Update Process Version in Batch


Today’s Question: I have many photos in Lightroom Classic still set to Process Version 3. How can I update them all to Process Version 5 in one step?

Tim’s Quick Answer: You can update the Process Version for all photos by selecting all photos in the catalog, making sure a photo with an older Process Version is the active photo, and then changing the Process Version in the Develop module while the Auto Sync feature is enabled.

More Detail: You can think of the Process Version in Lightroom Classic as relating to the version of Lightroom Classic that was used to process a photo in the Develop module. The Process Version determines which adjustments are available and how they work, based on updates to the Process Version over the years.

For example, I’m sure many Lightroom Classic users are familiar with the current set of tonal adjustments in the Basic section of the right panel in the Develop module. Those are Exposure, Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Whites, and Blacks, which are reflected in the most recent Process Version 5. However, in the first Process Version those adjustments were Exposure, Recovery, Fill Light, Blacks, Brightness, and Contrast.

In addition to different adjustments being available in different process versions, the algorithms behind some adjustments have changed over the years as well. In general, I recommend working with photos in the most recent Process Version, which is current Process Version 5.

If you want to update the Process Version for all images in the catalog, you will want to first locate an image that has the Process Version set to something other than Process Version 5. The setting for the Process Version is the Process popup found in the Calibration section at the bottom of the right panel in the Develop module. It is important that an image with an older Process Version be the active photo, as otherwise selecting the latest Process Version from the popup won’t actually register as a change.

After selecting an image that has an older Process Version set, choose the “All Photographs” collection in the Catalog section of the left panel in the Library module. Make sure there aren’t any filters set on the Library Filter bar so you’re seeing all your photos. Then choose Edit > Select All to select all photos in your entire catalog.

You can then go to the Develop module and click the toggle switch on the left side of the Sync button at the bottom of the right panel, which will enable the Auto Sync feature. Then go to the Calibration section and choose “Version 5 (Current)” from the Process popup.

Keep in mind that there is the possibility that the appearance of some photos will change slightly when you update the Process Version. For this reason, some photographers prefer to update the Process Version only for individual photos as you work with them, rather than in batch. However, you can certainly update the Process Version in batch as explained here. I do recommend however that you then review images that you intend to print or otherwise share to fine-tune the adjustments in the Develop module as needed, in case the update to the Process Version caused an undesirable change to the appearance of the photo.

Evaluating Lens Sharpness


Today’s Question: I’m trying to evaluate the sharpness of several lenses, but I don’t know how much I should be able magnify an image and still have very sharp edges. In other words, I can look at an image using the “fit” setting in the Navigator in Lightroom Classic and the image looks good. But if I enlarge it to, say, 200%, it looks soft. Is that normal when enlarging an image that much, or is that because the lens is not very sharp? At what magnification should I view an image to critically judge the sharpness of an image/lens?

Tim’s Quick Answer: I recommend using a 100% zoom setting when evaluating sharpness for a photo. However, to test the sharpness of a lens I recommend photographing a lens resolution test chart rather than evaluating standard photos.

More Detail: The reason a 100% zoom setting is preferred when evaluating the sharpness of an image is that at 100% one pixel in the image is represented by one pixel on the monitor display. The reason the image appears softer at a higher zoom setting is that multiple pixels on the display are being used to display each pixel in the image, and so there is blending introduced along the contrast edges in the image.

When evaluating lens sharpness, you could simply use a relative comparison between test images captured by different lenses. In other words, you would simply be determining which lens was sharper than another, without actually quantifying the results.

If you want to get more detailed in your evaluation, you can use a lens resolution chart. However, a calibrated lens resolution chart can be rather expensive, ranging from several hundred dollars to more than one thousand dollars (https://bhpho.to/3KDurGL).

There are some less expensive (though less precise) options that can work well. For example, the DGK Color Tools test chart (https://bhpho.to/3kBb2LK) sells for about $16. You can also use printed text as a reasonable alternative in place of a test chart, comparing the sharpness of the edges of text from one photo to the next.

By using a single lens chart or other target for each lens you’ll test you can get more accurate and meaningful results. And if you want to be particularly detailed in your evaluation you can use a lens resolution chart that enables you to measure the actual effective resolution of a lens (generally represented by a number of line pairs per millimeter in a test target).

Download Before Import


Today’s Question: When would you download photos with Adobe Bridge before importing into Lightroom Classic?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The only time I would download photos with Adobe Bridge before importing photos into Lightroom Classic would be when importing photos from a mobile device such as a smartphone. Otherwise, I always download as part of the process of importing photos into Lightroom Classic.

More Detail: I strongly recommend making full use of the import feature in Lightroom Classic, including downloading photos from a media card to their final destination as part of that process. This helps to streamline the import workflow and avoid the confusion that can occur when you download photos before importing them into the catalog.

However, with smartphones and other mobile devices I generally download photos first and then import them into Lightroom Classic. That is because with some mobile devices (especially iPhones and iPads) it can be challenging to delete photos after having downloaded them.

Therefore, I use a workflow that involves downloading photos from my mobile device to a temporary storage location using Adobe Bridge. I then import the photos into my Lightroom Classic catalog, copying them to the intended final destination. At that point I will confirm the deletion of photos from my mobile device in Adobe Bridge.

This workflow is covered in the lesson on importing photos that is included in my “Lightroom Lectures” course, which is included in the GreyLearning Ultimate Bundle. If you’re not already an Ultimate Bundle subscriber, you can sign up with a 33% discount by following this link to get started:


Editing Smart Previews Outside Lightroom Classic


Today’s Question: I built Smart Previews for some images in Lightroom Classic so I could work with them without having my external hard drive connected. I am able to edit the images in the Develop module, but the option to use any external editor (including Photoshop) is greyed out. I was under the impression that smart previews allow for all editing, but is it just limited to editing in Lightroom Classic only?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Smart Previews in Lightroom Classic enable you to edit photos in the Develop module (or export a lower resolution copy of the image) even if the source image is not available, such as when an external hard drive is disconnected. However, you are not able to send a smart preview from Lightroom Classic to an external editor, as the original image is required for that purpose.

More Detail: When you built a Smart Preview for a photo an Adobe DNG (Digital Negative) file is created at a reduced resolution of about 2500 pixels on the long side. The Smart Previews are stored alongside the catalog, so that they can be accessed even if the source image files are not available, such as if you have disconnected the external hard drive containing the source images.

Smart Previews can be used in place of the original image in the Develop module within Lightroom Classic, so you can apply adjustments even without the source image. When the source image is available again the adjustment updates will be synchronized to the original automatically.

You can also export copies of images based on Smart Previews, though in general I recommend exporting based on the original file instead. Among other things, the Smart Preview will generally be of a lower resolution than the original.

However, you are not able to send a Smart Preview to an external editor from Lightroom Classic using the Photo > Edit In option on the menu. That is because these options require a derivative image (such as a TIFF or PSD file in the case of Photoshop) based on the original image file. You therefore need to make sure the source image file is available when you want to use an external editor.

Avoiding Duplicate Filenames


Today’s Question: I now own two different Canon camera bodies. How do I import photos into Lightroom Classic from my second camera body that might have the same image numbers? I don’t change file names.

Tim’s Quick Answer: Lightroom Classic will automatically append a number (such as “-2”) to a filename that is copied into the same folder as a file with the same name. However, you could also rename photos upon import to avoid this variability in file naming.

More Detail: It is not possible to have two files with the exact same filename in the same folder. In general, software or the operating system will ask how you want to deal with this issue, such as by replacing the existing file or using a unique name. In the case of Lightroom Classic this issue is handled automatically when importing photos.

Of course, if the photos were exact duplicates, then having the “Don’t Import Suspected Duplicates” checkbox turned on in the Import dialog would prevent those duplicates from being imported a second time. In this case, however, the photos aren’t duplicates, they just have the same filename. Therefore, Lightroom Classic would still copy the files, but will append a number to the filename so that the names are unique.

This could lead to variability in your filenames, such as having one file named IMG_1234.cr2 and another file that had the same name being renamed to IMG_1234-2.cr2. If you would prefer to avoid this variability and the potential confusion of filenames that are nearly the same, you could rename your photos with a different format.

You could, for example, add the camera serial number to the filename structure, perhaps using the serial number as the first part of the filename and the existing filename as the second part. Or you could use a completely different structure altogether. That renaming can be done as part of the import process in the File Renaming section on the right panel. You could also rename the photos later in your workflow within Lightroom Classic by selecting the images within the Library module and choosing Library > Rename Photos from the menu.

Renaming Hard Drive for Lightroom Classic


Today’s Question: I store my Lightroom Classic catalog on an external hard drive. I want to rename the hard drive, but I don’t want to lose the connection to Lightroom Classic. Is Lightroom Classic going to tell me that it can’t find my files if I rename the external drive?

Tim’s Quick Answer: If you rename (Macintosh) or assign a new drive letter (Windows) for the hard drive that contains your Lightroom Classic catalog, it is easy to reconnect Lightroom Classic with the catalog. If you’re making this change for a hard drive that also contains your photos, that will involve a little more work.

More Detail: If you change the identifier for the hard drive that contains your Lightroom Classic catalog you can easily make the transition, so Lightroom Classic is able to find that catalog. Start by making sure Lightroom Classic is not running. Then, after you rename (Macintosh) or change the drive letter (Windows), you can double-click on the catalog file (the one with the “lrcat” filename extension) in its folder location on that hard drive. This will launch Lightroom Classic with that catalog.

I also recommend then setting this catalog in its new location as the default catalog to always open in Lightroom Classic. To do so, first go to the menu and choose Lightroom Classic > Preferences on Macintosh or Edit > Preferences on Windows. In the Preferences dialog go to the General tab. In the Default Catalog section click the popup and choose the current catalog from the popup list. Close the Preferences dialog and from this point forward anytime you launch Lightroom Classic it will open the selected catalog.

If the hard drive you’re making this change for also includes your photos, there will be some additional work involved because Lightroom Classic will no longer find the photos where they are expected even though it knows where the catalog is located. You’ll need to reconnect the folders containing the photos so that Lightroom Classic will know where they are located.

This process is generally a bit easier if all the photos containing your photos are in turn contained within a single parent folder, such as a “Photos” folder on the hard drive. In that case you can simply right-click on that parent folder, choose “Find Missing Folder” from the popup menu, and select the applicable folder on the hard drive. That will cause all subfolders to also be reconnected.

If you don’t have a single parent folder, you should still be able to reconnect the other folders without too much trouble. Right-click on one of the folders and reconnect it as noted above. In most cases Lightroom Classic will then recursively reconnect all folders on that entire hard drive. If for any reason some folders don’t reconnect you can reconnect those outliers individually.

Cause of Color versus Luminance Noise


Today’s Question: What are the causes of color noise and luminance noise? I understand noise in general from high ISO but why are there two different kinds of noise? And why are each corrected differently in Lightroom Classic?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Color and luminance noise are both caused by the same general issues. They are just exhibited differently in an image. Separate corrections for color versus luminance noise are provided in most software for optimizing photos because each should be dealt with a little differently.

More Detail: You might say that “all noise is noise”. Noise in a digital image is represented by inaccurate variations in pixel value at the level of the individual pixel. These variations can be caused by a number of factors, including strong amplification due to a high ISO setting, long exposures, and heat buildup in the camera in general, among other causes.

In most cases a digital camera records information for three individual color channels (red, green, and blue). Each of those channels is really a monochromatic channel consisting of only luminance values. In other words, it would be fair to say that in most cases noise in digital photography is all luminance noise.

However, the three color channels are combined to create a full-color image, and variations in noise between the channels contributes to color noise. Again, noise is simply the variation in values at the pixel level, so the key question is whether the inaccurate variations in pixel values are more of a tonal difference with similar colors versus differences in color values (and possibly tonal values as well).

More to the point, color noise and luminance noise need to be dealt with somewhat differently. Color noise can be averaged out relatively aggressively, blending color values into the area surrounding each pixel without too much of a problem in terms of visual artifacts or loss of color. However, with luminance noise you need to be much more cautious. With just a little too much luminance noise reduction the variations in tonal value in the overall photo will be averaged out too much, resulting in a potentially significant loss of sharpness and overall detail.

Why XMP is Critical


Today’s Question: A friend has a massive number of photos and recently lost his Lightroom Classic catalog (including backups) because he used a hard drive scrubbing utility not realizing it was erasing the hard drive rather than cleaning out viruses and clutter. He has his photos, but none of the information about his photos.

Tim’s Quick Answer: This is a dramatic reminder of how important it can be to turn on the “Automatically write changes into XMP” checkbox on the Metadata tab of the Catalog Settings dialog in Lightroom Classic. With this option enabled, the vast majority of metadata updates and Develop adjustments could be recovered easily even with a total loss of the catalog.

More Detail: I have often advocated for photographers to turn on the “Automatically write changes into XMP” checkbox for their Lightroom Classic catalog. When I do, I often explain that part of the reason for this is to provide a way to recover from the loss of a catalog. I often hear from readers (and have the same thought myself) that losing the catalog and all backup copies is not very likely. But it is possible, as the story above conveys, which was recounted to me by a friend who knows the person who experienced this loss.

This is a stark reminder of how helpful it can be to have this option turned on for a worst-case scenario related to your catalog. I really wish Adobe would have this option turned on by default, but it is disabled by default under the auspices of improving performance in Lightroom Classic.

I strongly recommend (now more than ever) that you make sure this checkbox is turned on. To do so, go to the menu and select Edit > Catalog Settings from the menu on Windows, or Lightroom Classic > Catalog Settings on Macintosh. Go to the Metadata tab and turn on the “Automatically write changes into XMP” checkbox. You can then close the dialog, and Lightroom Classic will start writing updates to the source image files (or XMP sidecar files in the case of raw captures) for all existing photos, updating as needed when you make changes to metadata in the future.

It is important to note that this option will not preserve all metadata outside the Lightroom Classic catalog. Among other things collections, virtual copies, and pick/reject flags are not included in the source photos when you enable this option in Catalog Settings. However, standard metadata such as star ratings, color labels, keywords, and even Develop adjustments are included.

With this option enabled, if you were to ever lose your entire Lightroom Classic catalog and all backup copies, you could simply create a new catalog and import all photos. The metadata that had been saved out to the source images based on this setting will be included with the photos being imported to that new catalog.

Removing Plug-Ins from “Edit In” Menu in Lightroom Classic


Today’s Question: In Lightroom Classic, when you go to the menu or right click on an image, you can select Edit in. Is it possible to edit the list of programs shown? For instance, I can see Aurora 2018 on the list even though Aurora 2018 has been removed from the computer. The same questions could also apply for the Export command.

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can remove external editors from the “Edit In” list on the External Editing tab of the Preferences dialog in Lightroom Classic. You can remove Export presets from within the Export dialog.

More Detail: If you have uninstalled plug-ins, such as when upgrading to a newer version, the plug-in may remain on the Photo > Edit In menu as well as the Export dialog, depending on the type of plug-in. Fortunately, you can clean up these leftover references to plug-ins you no longer use.

For the Photo > Edit In menu you’ll need to make the changes on the External Editing tab of the Preferences dialog. For Windows users you can select Edit > Preferences from the menu, and Macintosh users can select Lightroom Classic > Preferences. Within the Preferences dialog go to the External Editing tab.

In the Additional External Editor section of the File Handling tab in Preferences you can select the preset you want to remove from the Preset popup. Once the preset is selected click the popup again and choose “Delete preset”. Then make sure that the Preset popup reflects a preset that is actually installed, and that you tend to use frequently, as that will appear as a separate entry on the Photo > Edit In menu.

Some plug-ins also install export presets, such as with HDR (high dynamic range) plug-ins that benefit from having raw captures sent directly to the plug-in rather than using a derivative image such as a TIFF file. Click the Export button at the bottom of the left panel in the Library module. Then select the name of the preset you no longer need from the list at the left side of the dialog and click the Remove button at the bottom of that list. You can then click the Done button to close the Export dialog.

Once you’d removed the external editor or export preset (or both) the applicable plug-ins will no longer appear on the lists.

Photoshop Defaults to Saving to Creative Cloud


Today’s Question: Suddenly Photoshop is attempting to force me to save photos in the cloud every time I save, even though I have clicked the “On My Computer” button. Is there a way to make my computer the default storage location, as clicking the option every time is very annoying.

Tim’s Quick Answer: The issue of Photoshop constantly defaulting to saving files in cloud-based storage is a change from a recent update, and can be resolved by setting the Default File Location setting to “On your computer” on the File Handling tab of the Preferences dialog in Photoshop.

More Detail: Cloud-based storage can most certainly provide a variety of benefits, including having files available from any of your devices that are connected to the internet and a form of automatic backup for your files. However, that doesn’t make cloud-based storage the right solution for all users or for all files.

Furthermore, I’m convinced that companies (including Adobe) that offer cloud-based storage where you pay extra if you exceed certain storage capacity make efforts to push users toward cloud-based storage in the hopes of increasing subscription revenue for that storage.

In earlier version of Photoshop the default option in the Save As dialog was to store files in Adobe’s cloud-based storage. However, if you clicked the “On your computer” button that would become the new default when you save new files. With a recent update that changed, and by default the Save As dialog will revert to the option to save in your Creative Cloud online storage rather than locally on your computer.

Fortunately, you can change this setting in Preferences. Start by choosing Edit > Preferences > File Handling on Windows or Photoshop > Preferences > File Handling on Macintosh. On the File Handling tab of the Preferences dialog you’ll find the Default File Location popup in the File Saving Options section at the top of the dialog. Change that popup from the default value of “Creative Cloud” to “On your computer”. This will cause the Save As dialog to default to local storage rather than cloud-based storage moving forward.