A few months back I wrote an article, “Click Away Digital is Free, or is it?” after my trusty Nikon D700 died. It was replaced with the latest and great D810. The D810 received great reviews and the camera specs are very impressive. So if the D810 is a better camera why were my photos looking dull and flat when I imported them into Lightroom? Creating a new camera profile when importing my RAW images fixed the problem.

The Problem

My photography career has taken me down the path of a generalist. I photography portraits, sports, events, commercial and anything the client needs. This can create havoc on a Lightroom workflow. For example, my nighttime sports photos are different from my daytime sports photos. and those are different from my studio portraits which are different from my natural light portraits. A “One Size Fits All” camera profile doesn’t work for me. I need custom settings based on what I’m shooting. This is where Lightroom really shines when importing RAW images.

No Default Development Settings

My first shoot with the new D810 was a studio sport portrait session on location in Maryland. I tethered a laptop to my camera and started shooting. The images automatically imported into Lightroom. When I reviewed the images, I just assumed they looked flat because I didn’t color calibrate my laptop’s monitor. I just wanted to review composition and lighting so the color and lack of snappiness didn’t bother me. When I returned back from our trip, I imported the images to my desktop and noticed they looked dull, just like my laptop. I realized my default development settings were all set to zero because of the new camera.

Saving Camera Calibration Default

Lightroom is intelligent enough to know when RAW images from a new camera are imported. If a new camera is detected, by default, Lightroom assigns Adobe Standard as the camera’s calibration. I chose Camera Portrait from the profile drop down list. Once a camera calibration is changed and saved as a default, Lightroom will apply these changes to all RAW images from that camera series on import. Now when I import RAW images from a D810 or a D700, Lightroom applies the correct camera calibration for that camera.

To save the new setting as the default, press and hold Option Key [MAC] or Alt Key [PC] and click set default.

Creating a Default Global Starting Point

I’ve been shooting with the D700 for years. I notice there were a few Lightroom settings I always changed when I imported a variety of different photos. To save time I made these settings the default. This gave me a good global starting point for most images. Since the D810 is still new to me, I’m not 100% sure how the images look on a global scale. Since these images were all shot using the same lighting and camera settings, creating a default development setting was easy. I chose an image and started applying a few basic setting in the development module. Once I had the look I was going for, I saved the settings as the new Develop Module default, knowing in the future I can always change it. Now when I import an image taken with a D810, my new default settings are applied giving me a good starting point.

Creating the Sports Look

After tweaking a few setting in Lightroom, I created a Gritty Sports look and applied it to a few selected images. Using the Sport Portrait Composite tutorial, I merged the images together to create a poster.