Don’t Forget Camera Calibration

Woodland at Mount Rainier, Washington, USA. Olympus EM5, ISO400, f/4.5. Handheld.
Woodland at Mount Rainier, Washington, USA. Olympus EM5, ISO400, f/4.5. Handheld.

There is an often forgotten panel at the bottom of the development controls in Lightroom’s Develop module and that’s Camera Calibration. Here you can select the profile that’s used to convert the RAW file into an image. It sorts out how image data in the RAW maps to colours and tones in the finished image.

In the past I have written about how the profiles provided often aren’t that great and that you can achieve better by making your own. But now I have a new favourite profile for my Olympus EM5 camera and that is “Camera Natural”.

Camera Calibration tab in Lightroom with the Adobe Standard profile selected.
Camera Calibration tab in Lightroom with the Adobe Standard profile selected.

I can’t say for sure when this was introduced or when it was changed. I certainly can’t recall it giving good results in the past or perhaps I have just overlooked it. The changes it introduces are quite subtle but I think it creates a more natural (I suppose that’s where it gets its name) and appealing. The image at the top of the blog was created using the Camera Natural profile and below is a comparison. Looking at the images side by side it’s difficult to tell the difference but when your switching between profiles in Lightroom it’s like night and day.

Comparison of Profiles on the image
Comparison of Profiles on the image

As I say, subtle differences but well worth experimenting with if you shoot RAW and use Lightroom.

12 thoughts on “Don’t Forget Camera Calibration

  1. Excellent observation. Thanks for sharing. You can do something similar in DxO as well. I use LR for DAM, round-trip to DxO for basic RAW conversion, then do selective adjustments in LR. DxO’s detail extraction and noise suppression are far better than LR’s, and its lens corrections are better than the Panasonic-embedded corrections that are applied by LR to my Panasonic RAWs. As a professional MFT shooter, I feel that DxO brings my files one step closer to larger-sensor performance.

    1. Thanks for pointing this out. I am well out of date with the DxO software and its abilities. I might need to take a closer look. I agree that the LR noise supression isnt great and it can make the Micro 43 images look a little odd, especially when blown up.

  2. Hi Robin

    Many thanks for this tip about Camera Calibration I have converted all of my recent images from Vietnam , shot with an Oly EM 1 to the Neutral setting and it makes a definite subtle improvement. Can I ask what might seem a silly question relating to Lightroom and Olympus Lens Profiles – Is this all done in-camera (Develop/Lens Correction/Profile)?

  3. Aha – In respect of the above I have just read you blog from 5 October 2012, which has answered my question.



    1. Hi Martin, I was going to you to that post. Alternatively if you have the latest version of Lightroom, check the bottom left of the Camera Calibration panel. Quite a number of cameras now include the lens profile in the RAW file and if there is one embedded, you will see a little information icon here. Click this and it will advise you what lens information is in the RAW file and that it has been automatically applied. The Sony RX10 also has an embedded profile in the RAW file. One more reason to shoot RAW although I suspect the profile is applied in camera if you shoot JPEG.

      1. Robin

        I am not very sharp today. It is probably due to excessive hill-walking in Suffolk!

        You are correct, in LR/Develop/lens correction/Profile on the bottom left there is an information icon that I have never noticed, ‘ ‘Built-in Lens Profile applied’. When you click on the icon a dialogue box pops up and states:
        Olympus EM-1
        Olympus M 12-40 F2.8
        This RAW file contains a built-in lens profile for correcting distortions and chromatic aberration. The profile has already been applied automatically to this image.

        I am going to have a glass of wine and will say goodnight

  4. I am in the latest standalone version 6.5.1 and cannot see it. I must assume that it is another feathering LR CC that Adobe will not cascade down to non-CC users. I will say no more about that. Perhaps I should look at DxO?


  5. Hello Robin.
    Yes the camera natural does look much better. as a Nikon shooter I will some times use camera neutral profile or camera standard, some say that if one is going to do a fair amount of processing camera neutral can work better. One of the concerns with processing images in Adobe, is that Nikon or Cannon with there DPP. software is that they were reluctant to pass on there software details to Adobe. I have been taking some test shots with the new Nikon 24-70 vr 2.8, set to auto iso. the shot was inside a blacksmith shop which was very dark, and at 3.200 iso. and there was some noise showing, I tried LR & Nik Define first and was not happy with the results. I then went into DXO11 & used the prime setting for noise removal & what a transformation viewed at a 100% the noise was gone. I am also using DXO more now for image processing as I find it does a better job. DXO do spend a lot of time analysing lenses for getting a good lens profile for us to use.
    There is a live seminar this Wednesday 8pm British Time. DXO 11.
    Best Wishes.

  6. Sorry about the time for the DXO webinar, it is Tuesday 14th at 8pm until 9pm not Wednesday as I first said.


    1. No problem John. I was just reading your post. I feel encouraged to try DXO again although I have never found it that easy or quick to work with. Perhaps I will download the trial and see what it can do with a few of my RAW files.

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