Video – Using Photo Mechanic with Lightroom

I’m doing a little bit of a different kind of video this time. It came as an idea after reading Scott Kelby’s post on his sports photography workflow. I realized that I (and many other photographers out there) use a program called Photo Mechanic to look through our photos at times. Mainly because it draws full size views of the photos blazingly fast. I still use Lightroom for just about everything else (organizing, collections, editing, printing etc…), but Photo Mechanic works great (for me at least) when I need to look through hundreds of photos and check sharpness, and overall quality of the photo, very quickly. As I said in the video, if you watch this and think “But can’t Lightroom do all of that”, you’re absolutely right and using Photo Mechanic is probably not for you. But trust me, I talk to plenty of wedding, portrait, landscape and street photographers out there that need (or simply just want) to go through their photos extremely fast at times, and this is a great way to do that.

One last thing. NAPP members get a discount on Photo Mechanic. Here’s the link to the NAPP Member website but you’ll have to sign in to see the code.

Author: Matt Kloskowski

Matt is the full-time Director of Education for Kelby Media Group and a Tampa-based photographer. He's the Editor-in-Chief of Lightroom Magazine, the lead instructor on the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom LIVE Seminar Tour and author of several best-selling Photoshop books. Matt also hosts the world's top Lightroom blog, LightroomKillerTips.com, where he's built up a massive library of Lightroom videos, presets and tips. In addition to teaching Photoshop, Lightroom and photography seminars around the world, he's an instructor at Photoshop World and one of the full-time staff writers for Photoshop User Magazine.

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9 Comments

  1. Just started using Photo Mechanic a couple of months ago, albeit for a slightly different reason. As you know, I like to take periodic mini-breaks during my band shoots to review what we’ve got and identify areas for improvement (e.g. posing, lighting, etc). Pulling photos up in Lightroom (or worse, Windows Explorer) was always a painful and frustrating process that ate up valuable shoot time.

    However, Photo Mechanic’s “Ingest” function allows me (and the client) to blaze through the image previews at record speed. But the real bonus is the fact that while we’re doing that, the software is copying the full-res RAW files over to my hard drive in the background. So I’m getting the best of both worlds….instant previews AND an automatic backup. This program rocks!

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  2. Hi Matt, thanks for the posting this. I noticed that the images in this demo were all small low res jpegs. Even in Lightroom those type of images will go full screen quicker than my raw files. I was wondering how fast your 36mb raw files load up in this program? Or is the technology such that it doesn’t matter. Thanks

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  3. Thanks Matt

    I’ve recently adopted PM for youth sports photography because of the speed element. Really does help the workflow. And as you indicate in the video the metadata elements are well beyond LR as well and again contribute to the speed factor; using Variables in the meta process lets you easily create captions and headings from other meta fields without duplicating work.

    What I’ve ended up doing is a multi-stage process…

    1) Use PM to import card to computer, writing custom metadata at the time including use of variables for auto captioning.

    2) Rip through just like in your video, but I tag my picks and rank 5-stars separately for the favorites. I’ve abandoned rejects selection at this point.

    3) Isolate just the tagged files and refine metadata for each. Again, very fast.

    4) With all tagged selected I select edit which brings me into ACR. I find ACR is faster than Lightroom so this offers further time saving. I’ll load a preset for all or do a group edit then quickly go through and fine tune individually.

    5) With all of the images selected in ACR I then write them to DNG (with fast load data) in a new Selects sub-folder for that shoot. When they’re done I go back to PM and delete all the tagged NEF versions. At this point I then have a) an edited selects folder, and b) everything else without duplicates. Writing to DNG at this stage is faster than at import as fewer files to deal with.

    7) Drag the Selects folder into Lightroom, apply pick flags to all (LR doesn’t recognize PM’s tags) and from there it’s business as usual.

    With this I only import the selects into LR and thus don’t clutter up the catalog. The DNG process reduces file size but preserves editing flexibility and neatly packages all the metadata and ACR edits rather than screwing around with sidecar XML’s. Any Smart Collections previously established will pull in photos as usual, and I can create whatever new creations I need. At the end of a sports season I’ll just trash everything outside of the selects file.

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  4. I’ve heard about Photo Mechanic before but I never got interested in it until now! Its really a pain to wait in Lightroom for the picture to render! I will definitely check this out! Thanks Matt!

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  5. My solution for dealing with the Lightroom delays is to import my pictures with it but do the first viewing and cull in Faststone viewer. Faststone is also blazingly fast for previewing pictures at full screen (even RAW) and I tag and delete all the ones I definitely don’t want. It has some pretty good tools, including curves, if I need to do a quick edit on any picture and the bonus is that its batch processing engine is a joy to use for making thumbnails, etc. It can also be used for e-mailing any pictures that need to go somewhere right away.
    When I get back to Lightroom I synchronise the picture folder I’ve just viewed to let Lightroom know if I deleted any pictures in it.. Faststone is great (and free) and the only snag is that you cannot use it to rate pictures and have the info come back to Lightroom.

    P.S. I have no connection with Faststone, if you were wondering…. ;-)

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  6. Hi Matt. Totally agree with you about PM – I’ve been using it for years. However, I am not as willing as you to cut adobe some slack about lightroom performance. Lightroom is supposed to be all about workflow. The lightroom import module is supposed to do the same thing as photomechanic – quickly open the embedded jpgs in the raw files for quick viewing. However, the lightroom caching algorithm is sloppy and the viewing speed is not in the same league as PM – but it should be.

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  7. Thank you for the tip, however, I have the same question as Jeff Lazar.

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  8. Matt,

    Thanks for visiting,instructing In and showcasing our incredible city.

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