Actions and presets are incredibly useful ways of speeding up your workflow when processing photos. Instead of individually re-creating your settings for each photo in Photoshop or Lightroom, you can essentially copy and paste all your preferred adjustments. Let’s check out the differences between the two.
What Is an Action?
Actions are used within Adobe Photoshop. They’re a series of adjustment layers used on a JPG file that are usually placed within a group. As a note, many actions will not work in Photoshop Elements because the advanced layers are not available in the program.
What Is a Preset?
Presets are used within Adobe Lightroom. They can work both on RAW or JPG files. Instead of layers of adjustments, they are saved settings that can later be adjusted individually.
Pros and Cons
The choice between using presets or actions comes down to the kind of work you'll primarily be doing. If you're a wedding or event photographer and have to go through hundreds to thousands of photos, using presets in Lightroom will be much faster than running actions in Photoshop. If you're working on fewer photos though, using actions in Photoshop allows you much more flexibility. Within Photoshop, you have the ability to mask out areas you don't want affected by the action. Actions also enable you to go into the layers and make adjustments, to change the opacity, and to combine multiple actions on a single photo.
For photographers starting out with post-processing, getting started with actions and presets will save a considerable amount of time. Let us know in the comments section below if you create your own presets and actions or what the favorites you've purchased are.