Nikon and Adobe – Raw Converter & Camera presets

Both Nikon and Adobe have made a set of presets available that can be both loaded in your camera (Nikon) as well as in Lightroom, ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) and Nikon Capture NX2. These presets are much better than you might think and if you haven’t checked them out yet, you really should give them a try.

The following presets are currently available:

  • Adobe Standard
  • Camera D2X Mode 1
  • Camera D2X Mode 2
  • Camera D2X Mode 3
  • Camera Landscape
  • Camera Neutral
  • Camera Portrait
  • Camera Standard
  • Camera Vivid

The entire list above can be loaded into Lightroom 2, Camera Raw and/or Nikon Capture NX2. The presets labeled with “Camera” can be loaded onto your camera (Nikon D3, D300 and D700). I understand that Canon cameras are also supported but I do not know which ones are included.

If you are using a recent version of Lightroom (2.2) or Camera Raw (5.2),  or later, then you already have these profiles installed and ready to use. Look in the Camera Calibration tab and look for the drop-down list where you should see the profiles listed above available for your use.

Useful Links:

  • John Nack posted this article on his blog about the DNG profile editor as well as the provided profiles listed above.
  • A good FAQ from the Adobe site can be found here that should answer any questions you might have
  • Nikon Camera profiles for D3, D300 and D70o DSLRs are available from this page at the Nikon website (these can be loaded right on to your camera)

Installing The Profiles

If you use Lightroom and/or Camera Raw and have upgraded to the latest version, then you already have the profiles available to you. If you are using an older version of these tools, then look around on the Adobe site for a link where you can download the profiles. I am pretty sure you can still use them but I didn’t readily find a link to include here. If I find one later I will come back and add it.

To install the Nikon profiles into your D3, D300 or D700 DSLR, you do need to first download the profiles from the Nikon website. The instructions are on the site but it’s really quite simple.  Just copy the “NIKON” directory that contains the profiles onto a memory card (copy to the root of the memory card) and put the card into your camera. From the menu system, navigate to the picture control managment screen and choose to load profiles. It will automatically see the profiles on your card and you’ll be presented with a list to choose from. You can choose one at a time and put them into a slot. With the D300 and D700 you get 4 slots (I don’t know about the D3). The toughest part is to decide which 4 you want to load. I personally keep an old 1gb CF card in my bag that has all of the profiles on it, so I can change the profiles on my cameras at any time, even out in the field.

If you are shooting RAW, it really doesn’t matter whether you have the profiles on the camera or even which one you have selected when you shoot since you can change the profile in your post production whether you use Camera Raw, Lightroom 2 or Nikon Capture NX2. In fact, only Capture NX2 will honor the profile you selected in the camera when you open your NEF files. For Camera Raw or Lightroom, you will always start with a profile called ACR4.3 or ACR4.4 depending on your version of  Camera Raw. As of this writing, with the most current version of ACR installed, I see a profile called ACR 4.4 that is applied by default to my images in Lightroom 2.2. Please note that it is possible to automatically load one of the profiles when you import images into Lightroom by setting up a Development Settings template which you then select in the Lightroom 2 import dialog. This of course will not honor the profile you had set in camera but will instead simply load the profile specified in the template as each image is imported. Alternatively you can set the profiles on an image by image basis, or to many images at the same time based on your needs.

Usage

In both Lightroom and Camera Raw, these profiles are set in the “Calibration” tab. Simply pick the profile name from the drop-down list to choose a profile.

Comments

The idea with these profiles is that they give you a starting point from which to start with an image. They provide a baseline setting that you can then work from. It is usually a good idea to try a few of them before deciding on which one gives you the best starting point. They are all very good, but they are also quite different and what works well for one image may not work quite as well for another.

I have found that these profiles are so good that in many cases, picking the correct profile is almost all the post-processing I need to do. The Landscape profile is excellent for landscapes and many other types of images. However, if it is too intense, then the Standard profile usually works well. For portraits, the Portrait profile is just awesome. It really makes it easy to make portraits look good. The color rendition of the D2X Mode 1, 2 and 3 profiles are really good too. The mode 3 profile has the most intense color while mode 2 is less intense and mode 1 is the most neutral. Other good “neutral” profiles are the “Adobe” Standard (as opposed to the “Camera” Standard which are very different from each other). The Adobe Standard is very neutral and is said to give very accurate color. There is also the Camera Neutral profile which is similar. This leaves the Vivid profile which I have personally not used very much. I tend to go with the Landscape profile when I want intense colors, or Standard when I want something a little less instense than Landscape. For portraits I always reach for the Portrait profile without hesitation, and for images that require careful color handling I either go with the Adobe Standard (first choice) or the Camera Neutral depending on the image. I also use the D2X Mode profiles quite a bit too. It all depends on the image I’m working with and how it response to each profile. The one that gives me the best starting point is what I will go with.

If you haven’t tried these profiles, I hope this article at least sparks your interest to check them out. I think you’ll be quite surprised to see just how well these things work.

Way to go Adobe and Nikon for working together to make these profiles. Also, my understanding is that some or all of these profiles are also available for Canon cameras as well.