Presets vs. Actions: What's the Difference -

Presets vs. Actions: What's the Difference

Presets vs. Actions: What's the Difference

Are you a photographer who's mixing up Lightroom Presets and Adobe Photoshop Actions? Don't worry, you're not alone. In fact, we've all been there at some point – even the most seasoned pros.

No worries though because this should help clear up any confusion! 

lightroom presets

First things first, let's define what these things are. Lightroom Presets are pre-defined settings for Lightroom that allow you to quickly apply specific adjustments to your photos. These adjustments can include things like exposure, contrast, white balance, and more. These presets can also be used in Adobe Camera Raw within Adobe Photoshop. 

lightroom presets

Photoshop Actions, on the other hand, are recorded sequences of steps that can be played back on other images to achieve a specific effect. These steps are broken down into layers where you have the option to adjust each layer to your liking. 

Let's dive a little deeper into the differences between Lightroom Presets and Adobe Photoshop Actions.

  • Compatibility: Lightroom Presets can only be used in Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw while Adobe Photoshop Actions can only be used with Adobe Photoshop. 
  • File Type: Presets for the most current version of Lightroom (such as Lightroom Classic CC and Lightroom CC) are XMP files. The presets that are used for the mobile app, Lightroom CC, when downloaded straight to your phone are called DNG files. Photoshop actions for Adobe Photoshop Creative Cloud and Adobe Photoshop Elements are called ATN files
  • Adjustment options: Lightroom Presets can be adjusted after running the preset. Photoshop Actions, on the other hand, can include a wider range of adjustments and can even include things like layer masks and filters.
  • Ease of use: Lightroom Presets are designed to be applied with a single click, making them super easy to use. Photoshop Actions, on the other hand, require you to play back the recorded sequence of steps on each image. 
  • Fun factor: This one is subjective, but I do love the versatility of a good Photoshop Action. Lightroom Presets get the job done but are a little more limited to adjusting.

photoshop actions

Here are some other resources that will help you get started with either Adobe Photoshop Actions or Adobe Lightroom Presets. 

I hope that cleared up any confusion! Like always, if you have any questions, comment below! 


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