When importing my photos from my memory card to my computer should I use Lightroom Import or use a file management program? For years I’ve used Windows Explorer to copy the images from my camera’s memory card to a folder on my hard drive. Now that I’m using Lightroom for most of my image editing, is there a benefit change my workflow?
Yes, the Import function in Lightroom has several advantages, particularly if you are using Lightroom to manage all your photographs. The Library module has many features for organizing and searching your photos. Keyword Tags is just one of the many benefits, but you can also search based on the metadata. Additionally, the import function allows you to apply development presets to your images, like lens correction, and copyright information to the metadata.
When importing photos to Lightroom there are several options to consider with the file handling that are important to your workflow. First, at the top of the import window is the option to (Copy as DNG, Copy, Move, Add.) I always Copy the files from the memory card and set a destination folder to my working hard drive, keeping my files in the original RAW format from my camera. Move and Add are not available options when the source is a memory card.
I do check Don’t Import Suspected Duplicates. This is helpful when you don’t import all the photos from the card at one time. Say for example you have photos from two different shoots and you want them in different folders, so you’ll need to import some of the photos to one folder and uncheck the photos you don’t want in that folder. When you go back to the Import window the ones that are already imported into the catalog are grayed out and un-checked. Another setting to consider is to have Lightroom make a Second Copy to a different destination like an external hard drive which can save a step later.
File renaming: while I don’t rename my files, I prefer to keep the original camera file name, you may want to rename your files at this point. If the files on the memory card are from different shoots you may want to wait on renaming the files in the library module.
I do use the Apply During Import settings. Here is where I add my standard copyright information to the metadata and apply the Lens Correction. There are quite a few Lightroom Development Settings to apply during the import, and if there’s one you can’t find it’s easy to make your own. Any presets you create can be found in the User Presets section in the Development Module.
Lastly, the destination for your files. Here is where you set the drive and folder for your files, name your sub-folder and you can break the sub-folder into additional sub-folders based on the date. It important to remember that the destination location is saved from the previous import and you’ll need to check the destination settings every time you import your files.
While Adobe Bridge has many of the same features in the Photo Downloader as Lightroom’s Import function, there are more options in Lightroom for Development Presets. I didn’t cover the Previews option in the Import Function, as this is a long conversation pertaining to Lightroom workflow and there are many considerations on the topic.