Why does this happen and is it avoidable in Lightroom?

Started Mar 24, 2013 | Discussions thread
GideonW Contributing Member • Posts: 814
Re: Why does this happen and is it avoidable in Lightroom?

EyesHigh wrote:

Hi there,

I just have a quick question about the way Lightroom imports and exports photos directly from my memory card.

I have a Nikon D7000 and recently took some long exposure photo's of the night sky which look absolutely fantastic on both the camera screen and also the computer screen after importing them into Lightroom. However, being that all of my photo's are shot in RAW, I have to convert them into JPEG in-order to get them printed (as the printers in the shop do not recognise RAW files) and it is here that the problems appear. Once exported as JPEGS the low-light pictures display large amounts of noise (as they were shot in ISO 1000) which could not be seen in the original RAW files, and they also get noticeably darker - to the point that the balance between the darks (foreground subjects like tree's) and highlights (like the crystal clear stars) which once made the picture so good is completely off.

Is this a common problem and does anybody know if it can be avoided or minimised?

I also imported a regular photo which had been shot at ISO 100 in RAW in broad daylight and after exporting in JPEG the original colour, saturation, and contrast (all of which were perfect) heavily dissipates and, again, almost ruined the picture.

I understand that editing in software is a great tool, but I can't understand what changes happen between the camera and the PC/Lightroom which can affect pictures so much.

Any advise would be much appreciated,


If you import one of the "bad" JPEGs back into Lightroom (or open it in PS), does it look okay there?

What I suspect to be happening is, unlike what all the other posters suggested, a colour management issue. Lightroom (and Photoshop and such) treat this differently than the Windows Photo Viewer (and most browsers). The result is that Lightroom/PS use their own colour management while Windows Photo Viewer and browsers just inherit the system default. If the system default is wrong, the same file looks different in LR/PS than it does in other programs.

I had the same thing happen after a reinstall, pictures looked great in LR, but once I exported them and opened them in the Windows Photo Viewer or a browser, they looked terrible, contrast was completely off and all detail was gone in the shadow areas. If I opened the same JPEG in LR or PS, it looked fine again. I went into the Windows colour management settings and noticed that it had selected a monitor profile that was supposed to match my monitor. When I switched it to the default sRGB profile, the problem went away. So that's what I recommend you check.

To all the posters trying to explain the difference between RAW and JPEG: It is highly unlikely that this is the problem because what you see in Lightroom is already a rendered JPEG (as you can't 'see' the RAW picture). The exported JPEG file should look identical to what you see in Lightroom.

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