will check those boxes in the Lens Corrections panel.

This is kind of a silly example in the context of preset usage in the Develop module, you normally would want to have a lot more sliders chosen to be part of the preset, but this is a perfect example of what you might want to do to create a preset that will be used by default with raw files on import.

Creating A Raw Default In Lightroom Classic

Now that we have our new user defined Apply Lens Corrections preset created, as of Lightroom Classic 9.2, we can tell Lightroom that we want this preset applied to every raw image we import that was created by a specific camera.  To do this you start off by going to Lightroom Preferences. Lightroom Classic > Preferences on Mac or Edit > Preferences on Windows.

Now go to the Presets tab and there is a new Raw Defaults section at the top.  The first thing you will see there is something that says Master and has a drop down menu where you can choose among a few profiles that you want automatically applied to every raw file you import – regardless of what camera you are using.  The default there is Adobe Default, and I am not going to go into what that is here.  

To apply your preset to the raw files for a specific camera you need to check the “Use defaults specific to camera model” checkbox just under the Master dropdown.  Then you go down to the Camera drop down menu just below that checkbox and there will be a list of all cameras where you have imported at least one raw file from in the past.  If you have a camera that doesn’t show up there you need to shoot a raw file and import at least one from that camera to get it added to that list.

You will also notice that there is a “Show serial number” checkbox just under that dropdown.  That is what I referred to earlier where if you need to you can distinguish between two cameras of exactly the same make and model by serial number and apply different presets to each.

After choosing the camera in the drop down you move down to the Default dropdown menu just below and now you find the preset that you want to have Lightroom automatically apply to all raw files imported from the camera you chose in the Camera dropdown.

With your camera chosen and your default present chosen, you hit the Create Default button and the combination of the two will now appear to the right of the dropdown choices.  

Hit the OK button to save your changes and now every time you import a raw file from that camera, in my case I set it for the Canon EOS 80D, the preset that enables the Remove Chromatic Aberration and Enable Profile Corrections checkboxes in the Lens Corrections panel of the Develop module will automatically be applied.

Settings To Put In A Raw Default Preset

Now that we have gone through how to do this, let’s talk about some of the settings you may want to consider putting into a raw preset.  Of course you can put any setting you want into the preset, totally up to you and things that will help you in your workflow, but there are a lot of slider settings in the Develop module where you set them uniquely for every image you process.  Those are things you probably don’t want to put in a raw default slider.

Auto Toning

Here are a few of the sliders I have put into my raw default slider.  The first is auto toning. This is a button you find in the Basic panel of the Develop module.  It is a button in the upper right of the Tone panel, just above the Exposure slider. If you hit that button Lightroom analyzes your image and sets all of the exposure related sliders so that the image is properly exposed.  

I use that button on every image.  I almost never leave things where Lightroom Classic decides to set those sliders, but I like having it as a starting point.  Note that to get this to be part of your raw default preset you have to choose it when you create the preset by making sure the Auto Settings checkbox is checked.

You will notice that when you do that the Basic Tone checkboxes all get greyed out as do the Saturation and Vibrance checkboxes in the Color section.  Now when this preset is applied Lightroom is going to automatically analyze each raw file and make a very educated guess as to what all of those sliders are should be set to for a proper exposure of your image.

Deconvolution Sharpening

Another option to consider as part of your raw default is making sure that you apply deconvolution sharpening to your image.  By default, Lightroom Classic sets some sharpening for raw files because they all need sharpening to overcome the physical filters that are part of nearly all cameras.  When you shoot JPEG this required sharpening is happening inside your camera, so you need to apply some sharpening to every raw file just to get it to look like the image does when you shoot jpeg.

For more information on deconvolution sharpening, check out How to Sharpen and Reduce Noise in Lightroom With Greg Benz.

Lightroom Classic attempts to set the sharpening so that it will look like the JPEG image, but I prefer to apply deconvolution sharpening by making sure the sharpening sliders are set with the Radius at 0.5, Detail at 100, and Masking at 0.  For the raw images created by my Canon 80D I find that an Amount of 46 is where I tend to put it, but that specific number I will adjust unique with every photo.

Still, this is a setting I want applied with every raw image I import for my Canon 80D, which makes it a great thing to have in your custom preset that you will setup as a raw default.

Impact On Embedded Preview Workflow

If you have been listening to my Photo Taco podcast much you will know that I have talked about a way to make the import of raw files SIGNIFICANTLY faster in Lightroom Classic by using Adobe calls the Embedded Preview Workflow.  I have been working on a 30 minute video tutorial to demonstrate exactly how to do that workflow, but have run into some technical challenges with the way I was doing screen recording so it isn’t quite ready to share as of the recording of this episode.

You can learn more about the process in my Lightroom Classic Embedded Preview Workflow Photo Taco podcast episode, but the basic concept is that you can save yourself a ton of time by having Lightroom Classic use the JPEG images embedded inside your raw files instead of building the standard and smart previews during import.

The thing that kills that process, and makes Lightroom Classic build the previews anyway, is making any adjustments to the images in the Develop module.  As soon as you tough a slider in the Develop module Lightroom is going to abandon the use of JPEGs embedded in your raw file and spend the time and resources to build smart previews.

So the question then is what impact does setting a raw default on your image do to the embedded preview workflow?  If you use raw defaults you are going to have some sliders in the Develop module set for all of the raw files you import, does that make it so that you can’t gain the performance benefits during the import process of the embedded preview workflow?

I tested this out as part of preparing for this podcast and I can validate that the two work just fine together.  You can use raw defaults and you can use the embedded preview workflow process. The key is you just can’t go into the Develop module until you are done with your culling process.  As soon as you go to the Develop module, Lightroom Classic sees that you have changed some of the sliders and it builds the smart preview of your image. Do your culling in the Library module using the grid and loupe views and you can have both of these features work great.

Photo Contest

Let’s talk prizes first:

  • 30 minute mentoring session with Brent Bergherm
  • 30 minute mentoring session with Connor Hibbs
  • 30 minute mentoring session with Brian McGuckin
  • 30 minute photography business mentoring session with Erica Kay
  • 30 minute editing session with Jeff Harmon
  • A chance to have your image make the top ten of all entries.  The top ten will be shared to the Facebook group and in the show notes when we talk about them in a future episode.
  • A chance to have your image selected as the best entered and come on the show with us!

We will pick five random winners with each getting one of those prizes.  Everyone who shares an image in our Master Photography Photo Contest Flickr group will be entered to win.  You do have to create a Flickr account to enter, but we hope that is a little more accessible than Facebook.


  • You have to create the image between 3/19/2020 and 4/19/2020
  • You have to share the image to the Flickr group at https://www.flickr.com/groups/mpcontest/
  • Because the group is fully public and anyone can share an image, you have to tag the image #creativejuices.  We are only saying this on the episode and putting that in the show notes to prevent a random photographer who may find the group from being entered.  That tag is critical!
  • You can only share one image per day.  Flickr will restrict you to that, another reason we wanted to use Flickr here.
  • Keep the images safe for work.  You all know what that is, no further explanation necessary.


Leave a Comment