Pre-packaged LUTs are not a wise investment

color, Color Grading, Custom LUTs, Look Up Table, LUTs

Pre-made LUTs are not a wise investment.

Buying or purchasing Pre-made or pre-packed LUT’s is not a wise investment.

Because a pre-made LUT is not made for the combination of your camera and the dynamic range captured by your footage.

Let’s have a look why and see some examples of pre-packaged LUTs that simply don’t work. Continue reading on and I’ll explain why.

Taking the theory and examples from our Dynamic Range and LUT’s post, you will see that in diagram below,  the dynamic range of the captured scene is approximately 75% of the editing dynamic range within the editing software.

Here is the diagram again.

Recall from our previous post Dynamic Range and LUT’s the role of a LUT is top adjust the captured and recorded data to fit perfectly within the editing software’s dynamic space for editing. This logic applied to optimising and and all digital imagery.

Remembering, the role of the LUT is to expand the captured data to the full dynamic range of the editing software.

From the diagram above we can strongly claim that the custom LUT applied to the captured date expands that data by 25% to achieved a full tonal range for editing.

In a mathematical equation that amounts to the Captured data being expanded by a factor of 1.33.

But, what if we use that same LUT upon a dynamic range of captured data that is only 65% of your editing dynamic range and you applied the same LUT? That would result in editing data that would fall short of expanding to the full range that your editing software should have. Calculating that: 65 x 1.33 = 86.45% .

Therefore, you would only have 86.45% of editing data resulting in a flat (Lower Contrast) and less colourful image. You have 13.55 % of your editing data missing!, its not being expanded to where it should be.  This is not ideal.

Of a far more worrying concern would be in the situation where your captured data (it’s dynamic range) is 90% of the editing software’s editing space. 90 x 1.33 = 119.7%. That almost 20% too much expansion.

Depending upon rendering intents, your data is either chopped off or missing, or it is butchered way beyond what it should be, resulting in extreme blacks with no detail, highlights blown out with little texture and color saturation clipping that is unacceptable.

End result is an ugly data set and one, due to this extreme expansion, that is volatile and extremely temperamental to any other editing adjustments.

Below is an accurate custom LUT.

The scene above is optimised with a Custom Lut. The tonal range and colors are fitting and suitable for the climate and the mood of the image. Tones are visible and colors are brilliant.

However, viewing the image set below showing examples of premade and pre-packaged LUTs we can clearly see that pre made Luts are not working very well.

Above:  examples display pre-made and pre-packaged LUTs applied to the same footage.

Although some of the LUT shown in the grid image above come close to a certain appeal, they are not correct and many leave no room for further fine tuning and adjustments.


Isn’t it easier to have a LUT that works effectively for your footage?


Some more about the grid image above. The tonal range and color of the example above are applied from premade LUT’s randomly chosen and dowloaded. Each one of the LUT’s promised a certain aesthetically improved look and appeal, but as discussed in this blog post, we can clearly see they don’t work well. Some are close, but close is not good enough for your work. 

Definitely not a wise choice to use the LUTs in the examples above because if the pre-made LUT is not designed for the dynamic range of your captured scene and your camera, then it simple doesn’t suit.

Not a good look, or a wise purchase.


Read some more here:

Custom Luts by Viola Frank

The advantages of a custom LUT 

Dynamic range and LUT’s 

Color Grading or Color Correction

Visual Perception

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