10 Things I Would Tell a New Lightroom User: #7

Good Monday, everybody!  Before we dive into #7, just a friendly reminder: if you missed, didn’t read or forgot my official disclaimer for this series posted at the beginning of #1, please give it a quick read, so we all stay on the same page. Now, it’s time to dive right into #7:


#7: Even though you shot in RAW, Lightroom shows you the JPEG version first.

I have to explain this part first, before we get to the Lightroom part, for this to make any sense. When you shoot in JPEG mode on your camera, your camera applies sharpening, contrast, noise reduction and all sorts of goodies to your JPEG image to make it look as good as possible. When you switch your camera to shoot in RAW mode, you’re telling your camera “Turn off the sharpening; turn off the contrast; turn off the noise reduction and just give me the RAW untouched image straight out of the camera. I’ll add all that sharpening, contrast and such later in post production, so I can add as much, or as little, as I want.”

Now, here’s the “gotcha!” Even though you’re shooting in RAW mode, your camera still shows you the sharper, more contrasty, more colorful JPEG when you look at the LCD screen on the back of your camera. Now, here’s how that relates to Lightroom: when Lightroom loads your RAW image, and you double-click on a thumbnail (unless you chose to render all your previews first), it shows you the (wait for it…wait for it…) JPEG image first. The one that looks sharper, more contrasty, more colorful, etc. and you’ll know you’re seeing the JPEG because the word “Loading…” will appear below your preview (as seen above circled here in red). Then after a few seconds, the flatter-looking RAW image appears. This often freaks new users out, and I get emails asking “How do I get that first image back? Which button do I push to get that one back?”


Above: here’s the RAW image, which appeared a few seconds after the JPEG preview. In this particular case, I actually like the look of the RAW image better, but that’s not always the case, especially with travel or landscape photos where they tend to look very flat.

Sadly, there isn’t a “Make this look like the JPEG” button, but here’s something you can try that will get you close.

STEP ONE: Go out and shoot in RAW + JPEG mode in your camera.

STEP TWO: Import those images into Lightroom; pick a decent looking image that’s typical of what you normally shoot, then click on the RAW image.


STEP THREE: Go to the Camera Calibration panel (seen above) and from the Profile pop-up menu at the top, try each of these profiles one at a time and see which ones makes your RAW photo look the closest to the JPEG (in this case, apply the Camera Standard profile to make it look almost exactly like the JPEG). Now, at least you have a starting place that’s closer to the look of the JPEG (of course, I would only do this if you like the JPEG look, which by the mountain of emails and questions I get on this topic, it’s a whole lotta people).

Now you can select all the images you just imported and copy and paste this setting onto them (or you can create a Develop Module preset with just Camera Calibration turned on with your favorite profile)  and have it automatically applied to your RAW images as you import them from here on out. You choose to apply this preset in the Import dialog. Or, you can use Auto Sync and select all your photos, and as long as Auto Sync is turned on (at the bottom of the Right Side panels) when you apply this profile to the first photo in your filmstrip, it will automatically apply it to all your other selected photos.

Well, there ya have it, folks — #7.

Today I’m spending the entire day with a test-group of folks who will see the first draft of my new “Shoot Like a Pro: Reloaded” tour, and these fine photographers will give me all sorts of valuable feedback so that when I launch the tour in Salt Lake City in April, it will be totally rockin’ right out of the gate. Plus, I’m excited that I’ll be teaching in our brand new in-house theater in front of a live audience. It’s going to be a really fun day!

Hope you have a really fun Monday, too!





  1. Jean 21 April, 2019 at 17:11 Reply

    I am sorry, I realized I types Lightroom 7 when i reality that should be lightroom 6. Given there is no such version as lightroom 7.

    • Rob Sylvan 22 April, 2019 at 13:08 Reply

      It might be that the raw format for the camera you are using is not supported by Lightroom 6. In that case, you could get the latest (free) DNG converter, convert the raw to DNG, and then import the DNG copies.

  2. Jean 21 April, 2019 at 17:03 Reply

    I am shooting in both RAW+ JPEG, however when I import all I ever see if the JPEG, the RAW never appears. What might be doing wrong? I am using Lightroom 7.

  3. Stephen 1 August, 2016 at 08:49 Reply

    hey, i shoot Monochrome in camera and LOVE the way it looks (on the LCD Screen).. when i import into LR, it adds the color back. can i stop this from happening?

  4. Howard 27 February, 2015 at 11:45 Reply

    I should have played before asking. . I changed my Preferences ==> General ==> Import options to “Treat JPEG fiels next to raw files as separate photos”
    Thanks PGC and Scott and everyone else

  5. Howard 27 February, 2015 at 11:32 Reply

    As PGC suggests, maybe there is a setting I’m missing. I shot RAW+JPEG after this tutorial but my camera calibration profile only shows “Adobe Standard”; the other options are not there. Could it be that my converting the raw images to DNG format on import is part of the problem?

    • 30 May, 2015 at 16:45 Reply

      The listed camera standard options are camera specific, and some models only show Adobe Standard as an option.

  6. Jacob 23 February, 2015 at 17:29 Reply

    Choosing the process is a crucial step. If you are a portrait photographer, it is a must.
    The default process is way hard,and contrasty. There is so much more that can be pushed out of an image with a proper process.
    Thanks for info!

  7. martin pena 21 February, 2015 at 00:26 Reply

    WOW!! I’ve been looking for a way to my raw files to look more like my in camera jpegs for years (without using Nikon Raw processor that is) Thanks a million. Awesome tip.

  8. Natalie (QSOgirl) 17 February, 2015 at 22:48 Reply

    I just wanted to say that this was one of the best simple explanations of RAW vs. jpg that I’ve read. Thank you– I’ve been wondering about it for a while (I’m still learning my camera…)

  9. Myron Kuziak 9 February, 2015 at 14:21 Reply

    Thanks, Scott, for the great tips. I learn something new every time I read them.

    I always shoot in RAW+jpeg, but only import the RAW files into Lightroom. Now I realize just how valuable it is to shoot that way. As I understand it, one should never, or almost never, develop a jpeg if a RAW is available. When I scan my older negatives or slides I always save the results as TIFFs, so I never develop jpegs from that source.


  10. Scott 9 February, 2015 at 10:59 Reply

    What excellent timing! I just finished processing some shots (RAW + small jpg) in the Arizona desert – unfortunately taken right around noon-time. I was using a polarizer but not at its maximum setting. When I looked at the images initially, I couldn’t believe how intense the sky colors were – yet in the loupe view on a 2nd monitor (both calibrated with a SpyderPro unit) they looked fine. Thought it was a gamut issue on the 1st monitor so I swapped the displays (initial on the “good” monitor). And the problem “moved”. This article explained the phenom. Thanks!

  11. Patrick Stuart 9 February, 2015 at 08:05 Reply

    Another good tip would be how to shoot RAW+JPEG and only import the RAW. I sometimes want to shoot RAW+JPEG so I can upload the JPEG to social media on the road. But I don’t need to use up the extra storage space. It was easy to specify with Aperture but less transparent in Lightroom.

    • lyle 9 February, 2015 at 13:05 Reply

      Patrick – I don’t think you can do that directly from LR – you get both if they’re on the card. If you offload your cards onto drive outside LR into separate folders you can import the one with just the RAW files though. I do that via .bat files on windows. Someone please identify how if I’m in error. thx.

      • Rudy 10 February, 2015 at 09:55 Reply

        I’m not in front of my PC, but you can just import one type of file from one card that has both RAW and JPEG. Worse case, you can look at the extension on the file name in the Import module and only select RAW. But I believe LR sorts the pics out by JPG and RAW separately, so you just need to find the first and last picture in the RAW block to import. Hope that helped.

        • lyle 10 February, 2015 at 10:43 Reply

          Import doesn’t sort by file type the way you’d expect, but try this: You can set Edit Preferences General – check Treat JPG files … separately. Go to the OS, sort in your file explorer app by file type then block select the set you want and drag them into the center panel of the Import dialog and it will select those. I just did it from a CF card successfully, skipping the JPGs and getting just a subset of the NEFs (d700). YMMV.

  12. PGC 9 February, 2015 at 02:28 Reply

    Great tip, Scott, this totally threw me when I first switched to RAW. However, when importing RAW+JPG it took me a while to find the setting that prevented Lightroom simply merging the two on import. Maybe your new user needs to know that setting before being able to use the Camera Calibration comparison you describe.

    Looking forward to the next tip.

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