Raw Captures with Smartphone


Today’s Question: Thanks for the discussion about capturing raw images with Lightroom on a smartphone. Not having practiced a great deal with Lightroom on my iPhone, I find it difficult to locate the place to set the camera for raw capture. Could you give us a tutorial?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can switch between DNG and JPEG capture with the Lightroom mobile app by tapping the file format option opposite the shutter release button and choosing between “DNG” and “JPG” in the popup that appears.

More Detail: As noted in an earlier Ask Tim Grey eNewsletter, the Lightroom mobile app enables you to capture photos in raw mode (creating Adobe DNG files) or in JPEG mode.

First, you’ll need to tap the camera icon at the bottom-right of the Lightroom mobile interface to switch to the camera. You will then see an indication of the current capture mode opposite the shutter release button. If you are holding your smartphone vertically, that means the capture mode option is at the top-center of the screen. If you are holding the smartphone horizontally the capture mode indication will appear at the left-center or right-center, depending on which way you have oriented the smartphone.

You can tap on the current setting (showing DNG or JPG) to bring up a popup that enables you to switch capture modes. The setting is a “switch” meaning you can tap at the center of the popup to switch between the DNG or JPG option. The display on within the camera feature will update in real time to indicate which mode the camera is currently set to.

New Hard Drive Migration


Today’s Question: For matters of swapping out one drive for another [with Lightroom Classic] I have in the past cloned the old drive to the new one then duplicated the old drive name to the new, then after all is checked out re-format re-name the old drive. So, is slowly copping small batches from old to new better?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can absolutely clone a hard drive and ensure it has the same volume label (Macintosh) or drive letter (Windows) to migrate to a new hard drive for Lightroom Classic. The only reason I don’t generally recommend this approach is that it can lead to confusion and possible errors for users who are not familiar with these options.

More Detail: If you want (or need) to upgrade to a larger hard drive, the key is making sure Lightroom Classic doesn’t lose track of your photos in the process. That requires that the overall folder structure on the new drive matches that on the old drive, and that the hard drive has the same volume label (Macintosh) or drive letter (Windows). In other words, you want to be sure Lightroom Classic can’t tell the difference between the old drive and the new drive.

If you use special software (or even a manual copy operation) to duplicate all folders and photos from the original drive to the new drive with the exact same folder structure, that covers the first requirement. You can then disconnect the old drive and adjust the volume label (Macintosh) or drive letter (Windows) for the new drive to match that of the old drive. Note that you can’t have both drives connected at the same time when performing this step.

Once you have completed the process of preparing the new drive so it is a perfect match compared to the old drive, you can launch Lightroom Classic and continue working normally.

However, as noted above, I really only recommend taking this approach if you’re familiar with the process of cloning one hard drive to another and are comfortable changing the volume label or drive letter for the new hard drive. If you’re not comfortable with this process, I recommend working from directly within Lightroom Classic to help ensure you don’t create any problems within your Lightroom catalog as part of this process.

Formatting in the Camera


Today’s Question: You mentioned formatting a media card in the camera. Is it true that formatting a card on your computer could make it so the card is not usable by your camera?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Not exactly. If you use the wrong file system when formatting a media card, the camera might not be able to read from or write to that card. However, if you then format the card in the camera, you’ll be back to being able to use that card again.

More Detail: The issue with formatting a media card using a computer has nothing to do with the fact that you’re using a computer to format the card. Rather, the issue is the risk of using a file system that is not compatible with your camera.

Most digital cameras use the FAT16 or FAT32 file systems. Computers can use other file systems, such as the NTFS file system used by default in Windows 10, or the APFS file system used by MacOS Catalina. A media card formatted with the NTFS or APFS file system will not be supported by any camera that I am aware of.

This does not mean, however, that you couldn’t format the media card using your computer. You would just need to be sure to use a file system supported by your digital camera.

To me it seems a whole lot easier to format your media cards in the camera, rather than on the computer. The card will eventually need to be put back into the camera anyway, and when you format using the camera you’ll know the file system on the card will be supported by the camera.

So it isn’t a problem to format a media card on your computer as long as you use the right file system, but in my mind it is easier to remove any confusion and risk of error by using your camera to format your media cards.

Media Card Damaged by Deleting?


Today’s Question: I have always heard that you can “damage” a memory card by deleting images from it either in your camera or when in a card reader hooked up to your computer. Because of this I never delete images from my cards. I download the images first and then reformat the entire card. Would you please clarify the best procedure to follow and if deleting directly from memory cards is advisable?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You won’t damage a media card by deleting photos from that card, either in the camera or using your computer. The risk of any other problems (such as corrupted images) is also exceedingly small. There is no need to be worried about deleting photos directly from a media card.

More Detail: I’ve been hearing about the recommendation to never delete photos directly from a media card for quite a long time. While there have been some issues with certain cameras creating corrupted images, there is no need to worry about deleting photos directly from a media card. In fact, when I have asked engineers from storage media companies about this issue, they generally roll their eyes and chuckle.

Flash memory does have a limitation in terms of the maximum number of write operations that can be performed before the flash memory fails. This may be one of the reasons there are so many misconceptions about the risks of performing certain tasks with media cards.

However, modern media cards employ rather sophisticated systems to manage the storage and ensure there are no problems with the media or the files stored on that media. For example, most cards will balance out which portions of the card are used, so that you don’t wear out the memory at the “beginning” of the card while the memory at the “end” of the card remains unused.

Of course, while there is no need to worry about deleting photos directly from a media card, there are reasons you might want to avoid doing so. First, if you’re reviewing and deleting photos on your camera, you might not be paying attention to what is happening beyond the camera, and you might miss a good photo opportunity. Second, I think it is better to review your photos on a larger computer monitor rather than on a small LCD display on the back of the camera. But fear of damaging a card does not need to be a consideration.

Having said all that, it is a good idea to format the media card in your camera after you are finished downloading the photos to your computer (and backing up those photos). This is simply to refresh the file allocation table (the “table of contents” on the card), which can help reduce the risk of any corruption creeping in over time. In addition, formatting is generally quite a bit faster than deleting all images on the card.

Cloud-Based Sync Service


Today’s Question: Why do you not use a cloud-based synchronization software such as Dropbox? Every file is backed up to the Cloud and synchronized on all your devices. It even stores old versions of files. It’s so easy and I have been doing this for years with absolutely no problems whatsoever.

Tim’s Quick Answer: I don’t store my photos using Dropbox or other cloud-based services in part because my photo library is rather large, and in part because I travel extensively and often do not have access to a high-speed Internet connection.

More Detail: I actually do make use of various cloud-based storage options for a variety of purposes. I synchronize photos from Lightroom Classic to the Adobe Creative Cloud so I can easily share those photos on my smartphone or other device. I share files with various service providers using Dropbox. I store documents using Google Drive, and keep writing projects synchronized using Microsoft OneDrive. So I am certainly not averse to using cloud-based storage.

However, when it comes to photos I prefer to use local storage, backed up to at least two additional hard drives for each of my primary hard drives.

In some ways I am the perfect candidate to keep all of my photos stored in the cloud, since I am often traveling nine months or more out of the year. Cloud-based storage would help ensure all of my photos and other files are available to me no matter where I happen to be, as long as I have an Internet connection. But that’s the biggest challenge for me personally.

I very often find myself in situations where I don’t have a reliable connection to the Internet, which sometimes means no connection at all. In other cases I may be able to get online, but the connection is far too slow for reliable synchronization of photos, videos, and other large files.

If I never traveled or otherwise always had access to a high-speed reliable Internet connection, I would be more inclined to keep more of my data stored in the cloud. Of course, I would also then need to overcome my tendency to want to directly control as many aspects of my workflow as possible, including managing my storage. But there are most certainly many cases where cloud-based storage provides an excellent solution, and I am happy to make use of such a synchronization solution when it is appropriate to my needs.

Profile Selection for Printing


Today’s Question: Somewhere along the way I started to use the Adobe Landscape profile while editing in Lightroom [Classic]. However, when I sent these to a lab for printing they would come back somewhat muted in color. Do I need to revert to using the Adobe Standard profile to get a true rendering of what I am sending the printer versus what I want as a finished product?

Tim’s Quick Answer: No, you don’t need to switch to a different profile for optimizing in the Develop module. However, you may want to review which profile you’re using when exporting your photos, and also make sure you have calibrated your monitor display.

More Detail: The profiles you can select within the Develop module merely serve as options for a baseline interpretation of the color within an image. They are designed to provide options similar to the various settings available as presets within the camera, since those presets in the camera only apply to JPEG rather than raw captures.

In other words, you can use any of the profiles in the Develop module you’re happy with, and then continue fine-tuning the image based on your preferences. You can then export the image so it can be printed by a third-party provider.

When exporting for print, as a general rule I recommend using the Adobe RGB option for the Color Space setting in the Export dialog. However, it is a very good idea to check with your printer to confirm which profile is best. In many cases you’ll find that the sRGB profile is better for ensuring accurate output with a number of print providers, based on the workflow and hardware they’re using.

It is also important to keep in mind that not every printer, ink, and paper combination can reproduce every tone and color you’re able to see on your monitor display. Calibrating your monitor display will help ensure you’re seeing an accurate preview of your image. In addition, it is a good idea to use the Soft Proofing feature in the Develop module of Lightroom Classic to preview the image based on the final output profile from your print provider. This will enable you to get a much better sense of what the final print will look like, and possibly make changes based on limitations of that output.

You can learn more about color management with my “Color Management for Photographers” video course, available in the GreyLearning library here:


Duplicate Photo Mystery


Today’s Question: I found some duplicate iPhone photos on my computer. They have similar, but not identical numbers. For example, one is IMG_5497.jpg while another is IMG_E5497.jpg. Can you explain how this happens and how to prevent it from occurring in the future?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The “extra” copy of the photo with a letter “E” included in the filename is an image that you edited on your iPhone. When you download your photos using Adobe Lightroom (or other software that supports downloading directly from an iPhone) the photos you have edited will be copied as both a “before” and “after” image.

More Detail: The editing features of the Photos app on the iPhone are non-destructive, meaning you can return to the same image in the Photos app and refine previous adjustments, apply additional adjustments, or reset all adjustments back to the default values.

That non-destructive editing continues through if you download and import those photos using the Photos app on a Macintosh computer, or if you synchronize your photos to other devices via iCloud.

However, software from companies other than Apple are not able to retain those non-destructive features for the edits on your iPhone, iPad, or computer. Therefore, software such as Adobe Lightroom will make two copies of any photo you have edited on the iPhone. One will be the original capture, without the letter “E” in the filename. The other will be the edited version of the image, with the letter “E” in the filename.

While this feature does lead to duplication of photos you have edited on your iPhone, it also helps ensure that you have flexibility in choosing which version of each of those photos you want to keep. I tend to preserve the original capture and apply new adjustments later in my workflow, but if you want to retain the adjustments you made on the iPhone, you can certainly retain the “after” version of the image instead of or in addition to the original version of the photo.

I suppose it is worth noting that if you want to avoid having this duplication altogether in the context of a Lightroom-based workflow, you would want to avoid editing photos directly on your iPhone. But, of course, it may be worth having the duplicates in order to be able to edit photos on the iPhone so you can share those photos more seamlessly.

Develop Value Mystery


Today’s Question: When I edit photos in Lightroom Classic and use the Clarity slider, the numbers showing the strength of the adjustment are white except for +30, which is gray. An adjustment of +30 still works, so it is not a real problem, but it is curious why that should occur.

Tim’s Quick Answer: The gray color for the value at +30 indicates that is the default value. In other words, you have changed the default from zero to +30 for the Clarity adjustment.

More Detail: A gray number for the value of an adjustment in the Develop module in Lightroom Classic indicates the slider is at its default value. A white number indicates the value has been changed from the default for the adjustment.

Normally, the value for Clarity would appear in gray when set to zero, and white when the slider is set to any other value. That is because the default value for the Clarity adjustment is zero.

If you see a gray number for something other than zero for the Clarity adjustment, that means you have changed the default value for Clarity to that gray value. In this case, the default value for Clarity has been changed to +30.

You can reset the value for various adjustments quite easily in Lightroom Classic. Start by selecting an image for which you have not already applied adjustments you care about, so you can adjust the settings freely. Then click the Reset button at the bottom of the right panel in the Develop module.

Next, change the value for the sliders for which you want to change the default values. For example, I often like to apply at least a slight increase in Clarity as well as Vibrance for most images, so I might want to change the default values for those sliders.

After changing the values for the adjustments you want to change the default value for, hold the Alt key on Windows or the Option key on Macintosh. While holding the Alt/Option key, you’ll notice the Reset button changes to a Set Default button. Clicking that button while continuing to hold the Alt/Option key will cause the current adjustment settings to be used as the new default values in the Develop module.

Downloading DNG Captures


Today’s Question: Is there a way to move DNG files from [Lightroom mobile on an] iPhone [or Android smartphone] to Lightroom Classic on a MacBook, other than via Adobe Creative Cloud?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can use the option in the Lightroom mobile app to export photos in the original DNG capture format to the photos app on your smartphone. That, in turn, will enable you to import the original DNG files directly into Lightroom Classic on your computer.

More Detail: The Lightroom mobile app is really designed to synchronize images from the Lightroom or Lightroom Classic desktop applications. That means that when you capture photos using the Lightroom mobile app, the photos will appear automatically in your catalog in the Lightroom desktop application you’re using to manage your photos.

It is possible, however, to directly download the photos to your computer. You would just want to be sure you aren’t creating duplicate images by having the Lightroom mobile app synchronize to your Lightroom application on the desktop. This can be a bit tricky if you will otherwise be keeping your smartphone connected to the Internet.

That said, it is possible to export the DNG files. If you want to export multiple images, first browse your photos in the grid view display and tap the ellipsis icon (the three dots) at the top-right of the Lightroom mobile interface. From the popup menu that appears, choose Select. This will put you into select mode, so you can tap or tap and swipe) to select photos.

When you are finished selecting the photos you want to export, tap the Share button at the bottom of the screen. From the popup menu that appears, choose “Export as”. From the File Type popup choose “Original”, and then tap the checkmark icon at the top-right of the screen.

This will export the selected photos in their original capture format (such as Adobe DNG) to the photo app on your camera (meaning Photos on iPhone or Photo Gallery on Android). You can then connect your phone to your computer and use the Import command to import all images, including the DNG captures from the Lightroom mobile app.

Smartphone Raw Capture


Today’s Question: In Friday’s answer you said you would recommend using raw capture for photography with a smartphone. But how can you capture raw with a smartphone? I thought they only captured in JPEG.

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can capture in a raw format with a variety of smartphone apps. Perhaps most notably, the Adobe Lightroom app for iOS and Android smartphones enables you to capture in the Adobe DNG raw capture format.

More Detail: Most smartphones and compact cameras will capture in the JPEG format by default. This is largely a matter of convenience, since JPEG images provide relatively small file sizes and are compatible with a large variety of software and devices.

More recently, HEIC (High Efficiency Image Coding) is available as an alternative capture format for updated iPhone models and some Android devices. The HEIC format employs improved compression compared to JPEG images, providing smaller file sizes with higher image quality. HEIC files are not supported as widely as JPEG images, but most of the latest operating systems and imaging software do support HEIC.

While HEIC is an improvement over JPEG, it is still possible to achieve even better image quality through the use of raw capture with a smartphone or compact camera. In the case of a smartphone, raw capture generally requires a third-party camera app.

The Adobe Lightroom app for mobile devices (iOS and Android) enables you to capture photos directly through the app, and you can choose to capture in the Adobe DNG format if you prefer. This enables you to capture more image data for your photos, and to avoid the potential for compression artifacts that can result from the compression used for JPEG and HEIC images.