LUT’s vs. Presets | Create a Consistent Look & Edit Images Like a Pro

Editing tricks, core differences, similarities, and more…

Underwater 2 After
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Digital photography and filmmaking has evolved into an incredible, seeping amount of cinematic goodness. This new wave of technology has emphasized color science towards a whole new direction. Composition and the rule of thirds are just the beginning, whereas color grading is now one of the most sought after talents in the creative universe. Color play fantastically breathes life into your scenes and creates a unique vibe that is hard to replicate otherwise..

“Presets” and “LUTs” are the way to get there. While they are heavy buzzwords, they pack a lot of meaning. But what are they exactly? And what do they do? Are there differences or similarities?

This article is here to find out.

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Before - Unedited
After - Edited w/ Quartz Preset
Taylor unedited

Unedited.

Taylor embarcadero

Edited w/ Embarcadero Preset.

Taylor onyx

Edited w/ Onyx Preset

Taylor ms moody

Edited w/ Ms. Moody Preset

What is a LUT?

LUT stands for “Look Up Table” and is commonly programmed for video editors and filmmakers. They are essentially a simple way to alter an image’s color and tone. They will re-work and re-map the color science of an image from its original state onto a target output of one’s particular taste. They are simple by nature, and can either target a single color or multitude of colors.

Commonly used in the filmmaking world, LUT’s are used to give sharper, more clinical digital footage to look like an older motion picture film stock. This is a really excellent way to make your footage look more cinematic and Hollywood-style.

But, while they are more common for filmmakers, you can also use LUT’s for still images. They can be easily adjusted to manipulate select hues. However, an important note to make is that they target a narrower set of image parameters. Though — a preset, on the other hand, adjusts a much wider range of parameters. A preset can contain a LUT, but a LUT is not generally referred to as a preset. But we’ll get into that in a second…

Like image presets, LUT’s can also be applied as layers to allow the user to adjust opacity to further edit your look. They are incredibly powerful and easy to use image editing tools, as well as footage manipulators.

What Is a Preset?

Cultivating a consistent look to an Instagram feed is all the rage of the modern technological world. Influencers and creatives alike prefer to create a consistent vibe to their body of work. Presets are the perfect testament to that level of consistency.

Presets are custom looks applied to photo editing software, like Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop. Unlike a LUT, presets manipulates a wider set of image parameters than simply color or tone.

While the two terms are often interchanged, filters are much different than a preset. Filters often change basic settings, like exposure or color tone, whereas a preset can be modified and integrated into specific programs with more advanced editing changes (RGB, curves, etc.) Filters are typically seen as an overlay, whereas a preset is an inter-linked manipulation tactic of the image’s property.

Presets are a really excellent way to hone in your style as a digital creator. With how uniquely different each preset can be, you can get universally creative with how you edit your image based on your set parameters.

They are an excellent strategy to create that consistent look, while simultaneously marking your brand.

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Before
After
Building embarcadero

Edited w/ Embarcadero Preset.

Building 1979

Edited w/ 1979 Preset.

Creating a Consistent Look

Every photo differs in subject, tone, light, and composition. But if you edit every image in a batch differently, you’ll end up with a body of work deemed inconsistent, and frankly messy. However, adding a preset onto all of the images and only customizing where it’s needed from there, your batch will now have a tonal theme and universal style. Presets set the tone, literally, for every image in your batch. There is a standard foundation to follow, and presets will tie together everything quite nicely — all while being important for a blog post, delivering a project to a client, or for your Instagram feed.

The uniquely exciting part about presets are the creators and individuals that make them. The possibilities are endless when creating a style or look for your body of images. Presets range from different lighting techniques, to skin tone, to moodiness, etc. There is quite literally an infinite amount of possibilities to choose from.

Your time as a photographer or filmmaker is valuable. I cannot stress how incredibly important presets are in saving you time. With gained efficiency and practice, it generally takes me no more than just a few minutes to correctly and properly edit an image in my batch.

Presets are the most time efficient method, and an immensely simple way to mark your brand with a recognizable brand.

Possibilities Are Endless

The uniquely exciting part about presets are the creators and individuals that make them. The possibilities are endless when creating a style or look for your body of images. Presets range from different lighting scenes, to skin tone, to moodiness, etc. There is — quite literally — an infinite amount of opportunities to create what you envision. Even the slightest movement of a parameter or curve level might drastically shift the color science of your photo.

Influencers, photographers, famous filmmakers, and classic color grading scientists provide a multitude of different looks made available to the public today. Style your images just like your favorite account on Instagram, or create something entirely by yourself with just a few clicks of a button.

It’s really that simple.

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Before
After w/ Underwater Preset

The Moment Preset Store…

Moment is proud to introduce our latest Preset store. Selling both presets and LUT’s, this store is full of magic tricks for your content and art batches. All fresh looks made from the most amazing creators you follow, all while being easy to purchase and apply in minutes. We, as a team, I have been working on this project for over a year and are incredibly stoked to now sell digital goods to our marketplace for creatives. With dozens — and almost soon to be hundreds — of presets and footage LUT’s to choose from, there is a vibe for everyone’s needs.

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