I want to start this blog post off by saying I have been using  Adobe Lightroom as my main editing software since it was first released and continue to do so because it does most everything I need really well. There are two things that it doesn’t do so well but I came up with a workaround so it never really bothered me. Then Adobe released an update to Lightroom and changed the way the import module looks and all hell broke loose.

lightroomsplash

The truth is that the Lightroom import module is the weakest part of the program and nothing that Adobe did in the latest update changes that. The issue with the Lightroom import module is that it is SLOW. It isn’t slow in every situation, it works quite well when the images are already on the computer and all Lightroom is doing is adding them to a catalog. Where Lightroom really stumbles is when you need to import the images from a memory card and not only add them to a catalog but actually copy them to the computer.

So here is my current workflow, which still features Lightroom as the main editing software.

  • Step 1: Insert the multiple memory cards into the card readers. I shoot with the Nikon D4 and D750 which means XQD, CF and SD cards. So three different cards and three different card readers.
  • Step 2: Open Photo Mechanic and select all the memory cards.
  • Step 3: Select the destination for the images and if wanted a second destination for backup.
  • Step 4: Add the needed metadata using the IPTC Stationary Pad.
  • Step 5: Import the images or as Photo Mechanic calls it, Ingest the images.
  • Step 6: Start looking at the images as they ingest and tag the ones I want to edit.
  • Step 7: Copy the selected images to a separate folder called Picks.
  • Step 8: Import the Picks folder into Lightroom,
  • Step 9: Edit the images in Lightroom.

The difference is speed.

If I take three cards, an XQD, CF card and SD card and plug them into my card readers. Photo Mechanic sees all three and allows me to choose 1, 2 or all three to import at the same time. Lightroom sees all three and allows me to pick only 1.

As you can see in the screen shots, Lightroom doesn’t even show me that I have 3 cards ready to go in the main panels, I have to look down at the card icon to see that three cards are ready to import.

lightroomimport

In Photo Mechanic the sources are all listed in the center and multiple cards can be selected al lat once. Maybe not important to the average shooter by a HUGE timesaver for those us shooting multiple cameras or very long events.

ingest1

You can also see that in one window I can decide on the file location, the backup location, rename the files on import, merge the files to the same location, only import new photos, erase the source after import and unmount the source after import. I am not going to even get into what I can do with the IPTC stationary pad.

So for the test, I am going to first import all the photos using Photo Mechanic, then import them again (1 card at a time) using Lightroom. Finally I will import them into a new Lightroom catalog from where I saved them on my drive using Photo Mechanic. On a quick side note, Photo Mechanic looks at the images on the cards and figures out the renumbering so that the files are all renumbered correctly by the capture time. In Lightroom, the renumbering is done a card at a time meaning that they are not is capture order, and to make matters worse the import module doesn’t remember the last import so the second (and third) cards don’t keep sequential numbering.

Just to be clear, it was the exact same files in the exact same card readers for the tests. The three times are as follows:

Photo Mechanic Import: 17 minutes and 54 seconds to import 1635 Images and rename them all on import.

Lightroom: 39 minutes and 8 seconds to import 1635 Images and rename them all on import.

When I ingest the images using Photo mechanic (about 18 minutes) and then import those images into Lightroom (2 minutes and 40 seconds) means all the images are on the computer, in Lightroom, with metadata and renamed in just over 20 minutes.

That is half the time compared to using Lightroom alone. 

Ill get to the speed issues that Lightroom has with large catalogs at a later date.

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