Adobe Lightroom (both CC and Classic CC versions) have had Profiles available for a while, but in a recent update these apps gained significant upgrades to their Profile tools, making them more powerful. Let’s look at what’s new and improved.
Every RAW image has a profile applied, even if it’s just Adobe’s default Colour profile. A profile is a set of instructions that’s used to render a raw image using the colours and tones that we see on screen. After the latest update, Lightroom has more options available in this field and you will see them if you go into Develop / Detail mode and expand the Profile area at the top of the inspector. JPEG and other compressed formats will show only two options but RAW files will show more as they are more flexible when it comes to editing. Select one of these profile options - landscape, portrait, vivid and so on, to create a baseline of settings appropriate to that look, which you can use as a starting point for making more detailed edits.
The RAW profiles provide a way to quickly dial in a core look to an image. But they don’t actually change any of the other setting sliders. So even if the Vivid profile for example increases saturation and contrast (which it does when applied), this doesn’t move the saturation or contrast sliders in the edit sections - in fact it doesn’t move anything. It provides a new baseline from which to start editing. This is also true of Creative profiles. So applying a profile isn’t the same as calling up a develop preset - it doesn’t dial in settings in the edit sections.
If you click the Browse button on the Profile section you’ll see a list of further options. The lower section is the “creative” sets - artistic, B&W, Modern and Vintage. Select any of these and you can use the Amount slider in the Profiles tab to set a profile applied amount which is a nice touch - so it’s not all or nothing, but any amount of effect is possible from a little to a lot. Remember again these aren’t develop presets - you still have complete freedom to edit as normal after this.
Lightroom - both CC and Classic versions - contains libraries of hundreds of camera and lens models and when you import pictures it reads the EXIF data contained in them (especially comprehensive in the case of RAW files) and uses this to present you with some camera-specific options at certain points. Here, it makes available the Camera Matching profiles, which match the preset styles that are available on your model of camera. As such, of course it varies between models. Here, it has detected the styles available on the Fuji used to take the stills, and allows me to use them if desired.
When you save a preset, the Profile is now saved as part of it, in XMP format so it’s available across all Adobe’s image apps including Photoshop and Camera Raw. You can import a preset or a profile by clicking on the ellipsis at the top of the panel, and easily share these with others.