I try to avoid LUTs completely and just color-correct the image manually in a variety of nodes, using Curves, Offset, LGG, Log, and other controls. The advantage of doing it this way is you can precisely tailor the correction for the specific image and the way it’s shot and exposed. A LUT (particularly an off-shelf LUT) has no way of knowing the characteristics of the specific shot you’re trying to correct.
Having said that: you can take the advice of Patrick Inhofer over on MixingLight.com and use what he calls the “3-node Technique.” The first node adjusts the camera material to a reasonable starting level; the second node contains the LUT itself; the third node corrects after the LUT. That can work and produce a pleasing image.
But… I say you can often get there by throwing the LUT out and doing the exact same thing manually. Over time, you can build up a collection of looks (or even set-up grades), and use them as PowerGrades so you can show your clients a variety of looks. It’s possible to show them quite a few looks at the same time using the Split-Screen feature (described in the manual).
I don’t have a problem with a custom LUT created specifically for a given shot. But that’s not a traditional “look LUT” that people sell on the net for $9.95. Note that LUTs will not work if you make drastic changes in color space or gamma space, like jumping into P3 or HDR. That’s one advantage of doing manual corrections, because those will work and the results are more predictable.
I tend to do the three node technique as well. I’m shooting with Blackmagic cameras and the LUTs work in the three node mode. Node two is the standard Blackmagic LUT so I have pre and post LUT tweaking. I tend to use node one to set white, black & gamma then node three onwards for contrast, curves, sat, CB etc then power windows last.
I would get projects where Im told to use a LUT.
Boy there are times when your just fighting with that NODE.
I use it at the start when asked.
I will one day try Patricks way ☺
I learned a lot from him years ago.
I find as long as the pictures match and the clients are happy, nothing else matters. Whether you get there with a LUT or some other way doesn’t matter, either. And the advantage of not using a LUT is that you have exact control over every aspect of the image… once you establish the curves, secondaries, and other settings needed for the correction. And that’s basically what color-correction is, at least to my way of thinking.