10 Best Free Lightroom Presets
Gone are the days of the film darkroom!
With hundreds of free Lightroom presets available for download, the way we process our digital images has changed in a big way.
The digital darkroom is the new reality for modern RAW shooters. For photographers who started off with film, the darkroom was the moment of truth when every drop of sweat, every last dollar, and every hour they invested appeared in the form of prints.
If you shoot in RAW, and have access to Adobe’s Creative Cloud of tools for Photographers (which includes Lightroom) and download some of these free Lightroom presets you can create amazing effects and give your photos an exclusive touch.
Free Lightroom Presets – What are Presets?
Adobe Lightroom is one of the most popular choices when it comes to post-processing and light retouching work.
Lightroom presets are a set of micro-adjustments that you can record and save for future use. The best thing about presets is that they can be recalled and applied to any of your images with just a single click. Imagine – a single click and all the micro-adjustments that you need are applied to all your images saving you countless hours!.
Intrigued? Well, Lightroom presets are surprisingly easy to find and use.
There are countless presets available from various sources. Some photographers or photo retouchers get very good at what they do and actually end up preferring to sell out their secrets in the form of their own creative set of presets (that is an excellent way to make some money on the side).
They sometimes give away some of their secrets for free. Photographers who love to do their own post-processing work, for whatever reasons may be, are the prime targets for their wares.
If you are on this page, you are likely to be looking for some of the best free Lightroom presets yourself so that you can process your images with the least number of clicks and spend more time behind the camera than in front of a computer screen.
But not everybody can afford to spend hundreds of dollars on Lightroom Presets, at least not early in their career.
So, my friends, without further ado, let’s find out which are the….
The 10 best free Lightroom presets
FREE to download and use
1. Cole’s Classroom
Cole’s Classroom by Cole Joseph offers a suite of 15 Lightroom Presets that are absolutely FREE to use. These include cool effects like Bitchin’ Summer, Winter Haze, Cole’s Bangin’ Bright B&W, Old School Sepia and Faux Film.
Sample of some of Cole's Lightroom Presets
2. Stuck in Customs
Stuck in Customs is the pseudonym used by highly accomplished photographer and self-proclaimed HDR expert Trey Ratcliff. He is an authority on the topic of HDR photography, and that naturally increases the heart beat when he decides to give away some of his personal favorite retouching tricks in the form of Lightroom Presets.
As a trailer to his ever-increasing repertoire of Lightroom Presets, Ratcliff shares five Presets for absolutely free. He says it was a tough job coming up with five because of the sheer volume of Presets that he currently has on offer.
This collection is probably the best free Lightroom Presets from him and includes ‘A Beautiful Release’, ‘On Recreational Drugs’, (pardon for the eccentric names of these Presets, Ratcliff says that he is not totally ‘with it’ when he creates them), ‘Relic’, ‘Steampunk Afternoon’ and ‘Sunday Alone Time’. If you love them Ratcliff comes with a completely fresh pack of Ten Presets on the first of every month. As a loyalty bonus for his fans, he gives them away for half the price for the first day of release only!
Sample of some of Ratcliff's Best Free Lightroom Presets
3. The Sleeklens Starter Pack
Sleeklens has a reputation for producing excellent Presets which anybody can use to enhance their personal and contract work. As somebody who is just starting out in Lightroom and getting a ‘feel' of what Presets can do to their otherwise ‘bland’ photos, it is always a good idea to make a slow start.
A collection of Presets with which you can make global adjustments, and use on a daily basis for most of your photos is probably the best way to go.
Once you have a hang of what you need, you can opt for paid options. In that sense, Sleeklens offers a good selection of 15 free Presets and 5 Premium Lightroom Brushes that work with all versions of Lightroom starting from 4.
You get Cake, Matte, and Vintage – which are sort of global presets. You also get Base Presets like Dream, Vivid, and Winter, Exposure Presets like Brighten and Darken. A great thing about the free pack is that there are also a set of 5 Brushes which ensures easy local adjustments.
Sample of some of Sleeklens' Best Free Lightroom Presets
4. Free Lightroom Presets
Free Lightroom Presets has one click post-processing solutions for most of the life’s candid moments. Shoot full color and post-process in Black & White; just for the sake of it. Shoot stunning landscapes and then transform them into something magical. Shoot still life and turn them into memories of a lifetime.
Sample of the Free Lightroom Presets
Photo Credit: Unsplash
5. Loaded Landscape
Marc Andre, a Pennsylvania-born travel and landscape photographer makes some delightful Presets for Lightroom. Some of these include Black & White HDR. A higher dynamic range is an important requirement for HDR photos.
But when it comes to Black & White photos you no longer have the luxury of colors. You are stuck with only tonal range and this is when your understanding of the Zone system comes into play.
If you don’t know what the Zone System is – relax. There is an easier way out. Andre’s B&W Preset is just what you need. But there are a few more presets that he is currently giving away for free.
Check his website out. Once you visit his site, you will see a pop up where you can sign up and get the 5 free HDR Presets (samples are shown below).
Sample of the HDR Loaded Landscapes Lightroom Presets
6. Shutter Pulse
Shutter Pulse is a great source for free presets. There is a wide variety that you can pick up from them too.
A personal favorite is the Free Film Lightroom Preset. This is always a difficult thing to achieve when you are tweaking the sliders in Lightroom.
This free Lightroom Preset named Soft Wash, and part of a 24 Lightroom Preset pack for Film Effects, allow you to achieve it with the help of a single click.
How cool is that? This particular preset is actually part of a free pack that also includes 20 Photoshop Actions and 19 other Lightroom Presets.
Sample of the Shutter Pulse Lightroom Presets
7. Free Presets
If you are into retro style portraits, engagements or wedding shots this is something that might interest you.
Free Presets have in offer for you what is essentially a couple of samples from its extremely interesting looking Hollywood Collection, Technicolor iii & Stage ii.
Just one catch though, you’ll have to like them or share in order to get access to them. Now, that’s not something that can be a deal breaker, can it?
8. Silky Presets
Silky Presets make some really adorable Presets for Lightroom. These are perfect for photographers looking for soft, warm results. They decided to give away a few for their discerning customers, in a pack that’s aptly named the Silky Sampler.
It contains 10 Lightroom presets, some which golden light shooters would absolutely love to have in their collection. Here’s the download link.
9. Polar PX
The Presets made by Polar PX borders around the fine line between crisp and eccentric. The line is routinely peppered which results in some eccentric creations.
Take for example the Pink Tone preset or for that matter the Rough Preset. At saner times Polar PX comes up with creations like Autumn or Green Boost.
All of these are available for free on their website.
10. Pretty Presets for Sharpening
They each vary in strength, so you have lots of options for your images. Each photo is unique and some many need more (or less) than others.
The presets are great and you can find some good resources at the Pretty Presets Blog for more encouragement with achieving sharper images.
Sample of the 7 Sharpening Presets
How to install your free Lightroom Presets
First things first: If you don't have Adobe Lightroom yet you should get that great piece of software now. Adobe Lightroom is one of the best photo editing software available and now part of the Adobe Creative Cloud Package.
The best part is that you get unlimited access to all the other apps including Photoshop, Premier (for editing movies), InDesign, free storage, website…and much, much more! You can now get Adobe Creative Cloud at a monthly subscription here:
Or if you want only Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom:
- Unzip the free downloaded file (sometimes you need to signup before you can download the free presets)
- Open Lightroom > Click on Lightroom Menu > Preferences
- Open the “Presets Tab”
- Click on: Show Lightroom Presets Folder…
- Drop your unzipped presets folder file into the “Develop Presets” folder
- Restart Lightroom
- You will find your new and best free Lightroom presets in the Develop mode on the left menu bar!
10 Photography Beginner Mistakes & How to Avoid Them
Wanderlust at heart and a shutterbug who loves to document his travels via his lenses; his two passions compliment each other perfectly.
He has been writing for over 7 years now, which unsurprisingly, revolve mostly around his two favorite pursuits.