Import - Where It All Begins

By Gene McCullagh
July 5, 2010

It's been a long ride full of adventure and discovery from Lightroom 3 Beta through Lightroom 3 Beta 2 to Lightroom 3. Along the way we all made suggestions and requests. Adobe listened. If one of your suggestions didn't make it into this version don't worry. This won't be the last version of Lightroom. I am confident that we have a lot of new and exciting things in the future. For now, let's get comfortable with Lightroom 3!

As with any version of Lightroom it all begins with Import. And this time around we have an entirely new and improved import feature. While this has been the source of some consternation and controversy, once you dig in and look at what's new here I think you'll be on board.

The first time you click the Import... button you will see a very different, and very small, import dialog.

The top section in this dialog is a representation of the workflow; from (source) -> what to do -> to (destination). The section below that goes into a little more detail. What should we apply to the images on the way in, metadata preset & keywords (#1). Next, how do we handle duplicates and previews, file renaming, backup copies (#2). Lastly, where do we put the images at the destination (#3).

After that we have a button with a triangle in it (more on that shortly), the number of images and the size of the import, the Import Preset section, and the Cancel and Import buttons.

If everything is the way you want it then press Import and your images will come into your catalog. Simple. What? you want more? OK. Then press that little button with the triangle in it.

Wow! Now that's a dialog! The top and bottom sections remain the same but the middle expands to reveal tons of functionality. There's a lot going on here so let's take this piece by piece.

The top of the from and to section are just big buttons. If you click anywhere in that area you can choose quick locations or previously used paths.

As soon as you navigate to a folder you can choose to include it's subfolders. Just check the box next to Include Subfolders.

If your list is long you can tidy up the display a bit by right clicking on the folder and choosing Dock Folder.

That gets everything else out of the way and let's you see what you are doing.

Moving to the middle section of the dialog we can decide how to import our images. At the top of the window are the usual selections.

The choices available will depend upon what your source medium is. For example, if you are importing from a camera or a flash card the only Copy as DNG and Copy will be valid choices. Just below these familiar choices are three new view options:

  • All Photos
  • New Photos
  • Destination Folders
All Photos is self explanatory. Choose this and the grid view will display all photos from the source. New Photos will display the images Lightroom interprets to be new for this catalog. The last choice, Destination Folders, will groups your source images to match the destination folders that will be created.

These groups can be collapsed and expanded using the disclosure triangle to the right of the group name. Also, notice that in addition to the usual selection checkboxes on each image, the groups also have selection checkboxes. This allows you to select and deselect entire groups of images at a time.

Do you want to see more detail before importing an image but you can't make the thumbnails large enough? Lightroom 3 now has a loupe view available during import. Just select the loupe icon at the bottom left of the main view window or just double click the image you want to examine.

Once you enter loupe view you can zoom in to examine the details in the embedded preview. You can return to the grid view by clicking the grid icon in the lower left of the window (or, again, double clicking the image).

Finally we look to the destination panels. The choices here look very familiar from Lightroom 2.

One enhancement has been added to the Make a Second Copy To: option which provides a backup of your imported files. Now, the second copy will have the same custom filename you've set up for your catalog. This makes it far easier to locate the backup file if you ever need it.

Like the folders in the source panel, the folders in the destinations panel are dockable. You will also see the folders that will be created by the import. They will show in italics with the number of images that will be placed there.

At the bottom of both the small and large import dialogs you will find the Import Preset menu.

Once you've set up your import the way you like it you can click on the dropdown menu and choose Save Current Setting as New Preset... Give the preset a name. Then when you need those settings on another import you can simply pick it from the menu and they will all be restored. That's a real workflow time saver!

One more feature has been added to the Folders section of the Library module. If you want to import new images into an existing folders right click on the folder name and choose Import into this Folder... and the import dialog will open with that folder as the destination. Another workflow timesaver.

There is a lot going on in the new Import dialogs. Spend a little time and get comfortable with all the new functionality. Once you get used to it I think you'll agree that the new import workflow is a big improvement.

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