Why Buying Presets is Better Than Making Your Own

Why Buying Presets is Better Than Making Your Own | Mastin Labs

There’s a heated debate in the photography community about whether or not buying presets is worth it. Today, we’re here to share our two cents on whether buying presets or making your own is the better decision for photographers. Spoiler alert: we believe buying them is the way to go.

But before we get into that, here’s a good analogy that will help our stance on buying presets make more sense. 

Consider when you need to change the oil on your car. Surely, with a little time and elbow grease, you could change the oil on your own, but doesn’t it make way more sense to leave it to the experts? People who are trained to not only get your oil changed quickly and efficiently, but also recognize and take care of any issues that come up along the way. 

Exactly! 

If you would rather take your car to an expert for an oil change, then you already understand the value in tapping into expert  resources to help you in post-processing.

In this post we’re going to make a case for buying presets instead of creating your own. There  are so many benefits to using presets to save time in your workflow, but even more benefits to  buying presets from photographers who understand the logistics and challenges of post processing. 

Keep reading to learn:

  1. What presets are and how to use them.
  2. The benefits of buying presets.
  3. Why you shouldn’t make your own presets.
  4. How to decide on the best presets to buy.

Already convinced that presets would be a good investment for your photography business? Explore the Mastin Labs presets now.

graphic displaying the selection of Mastin blog preset packages.

Buying Presets: What Are They and How Do You Use Them

You may have landed here starting at ground zero with presets and wondering what a preset actually is. To put it simply, presets are predetermined settings saved to help you achieve a specific style of photo.

There are hundreds of different editing tweaks you can use together to create a preset, including:

  • Contrast
  • Shadows
  • Hues
  • White Balance
  • Grain 
  • Tones

Here’s how presets are supposed to work: you select the preset you want, apply it to your photo, and make a few small tweaks, if needed. 

Photographers are most likely to purchase presets, but they aren’t the only ones using them. Other creative individuals and Influencers also buy presets for Instagram and other social media platforms, too. Although not professionals in the industry, they use presets to create a visually streamlined look that appeals to their viewers.

How do you buy and use presets? 

Wondering how to buy presets? With the rise of social media, the preset industry has exploded over the years. No matter where you are in the online or social media space, presets are only ever a click away.

Keep in mind, though, that not all presets are created equal and buying presets from creators who don’t understand photography (and the editing process) in-depth, can result in a lot of frustration when you don’t end up with the look you believed you’d get from purchasing their presets and applying them to your images. 

Here at Mastin Labs, we started shooting many years ago—when film was the only type of photography available—and it taught us to master shooting and developing, which naturally led to a deep understanding of how to get the best results out of digital imagery during post-processing. We’ve spent years perfecting all the ins and outs of our film preset workflow to ensure you can easily get you the look our presets offer. 

The process of buying and using Mastin Labs presets is straightforward and easy, so even if you’re doing it for the first time you can use them with confidence.

Once you choose, buy, and download the photography preset  you want, here’s how you begin applying them in Lightroom:

  1. Open your Lightroom Develop Presets folder on your computer where your presets are stored.
  2. Drag your new presets into the Develop Presets folder on your computer.
  3. Once your presets are in the folder, restart Lightroom. You will find them in the Presets panel on the left side of the develop module. 

Once you start using them, you’ll realize how easy using presets makes photo editing. The Mastin 3-Step Workflow™ looks a little something like this:


  • Step 1: Import & apply presets
  • Step 2: Adjust exposure & white balance
  • Step 3: Export & you’re done

The Benefits of Buying a Preset

Now that you know what a preset is and how to use it,we will make our case as to why purchasing presets is a better option than making your own. 

The benefits of buying and using quality presets is as follows:

Photography presets help you save time.

Yes, presets may require spending a little bit of money, but they save you the most valuable commodity of all: time. By applying presets, you can edit your photos faster and also achieve a consistent, quality look across all of them.

Applying photography presets—especially professionally-created presets—simplifies your workflow, saves you time, and helps your images look their best. 

Presets help you achieve consistent editing with photos.

As we said above, presets are a fantastic way to get visually consistent photos, and this is important when you are delivering large galleries to your clients. Your clients hire you for a certain look and style and they expect uniform results and for their photos.

Achieving a consistent look is important for your photography business, too. After all, your photos advertise your style as a photographer and that style creates an aesthetic that attracts your ideal clients and makes them want to hire you.. So consistency is key!

Presets can be a gateway for new ideas.

We all see the world through our own unique lens, but as creatives it’s easy to get bogged down by that from time to time. Presets allow you to tap into new ideas and ways of editing that you may not have thought of on your own. Buying Lightroom presets or Capture One presets—or presets for whichever editing platform you choose—can create new ways to play with your images that can spark new ideas and inspiration in you. They can also lead to changing your style to one that feels more you than ever before. 

Presets don’t just save you time and help you achieve a consistent look with your images, photography presets can make you a better photographer..They have an uncanny ability to help photographers learn how to find their shooting style, in-camera, so when they apply the presets, it enhances (instead of drastically changes) the original image. 

Using professional photography presets means you step up your shooting game, while also spending less time hunched over your computer in a caffeine-fueled editing frenzy. Which, of course, means more time for you to focus on the other parts of your photography business that need your attention.  

duplicate photo of an edited versus non-edited photo of a man standing against a wall in a white shirt and a red hat and matching red pants

Photo Credit: T-Rex Flowers | Preset: Ektar 100

Why Making Your Own Presets Isn’t the Best Option

Is it bad to buy presets when you could be making your own? It can be tempting to create your own presets, but before you take that leap, let us share some of the reasons why that may not be the best option for you. 

Creating presets takes time.

Creating a quality and useful preset—that you will use again and again—takes time and effort. If you’re already busy or you’d rather be out shooting than indoors editing, then creating your own presets doesn’t make sense. Your time is valuable and limited, so putting in the time to create presets may be cutting into the time you would be spending on other tasks that you enjoy or giving other aspects of your business attention. 

You’re not a post-processing whiz.

Some photographers are experts in everything post-processing, but others are not. It’s okay to not be good at everything, and if you fall into the latter category, you’re not alone. It takes a strong fundamental understanding of photography, light, tones, etc. to create a solid, useful preset. If this area isn’t your strong suit, you will be better off purchasing presets from a trusted source.

Purchased presets are essential tools for a good photography workflow.

Adding a photography preset pack to your workflow is basically an essential tool in your photography toolkit. Once you find one (or several) that work well for you, they become an extension of your shooting arm, so-to-speak. If you’re wasting time creating your own presets, you’re missing out on the freedom of having an efficient workflow based on the tools you already have (such as purchased presets).  

unedited versus edited photo of a woman sitting in a green tank with a vinyl record in her lap using the Portra Pushed preset pack

Photo Credit: Stacey Krolow | Preset Pack: Portra Pushed

How to Decide on The Best Presets to Buy

Should photographers use presets? Yes, but that doesn’t mean you should start purchasing photo presets from anywhere and everywhere. In photography, there are so many places your money could go, so you want to spend it wisely, intentionally, and decide on what presets are worth your investment. PLUS, buying photography presets gives you the opportunity to directly support your photography community.

We recommend getting your presets from a reputable source proven to be experts in the industry. Ask your photography friends who they recommend and take a good look at the reviews for any presets you’re interested in purchasing. Plus, make sure that you look at presets that enhance your style of photography (or the style of photography you’d like to create), rather than change it completely. The last thing you want to do is pay for presets you aren’t happy with and subsequently won’t use. 

What are the best presets for Lightroom? 

We have put a lot of expertise, experience, and heart into creating the most authentic film emulation presets on the market, so you can achieve end results with your photos that you feel ecstatic about.

We’re proud to say that the photographers who use Mastin Labs presets have appeared in Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Grace Ormonde, Destination I Do, Esquire Magazine, and more. 

If you’re buying presets for Lightroom, you’re in the right place. Whether you’re looking to create stark black and white images, light and airy photos, or nail the dark and moody aesthetic, you’re bound to find a preset pack (or multiple packs) in our repertoire that speak to you.

Explore our Lightroom Desktop presets and our Lightroom Mobile presets to see for yourself. 

Are you a Capture One user? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered there too with our Styles for Capture One.

an unedited photo beside an edited photo of a bride on her wedding day in her white dress using Mastin Labs presets

Photo Credit: Dreamy Elk Photography | Preset Pack: Fuji Pushed

Buying Presets is Your Best Option

So, should you buy presets, and are photo presets worth it? Our answer is definitely yes. Buying presets will save you time and energy in the editing process and will create a consistent look to your images that will make your work stand out and be recognized. 

And—because we can’t stress this enough—while we support buying presets, we also support buying the right presets. Put your money towards quality presets from a reputable source that are actually worth the investment. 

Ready to explore Mastin Labs presets? Browse our Lightroom or Capture One presets and find your perfect preset fit today.