Q - Why does the color and/or tone of my image change after import?
Response courtesy of Jeff Schewe:
A - When you import into Lightroom the first thumbnails you will see appear
are the embedded thumbnails in your images. In the case of raw files, the
thumbnails are automatically generated by your camera but based only on your
camera's settings, not Lightroom's default settings for your camera.
After importing and depending on Preview settings (whether you chose to
generate "full-sized" preview upon import), Lightroom will generate a thumbnail and
preview based upon Lightrooms default settings for your camera-unless you
also chose to import while applying a Develop preset.
Why don't they match? Because cameras processed thumbnails are based upon
the camera company's defaults, and the odds are that the Lightroom
interpretation of the same image data will be different.
Which is correct? Technically, in the case of a raw file, there is no
"correct" answer. Raw files need to be rendered.
One of the advantages of shooting raw is that the resulting raw capture is
open to various renderings without any destruction to the original
data-meaning you can change and alter the image to make it look the way YOU
If you are constantly altering the settings for images a certain way, it may
be that you should create a Develop preset so you can automatically apply
that when you import. Adjusting the general settings such as Brightness and
Contrast or Saturation or Vibrance or in the Calibrate panel, (the way in
which colors are rendered) can be saved as a user named setting that you can
apply when importing image from your camera.
It should be noted however, that image or scene specific settings may still
need to be applied image by image.
Note: above discussion also applies to images shot with B&W settings in camera.