Lightroom Classic: Poor Image Quality Output

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I just got off the phone with Adobe Tech Support and they told me to post here.  I have been using LR for years now and recently I have been shopping around for newer modern cameras and have been importing RAW images to LR and man the skin tones and over all color output is not good.  I have been comparing other RAW converters, some are expensive and some are actually very cheap, but no matter what most these other RAW converters are way ahead of Lightroom when it comes down to IQ.  No matter which color profiles I select they are not as beautiful and fine as the other vendors I'm seeing.  I have been spending a lot of time doing this and as of today I'm NOT happy at all.  Fuji files took terrible, Panasonic S cameras look terrible, yet with the other brand converters they look bloody fantastic.
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Adriana Anorve

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Posted 1 month ago

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Jerry Syder

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The main thing that hit me when I first started reading this was profiles but then you did mention profiles later in your post and that you've tried several. I don't believe it's how Lightroom Classic is reading the RAW data but it is down to which profiles that are applied but that assumption is due to my lack of overall knowledge so I'd leave it to one of the experts on here to chime in. However, when it comes to skin tones, I tend to agree. In my own experience, I wanted to love Adobe colour but it treats skin tones(and the overall image as a matter of fact), in a punchy manner; meaning that it pushes the whites too much and does the same to the blacks. In some images, it's not bad but in most, where people are in them, the blacks appear too crushed and the whites less flattering. So after spending some time embracing Adobe colour(trying to), I've recently started backing off from it and exploring other profiles. At some point, I'd probably create my own that I'm pleased with because Adobe's profiles kind of went on the assumption that the world is leading down contrasty, Instagramy images so let's make it the default for everyone. 
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Jim M

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Agreed, but it’s so subjective. I vastly prefer Capture One these days, but I’m deep into an Adobe workflow. Some cameras/brands also do better with skin tones than others- not all sensors are created equal. That said, I think Adobe would do well to revisit their banded camera profiles . Sorry-

No easy answer to something so nuanced. Because you seem to appreciate other software’s renders of RAW files, presumably of the same files on the same monitor, it likely just boils down to preference. I could recommend spending time with just one file in LR and dialing it is to your taste. Then make those settings the default import ones for that camera. I just went to do that to give you the key strokes, but it’s changed apparently!!!
(Edited)
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Jim M

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I also have better luck starting with with my Camera's specific profile, generally the flatter "portrait" or "Neutral" ones. It's pretty straightforward to craft to your taste from there. 
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Brian Wall

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I just import the RAW from my camera to a LR Classic catalogue and that is that. I don't do anything in File Handling before importing. I don't apply any colour profiles. I just select the raw file and import. 

Do you mean applying camera and lens profiles? I rarely do but when I do it manually later not during import. and it just adjusts distortion and vignette a tiny bit and makes no change to levels or other adjustments to spoil the picture.


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Jim M

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Whether you specify one or not, all software uses a Base color profile To interpret your images. Your default profile is show at the top of the Basic adjustment pane in the Develop module.
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Harrison Clark

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I'm a bit confused.  You specifically mention "output" so from that I would assume you are talking about printed images or those sent to a website.  But, you also mention "profiles" which would imply importing images and what you see on the monitor when developing.  So it's hard to be helpful.  I'll assume your monitor is calibrated and you are proficient with printing if that's your case.  I will say that one set of settings/profiles (presets?) etc. can't possibly work well with all cameras and lightroom does not have camera-specific presets. The other RAW converters you've looked at might and as such can easily do a better job. 

I find very little tweaking in Lightroom is necessary with my Canon cameras, but even among Canon cameras there are some differences that would cause one to develop camera-specific profiles to be applied on import.  Both Camera Raw and Lightroom Classic allow the development of camera-specific profiles/presets to be applied during import.  And one might want different profiles/presets for people than landscapes so one camera-specific profile may not work to your satisfaction thus adding some work on import to switch profiles/presets now and then.  Though if you like Lightroom otherwise and know what you are looking for in the way of images, I suggest developing your own import presets in Lightroom.  It will certainly do whatever you want.  Make camera-specific ones if you are using more than one camera.
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Adriana Anorve

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Hi Harrison,

I'm sorry for the confusion, no I don't mean printed output or stuff sent to a website.  What I tried to say is the color profiles look, Adobe or the camera's color profiles, they simply look very unpleasant.  It is sooooo hard and time consuming to get something decent, compared to for example, Capture One or Luminar which I happen to have installed in my PC and it only cost me a few bucks.  When I open a file in Luminar the photo looks wonderful already as a starting point, and if I do some adjustments it will look even better.  Skin tones look much nicer than LR as well.  I have tried and tried with LR but something is just out of wack and I know is not the cameras because these are all modern super nice sensors.  Is Lightroom.  I'm really disappointed right now and I'm gonna start looking for another option and maybe cancel LR subscription.  

Also responding to Jim yes I've been messing around with the same RAW images on the same calibrated monitor.  Skin tones in LR are very disappointing.  We spend tons of money in new gear and I know the new cameras don't output junk because they are all, at least most of them, are really good and is modern stuff.  We are talking about $3K cameras.  That's not cheap, yet Adobe/Lightroom is not providing us it's FULL potential so we are kind of throwing our money away and not taking full advantage of many modern cameras.  I don't know about you guys but I'm starting to feel like I'm being cheated.   
(Edited)
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Jerry Syder

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Sorry you feel that way, I don't feel the same. But that's probably because I know that I'm not restricted to using LR's Adobe Color profile(agreed that it's too much) or any of their's as a matter of fact. As others have already mentioned, all you need to do is start from a flat profile and create your own. You then use this as an import preset because that's all Adobe's defaults are really. 
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Henrik Zawischa

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I created profiles for my cameras once quite some time ago and have been using them since to my satisfaction. I had an appropriate target then (X-Rite ColourChecker). A target is like a colour reference card. You take pictures of the target at known lighting conditions and can then create a profile based on that and the known information how the colours are supposed to look.
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Brian Wall

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This thing about profiles is new to me. As I said I never did anything with them, just imported then made my adjustment. Maybe there is a guide to this if my workflow is wrong?

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Jerry Syder

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Nothing is wrong with your workflow and you don't need to do anything with them(profiles). Most people don't but if you want to tweak the default look, there's a way. Basically, a profile would be applied to any Raw image initially. In the past, the visibility of this was in an area out of people's sight until a couple of years ago when Adobe brought it up to the Basic panel, extending its use at the same time.
Some info: https://theblog.adobe.com/profiles-profiles-work-make/
Some more in-depth reading - https://spark.adobe.com/page/CEUxaoWXrcY1x/
   
(Edited)
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Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

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Perhaps it would help if you show us some examples of the look you like from other editors and the look you get in Lightroom.
(Edited)
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Todd Shaner, Champion

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It would also be helpful to post one of the raw files that exhibit the skin tone issue to Dropbox or other file sharing site. We can check it on our systems for comparison and determine if there is some system issue that might be causing it.

Remove and reimport one of the image files so we can see how it looks on initial import. Without applying any adjustments to the reimported file Export it to DNG file format and post it to a file sharing site. It will contain the settings on your system and may reveal the cause of what you're seeing.