Lightroom Tips

Q&A – Is Lightroom Destructive to JPEGs?

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a Q&A and I’ve been getting this question a lot lately. So here goes:Question Is Lightroom destructive to JPEG photos?
Answer You probably know that you can import JPEG, Raw, TIFF, and other image formats into Lightroom just fine. We know that nothing we do to a Raw photo is ever destructive but does the same hold true for JPEG photos? Are the changes we make to a JPG in Lightroom actually changing the photo permanently? The answer… nope. It’s basically the same deal as when developing a Raw photo. Lightroom is storing each change, every slider move and preset click in some little database on your computer somewhere. It’s only changing a preview of the image on screen which is why it looks like you’re changing the photo permanently but you’re not. Just like a raw file, if you ever want to get back to the original JPEG just click the Reset button in the Develop module and it’s like nothing happened at all.

Now, the next logical question is how do I permanently change the JPG file? Say you want to email a processed photo to some one or post it on a website. No sweat. Just go to File > Export and export the modified photo as a JPG. Lightroom will apply the changes you’ve made and save a new JPG to where ever you point it to. Your original will still be stored in Lightroom safe and sound without any destructive changes made to it. The JPG you exported is essentially a copy of it with changes applied and it doesn’t change anything about the original that you’re working with in Lightroom.

Well my questioning (and answering) friends, there you have another edition of Lightroom Q&A. I’ll see you back tomorrow to finish up another week.