Lightroom Smart Previews Q&A (Follow up to Friday’s post)

Hi gang, and welcome back to another week here on earth. It’s gonna be a great one! ūüôā

Today I thought I’d to a brief Lightroom¬†Smart Preview Q&A as a follow-up to some of the questions posted here (and elsewhere) about working with Smart Previews. Let get to it:

Q. Where are these Smart Previews stored? Are they on my computer or the external drive?
A. When you create your first Smart Preview, it creates a separate data file for your Smart Previews (shown circled in red above) and it saves them in the same location you have your catalog.

Q. When you create a Smart Preview, does it then delete your regular Lightroom thumbnail?
A. Nope. That’s stored in a separate data file (your ‘Previews.lrdata’ file), but those previews are relatively small compared to a Smart Preview (which is way small compared to the actual RAW file).

Q. How much quality do I lose working on this smaller Smart Preview file?
A. You don’t lose quality¬†because it’s a .DNG file so it still has the properties of a RAW file. Think of it as a “Small RAW” file.

Q. If I’m using Lightroom Mobile, do I have to convert my images to a Smart Preview first before I sync the collection that it appears?¬†
A. Nope, Lightroom Mobile does that conversion for you automatically, so you don’t have to.¬†

Q. When you import and opt to make Smart Previews, does LR also make regular previews as well? If so, why?
A. Smart Previews are an optional add-on (If you look in the Import Window seen above, it’s just a checkbox to add them, but you still have to select your choice for which type of regular preview you want (they are stored in two separate data files). If that weren’t the case (one replaces the other), then when you turned the ‘Build Smart Previews’ checkbox on, it would gray the other preview options out.¬†

Q. Is there enough resolution with smart previews for creating books?
A. ¬†The Book module doesn’t recognize Smart Previews, so we’ll really never know if it has enough resolution (though I think it probably would for the smaller 7×7″ book, or if you just made the image small smaller than an 8×10″ image in the book), but that’s kinda¬†irrelevant because if you take an image with just a Smart Preview over to the Books Module, you will see the dreaded red warning in the top left corner of the image. If you click on the warning icon it says “This photo is offline or cannot be found. It will be omitted when you print your book” as seen here, so it’s going to ignore your photo and not print it.¬†

Q. How will I know if my image has a Smart Preview or not?
A. In the Library module, click on the image, and then look under the Histogram. If you have an original file and a Smart Preview attached, you’ll see Original + Smart Preview (as shown above left). If the original isn’t available, but you have a Smart Preview for that file, it will show that the image has a Smart Preview ¬†(as shown above right, circled in red). If you select multiple images, that area below the Histogram shows you the status of all the selected images using icons. The first icon from the left shows how many selected files DO NOT have Smart Previews. The 2nd icon from the left will show the number of selected images that have an Original image file + a Smart Preview, and the 3rd icon from the left will show how many are just Smart Previews. The fourth icon doesn’t have to do with Smart Previews ‚ÄĒ it just lets you know how of the selected files are just straight up missing (no link to the original image file).

Q. Can an email somebody a file using just the Smart Preview, without having to have the original image file?
A. Absolutely! It sends it at around 2,540 pixels on the long edge, so it’s a pretty decent size. They could even¬†make¬†an 8×10″ inch from your emailed file, no problem. BTW: That’s also enough resolution to post that image to Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Twitter, and so on.¬†

Q. What?!! Are you saying that Lightroom has the ability to email a file built-in?
A.¬†That is what I am saying. Click on the image you want to email; then go under Lightroom’s File Menu and choose Email Photo. It’s that easy.

Q. If I sharpen the Smart Preview file, which you said is a physically smaller sized .DNG file, will Lightroom automatically adjust the math upward for the high-resolution image when I reattach my external hard drive and have access to the original?
A. It will not. If you sharpen the Smart Preview to what you see on screen, that will be fine for sharing that Smart Preview image to a screen (like Facebook, Instagram, etc.) or for email, and so on, but it doesn’t “do the math” and bump up your sharpening amount when you reattach your external drive with the original, so make sure you give the Sharpening settings a second look if you’re planning on printing that high-res original some time in the future. The other adjustments, like Exposure or Highlights, aren’t dependent on file resolution, so they transfer over to the high res image no problem. It’s just sharpening that brings up that issue.

Q. I don’t have a very fast computer and not much RAM. Can Smart Previews help speed things up?
A. Actually, they can, because you can set a preference that Lightroom only use these significantly smaller Smart Previews when you jump over to the Develop Module, and that can speed things up quite a bit for folks in that situation. You find this setting by going under the Preferences, to the Performance tab, and turning on the checkbox for “Use Smart Previews instead of Original for image editing” as shown above.¬†

Hope you found that helpful. ūüôā

Only 11 days!
Until I’m in Minneapolis with my full-day Lightroom seminar – you oughta come out. If you can’t make that, I’m only 15 days from taking the tour to Indianapolis, so come on out. Details and tickets here.

Have a great week everybody. It’s gonna be a really good one for sure! ūüôā