Home / Articles / Adobe Photoshop Lightroom / Martin Evening on Importing Photos in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4

Martin Evening on Importing Photos in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4

  • Date: Mar 6, 2012.

Chapter Description

In this excerpt from The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 Book, Martin Evening shows how the Lightroom import procedure provides an adaptable import workflow, one that can be streamlined through the use of Import presets, as well as offering the ability to import files directly from the camera using a tethered shooting setup.
File Handling panel

File Handling panel

The File Handling panel (Figure 2.12) is where you decide how the imported photos should be managed. The Render Previews menu allows you to decide how previews should be rendered during the import process. The default setting here is Minimal, which imports photos as quickly as possible without devoting resources to building the previews just yet. The Embedded & Sidecar option makes use of any previews embedded in the original images or sidecar files. This can help speed up the import process from a camera card and let you see some kind of image preview right away, but the previews may only offer a rough guide as to the images’ appearance. You can also force Lightroom to build Standard previews as the files are imported, or choose 1:1, which will go the whole nine yards and build full-size previews (this can really slow down the import times). Fortunately, Lightroom always prioritizes importing the photos first before it proceeds to render the finer-quality previews. Of the four available options, I reckon “Embedded & Sidecar” makes the most sense, because although the previews may not be as accurate, this will still be the fastest way to get some kind of preview to appear as the files are imported.

Figure 2.12 This shows a full view of File Handling panel options (top) and the Render Preview options (bottom).

It should be noted that Lightroom is able to import all the supported raw file formats plus RGB, Lab, CMYK, and grayscale images saved using the TIFF, JPEG, or PSD file formats. Non-raw images can be in 8-bit or 16-bit mode, but PSD files must be saved from Photoshop with the Maximum Compatibility option switched on (see Figure 2.13). If there are no compatibility problems, everything should import successfully, but if there are files Lightroom cannot process you’ll encounter a feedback dialog like the one shown in Figure 2.14.

Figure 2.13 To ensure that your layered Photoshop format (PSD) files are recognized in Lightroom, make sure you have the Maximum Compatibility option switched on in the Photoshop File Handling preferences before you save layered PSD files via Photoshop. If you ever find you are unable to import PSD files into Lightroom, try switching this option on in Photoshop and resave the PSDs overwriting the originals. Shown here is the Photoshop CS5 Preferences dialog.

Figure 2.14 If there are files that can’t be imported into Lightroom, you’ll see the warning dialog shown here, which lists the files that couldn’t be imported and the reasons why.

Making backup copies of imported files

Whenever you choose Copy as DNG, Copy, or Move to import files into Lightroom you can check the “Make a Second Copy To” box and select a folder for storing backups of the files that are about to be imported. The backup option is therefore extremely useful when importing photos from a camera card, because you never know when a hard disk failure might occur. If you copy the original camera files to a separate backup drive at the import stage (as shown in Figure 2.15) the chances of losing all your camera files due to disk failure or human error will be greatly diminished. Note that the backup copy images are always stored in their original file state with no file renaming and no develop settings or metadata settings applied to them (although when you choose “Copy as DNG” the backup copy files will be renamed). What you end up with is an exact copy of the files that were captured on the original camera card before they were imported into Lightroom. After you have renamed and edited the master selection of images and have backed up these images, you’ll no longer need to keep the initial backup copy files. Nonetheless, it’s a wise precaution at the camera card import stage to temporarily keep more than one copy of the master files stored on the system.

Figure 2.15 This illustrates the standard Lightroom file handling backup procedure where you can assign a Second Copy folder to save backup files to at the time of import.

Photos shot as raw + JPEG

If you have your camera set to capture both raw + JPEG and the “Treat JPEG files next to raw files as separate photos” option in the General Lightroom preferences is left unchecked (the default setting), the imported photos will appear grouped as a raw+JPEG image in the Lightroom catalog (Figure 2.16). If you decide later to import the JPEGs as separate photos, you can check the “Treat JPEG files next to raw files as separate photos” option in the preferences, select the relevant folder, and choose Synchronize Folder... from the Library module Library menu. This will allow you to import the JPEGs that accompany the imported raw files as separate JPEG photos.

Figure 2.16 If “Treat JPEG files next to raw files as separate photos” is unchecked the raw files and accompanying JPEGs will both be copied to the destination folder during the import process, but only the raw files will actually appear “imported” into Lightroom. You will see such imports named using an extension suffix such as: .CR2+JPEG or .NEF+JPEG.

File handling limitations

As you may have gathered by now, Lightroom is principally a photo cataloging and raw editing program that can also edit non-raw files. You can import Grayscale, CMYK, and Lab mode images and these can be previewed and adjusted in Lightroom, but when you do so, the edit calculations are carried out in RGB and exported as RGB only. Lightroom does actually support importing CMYK photographs and makes it possible for you to edit them in the Develop module (via an internal RGB conversion), but I don’t recommend doing this. Basically, it is best to use just the Library module to manage your CMYK images and not take them anywhere near the Develop module. Even so, I am sure many photographers will now appreciate being allowed to manage all their image assets (including CMYK originals) in Lightroom and have the ability to export them in their original format.

Many digital cameras are capable of shooting movie clips as well as stills, so Lightroom also allows you to import video files; plus, Lightroom 4 now offers support for previewing movie clips inside Lightroom. You could argue that Lightroom has gone somewhat beyond it’s original remit as a “photography only” program. But as many photographers are now getting more and more into shooting video on their stills cameras, it makes sense that Lightroom should be able to handle the import, viewing, and (limited) editing of video files. Besides, anyone who has a video mode on their camera is likely at some point to want to shoot a few video clips alongside their still photos and will want to import these along with their stills shots. So while it is great that Lightroom 4 allows video clips to be played and edited inside Lightroom, I don’t anticipate a shift toward full video editing capabilities being built into the program just yet.

I mentioned already the limits of files saved in the PSD format with backward compatibility switched off in Photoshop and how to resolve this. One other thing to bear in mind is how the pixel limit for importing photos into Lightroom is 65,000 pixels per side. This means that where the widest dimension of an image exceeds this value, it can’t be imported into Lightroom. But 65,000 pixels should be enough to satisfy most users.

7. File Renaming panel | Next Section Previous Section

Adobe Press Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Adobe Press and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Adobe Press products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email ask@peachpit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.adobepress.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020