Post-Production Pro Tips: XMPs vs Lightroom Catalogs

XMPs vs Lightroom Catalogs – What’s the Difference?

When submitting RAW files for post-production work, you can request back either XMP files or a Lightroom catalog.  So what’s the difference between the two?

XMPs and Lightroom catalogs contain a lot of the same information.  With either choice, you get the develop settings your PWD editor applies to your images.  But Lightroom catalogs actually contain some information that XMPs cannot.

  • Sequencing – If we sequence your images and then send back XMPs, there’s no way to retain that new sequence – it’s just gone.  If we send back a Lightroom catalog, however, the sequencing remains intact.
  • Virtual Copies – To make black & white copies of your images, we create virtual copies in Lightroom.  Virtual copies cannot be exported as XMPs, so we return them as JPGs (with the corrected, color version being returned as XMP).  If we instead return a catalog, the JPG export is uneccessary.

The other differences between XMPs and Lightroom catalogs are more minor but may sway you one way or the other:

  • Size-wise, Lightroom catalogs are bigger.  A set of XMPs is usually well under 1 MB, while a catalog often ranges anywhere from 2 to 20 MB.  Though larger, a Lightroom catalog is still a pretty quick download.
  • Upon return, each needs to be linked to your original RAW files.  The process is slightly different, though both are quite easy.
Quick-Tip: Don’t forget about JPG output!  If you just want final, usable files to send to your clients or hosting site, we can convert to JPG for you. Quick-Tip: Lightroom catalogs  aren’t just for RAW shooters.  When you submit JPG files, we can return a catalog, cutting your download time significantly.