What are Lightroom presets? – A beginners introduction

Lightroom presets are essentially settings that you saved, so that you can apply the same effects you added to one photo, to other photos very easily.  for example say you increase the contrast and also bumped up the highlights to one photo. if you wanted to save those settings, or that look, you can save it as a preset and easily add it to other photos.


Lightroom presets Vs Filters

You are probably familiar with instagram or iPhone filters. These are quick filters or settings that you can apply to your photos with one tap. Lightroom presets are similar to instagram filters in that you can apply a certain look or feel to the photograph with one click. However with Lightroom presets you have much more flexibility and power in what you can do with the presets.

For example in instagram filters, you may be a will to apply different overall color changes to your pictures. That’s about as far as instagram filters go, is that you can easily apply several different filters that change the look and feel her photograph.

With Lightroom, you can apply many many different looks to your photographs that go far beyond something like a filter. For example you can add presets to add HDR, black and white, change color schemes, at vignettes, add grain, etc


Why many Photographers can’t live without Lightroom Presets

Lightroom presets can take a standard looking image, and with one click it can transform your image into a very creative piece of art.


They can really add a lot of style and creativity to your images without taking hours.  Lightroom presets can also be used as a process to sequentially build your images. For example you can add contrast, add grain and add a vignette


What many people love about Lightroom presets is that they allow you to quickly and easily apply amazing looks and effects to your photographs.  Lightroom presets allows season the photographers to do postproduction on their pictures very quickly and efficiently. Presets also allow beginner photographers to  transform their photography into a amazing photographs, without much knowledge of post production in Lightroom.

You can apply the same type of effects in Adobe Photoshop, but the benefit of presets and the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom software in general, is that it has a profound effect on the efficiency of your photography workflow. If you were to try to apply different looks and affects in Photoshop, it would take many hours to accomplish the same thing that would take light room a few minutes. Sure you can use Photoshop actions to speed up your workflow, but still Lightroom takes the cake in terms of efficiency when dealing with many photographs.

  • How to get Lightroom presets?
  • Use Default  Lightroom presets
  • Create your own
  • Download Free Presets
  • Purchase Premium Comprehensive Preset Bundles

Adobe Lightroom actually comes with some default presets installed for you see can use right away. You can also create your own Lightroom presets, download free presets other people have made, or purchase comprehensive premium Lightroom preset bundles. These will typically be in a zipped file full of either the presets or group of folders with presets in them. The actual preset will be a .lrtemplate and can be saved, imported and exported.

Many beginner and professional photographers alike typically gravitate towards the comprehensive bundles because premium presets offer almost everything you would need. It also takes a lot of time and knowledge to create your own comprehensive collection of Lightroom presets.

How to add presets and where are they Located?

Presets are located:

  • Mac: /Users/YOURUSERNAME/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Lightroom/Develop Presets
  • Windows XP: Documents and Settings\YOURUSERNAME\Application Data\Adobe\Lightroom
  • Windows Vista/7/8: C:\users\YOURUSERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Lightroom\Develop Presets

An easy way to access the  Lightroom preset folder is to simply open  Lightroom, go to  preferences, presets, then click on show Lightroom presets folder


  • Tips on using and downloading Lightroom Presets
  • Presets are a starting point
  • Presets created by others may not always be universal
  • Presets may not look good on every picture
  • You cannot edit the opacity of presets
  • You should perform general post production first

Remember that presets are often a starting point.  Many times I like to click a preset and if I like it I can either leave it as is or I can also fine-tune it little to more and change individual settings for that picture.

Lightroom presets that are created by others is adapted to their own shooting style and equipment. So presets that photographer A produced, may not work as well for photographer B. everybody has different equipment, different styles and different taste.  With that being said, more often than not presets (at least the premium ones) will work for a variety of people. Also some photographers may have produced presets for a JPEG workflow, whereas you shoot raw.  Or maybe  the Lightroom presets were produced for raw images, and you are shooting JPEG.  when you are searching for Lightroom presets to download,You need to be sure to ask whether  they were optimized for JPEG or raw  image workflows.  Side note:  you should always shoot raw, because you  can bring much more out of those  in post production.

Your Lightroom presets may look amazing on one picture, but on another picture and may not look that good. The trick to using presets is to simply try by  a bunch of different ones because you may find that some presets work better on certain photos where they might not look good on others.

Lightroom presets do not have any sort of opacity slider or anything like that.  once you click on that preset, it applies the full presets your image. However after that is done you can adjust the individual settings.  There is a workaround to adjust the strength of your preset.***

typically you will get a better result using Lightroom presets when you are applying preset to an image that already has the correct exposure, white balance, and  other settings to “normalize” your pictures.

Other types of Lightroom presets

Typically when people say “Lightroom presets” they are usually referring to the develop presets, or the one click settings to apply to your photos. However in light room there are also other types of “presets” that you can use within your photography workflow, such as:

  • export presets
  • import presets
  • FTP presets
  • metadata presets
  • file name / text template presets
  • layout presets
  • graduated filter presets
  • local adjustment presets

For example say you commonly export images is a smaller size for your website, and you also commonly export images a much bigger size to send to clients or to print. You can set up export presets to where with one click of the button you can export a batch group of photos with your “web” settings that you already saved previously. Likewise, you can also instantly export a group of photos under your “print” or “client” or whatever purpose you have with one click.

A note on the local adjustments presets

Typically when you download or buy presets, you’re going to be getting the develop presets that you can apply to your photographs to create different effects and looks to your photography. However sometimes when you purchase premium preset bundles, there will also be included with it local adjustment presets. Local just the presets are nice because you can use the local adjustments brush in light room to paint certain areas of your image and apply the local adjustment presets. For example say a portrait photographer wanted to smooth out the skin tone my model. They could simply use the local adjustment preset if they have a skin tone adjustment local just preset.


Best Free Lightroom Presets (premium vs free.. my favorite free)

Best premium Lightroom presets

How to install presets