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New vs Old: XMP vs LRTemplate Lightroom Presets

Lightroom presets are incredibly useful but there’s confusion about the new XMP presets and the old LRTemplate presets. The new XMP Lightroom preset format was released in 2018. What’s new and why did they do this? Why are there still LRTemplate presets? In this article, you’ll learn the difference between new and old Lightroom presets.

XMP vs LRTemplate at a Glance

XMP PresetsLRTemplate Presets
Changes to Develop SettingsOptional
Opacity Support
3D LUT Support
Sync to Lightroom Mobile
Nondestructive Workflow
Lightroom VersionCC 2018+Lightroom 4 to CC 2017. Partially supported in CC 2018+

4 Largest Lightroom Issues that XMP Presets Solve

#1: Nondestructive Editing

LRTemplate presets work by changing your develop settings. Often, they overwrite your existing edits. With XMP presets, you’ll sometimes notice that it can do this without changing any of your settings. Unlike LRTemplate presets, XMP presets are safe to use even after making edits to your photo.

#2: Adjustable Opacity

To change the strength of LRTemplate presets, you’ll need to go alter every setting or use a 3rd party plugin (i.e. The Fader). With XMP presets, you’ll find an amount/opacity setting that lets you dial down or up the preset strength.

Important: Not all XMP presets have this feature. Before buying any presets, check the screenshots and description for opacity support.

#3: 3D Color Grading

LRTemplate presets use Lightroom’s develop settings to achieve their look. But these settings are limiting. There are many looks and styles that cannot be achieved using Lightroom settings.

XMP presets support 3D LUT files (or LUTs for short). In simple terms, LUTs are color grading profiles. These allow the preset to alter colors with infinite possibilities – something that can’t be done with LRTemplate presets.

For example, LRTemplate presets can only desaturate the whole range of greens. XMP presets can target a specific range of greens. More advanced use of this is VOXCOLOR’s skin tone protection which lets you use presets that are less harsh on skin tones.

LRTemplate presets (left) have limited color grading capabilities. XMP presets (right) can alter color in a full 3D color space.

#4: Lightroom Mobile

Mobile editing is on the rise and it’s no surprise. LRTemplate presets can technically work with Lightroom mobile, but Adobe has made it difficult to sync LRTemplate presets. XMP presets can be synced to your phone/tablet automatically (Read our guide on how to install Lightroom mobile presets).

XMP presets can also render faster making it suitable for mobile devices. XMP presets made with profiles/LUTs render almost instantly. But this performance improvement depends on how the preset was made. The more Lightroom settings used, the slower it is. And it’s possible for XMP presets to be just as slow as LRTemplate presets.

What to Look For in Lightroom Presets

Eventhough XMP presets have been supported for over a year, many developers are still creating LRTemplate presets. When buying presets, check the screenshots and descriptions for these keywords:

  • XMP files
  • Opacity support/Amount support

Avoid presets that list these features:

  • LRTemplate files
  • Support for Lightroom 4/5/6

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