Lightroom's (LR) interface neatly attends to most digital photography situations.
If you didn't know already, you may have learned in my article on the RAW File Format that most digital cameras capable of shooting RAW can also simultaneously save a JPEG file version too.
For some, this can be handy in a number of ways:
Maybe you have a client breathing down your neck who "just needs the files now" feels (s)he can't hang around for the processing of RAW files.
Perhaps you're comfortable shooting JPEG, you know that you should shoot RAW but you just don't have the head-space to learn right now...?
In the latter example, I guess one is thinking the other way round — shooting JPEG first with the convenient facility of saving a RAW File.
Lightroom can handle it either way. Here's how...
Take a look this folder.
It contains ten files — five RAW files, with blank icons forming a column on the right, and the five respective JPEGs saved at the moment of RAW capture.
You may want to import all ten into LR or, more likely, you will just import the RAW files without clogging up your Catalog excessively.
Perhaps you will keep the JPEG files for reference or simply for comfort.
Whatever your rhyme or reason, LR controls it all with the checking or unchecking of a simple box in the Preferences:
Under the General tab, you will see a check box entitled:
"Treat JPEG files next to raw files as separate photos"
By default, this is unchecked in Lightroom as it is, for most situations, the sensible option.
With this preference set, let's now import the folder of files above.
In the Import Module we see five files show up:
These are just the RAW files. That's because we elected not to treat the RAW files as separate files...
...in effect, we asked LR to treat them as one and the same.
By proceeding with the import, we end up with the five RAW files in the Library, as expected:
Now, click on one of the images to select it and go to the Develop module.
By the way, pressing 'D' on the keyboard is the shortcut to the Develop module.
Then, by pressing 'I' twice on the keyboard, you will see file and capture information about your photograph.
Here you will find that this is indeed the RAW file (in the DNG format requested during the import process).
However, also notice that LR has annotated '+ JPEG' on the end to remind you that you shot a JPEG file at the same time:
Lightroom hasn't imported that JPEG file - it's not in the Library. This merely serves as a reminder that a corresponding JPEG file did exist at the time of import.
So, let's return to Preferences and try the other option: Checking the box:
By repeating the import, we now see all ten files contained within the folder:
This time, by proceeding with the import we now end up with all ten files in the Library...
...and the information shows us what we now know to be true — that each file is distinct and either RAW or JPEG:
Note the difference in color between the two as well.
That's the difference between the camera's onboard processing from RAW to JPEG* and Lightroom's first assessment of the imported RAW file.
*Don't forget, whatever you select on the camera, it will always shoot a RAW file at the start of the capture process.
If you have selected 'JPEG' only on the camera, it will convert the RAW file to JPEG and then discard that initial RAW file...!
Uncheck the box, as described at the start of this tutorial.
This is Lightroom's default setting and for good reason.
If, down the line, you have 10,000+ RAW files in your Catalog, it is not a good idea to have to worry about and handle an additional 10,000+ JPEGs too!
If you need JPEGs, you can simply export appropriate files from your RAWs and the quality will be better too...!
As ever, I hope this has helped.
Do have a good look around on this site as the collection of material is steadily growing...
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