Lightroom Imports

15 June 2011 11:21 | Comments: 0 | Categories:

Before importing photos from a new photoshoot, it's worth double checking your import settings - and one general preset.


  • No auto-toning
  • Plan ahead to define your destination folder
  • No need for subfolders by date
  • No need for file renaming
  • Apply lense correction
  • Use the metadata presets
  • Add lots of keywords

Lightoom General Preset

The "one other" is auto-tone, which is often defaulted to yes, which may well be appropriate if you have been shooting regular subjects and find that Lightroom does a good job of auto-toning.

However, if you have been doing any experimental shooting - testing exposures, bracketed exposures, HDR shots, panoramas etc, you want all your images to start from the same point and it is essential to turn off the auto-tone.

PC: Edit > Preferences > Presets Tab
MAC: Lightroom Preferences Presets Tab

make sure Apply auto tone adjustments is not checked.

Import Settings

Source will typically be your SD card in a card reader. In this case select copy.

Do not use copy as DNG, unless you know what you are doing.

An alternative strategy is to copy your files outside of Lightroom - in this case you will use the add option.

Avoid using the move option. As a general rule make sure you have at least two copies of every image before you do any editing. move reduces this chances of this.

If you select copy, the right hand tab of the import dialogue will have two extra panes.

File Renaming gives the option to change the file name from the camera standard to your own.  Although you can renumber all images from a shoot in sequential order it is recommended to keep the number from the camera. They will still be in sequential order, and it gives you better control if you load the cards in the wrong sequence, of think you have lost a card. Changing the file prefix from eg IMG_ to Nambia_ is fine, but really there is no need to do so.

If you are using more than one camera on a shoot, you will never get the file names in sequential order (unless you rename after import), so best to keep the original file name. It also helps quick recognition of which camera took each image, altough filters will allow this as well.

Note that if your cameras have different times, you can adjust the capture time within Lightroom.

Destination is key, and thinking ahead about how and where you store your photos is a good idea.

I recommend one folder per project/event/holiday/photoshoot, named with a date at the start.  eg 201106_Namibia.  This lives on my hard drive under my_photos (or whatever top level folder your system uses for its photo storage) and alongside lots of other folders in the format YYYYMM_project.

Select this folder as your destination. Then, be sure to select organise: into one folder.  the default is organise: by date which cause a proliferation of folders and is to be avoided.  You can always use filters to isolate photos by date.

The next options occur whether you have selected copy or add.

File handling

Render Previews: Standard

Check: Don't import suspected duplicates

Very useful if you are adding extra photos from a card which you have partially imported already, or for checking that all images on a card are already imported.

No need to check Make a second Copy to: unless you know what you are doing, and it's part of your file management/ back-up strategy. Better to use your operating system, or explicit backups to take take care of making additional copies.

Apply During Import

Develop Settings

This one is key, and often defaults to auto-tone. For the same reason as above for the general preset, only leave this check if you want it. Otherwise best left unchecked. The problem is that if these changes are done during import, so far we haven't found a way of reversing them. However, if you apply auto-tone (Windows: cntrl-U) after import, then you can reverse it through the Develop History pane.

There is one cool develop setting which is worth applying on import, and that is lens correction. However, it's not a standard preset, and you will need to add it. Notes on how to do this coming later.


Highly recomended that you apply as much metadata as possible during import - it will save you lots of work later. Suggest you complete at least these fields:

  • Headline
  • Copyright (name)
  • Copyright (status)
  • Creator (your name again)
  • Creator Address, City, email address, website etc
  • As much location info as possible under IPTC Image, at minimum Country.


You can include these in your metadata preset, or separately in the box under apply during import

The more keywords the better, plan in advance.  Also decide how you will handly geographic information. Many people use keywords to hold place information, often hierachically, eg dead vlei > sossuvlei > namibia > africa. Others (including me) put this data in the IPTC location fields. This is the best approach if you are using a GPS and GeoTagging software (GeoSetter recommended) which has the option of populating these filed based on looking up their latitidue/longitude in an internet database.

[Credit: Thanks to David Rogers for advice for these suggestions]


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