Resolution of Synchronized Images


Today’s Question: Can you be more specific as to the synced Lightroom Classic raw file changes in terms of resolution and conversion to DNG? If I shoot raw Nikon NEF formatted images, and sync a collection to the cloud, what or how much is lost in the cloud copy of the file? What about metadata that is in the raw file, does some of it get lost as well?

Tim’s Quick Answer: When you synchronize a raw capture to the cloud via a synchronized collection in Lightroom Classic, the cloud-based image is a smart preview. That means it is simply converted to the Adobe DNG file format and reduced in resolution to a maximum of 2,550 pixels on the long edge.

More Detail: Lightroom Classic supports the creation of smart previews, which can be used in lieu of the original image when the source file is not currently available. Among other things, smart previews enable you to optimize photos in the Develop module even if the source file isn’t currently available.

When you synchronize photos to the cloud from Lightroom Classic, they are converted to a smart preview, which as noted above means they are simply converted to an Adobe DNG file with a maximum resolution of 2,550 pixels on the long edge.

No metadata is lost in this process. For example, when you are viewing a synchronized image outside of Lightroom Classic such as with the Lightroom mobile app or Lightroom in a web browser, you would still be able to see the key metadata for the photo.

Furthermore, I think it is important to keep in mind that the smart preview stored in the cloud is simply a placeholder for the source image. Any updates you apply to the cloud-based image will be synchronized to the source image, such as if you add keywords or apply adjustments to an image. You can think of the cloud-based image in this context as a high-quality preview of the image that enables you to work with that image from virtually anywhere, without the burden of needing to synchronize the much larger raw capture to be able to get online access to your photos throughout the full Lightroom ecosystem.