Export LUT

Lightroom Plugin


Export LUT generates 3D color lookup tables from Lightroom develop presets or the develop settings of a photo. These LUTs can then be used in other applications to apply the look of the preset to videos or photos. The LUTs are created in the IRIDAS/Adobe .cube format.

Try it for free (limited to cubes of size 4x4x4 and smaller).

Buy a license for $9.95.

Download and Install

Export LUT requires Lightroom 5.7 or later, and on Mac, OS X 10.8 or later (any version of Windows is OK).

  1. Download exportlut.1.15.zip.

  2. If you're upgrading from a previous version of Export LUT, exit Lightroom and replace the existing exportlut.lrplugin folder with the new one extracted from the downloaded .zip. Restart Lightroom and you're done.

  3. If this is a new installation, extract the folder exportlut.lrplugin from the downloaded .zip and move it to a location of your choice.

  4. In Lightroom, do File > Plug-in Manager.

  5. Click Add, browse and select the exportlut.lrplugin folder, and click OK (Windows) or Add Plug-in (Mac OS).

The free trial is limited to exporting cubes of size 4x4x4—to export larger cubes, you’ll need to buy a license.

Buy a License
  1. Buy a license for $9.95:
    Add to Cart
    The license includes unlimited upgrades. Make sure you're satisfied with the free trial before buying.

  2. Copy the license key from the confirmation page or confirmation email.

  3. Do Library > Plugin-Extras > Export LUT.

  4. Click Buy.

  5. Paste the key into the License key box and click OK.

Using Export LUT

Creating a LUT

Invoke File > Plug-in Extras > Export LUT and then:

  1. Choose the currently selected photo(s) or one or more presets as the source of the develop settings. One LUT will be generated for each photo or preset selected.

    If you see the warning "Selected presets or photo have develop settings that can’t be represented by LUTs", click the Show Settings button; see Limitations of LUTs.

    If you see the warning , "This is a raw photo. Non-raw photos better approximate the appearance of a LUT’s look", use a TIFF or JPEG instead. See Limitations of LUTs.

    If you see the warning, “The selected photo doesn’t have an embedded color profile”, you’ll need to assign the correct color profile to the photo. See Video Color Management.

  2. Choose the color profile representing the color space of the images or videos to which the LUTs will be applied. For example, if you’re working with video, you’ll probably choose one of the Rec 709 profiles (see Video Color Management). It’s important to use the correct color profile, otherwise the LUT won’t accurately recreate the look of the presets or photo.

  3. Choose the quality of the LUTs, the number of grid points per color channel. If you’re not sure, refer to the application in which you’ll be applying the LUTs.

    There can be noticeable differences between 32, 64, and 100, with differences above 128 hard to discern. But keep in mind that doubling the size of the quality increases the total size of the LUT by eight, and it can take eight times as long to create and apply to video (unless your software is using hardware acceleration). Some video software will clumsily grind to a halt if you try to use very large sizes (e.g. 256).

  4. Choose the destination folder and filename for the generated LUTs. By default the LUTs will have filenames of the form presetorphoto-colorprofile-gridpoints.cube. You can enter your own filename template using the Token dropdown menu.

    Select Generate legacy-format .cube files if your video editor or LUT utility complains it can’t read the LUT. The program "ffmpeg" and the LUT Utility for Final Cut Pro X are two culprits that need this option (they don’t fully implement the Adobe/IRIDAS standard).

Preview LUT

The best way to judge a LUT is to apply it to your videos or images, of course. But you can approximate the LUT’s look within Lightroom using the Preview LUT command. It simply applies the chosen presets to the selected images, minus the develop settings that LUTs can’t represent.

To use Preview LUT, first import and select one or more images that are representative of the videos or photos to which you’ll be applying the LUT. It’s best to use TIFFs or JPEGs rather than raws, since presets can look differently applied to raws. Then invoke File > Plug-in Extras > Preview LUT and choose one or more develop presets.

Preview LUT will then make a virtual copy for each selected image and preset, which you may then examine and compare.

The Export LUT Collection Set

The Export LUT collection set contains two collections:

OK to Delete: Export LUT needs to create and import temporary images to build LUTs. The plugin deletes these from disk, but unfortunately Lightroom doesn’t allow plugins to delete images from catalogs. So you can clean up these images yourself by selecting all the images in this collection and typing Alt-Delete (Windows) or Option-Delete (Mac).

Preset Previews: Every virtual copy created by the Preview LUT command is placed in this collection, making it easy to find and delete. To delete them from your catalog, just select them and do Alt-Delete (Windows) or Option-Delete (Mac).

Assign Color Profile

Use the Assign Color Profile command to assign a color profile to one or more photos. Select the photos and do File > Plug-in Extras > Assign Color Profile. You'll be shown the currently assigned profile (if any) and a drop-down of color profiles installed on your computer. See Importing Frames for when to use this command.

Limitations of LUTs

Many Lightroom develop settings cannot be represented accurately by LUTs, including Shadows, Highlights, Clarity, Dehaze, Sharpening, Vignetting, and Grain. When exporting develop settings as a LUT, you will be warned if the selected photo or presets contain any of those incompatible settings, and except for Shadows and Highlights, Export LUT will ignore them when creating a LUT. Many popular Lightroom develop presets use those settings to a greater or lesser degree.

In general, LUTs can only represent develop settings that transform a given input color to the same output color uniformly throughout the image. But a develop setting like Clarity can transform a given input color to many different output colors, depending on the location of pixels with that input color and the colors of nearby pixels. LUTs are incapable of representing such transformations. (Mathematically, LUTs are functions mapping pixel colors to pixel colors; whereas develop settings are functions that take additional inputs, such as the location of the pixel within the image and the colors of nearby pixels.)

Further complicating the issue, many of Lightroom’s develop settings are “image-adaptive”. An image-adaptive setting may transform a given color in one image differently than in another, depending on the images’ content. For example, a Shadows setting of +30 may lighten a given color in one image more than in another. Since Export LUT uses a test pattern to translate develop settings into a LUT, the effect of a setting on a color in the test pattern may not be exactly the same as on the image you’re viewing in Develop.

Image-adaptiveness is why a develop setting applied to a raw may produce a slightly different effect than the same setting applied to a TIFF or JPEG exported from the raw. Since Export LUT uses TIFF test patterns, to get the best results, use non-raws (JPEG, TIFF, PSD) when previewing and creating LUTs.

Yet another reason to avoid using raws is that Export LUT can't represent the effect of camera profiles. Some of VSCO presets use custom camera profiles and Export LUT can't reproduce the effect of the profiles (since Export LUT's test pattern is a TIFF and camera profiles can only be applied to raws).

Coping with the Limitations

Don't use raw photos: As explained above, use non-raw photos (JPEG, TIFF, PSD) when previewing or creating LUTs.

Use Tone Curve for large tonal changes: My experience has been that, for small and modest changes to the Basic develop settings of normally exposed photos, the exported LUT is usually fairly accurate. But for larger changes in the settings, especially with Highlights, Shadows, Whites, and Blacks, and with under- or over-exposed images, the exported LUT is less accurate due to their image-adaptive property.

To make large changes to highlights, shadows, and the white and black points, use the Tone Curve panel instead – it appears that it is not image-adaptive, and thus its changes will be more accurately captured by exported LUTs. You can change the white and black points with the custom point curve. Then click the curve icon in the lower-right corner of the panel and use the Highlights, Lights, Darks, and Shadows sliders to adjust the different regions of the tone curve.

Auto Tone: The Auto Tone setting can’t be directly represented by LUTs, since the actual develop settings applied by Auto Tone will change from image to image. However, you can apply Auto Tone (or the preset containing Auto Tone) to a representative image (e.g. a video frame) and then create a LUT from that image’s settings.

Video Color Management

To ensure your LUTs accurately recreate the look you see in Lightroom, you’ll need a workflow that’s correctly color-managed. This takes some attention to details, since the photo and video worlds approach color management much differently.

Calibrated Monitors

If you don’t have calibrated displays for both Lightroom and your video-editing software, all bets are off. The results of applying the LUT to your video are unlikely to match the original appearance in Lightroom.

Premiere Pro and Resolve assume you are viewing your video edits on a second monitor calibrated to the Rec 709 broadcast standard—neither program uses color profiles produced by your Mac or Windows calibrator (i1 Display, Spyder, etc.). So unless you have a Rec 709 second monitor or a display such as an Eizo that can emulate a Rec 709 monitor in its own firmware, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to match colors between Lightroom and Premiere Pro or Resolve. (Don't be fooled by Resolve 12.5's option "Use Mac Display Color Profile for Viewers—the manual states that “custom calibrated .icc profiles are not supported at this time".)

I believe Final Cut Pro X is fully color-managed and uses the calibrated color profile assigned to your Mac’s display (but I haven’t verified it).  As long as you've calibrated your display, Final Cut Pro X should faithfully display video colors.

Color Space of the Project Timeline

You’ll need to determine the color space of the video project’s timeline—this is the color space in which the video edits are being made and displayed. Export LUT can only work with the color space Rec 709 with a gamma of 2.2 or 2.4.

In Premiere Pro, it appears the timeline is always in Rec 709, with a gamma of 2.4 (but I haven’t found authoritative documentation.)

In Resolve 12.5, by default the project timeline is in Rec 709, with a gamma of 2.4. You can verify this by going to the Color Management tab in the project settings.

I don’t know what Final Cut Pro X uses by default, but I’m guessing its Rec 709, gamma 2.2 or 2.4.

Importing Frames

If you’re importing video frames into Lightroom, the frames must be assigned the profile of the color space of the video project’s timeline. Use the File > Plug-in Extras > Assign Color Profile command to check the profile and assign one if necessary. Once assigned the correct profile, the appearance of the frame in Lightroom should match its appearance in your video editor.

The Export LUT command will warn you if the selected photo is missing a color profile. Cancel the command, assign a profile with Assign Color Profile, and then check the photo’s appearance in Develop before invoking Export LUT again.

Export LUT includes two color profiles, Rec 709 Gamma 2.2 and Rec 709 Gamma 2.4. You may have other Rec 709 profiles installed on your computer, but beware their gamma may not be apparent from their names.

Frames exported by Premiere Pro and Resolve aren’t assigned any profile. (I don’t know what Final Cut Pro X does.) Lightroom will assume incorrectly such frames are in the sRGB color space, while they are actually in the timeline’s color space (usually Rec 709). If you don’t assign a profile to the frames, there will be a tonal and contrast shift between Lightroom and the video editor.

Color Profile for Export LUT

 In the Export LUT command, select the color profile corresponding to your video project’s timeline. If you select the wrong profile, the LUT won’t accurately create the look of the selected presets or photos. (See Importing Frames for the two Rec 709 color profiles included with Export LUT.)

Log-Encoded Video

If you are editing log-encoded video (Sony S-Log, Canon C-Log, Arri Alexa LogC, etc.), you must first convert it to Rec 709 in your timeline before applying a LUT created by Export LUT.

Resolve provides the capability of editing log video directly without converting to Rec 709, by setting the timeline to be in the color space of the log-video encoding. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a way to create two-way ICC color profiles fully representing those color spaces, and without such profiles, it isn’t possible to use Export LUT.

(I had earlier written that Light Illusion’s Spaceman utility could create such profiles, based on the mistaken initial assurance of Spaceman's author. After I purchased a license for $183 based on that assurance, the author prevaricated unprofessionally for a few months before finally admitting he had forgotten how his product worked and that it couldn't do what he had told me. He refused to refund the purchase.)

Keyboard Shortcuts

Windows: You can use the standard menu keystrokes to invoke Export LUT commands. For example, ALT+L opens the Library menu, U opens the Plug-in Extras submenu, and X invokes the Export LUT command.

To reassign a different final keystroke to an Export LUT menu item, edit the file Info.lua in the plugin folder. Move the & in front of the desired letter in the menu command’s name, changing the name itself if necessary.

Mac OS: You can use the standard mechanism for assigning application shortcuts to plugin menu commands. In System Preferences > Keyboard > Keyboard Shortcuts > Application Shortcuts, select Adobe Lightroom. Click "+" to add a new shortcut, in Menu Title type the name of the menu command preceded by three spaces. For example, if you wanted to assign a key to the Export LUT > Export LUT command, type "<space><space><space>Export LUT". In Keyboard Shortcut type the desired key or key combination.

Support

Please send problems, bugs, suggestions, and feedback to

I’ll gladly provide free licenses in exchange for reports of new, reproducible bugs.

Known limitations and issues:

  • Export LUT requires Lightroom 5.7 or later – it relies on features missing from earlier versions. 

  • On Mac, OS X 10.8 or later is required. Export LUT will fail with a cryptic error message on 10.7 or earlier.

  • On Windows, if the plugin is installed in a folder whose path contains non-English characters, a cryptic error message may result.  Install the plugin in a folder whose path doesn't contain such characters. There's a mysterious problem with the Exiftool utility I haven't figured out.

Version History

1.2
  • Initial release.
1.3
  • Fixed error that occurred when the option One or more develop presets had never been selected.
1.4
  • Plug-in window gets properly sized on smaller screens.
  • Now handles unknown development settings in presets and photos more gracefully, listing them as "Unknown" rather than assertion failure.
  • Correctly handles the develop setting WB: Auto (auto white balance).
1.5
  • Requires Lightroom 5.7 or later.
  • Expanded documentation on video color management and LUT limitations.
  • Correctly identifies develop settings introduced in recent Lightroom releases (e.g. Dehaze).
  • Option to generate legacy-format .cubes for Final Cut Pro X LUT Utility and "ffmpeg".
  • Two Rec 709 profiles included.
  • Warning if selected photo doesn't have an assigned profile.
  • Assign Color Profile command.
  • Color profiles listed by full description rather than filename.
1.6
  • Plugin couldn't be installed in folders whose paths contained spaces.
1.7
  • Fixed bug with non-English characters in file and folder names. (The plugin still may fail on Windows if installed in a folder whose path contains such characters.)
1.8
  • Fixed another bug with non-English characters in file and folder names, causing ExifTool to fail ungracefully; better logging in debug.log.
1.9
  • Fixed bug with ICC profiles whose names are numbers.
1.10
  • Added warning for very large LUT sizes.
1.11
  • Handles non-English characters in usernames on Windows (works around a bug in ExifTool).
  • Correctly handles case-sensitive volumes.
  • Fixed bug on Windows where the list of presets froze on startup if Selected photo was previously selected. (This was caused by a Lightroom bug.)
  • Updated to ExifTool 10.58.
1.12
  • Fixed recently introduced bug with Windows Lightroom installed on a drive different from that of the home directory.
1.13
  • Fixed typo in 1.12 that made it incompatible with Lightroom 5.
1.14
  • Export LUT can now create LUTs for all the selected photos at once.
  • You can provide your own template for the filenames of the generated LUTs.
1.15
  • Fixed bug with missing photos.
  • Better handling of malformed ICC profiles and non-profile files in the profile directories.

Copyright 2015-17 John R. Ellis