Lightroom and Canon RAW Color Temperature

OK – I admit that I am still using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 1.3 – yet the bug I discovered yesterday is annoying, and I do not believe it to be fixed in the bug fixes issued after 1.3.

Apparently, Lightroom is unable to correctly read the color temperature from the 1ds mark II when the camera has been set to a fixed value. I was shooting a wedding yesterday, and I tried using a fixed color temperature of 5800 K in order to get realistic skin tones for immediate review on the venue. On the camera display, the results were already promising. Yet, when I imported the photos to Lightroom, the software shows a color temperature of 5450 K in Develop Mode, while still claiming this to be “as shot”.

At first, I thought I accidently changed the setting on the camera, but no – even now the camera shows 5800 K.

So why, the heck, is Lightroom displaying a different value?

[Edit: Added two pictures for clarification]

Color temperature 5800 K on 1d mark II N
Color temperature on camera is forced to 5800 K…

Lightroom WB display
…yet Lightroom insists that I did the shot at 5450 K?!

5 Responses to “Lightroom and Canon RAW Color Temperature”

  1. Dietmar says:

    Hi Mark,

    apparently I have had a similar problem, though I am not sure if this is related.

    My Lightroom used to show pictures with a wrong white balance always. First after the export to JPEG the images (viewed in a different viewer application) looked ok. Or in different words, when I adjusted them in Lightroom and them exported them to JPEG they used to look “cold”.

    It turned out that I had to add some addtional color profiles to my graphics adapter (using Windows XP). I added all profiles that looked like to be related to Adobe, Apple or sRGB.

    Now my Lightroom managed to display a proper white balance.

  2. admin says:

    Hi Dietmar,

    no, the color balance on my monitor is fine.

    The problem that I noticed with Lightroom is quite specific. Here’s what I do:

    * Use a 1ds mk II (or 1d mark II N)
    * Shoot in RAW
    * Force the color temperature to 5800 K in the camera
    * Import the shots into Lightroom and go to “Develop” mode
    * Under WB the software says “as shot”, but displays a color temperature of 5450 K (instead of 5800 K as set in the camera).

    This causes the images to look slightly cooler than intended. (Not that I mind a “cool” photo, but not color-wise.) *grin*

    I force the color temperature in the camera to 5800 K because it allows me to get a more consistent look across multiple shots of the same scene (which is quite important for weddings), especially for outdoor shots. Of course, I know that RAW lets me adjust color temperature later, but I need a consistent look on location, e.g. to show to the bride and groom.

    I think this is a yet undiscovered bug of Lightroom. Maybe it got fixed with ACR 4.4 and the LR update to 1.4.1? Then again, 1.4.1 seems to be not the best upgrade choice from what I read in the Adobe forums.

    Thanks for your comment anyway! :-)

  3. roger says:

    I am having the same issue with Bridge & CS2. We forced a setting of 5000 in camera yet the ‘as shot’ reading in Bridge is 4800 ????

  4. Jesse says:

    I am experiencing the very same problem. I am using LR v2.7, Canon 5D Mark II, and even though I manually set the temperature on the camera to 5500, LR registers it at 5100. Likewise, when set to 5000, LR registers it as 4700.

  5. Jesse says:

    I received the following explanation from

    “What’s happening here is just that the numbers disagree, but the neutral color is still neutral. This is nothing to worry about.

    In the raw data, the white balance is not recorded as a temperature in degrees Kelvin — it is recorded as coordinates in the color space used by the camera. Because Lightroom does not use the same profile as the camera in making its raw conversion, it might decode that to a different numerical temperature value , but the neutral color will still be neutral.”