When I look at pics in the camera, they look promising, and when downloading, they might look great, until the last nanosecond, some kind of adjustment is made and it ALWAYS reduces the quality of the photo in some way. I have looked at settings in LR, and can't seem to find anything that would add an adjustment of any kind. I've tried other forums but there doesn't seem to be any answer. Hopefully the amazing photographers @ captureMN can offer me a clue! Thankyou!

If you are shooting in Raw, that is LR just doing the RAW processing. They will look dull until you start making adjustments in LR. If you are shooting JPEGS they will look more like they looked in camera, but they still need a little adjustment to make them look good. I read once that all digital photos meed some work to bring out their full potential. What i do is if I like the comp and the sharpness of the photo I will work on it, if not I delete. I always take more then one shot of something, but only save one, I don't need multiple shot of the same thing.

There is a gathering place for CMers at Underground Café in St. Paul and if you live around TC. and have notebook or so can bring an image and show to others to see what you exactly talking about. Imaging is very involved and small change can make a big different in the medium that is being viewed. Or send or post an image so others can see what is the issue. The gathering information is on the Forum and accessible below.

Thank you Nasser, I am so glad to know about this! I'm not in Minnesota right now, but will definitely try to get to one of those gatherings in St. Paul when I return. In the meantime, will see if I can capture what is happening, perhaps an iphone video...Thanks again!

Wayne, thank you for your input on this frustrating problem! I always shoot RAW, and wasn't aware of the LR difference in processing. It is true that most images need adjustment. But my point is that perhaps they wouldn't if LR didn't make this little adjustment! Agreed that some photos are not worth working on, and it's taken me a while to get to the point where I can see that, before spending any time on them.

Before I used LR I used Aperture and it was the same way. If there is a program that converts RAW photo without making them dull, I am not aware of it.

To dive way into the technical details:

The RAW file contains a few different formats of images. All of them have multiple uses. First, the RAW contains literally the raw data that was "seen" by the sensor. It also contains a couple of different images that contain luminance levels, a thumbnail image (which is what you see on the camera), and some other technical information such as RGB mapping etc. The small thumbnail jpg you see in the camera screen is with all of the white balance/contrast settings etc that your camera would have automatically applied had you shot in one jpg capture mode.

When you move the RAW file into the computer, some photo processing software will read that thumbnail info and use it to help get you closer to what the processed image will look like, some will just give you the RAW. The RAW is important because it contains ALL of the data. A Jpg throws out some data (in dark shadows or bright highlights etc for example, because it's perceived that they won't be visible. When you use a RAW file for processing, you can recover some of those blown-out highlights or masked shadows to a certain extent because the data is still there in the file.

To Wayne's point, the RAW will usually look dull, unsaturated, sometimes under/overexposed. That's where lightroom comes in... you can tweak the photos to your liking. If you shot a bunch of them on the same day in the same kind of lighting, you can sync those tweaks to multiple photos at the same time so you can hopefully save time in processing.

If you don't like the idea of having to process photos - which can be a very rewarding, albeit very time-consuming task... I recommend you shoot in Jpg mode just for simplicity's sake. If you want to learn processing and techniques, then RAW is the way to go as it ultimately gives you a lot more flexibility in manipulating the images you've captured. Some cameras have the ability to shoot both in RAW and in Jpg at the same time. That's a good option too, especially if you want the flexibility to process an image, but also want to be able to use some images much more quickly for sharing on facebook etc. (You likely won't want to process all of your photos... only the really special ones). The only drawback to RAW+JPG is that you fill your memory card/hard drive a lot faster because you're saving essentially 2 copies of each photo.. unless you're good about being pretty objective and deleting ones you just don't like and storing only those that you truly want to save.

I'll add this as well. It might sound like a broken record... BUT... use a calibration tool for your monitor!

If you edit RAW files or JPGs using an un-calibrated monitor, your results will only look correct on YOUR monitor. Some of that can be overcome by learning to use the historgram function(s) of LR or other photo editing software, but that's a little more advanced than just simple visual tweaks.

When you import RAW files, they will look exactly the way you tell (or don't tell) Lightroom to make them look. In the import panel, there is an Apply During Import tab that includes a Develop Settings drop-down menu. This allows you to choose to apply one of your Develop presets to all the files you're importing. It sounds like you would prefer to start from a semi-developed image rather than a neutral blank slate (not my choice, but I won't get into that), so what you can do is go into your Develop module and create a generic starter preset - for example, you might set Auto or As Shot white balance, -50 highlights, +50 shadows, add a little contrast, clarity and a modest amount of sharpening and select a medium profile like Camera Standard or Adobe Standard from the Camera Calibration tab. You might also want to check Remove Chromatic Aberrations and Enable Profile Corrections in the Lens Corrections tab. Name it Generic Import or something and save it to a new preset folder called Import Presets. Now, when you go to import files, you just apply that preset on import. Over time, if you find that you're shooting batches of different types of subjects and want to create a set of more specific presets tailored to different kinds of shoots, you can certainly do that.

I would also suggest that you go to YouTube and run a search for the version of Lightroom you have. There are literally hundreds of videos and tutorials that will help you learn just about every aspect of photo processing in Lightroom. It was a godsend for me when I was learning how to use Lightroom and it still is.