Post-Production Pro Tips: Lightroom Import Settings

Lightroom Import Settings

We occassionally have clients who accidentally convert their RAW files to DNG without even realizing it.  They go to send us images for a post-production job and are surprised to see that all they have are DNGs!

Lightroom is usually the culprit.  More specifically, it’s a setting that was chosen when importing RAW files into Lightroom.

When you go to import files into Lightroom, you’ll see four options across the top.  These control what happens to the original files during the import.  Here’s a brief explanation of each:

  • Add – If you’ve already placed the images where you want them on your hard drive, then Lightroom just needs to link to them.  The Add option simply adds the images to the Lightroom catalog, leaving the files where they are.
  • Move – Say you have the images stored in a temporary location.  You can have Lightroom move them somewhere more permanent while it imports them into the catalog. In this case, you tell Lightroom where you want the files moved to, it performs the move, and then it imports the images.
  • Copy – If you really want to be sure to keep your original files untouched, the Copy option creates a new, identical set of files and imports those.  Meanwhile, your original files stay where they are, completely unmolested.  Just be careful not to get confused about which set is original and which is being worked on.
  • Copy to DNG – Just like copy, the original files stay put and untouched.  However, instead of exactly copying the files, Lightroom converts them to DNG and imports the DNG versions.

As you can guess, it’s easy to choose the wrong option and end up with a folder full of DNGs.  If this happens, don’t worry — Lightroom does not delete the originals.  Just locate the original files where you had them, delete the DNGs from the catalog, and try again with a different import option selected.


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