Lightroom Photo Import

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom was developed as a workflow solution for photographers who need to import, organize, edit and output large numbers of images, particularly those in Raw file formats. And as with most software tools, there are multiple ways to go about achieving these goals. In this four-page article I'm going to show you what I consider to be the most efficient workflow for importing and organizing your images in Lightroom.

Lightroom is of course, a database-driven application which stores information about your photos in a 'catalog'. Upon initial installation, this Lightroom catalog is empty. You have to import photos into the catalog before you can do anything with them. Populating a new catalog with images is an ideal opportunity to carefully consider how you want to manage these files and establish a solid, consistent working routine. And the first thing to consider is how and where you will be storing the physical bits of your images.

Getting organized

Most of us have photo libraries that have evolved over time, typically with a folder-based heirarchal organization system. Maybe you have files organized in folders by client or subject name. Or you may have diligently created folders which indicate the capture date. Perhaps you have tried following one of Peter Krogh’s recommendations (as described in The DAM book) and used a 'bucket' system to segregate your master files. Or you may have just ended up with a 'total chaos' system that confusingly encompasses all of these approaches, perhaps with images scattered across multiple hard drives.

Lightroom can adapt pretty well to nearly any way you wish to structure your image storage. Note that the Lightroom catalog does not house your original images; instead it contains links or 'pointers' to where they physically reside on a hard drive or removable storage device. Having said that though, the more methodical and consistent you are in the way you import your photos, the easier things will be as you seek to manage these assets in the future.

My rule of thumb is that the amount of time and effort you put in to organizing your photos should be in proportion to the benefits you hope to accrue. For many hobbyists, simply being consistent in where they store their photos during import, while adding a minimal amount of star ratings and keyword tagging is likely to be sufficient. Those who frequently sell their images, however, may find the need to rigorously apply lots of keywords to their images so they and/or their clients can quickly sort and search through vast numbers of images.

Less is more

No matter which end of this spectrum you fall along, I strongly recommend that you manage all of your images with a single catalog. This is, in fact, how I handle my own photos. It doesn't matter if I am shooting for work or personal use – every photo gets imported into the same Lightroom catalog. You don't want to get in the habit of using catalogs to differentiate images. Lightroom offers tools that are much better suited to accomplish that. One instance where I absolutely do recommend using a separate catalog, however, is when testing pre-release, beta versions of Lightroom.

Lightroom's import dialog

In Lightroom 3 and later, the Import Photos dialog (shown below) has been much improved, making the whole process easier to understand and manage. You have the ability to work in a full screen view and manage the source and destination folders for any type of import.

The Import Photos dialog lets you easily specify both the source (1) and destination (2) for the images to be imported. You can toggle between full size and condensed views by clicking the 'Show more options' button (in red).

Click here to continue reading our Lightroom Photo Import article...

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by dpreview.com or any affiliated companies.

Comments

Total comments: 117
cr4gger
By cr4gger (Nov 9, 2012)

Great article but doesn't help with an issue I am trying to solve.... Anyone have any idea how I can tell LR to import my videos to a different location to my photos?? I know I could untick all the video previews, import the photos, then untick the photos and tick the videos, change the location and then import.... but this seems a very long-winded. I would like an option that handles different file types...differently.... any ideas???

0 upvotes
Sammy Yousef
By Sammy Yousef (Oct 24, 2012)

My workflow is very different. I've only every messed with trial versions of Lightroom but i found to my horror that an earlier version was actually modifying my files (meta-data only). My workflow means that the only software to touch the files when they first come in are OS file copy programs.

I copy to a drive in directory structure that follows the pattern: YYYY\YYYYMMDDDescription. If I have multiple cards I am careful that all files have been copied by checking number of files and total size. I then carefully take care of name collisions and move everything into the top level folder for that shoot. I try not to do any editing at this stage as it complicates things. I run pixelfixer over the directory if I've done any high ISO shooting, and I may split the directory into files by different shooters if my wife and son have been using the cameras.

Now I can create a second copy of the directory, wipe my cards, and start editing the primary copy.

0 upvotes
Sammy Yousef
By Sammy Yousef (Oct 24, 2012)

Two more things.

From time to time I run md5sums on the originals so I can check if the file has been altered, and generate a new md5sum for new files. I like to keep pristine copies. Software that modifies my files without my knowledge gets turfed.Hence no Lightroom purchase. I must admit I've neglected to run those md5sums for about a year.

My second copy is on a removable hard drive which is periodically copied to a new drive, with the old drive going either to my mother or mother in law's house- about every few months. Unless the entire city is taken out i should retain my pics for some time as I have multiple off site copies of anything older than a few months..

0 upvotes
Mollysnoot2
By Mollysnoot2 (Oct 24, 2012)

Lightroom doesn't HAVE to write metadata to your files: it's an option you can switch on or off depending on your preference (note that it's on by default though). If you want, LR can just store all the information relating to your images in its catalogue database, and never touch the original files.

M

1 upvote
John Bean (UK)
By John Bean (UK) (Sep 5, 2012)

" One thing worth noting is that if you have an external drive(s) where you store your pictures - and you plug/ unplug the drive from the computer the drive letter may change"

Always give the removable drive an explicit drive letter (Administrative Tools/Computer Management->Disk Management). This will never change and will be used every time the disk is plugged in. Use a letter well down the alphabet so that it won't be "hijacked" by plugging in some other device while this one is absent.

1 upvote
Brent Lossing
By Brent Lossing (Sep 1, 2012)

Good article. One thing worth noting is that if you have an external drive(s) where you store your pictures - and you plug/ unplug the drive from the computer the drive letter may change. In this case I would suggest storing the catalog on the same drive as the photos. If you keep the catalog on the C:\ drive when the external drive letter changes the catalog cannot find the files.

There may be a way around this - but I did not find it and had to start over.

0 upvotes
mestreamador
By mestreamador (Aug 28, 2012)

Martin Evening, li todo seu artigo que para mim e de muita importancia para conter os arquivos de fotografias(tenho, muitas), pois tbém realizo cassamentos, festas aniversarios, inclusive fotos aereas.Gostei demais do assunto e parabenizo pelo seu talento, dedicação e dividir o seu conhecimento conosco, Parabéns e obrigado! pela dica.....
GOD BLESSING YOU
MestreAmador

A chave para trabalhar de forma eficiente no Lightroom é a primeira a estabelecer uma abordagem metódica e consistente para como você importar seus arquivos. Você não tem que seguir todos os conselhos que é oferecido aqui, mas espero que você vai ter pego algumas dicas que irão ajudá-lo a refinar e melhorar o seu fluxo de trabalho atual.

0 upvotes
mestreamador
By mestreamador (Aug 28, 2012)

Muito obrigado Martin, pela dica.Nós fotografos necessitamos gerenciar nosso arquivos de forma que possamos encontra-los de forma correta e quase que interativa. Não conhecia este passo do LIGHTROOM,gostei da enquete.

0 upvotes
ptl-2010
By ptl-2010 (Aug 27, 2012)

Nice article, very helpful to those who are just starting to work with large quantities of photos.

0 upvotes
yoms
By yoms (Aug 25, 2012)

Many thanks Martin ! You've just answered one big question : how can I put the newly imported photos apart from the processed ones ? The idea of creating a folder named "Import photos" is great. I love the "Previous import" collection in LR to get back to my previous import. Sadly, I often make several imports at the same time that I consider as 1 unique import. But your idea solves this issue by keeping all these photos in one place until I decide to move them to their final destination.

Cheers,

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Louis Dallara
By Louis Dallara (Aug 25, 2012)

Great Job, I'm about 90% an picked up some valuable tips. Thanks Martin

0 upvotes
Chris J Newman
By Chris J Newman (Aug 25, 2012)

How does Lightroom catalogue duplicate copies?

At present, due to lack of space, only half my photos (pairs of RAW + JPEG) are stored on a hard drive within the computer. But I also have the full set on an external hard drive. I don’t have any catalogue system, but the photos are in folders in chronological order sized to match backups onto DVDs.

If I was to get Lightroom, could I easily make it recognise and show which photos are duplicates?

With thanks in advance,
Chris Newman

0 upvotes
Daniel Neuman
By Daniel Neuman (Aug 24, 2012)

Actually I use LR all the time. I appreciate the fact that the catalog resides separately from the actual photos, since the raw files are in a NAS set of drives. My complete catalog has over 135,000 photographs, although I have separate catalogs by year as well, or in the case of scans, a dedicated catalog. I make a second copy to another set of drives as a backup, whenh I import. It works fine. I also do not find LR 4 to be faster or slower than the 3 series. I can do a keyword search through 135,000 plus photos and get all the responses in a matter of seconds.

0 upvotes
rfsIII
By rfsIII (Aug 24, 2012)

The one thing I would caution is that a percentage of people (me included) find that Lightroom 4 runs v e r y s l o w l y on their machines and Adobe is still searching for a fix. So if this awesome workflow sounds good to you, definitely trial it before you jump in and buy a copy.

2 upvotes
barri
By barri (Aug 27, 2012)

I also find lr 4 very slow. Its a big problem.

0 upvotes
Gregm61
By Gregm61 (Aug 24, 2012)

Last thing I'm gonna waste my time doing is importing all my photos "into" Lightroom so it can see them. If a program can't just "see" the dang photo where I have it in my computer (like Photoshop can), I have no use for it as a catalog system.

I tried Lightroom 4 while waiting for the CS6 update. Since getting CS6, Lightroom has just sat on my desktop, and I doubt it gets used again.

4 upvotes
JensR
By JensR (Aug 24, 2012)

Absolutely. I find that extremely annoying. I much preferred RawShooter's approach - sad that they did not carry that over when Adobe bought and killed it.

3 upvotes
Lee Jay
By Lee Jay (Aug 24, 2012)

Importing is usually better than the RSE/P way (I was an RSP+CE customer), which was a browser with cache. I'll explain why.

First, the cache was limited in size and so browsing back to older images that you hadn't seen in a while was very slow. LR keeps track of them forever unless you actively remove them from the catalog.

Second, the importing process allows you to choose which images or folders you want LR to keep track of, and which you don't. You can choose them all, or not, but the browser way gives you no choice - you get them all even if you don't have time to wait for them.

Third, you can do stuff to them during import. You can copy them from the card to a new folder, you can rename them, you can apply keywords, and you can even do some modest filtering.

Fourth, once they are in the catalog, you can you some VERY powerful tools to find the images you want - quickly - since all their data is in a database.

1 upvote
Carmine Picarello
By Carmine Picarello (Aug 24, 2012)

I use LR all the time. I love it However I don't have every image on my computer registered with LR so I revert to Bridge. However, using LR's features out weigh your issue. Adjustments made to a file in LR are not applied to that file until you choose to export it or make a duplicate. This saves a lot of HD space and time. Give it a little time. Once you get into it you will be a happy guy.

0 upvotes
JensR
By JensR (Aug 24, 2012)

Hi LJ
First: LR uses a cache for the previews as well. So I am not sure where you are going with this.

Second: I don't want my RAW processor to keep track of my images. With RSE I could simply move or rename the folders and it would always have the settings to the files. I have never run into this "choosing" problem. Third: I don't want my RAW converter to be a file utility. I am disappointed at how bad a file utility LR is. It's gotten better, admittedly, and maybe 4 is decent, but I cannot run it (yet?).

Fourth: That is the one advantage to LR's catalogue system that _I_ like. It would be difficult to shoehorn a browser architecture like RSE's into allowing this.

Fifth: I want to be able to right-click a RAW file and edit it in my then-opening converter.

The benefits LR brings to the rest of my workflow outweigh my catalogue criticism, but it's obvious that the we have different ideas of how we want to manage our files. I'm sure yours is right for you and I am happy with mine.

0 upvotes
Lee Jay
By Lee Jay (Aug 25, 2012)

The cache isn't of a finite size in LR, thus all images imported are stored. Not so with RSE/P.

You should want your raw processor to keep track of your images. It makes everything so much easier.

You are stuck opening Explorer to find and view your images. Open LR instead and you'll find them much easier and faster, and you can just hit "D" for develop any time you want to edit an image. I never, ever open Explorer anymore for that purpose, as it's too slow, and way too limited in its features. Want to view a few images together in Explorer? Pretty much not possible. In LR, just hit N. Want to edit? Double click and wait for them to open. In LR, just hit D. What if you want to apply the same settings to a hundred images? In LR, it's as easy as doing it to one, no waiting for anything to open.

0 upvotes
Valentin Hertz
By Valentin Hertz (Aug 24, 2012)

Apparently make a second copy to, it's not supposed to rename your files. Wrong, regardless what I tried those files always get renamed also. I wanted to use this option to copy all files from cameras to a second hdd before LR touches. That's not possible.

Please help me if you know how to do it, other than copying it manually.

Thanks!

1 upvote
Valentin Hertz
By Valentin Hertz (Aug 24, 2012)

Anyone please? I take it as no one is using make a second copy?

Thanks in advance!

0 upvotes
bcalkins
By bcalkins (Aug 24, 2012)

I always copy to a 2nd drive as a backup, but I want the files renamed according to my preferences so I've never looked into it...

0 upvotes
Moscool
By Moscool (Aug 24, 2012)

It depends what you use: I work with Super Duper to keep my HDs in synch, so no need to create a separate backup. At the same time I won't erase a card until I'm sure both HD versions are stable

0 upvotes
Valentin Hertz
By Valentin Hertz (Aug 24, 2012)

Thanks guys. I really wanted to make use of this, and in the LR4 book it specifically says that this option doe s not rename the files, when in fact it does. This could be a nice solution as the less sw I use the better is for me.

0 upvotes
bigdaddave
By bigdaddave (Aug 24, 2012)

Nice article, but I don't agree with any of it.

It's daft to have one ginormous catalog for eveything and there are much simpler, easier ways of both importing and organising pictures.

3 upvotes
Lee Jay
By Lee Jay (Aug 24, 2012)

Simpler, yes, but much, much less powerful. I can't tell you how many times I've found an image I was looking for - very quickly - using LR's powerful filtering tools, which isn't really possible if all the data about your images isn't in a database.

One huge catalog makes it so much easier and faster, without any real downsides.

1 upvote
shacharm
By shacharm (Aug 24, 2012)

One large catalog. Mine is >350,000 images already. Running well on Win7/i7 machine. It takes me seconds to find the images I need, without going thru multiple catalogs. I have a separate "travel" catalog on my MacBookPro, which I export as a catalog and import into the main one once I'm back at the studio. I then delete it off the laptop. Works like a charm.

Shaq

0 upvotes
Model Mike
By Model Mike (Aug 24, 2012)

I agree re catalog - the idea of mixing, say, a 700 shot wedding shoot with all the rest of your stuff in the same catalogue doesn't make any sense to me.

Also the author's four-step import workflow is unnecessarily complex, far easier to let LR do the DNG conversion during import; also identifying which images don't have keywords is easily done with a filter, no need to keep them in a 'holding' folder.

Otherwise, useful article, if only to see how others use LR.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Indulis Bernsteins
By Indulis Bernsteins (Nov 7, 2012)

Lots of comments saying "one big catalogue does not make sense". In what way? Examples?

I can tell you a way in which it DOES make sense. No matter what photo you're looking for, you never have to go looking through (and loading) multiple catalogues.

The problem is that most people who've been using computers and are used to a "file-based" organisational system naturally thing about segmenting their data (=photos) into smaller groups, due to familiarity with directories.

IMHO unless you have a disposable set of photos which you will use once then erase and never want to see again, one catalogue makes a lot more sense.

The Metadata search and smart collections does the same thing as having multiple catalogues, and is more convenient.

0 upvotes
Dave Oddie
By Dave Oddie (Aug 24, 2012)

I find the 'Don't Import Suspected Duplicates' option to be rather useless because I rename my files on import and LR doesn't remember that when you imported DSC0001.ARW you renamed it to "Oulton Park 20120710 0001.ARW" or whatever.

Unless of course I am missing some setting or other to get this to work!

As LR is a database driven program storing the original file name when doing a rename doesn't seem unreasonable to me.

Comment edited 36 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
keeponkeepingon
By keeponkeepingon (Aug 24, 2012)

It works for me. However I am retaining part of the orignal file name in my image name so maybe that's what's enabling it?

However, one annoying "feature" is that if I cull images, LR does not remember that it imported the images so I get to re-cull them all over again.

0 upvotes
Moscool
By Moscool (Aug 24, 2012)

Strangely enough, LR does remember it! I rename on import but then again when LR is shown the same memory card with the first batch of photos still on it, it somehow recognises them...

0 upvotes
Lee Jay
By Lee Jay (Aug 24, 2012)

"Strangely enough, LR does remember it! I rename on import but then again when LR is shown the same memory card with the first batch of photos still on it, it somehow recognises them..."

Correct - it uses original file name, exif date and size to locate them, renaming doesn't matter.

0 upvotes
rikkus
By rikkus (Aug 24, 2012)

On the subject of backups, please make sure you include your Lightroom catalogue[s] in your backups. Even if you're writing edits to file metadata, you really don't want to lose your collections.

0 upvotes
rikkus
By rikkus (Aug 24, 2012)

The article implies that the author immediately formats the card after import. Please don't do this.

After import, I set cards to read-only and put them in a specific place. Only after I've seen that the on-site backup and both off-site backups are complete do I enable writes on the card and format it.

6 upvotes
Gerard Hoffnung
By Gerard Hoffnung (Aug 24, 2012)

I couldn't agree more with your comment. I do much the same thing. When traveling, I backup on to a thumb drive (and my laptop if it is with me) and keep it in a separate location from my camera. Having lost data on a failed hard drive years ago I now believe in backing up to multiple locations.

0 upvotes
kidcharles
By kidcharles (Aug 25, 2012)

Couldn't agree more. After I offload photos from a card I make sure that there are always two copies of everything at any time, so the card doesn't get formatted until the backup is done on the second hard drive.

0 upvotes
Hclarkx
By Hclarkx (6 months ago)

This is a nice feature of LR .. if you have your external backup drive handy when you offload the image files from the card to you computer. LR will write the files to the external drive as well as to your computer internal drive during the import. I.e., you get your working copies and a backup in one operation. Of course, do some sort of check on both the in-computer and external drive copies before reformatting the card.

0 upvotes
Stefan Stuart Fletcher
By Stefan Stuart Fletcher (Aug 24, 2012)

FWIW, you can use multiple catalogues which can be stored anywhere, but LR has to quit before opening a different catalogue. This may seem messy, but one approach is to create a different catalogue for each client (wedding photographers might find this handy). However, if I had to use the background from wedding client 1 with the foreground from wedding client 2, I can't locate them in a single LR session if I put clients in separate catalogues. I therefore have to use Bridge.

I'm a long-time LR user and have always welcomed Evening's informative books, although I wish he could spruce up his writing style! I find it a little heavy-going.

(and in re-reading my comment above, I find it eerily Eveninesque...)

0 upvotes
keeponkeepingon
By keeponkeepingon (Aug 24, 2012)

I'm confused as to why you would use a one star rating instead of tagging each photo as a "PICK".

With the one star rating your are basically applying not necessarily true info that may "bite you in the behind" later if you don't get around to applying a correct star rating. Example scenario: you never finish processing a batch of photos further than one starring all of your great stuff. Then four years later in a fit of digital decluttering you delete all of those horrible one star pictures. Far fetched? Maybe.

The other reason to use Pick versus one starring is that it is faster because I can use one key to pick/unpick. With the star rating I need to hit 1 to pick then use my other hand to hit zero to unstar the picture. With the ' key (the tilde key un shifted) I can pick and un pick using one key. Perhaps this behavior has changed in LR 4 (I'm still on 3).

Comment edited 7 minutes after posting
1 upvote
rikkus
By rikkus (Aug 24, 2012)

Yes I go through and pick, then filter so I only see the picked and add these to a collection. The rest just stay in the archive and are rarely returned to.

0 upvotes
RandyHI
By RandyHI (Sep 10, 2012)

I am not a professional and I save most fotos and delete only a few. Therefore, selecting all and rating them 1 is very fast. As I make a quick review of the images I reset to zero any I won't keep. This is a very easy two-finger process using the "right arrow" key to page through the photos and the number pad "0" to reset - I can easily edit a 400 exposure shoot in 10 minutes or less. When I delete (filter "0"), I use the "remove from drive" option to save room -- RAW files are BIG. Note: I always import to the working drive and backup to a separate drive using LR4. The images on the backup drive are not rated and not removed. Therefore, should I ever accidentally erase something from the working drive I can still retrieve it.

0 upvotes
RPJG
By RPJG (Aug 24, 2012)

How do people manage their catalog when they take RAW + JPEG?

I guess one option is to just ignore the JPEGs, as to a greater or lesser degree they'll be "inferior" to properly-developed RAW images. But if I want to manage both image formats within LR, I don't know enough about functionality like stacking to know if there's an easy way to manage RAW + JPEG side-by-side.

(This is similar to nixda's question below.)

0 upvotes
Absolutic
By Absolutic (Aug 24, 2012)

It stucks raw and associated jpeg automatically in a very neat way. U can later unstuck them if u have to

0 upvotes
Gerard Hoffnung
By Gerard Hoffnung (Aug 24, 2012)

Use ACDSee, it neatly puts your JPG's into a folder of your choice and automatically creates a sub folder that contains the RAW files.

0 upvotes
Trevor_S
By Trevor_S (Aug 25, 2012)

Like you, I used to shoot JPG & RAW but then changed after spending some time with LR

Why keep the JPG, within a few secs I can export the JPGs out from the RAW files from LR. You don't have to do vast amounts of PP on every image in LR, it is there is you wan tot though You can just keep the RAW as is and apply a couple presents when you want the JPG.

0 upvotes
Thauglor
By Thauglor (Aug 24, 2012)

I bought LR3 for its many other features. I don't like the catalog feature. I find it to be completely unnecessary. Like the article states, many of us have cataloged our images by folder, by date, or otherwise, making lightroom's catalog feature not only redundant, but annoying. It seems it 'wants' to catalog my images, and will not take no for an answer.

Would it be a big deal to browse to the photo I would like to edit, do the edit, and then simply save the edited file in a folder of my choosing ?

Doesn't seem like to much to ask for those of us that prefer to work that way.

0 upvotes
RPJG
By RPJG (Aug 24, 2012)

You can pretty much do that, even though the process requires you to Import (Add) photos to a catalog you'll never really use, change to Develop module to do your business, then export them however you want.

0 upvotes
Thauglor
By Thauglor (Aug 24, 2012)

That's exactly what I've been doing. While functional, it's not ideal.

It's cumbersome to the point that I just avoid using LR altogether.

I'll make the assumption that Adobe force feeds the catalog feature, so as to lock-in the user, so that folks will feel it necessary to continue to use (purchase) their product.

They won't 'let' us use the software without the catalog. Not a business practice I appreciate.

0 upvotes
Amadou Diallo
By Amadou Diallo (Aug 24, 2012)

You can configure Lr's import dialog to copy images to any existing folder structure if you wish during import. If the files are already on your hard drive you can choose to 'Add' them to the catalog without moving them.
If you use Lr as a complete workflow tool (which is what it was designed for) then yes, you are making a committment to Adobe's product.
But, from an organizational standpoint there are three major benefits to a database, ie catalog-driven approach. One is that you have unlimited undos, even after quitting the app, because your edits are saved simply as instructions and never 'baked' into a file until you export it.

Two is that because Lr imports your image info into a catalog, you can easily compare/edit/keyword images side by side that do not physically reside in the same folder or even the same hard drive.

Three, you can make 'virtual copies' of existing images without taking up the same amount of storage space as creating actual duplicates would.

1 upvote
Dave Oddie
By Dave Oddie (Aug 24, 2012)

Corel After Shot Pro (Bibble as was) allows you to make non-destructive edits without using its catalogue feature. Not sure how it works but I guess it must be some sort of side car file associated with each photo that contains the edits you applied.

0 upvotes
mike16
By mike16 (Aug 24, 2012)

"They won't 'let' us use the software without the catalog. Not a business practice I appreciate."

Absolutely agree with this why on earth can't they simply have the option to switch off the 'feature' so that you can just use LR occasionally without it trying to take over your existing directory structure.

I may eventually want to switch the hundreds of thousands of labelled images I have on one file system over to Lr but at the moment I just want to use its image processing capabilities on the occasional image and it seems to deliberately make this difficult.

1 upvote
Rob Bernhard
By Rob Bernhard (Aug 24, 2012)

@mike16
you said: "so that you can just use LR occasionally without it trying to take over your existing directory structure."

This statement does not make any sense to me. I've been using LR since Release 1 and it has never once altered my folder structure nor have I had to change anything to use LR.

0 upvotes
Thauglor
By Thauglor (Aug 25, 2012)

I don't want or need LR's catalog system at all, only its editing features. The catalog, while understandably useful to many, is useless to me, and there appears to be no way to turn it off. It's obtuse and annoying, to the point that I avoid a software that I paid good money for.

Which is on me for sure... I should have spent more time with the trial before I bought in, and yet I am still disappointed.

0 upvotes
Trevor_S
By Trevor_S (Aug 25, 2012)

I used to work that way but ended up realising I was fighting LR. It's supposed to do that for you, so I organised LR to put the images in the folders I want for me. I also use Tags and flags. If you want to persist with that workflow model maybe ditch LR ?? Use Explorer/Finder, PS and ACR (or other software) or re-evaluate your workflow ?

0 upvotes
Thauglor
By Thauglor (Aug 28, 2012)

It doesn't make sense to me, that LR will not simply let me browse to a folder, open a file, make an edit, then export the file to the folder I desire.... without the hassle of the catalog system in place. There should be an option to turn it off. There's no realistic, viable reason that I should not be able to just turn it off.
That it's not capable of this, shows me that Adobe is specifically using this system in an attempt to lock users into their technology. They want a stranglehold on their user base.

If I was a shareholder I guess I would applaud... but I just wanted some lens corrections features, which I can use... but it's unnecessarily a PITA to run LR.

0 upvotes
RandyHI
By RandyHI (Sep 10, 2012)

Thauglor says he simply wants to "browse to a folder, open a file, make an edit and then export the file to another folder." Gosh, how do you do those steps now? I do them easily, conveniently and nearly instantaneously with LR4 -- BECAUSE of the catalog! All imported folders are in the tree on the left -- just click it! (How is this different from any other way to select the folder?) In the middle you see ALL the images that have been imported -- to select the one you want to edit click it! (How is this different from any other way to pick the image?) Click the develop module and edit it. When finished export the image where ever you want to export it to. However, NEVER work with the exported image! If you need another copy export it again! If you need a different sort of edit, just make a clone and you have BOTH edits! So simple! I can see NO reason to NOT work from the catalog!

Comment edited 22 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
kff
By kff (Aug 24, 2012)

SD cards are small, plastic and its moving is mechanical ... I always connect its via USB cable ...

When will be all smartphones and tables better batery and full USB fetaures for lightweight of my camera bag ???

0 upvotes
TorsteinH
By TorsteinH (Aug 24, 2012)

Why convert to DNG? ( Iee that this is discussed in this tread already.)

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
MarkNicholas
By MarkNicholas (Aug 24, 2012)

I am a long time LR user. I always make a point of directly transferring my RAW photos from my camera card to my hard drive before I import into LR. I have a simple folder system into which I copy my photos. Once I know they are safely there and I have backed them up on my external drives I will proceed to import them into LR.

4 upvotes
gl2k
By gl2k (Aug 24, 2012)

The ACR 2012 engine nicely shows how useless all this talking about "the fantastic colors of brand A or brand B" is. It is to a certain degree the RAW engine of the RAW processing SW that makes the image and not only the camera sensor.

0 upvotes
kff
By kff (Aug 24, 2012)

two possibilities ... camera makes a good look by experiences of its team during the years, but I can try to do it differently ... :)

I have to add note:
I can not do the same such as camera team ...

OK, I use RAW, too:)

0 upvotes
madeinlisboa
By madeinlisboa (Aug 24, 2012)

That's why I don't use LR but the native software of my camera: Capture NX, not to mention that the workflow is much faster than LR's.

0 upvotes
Gesture
By Gesture (Aug 24, 2012)

Thanks for another great article by one of the longstanding imaging software gurus. I just wish that so many programs didn't adopt the "you must throw everything into a master category or library first" approach No, I want specified catalogs and as many as I need and wherever I need them. This is the same flaw in iTunes, iPhoto and similar, otherwise excellent pieces of software. You must put XXXXXX number of songs, movies, podcasts, etc. in a master iTunes library, from which you specify play lists. Any better image catalog software out there???

Comment edited 16 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
nixda
By nixda (Aug 24, 2012)

For what it's worth, iTunes and iPhoto allow any number of libraries, not just one.

0 upvotes
ThomJ
By ThomJ (Aug 24, 2012)

As does LR, you can have as many individual catalogues as you like managed by LR.

0 upvotes
Gesture
By Gesture (Aug 24, 2012)

Will check it out. But see nowhere where you can add a library under any of the iTune categories: Music, Podcasts, etc. Only add playlists. The entire range of media is jumbled into a single file, as far as I can tell.

0 upvotes
Gesture
By Gesture (Aug 24, 2012)

Found it. Open app with Option key pressed down. Thanks.

0 upvotes
sadwitch
By sadwitch (Aug 24, 2012)

Good stuff!

0 upvotes
Peter 13
By Peter 13 (Aug 24, 2012)

I would love to see a version of LR which does not catalog anything, and I do not need to "import" images which are on my HD already. Like DXO Optics Pro.

1 upvote
Paul JM
By Paul JM (Aug 24, 2012)

Peter, if you dont want to use a catalog based system, then just use PS. The concept of LR without a catalog is meaningless

3 upvotes
Peter 13
By Peter 13 (Aug 24, 2012)

$90 (educational price), much less junk on my computer (PS is over 1GB), etc. - not meaningless. I did not upgrade since PS CS2.

0 upvotes
gl2k
By gl2k (Aug 24, 2012)

This is called Adobe Bridge and is part of PS.
But I think you have not fully understood that LR is also an image database.

3 upvotes
The Squire
By The Squire (Aug 24, 2012)

You can add files to your library that are already on your HD, and leave them in place. I guess an optional 'auto import' would be nice though; if LR boots up and sees youve added file to that directory, they should be added to the library automatically.

The point of the library (apart from file management) is that it gives LR a way to store settings and metadata aginst each file.

0 upvotes
JWest
By JWest (Aug 24, 2012)

You seem to have an unjustified fear of "importing" images into Lightroom.

Think of the import process as simply telling Lightroom the images are there. It needn't duplicate the images, or move them from their original location, or change them in any way.

Once it knows about the images, you can edit them. Then you can export a copy as a JPG (or other format) for uploading or printing. Your original images remain unchanged.

It's a really great way of working, even if you don't use the cataloguing features at all.

0 upvotes
Thauglor
By Thauglor (Aug 24, 2012)

I personally just don't see the point. Why should LR import anything at all.

For those that enjoy this feature... well great. I have no issue with what other folks do, but how about just allow me to browse to a photo, edit it, save and be done.

Why can't I simply turn OFF LR's insistent 'need' to import, catalog and manage my images ?

A simple folder/tree view is all I need.

0 upvotes
JWest
By JWest (Aug 24, 2012)

Because that's the whole advantage of Lightroom. It manages your entire collection of images beautifully, letting you find any image with a few mouse clicks, maintaining multiple versions of images with different crops or processing.

I suppose they could have set up a way to just edit a single image without importing it. But there are already hundreds of other image editing programs out there you could choose from, and working like this just goes against the whole Lightroom philosophy.

0 upvotes
Gregm61
By Gregm61 (Aug 24, 2012)

There is a version of Lightroom without the catalog feature. It's called.....Photoshop CS6, and it works GREAT!

0 upvotes
micksh6
By micksh6 (Aug 24, 2012)

These comments suggesting CS6 are just stupid... unless you subsidize price difference between CS6 and LR for everybody.
I use Lightroom for RAW conversion and for adjustments it can do on RAW data. That's the main advantage of Lightroom - it can process RAW files better than other RAW converters including what camera OEM supplied.
I have my own means to manage my catalog, I don't need LR to do that.

0 upvotes
Model Mike
By Model Mike (Aug 25, 2012)

There was just such a program, and it was called RawShooter - it was a lightweight, fast raw converter for one-off work. Then Adobe bought the company and the product ceased. However the raw conversion technology found its way into LR and registered RS Pro users like myself got LR1 free. I'm now a complete convert to LR.

Comment edited 51 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Peter 13
By Peter 13 (Aug 25, 2012)

Wow, so many people have difficulty reading and know better than me what I understand!

Let me repeat - I do not need, and do not care about the catalog features of LR. That would not be a problem, if those features do not get on my way but they do! Every time I download new images (and I have my reasons NOT to use LR for that), I have to "import" them. It is slow and annoying.

LR costs me much less than CS6, installs much less junk on my PC, and no, I do not want to use RT or whatever.

0 upvotes
Peteo
By Peteo (Aug 24, 2012)

Great tips. Thank you and perhaps you could write a monthly article with Lightroom tips.

0 upvotes
nixda
By nixda (Aug 24, 2012)

Perhaps someone experienced would be so inclined to help me out here.

What I am struggling with is different versions of the same image. I usually shoot RAW plus JPG, then develop the RAW images with DxO, so I have a DNG file as well. I would like to have these different versions of the images stacked in an image browser so that I don't have to look at triplicate images that are essentially the same. Couldn't find out quite if LR does this when playing with the trial version.

Any advice appreciated.

Cheers,
MM

0 upvotes
gl2k
By gl2k (Aug 24, 2012)

LR let's you create virtual copies and snapshots. This way you can have dozens of different versions of one image.
Regarding your request ... actually you have 3 different (!!!) files (RAW, JPG, DNG). Each one is processed in a different way and therefore has a different look. But I think/believe there is a feature in LR which shows a JPG and the corresponding RAW file as only one image if they have the same name (?).

0 upvotes
JWest
By JWest (Aug 24, 2012)

Lightroom certainly has a feature where images taken in both RAW+JPG format in-camera will be treated as the same image, so you only see one of them in the interface. I'm not sure if this feature can be extended to help with your situation too.

Lightroom also has the concept of "stacking" images, so you can take any number of images and put them into a single stack. From then on, you only see the top image of that stack, unless you choose to expand out the stack to see what else is there. This would certainly solve your problem, but it would mean that you have to select each set of three images manually after importing them, to tell Lightroom to stack them. I don't know how well that would fit with your workflow, but it's another option.

0 upvotes
RandyHI
By RandyHI (Sep 10, 2012)

A key concept of LR is you DON'T make copies! Use the auto-backup feature during import. Keep the backup in a safe place -- it is never touched by or needed by LR again. If you really want to save the JPEG just set LR to treat them as one. From then on the RAW image is the one the "recipe" or "sidecar" file references. (Technically the "recipe" of a JPEG resides in the internal EXIF info.) Any time you need another edit version of the original, just open and work with a clone. If you export your images in DNG to a cloud type server or similar, just bulk export the "developed" image directly from LR.

0 upvotes
VA-ArtG
By VA-ArtG (Aug 23, 2012)

Mr. Evening,

As usual brief, but thorough. Thanks for taking the time to provide these suggested guidelines and insight into the import process.

Your books are my constant reference.

0 upvotes
Carlos Echenique
By Carlos Echenique (Aug 23, 2012)

I own several cameras and I need to separate their files by camera so I can find them easier. LR does not allow me to do this automatically, so I rely on Photo Mechanic to do this. Plus, the folder structure on my backup drive matches the structure on my primary drive. LR does not do this either.

0 upvotes
Amadou Diallo
By Amadou Diallo (Aug 23, 2012)

Among Lr's many filtering options are 'camera model'. You can even filter by serial number if you own identical bodies. And you can save filter definitions as presets for one button operation.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 8 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
unknown member
By (unknown member) (Aug 24, 2012)

Yo dont understand Lightroom too well do you Carlos? You could filter by camera since version 1!!!

0 upvotes
pkincy
By pkincy (Aug 24, 2012)

I use a folder system by subject, but all images are first imported into a folder organized by camera/lens combination and than are PPed and than exported to the subject folders.

Try it, you will like it.

0 upvotes
JWest
By JWest (Aug 24, 2012)

Carlos - Lightroom doesn't care what folder structure you have on your primary or backup drive, you just import the photos from wherever you wish, and leave them in their original locations.

And as the others stated above, not only does Lightroom allow you to filter by camera model, it actually does a really great job of it. Just select "camera model" in one of the filter boxes at the top of the screen, then select one or more cameras you want to see photos from.

0 upvotes
RPJG
By RPJG (Aug 24, 2012)

pkincy, what do you do for photos with two or three or more subjects in it?

0 upvotes
RandyHI
By RandyHI (Sep 10, 2012)

pkincy, in essence LR "creates" any folder you want! Set the filter's parameters and ALL qualifying images will appear in one window. As others have noted camera make, model and even serial number can be used in the filter. Importantly specific lenses can be sorted as well. You can easily save this custom "sort" as a "collection" should you need it often but I bet once you get used to LR you will just set the filters again -- it is so flexible and easy!

0 upvotes
fastprime
By fastprime (Aug 23, 2012)

I find that there are a significant number of files rejected by LR when I use the card reader. Even when I bypassed the card reader by using USB I still got quite a few files LR was unable to read. I finally used Windows to simply copy the files from the camera/card via USB directly to the HD. Once there I imported them to the LR catalog, never had a reject since.

On another note, one thing you can set on import is CA correction. I think this is a convenient time to make this adjustment as a batch operation.

Cheers,
Colin

0 upvotes
harold1968
By harold1968 (Aug 23, 2012)

why convert to DNG ?
does this loose original NEF info ?
I keep my files as NEF and they work just fine in lightroom

can anyone point out an advantage of converting to DNG

0 upvotes
Amadou Diallo
By Amadou Diallo (Aug 23, 2012)

The DNG format preserves all of the pixel data. What you may miss out on by using DNG vs NEF or CR2 is some non-documented vendor-specific metadata like the active AF point overlay you can see in the camera makers' own raw converters with their proprietary raw files.

The main advantage of the DNG spec is that it's a publicly documented file format, based largely on the TIFF format. Adobe makes DNG specs available so that anyone can write code to read those files.

In Lightroom there is also an option to export proprietary raw files as DNG and include the full NEF/CR2 etc format bundled inside it.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
willburto
By willburto (Aug 23, 2012)

Be a little careful with converting to DNG though. I switched from Lightroom to Corel Aftershot Pro (Because I got tired of how slow lightroom was running for me, even on a fast computer), and Aftershot doesn't accept Adobe DNG files. You may find it difficult to transfer your files to another program if you convert your files.

If you don't think this will be an issue, I found DNG files useful because of their smaller size and more importantly (for me that is), they don't use sidecars (think that's the term?) which is an additional file that contains all of the data you edit within lightroom.

0 upvotes
Jacques Cornell
By Jacques Cornell (Aug 23, 2012)

"What you may miss out on by using DNG vs NEF or CR2 is some non-documented vendor-specific metadata like the active AF point overlay you can see in the camera makers' own raw converters with their proprietary raw files."

Does LR not show the active AF point? Aperture does.

0 upvotes
The Squire
By The Squire (Aug 24, 2012)

Why bother converting to DNG now, when you don't know what your future file compatiability issues will be? It's as likley that the current DNG format will become obsolete as quickly as NEF or ARW or whatever.

When my software of choice in 2025 informs me that Sony A700 ARW files are being deprecated, then I'll convert to whatever format is current.

I guess the one benefit of converting now is for backup purposes. You might archive your RAW files and not come back to them for 5 years, at which point you might have issues reading them. That said, I'd be more inclined to save my files as a 16bit TIFF and a max quality JPG just to be sure I have a readable file.

Here's a question: Can I make LR export a pre-edited file? Might be nice to archive a pre-edited 16bit TIFF and a post-edit JPG.

1 upvote
madeinlisboa
By madeinlisboa (Aug 24, 2012)

If use Active D-Lighting in your Nikon, don't use Lightroom. It will ignore this powerful feature, something that Adobe "forgets" to mention when they advertize it.

Comment edited 12 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Erik Johansen
By Erik Johansen (Aug 23, 2012)

Martin Evening´s LR4-book rules!
Professional from A to Z.

3 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (Aug 23, 2012)

Absolutely. I have never had a question about LR that wasn't covered in his books. LIke Jeff Schewe and the late Bruce Fraser, Martin really knows his stuff.

1 upvote
nightshadow1
By nightshadow1 (Aug 24, 2012)

I completely agree with your statements. Also add the D-65 LR workroom with Seth Resnick and Jamie Spritzer to your list and you have all of the best, most complete information available IMHO.

0 upvotes
Ross Murphy
By Ross Murphy (Aug 23, 2012)

I check to make sure my files have made it safely over before formatting my card, but in general this is pretty much the same thing I do and recommend to fellow photogs, I do a rename later with TIFF or JPG.

Edit, I do have a database for each year, otherwise it would get very large.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
JWest
By JWest (Aug 24, 2012)

But then what if you want to see every photograph you've taken of a particular subject? What if you want to compare them side-by-side? What if you want to see every single 5-star image you've ever taken?

Lightroom is designed to handle large catalogs. Dividing a collection up into sub-catalogs based solely on date or other arbitrary distinctions just ends up negating many of the advantages of using a system like Lightroom in the first place.

0 upvotes
Trevor_S
By Trevor_S (Aug 26, 2012)

Large, it's supposed to be, it's a DBMS referencing the photos, so it's actually a comparatively tiny file. Having seperate catalogues is a poor decision I think. Just tag 2012 with 2012 photo's, then if all you want to see is 2012, search for the tag 2012 and they will all be displayed... If you have tagged every photo you took of a flower with flower, then you can display them all by searching for that tag, or 2012 and flower or... the cataloguing feature is one of the huge strengths of LR.

0 upvotes
JWest
By JWest (Aug 28, 2012)

No need to tag anything with a date, provided your exif data is accurate out of the camera, since Lightroom allows you to filter on date quite easily.

0 upvotes
MarkByland
By MarkByland (Aug 23, 2012)

Definitely like Lr's import utility. I've used Canon Utils for years and have switched over as it is so much easier. I would like to see them add the erase-after-import option. The card eject when finished option is great but that would make it - or... am I missing a setting some where?

Comment edited 18 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
graybalanced
By graybalanced (Aug 23, 2012)

I think that's because there's a philosophy, which Adobe seems to share too, that the safest place to format the card is in the camera you're using it in. Not in your computer, not in another camera, but in the exact camera you're using it in. Not to mention you should have backed up the images before erasing the card, so erasing immediately after import doesn't match what many consider "best practices."

0 upvotes
Jacques Cornell
By Jacques Cornell (Aug 23, 2012)

I agree with graybalanced. After download I put the card back in the camera and don't format it until the next shoot. If anything goes wrong during import or editing, I can always download the card again.

0 upvotes
Paul JM
By Paul JM (Aug 24, 2012)

Dont like the advice about 'one catalogue'. If you have a large number of images and previews, having one huge catalogue drags the whole system down to a barely usable speed, even with top end mac, lots of RAM etc. Many users I know keep one large catalogue, but have a second catalogue for images they are currently working on. Much more sprightly performance that way, and then you can simply transfer the work from the 'working' catalogue to the 'archive' catalogue when ready

3 upvotes
MarkInSF
By MarkInSF (Aug 24, 2012)

Why would the catalog slow down with size. It's a fairly simple database that doesn't include the image files themselves. I haves worked with databases massively larger than a typica LR catalog and perfromance is rarely an issue any more. If the database just contains classification data, it doesn't have the potential to get very large. Searching could get unwieldy, but that's mostly a matter of having set it up to work efficiently. Or maybe LR is just a resource hog. Wouldn't be the first from Adobe.

0 upvotes
MarkByland
By MarkByland (Aug 24, 2012)

@graybalanced - I'm looking for it to be a 'checkable' option for removing the files from the card when done importing. If I see it in the library after the import, I have full confidence the images have been successfully imported from the card. Canon Utilities has been doing this for years and it's NEVER failed me. I think myth is perpetuated some times by myth.

Having to put the card back in the camera and go through and delete and reformat requires a few extra steps. This was article about efficiency, right ;)

0 upvotes
craftysnapper
By craftysnapper (Aug 25, 2012)

The problem I have with LR (and I do own it amongst others) is that it is not a true DAM program. If it were you would be able to send your raw image from it to any other raw convertor as well as the one in LR but then that would not relentlessly tie you into its program which Adobe want.

To me it's a bit like buying a all in one midi system for convinance rather than cherry picking your componants for the best experianceand quality but thats what the masses seem to want.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 117