Tip Tuesday//Lightroom Smart Previews//Mike Wade

Are Lightroom's Smart Previews for you? 

Lightroom's Smart Preview option are a great option for photographers that are running low on storage space or like to edit on the go. 

What are Smart Previews? 

In short, smart previews are compressed copies of the original RAW file. They are saved within the same directory as your Lightroom catalog. The compression algorithm and pixel reduction allow you to reduce the amount of space use on your local hard drive without sacrificing your ability to continue to edit your photos. 

When is using Smart Previews a good idea? 

It could be argued that always using Smart Previews is a good idea but in my opinion there are some instances where I believe they aren't necessary (lets go ahead and get that situation out of the way).

If you primarily edit on a desktop computer, never travel, and save your imported RAW files to an internal hard drive, Smart Previews might be a waste of time. It could be argued that using Smart Previews will speed up Lightroom because it is interfacing with small file and updating the "large" file in the background. However, the added Smart Preview "build" time might just negate the increased speed. 

Now that we got that out of the way... Enabling and using Smart Previews is an excellent idea for the photographer that uses a laptop as their primary editing station or the traveling photographer. 

How to enable Smart Previews:

1. Insert your CF or SD card and navigate to the "Import" module
2. Check the "Build Smart Previews" box


3. Import the photos using your normal workflow

You can now edit your photos on the go or disconnected from your RAW file storage device. The next time you plugin your external drive or connect to you NAS (network attached storage) the files will be updated in the background.