Lightroom Ultimate Guide – Calibration Panel

Lightroom Calibration

The Lightroom Calibration Panel is one of the least used effects panels in the Lightroom Eco-System. The reason is likely that it sits right at the bottom of the effects panels stack in the Develop Module. Additionally though, it is probably one of the least understood panels, therefore, people tend not to use it.

This short article will help to remove the mystery from the Lightroom Calibration panel, and will hopefully enable you to use some of its useful features into your workflow.

Lightroom Calibration Panel

Lightroom Calibration

The Calibration Panel consists of three sections:

  • Process
  • Shadows
  • Primary (Red, Green, Blue)


This section of the Calibration panel enables you control the Lightroom software version. As you would expect, by default it is set to the current software version. By clicking the pull down list you are able to select previous versions. Note that in doing this, you will change all of the menus in the complete eco-system.

In other words, you will find that some functionality in the development module is removed in some of the earlier versions. From a personal perspective, I have never had any cause to adjust the Process to a previous version. Albeit I can see that it would be useful in a photo that you edited in a previous version. That is, in order to validate the exact settings. In any case, the functionality is there should you need it.


The Shadows slider would perhaps sit better in the Lens Corrections panel than the general Calibration panel. If you have ever needed to remove chromatic aberrations in Lightroom, then your first place to go is the check-button in Lens Corrections; called Remove Chromatic Aberrations.

Chromatic aberrations are a form of optical distortion caused by a failure of the lens to focus all of the colours to the same point. Most of the time, Lens Corrections resolves any issues you had. But, sometimes you are still left with some magenta or green tinges in your image.

This is where the Shadows slider comes in, because you can adjust the tint slightly to remove them. So, if you have a slight magenta tint, you move the slider towards green to counteract; and vice versa.

Primary (Red, Green, Blue)

This section of the panel enables global colour and saturation correction on the red, green, and blue (RGB) channels. Why does it target these specifically? Well, all colours in an image are a combination of these three primary colours. An analogy is that it is like mixing paint. Let me explain.

Let’s say you asked 10 people to go into a DIY store and come out with 3 tins of paint, and for which the hues most epitomised the colours red, green and blue. The chances are, that you will end up with a selection of different hues paint.

Lightroom Calibration

In other words, peoples perception of what makes a perfect red, green or blue hue is different because it is personal to them. The same is true in digital photography. When you import a photo into Lightroom, it is presented as a colour profile. You can see some of these profiles in the Basic panel. Here is a screen shot:

Basic Panel

All of these profiles are specific calibrations of RGB that Adobe have created. Similarly you can load in profiles from Canon, Nikon etc.

So the Primary section of the Calibration panel lets you adjust a picture for your own personal preference. Kind of like your own calibration setting!

What would have been nice is if you could save your own settings from this panel, but at the moment you can’t.

Practical Usage of RGB

If you do adjust the RGB in this panel, you need to bear in mind that it is unlike changing a colour in the HSL panel. In that, if you say change the hue of blue in HSL, it literally will only change the visible blue tones in your image.

However, if you adjust the blue in Calibration, you are changing all the colours in the complete image. The reason being that you are changing the RGB mix, kind of like remixing all of the colours of paint in your image.

So what could we use this panel for in a real world situation? Well, let’s say you have a portrait image. You may want to adjust the skin tones slightly to correct them as a result of harsh lighting. In which case, you would target the Red channel and change the hue or saturation very slightly.

Another example could be an image with a slight blue colour cast. Many people would immediately target the tone curves for this, and end up with complex curves to try and eliminate the offending tones. Whereas, a simpler method is to go to the Calibration panel and tune out the offending colour. In this case, just dial back on the blue channel slightly.

If you found this article useful, please check out some of our other Lightroom Articles and How-To-Guides. Here are some you may be interested in:

Lightroom Effects
Lightroom Effects Panel

The Effects Panel in Lightroom allows you to create aesthetic vignette and film grain to your digital images.

Lightroom Transform
Transform Panel

The Transform Panel in Lightroom allows you to correct distortion and perspective effects in your digital images.

Lens Correction
Lightroom Lens Corrections

Lens Corrections is about correcting unwanted distortion, aberrations and vignettes from your digital images.


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