Ready made Lightroom presets are a godsend for post-production and help make Lightroom the best photo-editing software of all for many photographers – and the best free Lightroom presets can be just as compelling and valuable as paid-for equivalents. But why, exactly, are presets so important, and what do they do?
It's okay to be lazy – or some might say "efficient" – when it comes to editing your photographs. When you've already done all the hard work out on location, lugging around your bagfuls of kit and waiting patiently for the perfect shot, it's more than understandable to not want to spend even more hours in front of your computer perfecting what you've captured, especially if you can find someone who's already done all that work for you.
What is a Lightroom preset?
Lightroom presets take the hassle out of the editing process, applying pre-made effects and adjustments to your images without you having to fiddle with levels and sliders for what might seem like forever. You can often find that a well-crafted preset will give you just the look you want without you having to resort to plug-in tools like the DxO Nik Collection or Alien Skin Exposure 4.5.
So if you want to achieve a particular kind of look or style, instead of having to guess which combination of contrast, saturation, white balance and so on would best achieve the desired effect, you just apply these preset edits with a few quick clicks – and you can add a few final tweaks if you wish.
You can download many different types of presets for many different genres of photography. So you may want to go for a colour preset with slightly lower saturation and contrast when looking to edit a portrait, for example, or a strong, high-contrast black and white option for moody landscapes.
Take the time out of the editing process and dive into these 65 free Adobe Lightroom presets, which we've handpicked to help you perfect your portraits, landscapes and creative images. You might also want to check out or list of 10 hidden features in Lightroom, and if you don't find the look you need in the list below, we can also help you with 25 premium Lightroom presets and plugins for serious photographers.
Haven't got Lightroom yet? You can find out how you can subscribe to it here as part of Adobe's Creative Cloud Photography Plan.
1. Altphotos presets
With presets that dull and darken, presets that brighten and warm, presets that increase contrast and blue tones, and presets that give warm, retro finishes to your images, you'll be sure to find something you like with Altphotos.
2. Shutter Pulse presets
Shutter Pulse creates amazing presets of the highest quality – and, luckily for us, it has whole collections of them free on its site. There are presets for just about everything, too, so if you like what you see then you can purchase full packs.
3. Vintage Vixen
What’s old is new, and that’s certain the case with the vintage look. This portrait preset creates soft tones, a nice brown overlay and added warmth, which can help give you a classic movie star feel to your shots without any loss of quality.
4. Deep Matte
Creating a nice, smooth matte effect in your portrait photographs needn't be too difficult with this useful plugin. It leaves you with solid definition and great toning to your shots, which can add extra dimension and texture.
5. Mini Enlighten presets
The Mini Enlighten presets are great for controlling your exposure and offer great overlays for a professional finish. They make your colours pop without overcomplicating the effect and work really well with portraits in particular.
6. Sepia presets
From soft HDR to clear skin and cold shadows, this pack of presets is useful for applying all kinds of options to your pictures. For a quick burst of nostalgia, any of these presets are really useful.
7. Colour Pop
There's a fine line between beautifully vibrant and garish mess, but with Colour Pop, you never need overstep that mark. While so many presets will turn down the natural saturation, these effects will give them a pleasant boost instead.
8. Grace preset
This Grace preset by Silky Presets is adept at lightening shadows without washing out your picture with a lack of contrast. It's refined, controlled and a good effect to use on a portrait.
9. Warm Retro
Warmth can be tricky to add to your pictures. Too much and you run the risk of an orange overdose, but too little can make your images look washed out. Luckily, this is a preset that fits just between the two.
10. Cole's Classroom presets
With added haze, crispness, summer and black-and-white presets included in this pack, Cole has covered all bases with a fun set of presets. Our personal pick? Big Bold Colour. Check them out.
11. Skin Tone
All portraits need a little bit of editing and tweaking here and there, and getting the skin correct can be one of the hardest things to do. Luckily, this preset does all the hard work for you.
12. Silver Lining
If you're looking for a black-and-white preset but want to avoid high contrast, this glassy, silver lining preset might be just what you need. It takes the colour out of your photos and leaves a classy monochrome finish.
13. Hollywood presets
If it's glamour you're seeking, these presets are the ones for you. With gorgeous toning in a range of styles, you'll feel like a Hollywood superstar in no time. The paid-for Pro version contains 70 presets in total, but you can grab two for free to start you off.
14. Rockwell Warm
Rockwell Warm isn't the warmest preset on the list. In fact, it washes out your colours a little in favour of injecting a little more detail into the image. It's a nice alternative to HDR, but still looks cinematic.
15. Greater Than Gatsby
Perfect for beginners and professionals alike, this set of effects is lifted from a range of Greater Than Gatsby's presets, with the slant towards soft-focus portraits, weddings and shots of kids.
16. BeArt presets
Available on the Adobe website, the BeArt collection is great for beginners but it also contains some great effects that enthusiasts might want to call upon from time to time.
17. Valley Isle sampler
These presets give a lovely, peach-like colour cast while simultaneously softening your picture. They don't wash out your photos but can brighten them up nicely, adding a lifestyle feel.
18. Sleeklens starter pack
This starter pack contains some very good, basic, bread-and-butter presets for adding color and details to your photos, and it's a particularly good option for those beginning with their imaging journey.
19. Urban Presets
If you're not really looking for HDR but you're still seeking a clarity boosting preset, this might just be the one for you. This grungy urban preset does a great job of making the gritty pretty, and is ideal for edgy street portraiture.
20. The Hub
A great option for when you're looking to achieve high-key pictures, these presets accentuate the tones and details and turn your images to black-and-white expressions for an uber-cool finish.
This suite of crisp, punchy presets is ideal for just about every kind of portraiture. From muted, matte-look tones to moody mono treatments and crunchy color boosts, it’s sure to add some pep to whatever portraits you throw at it.
22. The Ultimate Fighter Look
The agonised comic book look that was popularised by the movie 300 was quickly adopted by mixed martial arts organisations such as the UFC as the aesthetic for fighter portraits. If you want to give your images the Leonidas look or touch of TJ Dillashaw, this is the preset for you.
23. Free Portrait Photography Lightroom Preset
This preset adds some serious bite to your portraits. With subtle desaturation, sharpening and contrast boosts in the midtones, your images gain a gritty vibe without succumbing to that overly HDRed look.
24. Photoshoot Preset
This soft, faded, dreamy look adds a hint of vintage elegance to any image. It is particularly suited to portrait photography, though, with its muted contrast and soft colours that recall the look of the old camera lenses that your parents used to shoot with.