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Importing files from a card

Importing files from a card

Over the next few pages I have shown how to import photos from a camera card using the Import dialog in the compact mode.

  1. Before you import any photos, go to the Lightroom menu (Mac) or Edit menu (PC) and choose Preferences... In the General section check the “Show Import dialog when a memory card is detected” option. When checked, Lightroom will automatically show the Import Photos dialog every time a memory card is detected.
  2. To start importing photos, insert a memory card into the computer so that it mounts on the Desktop. If the “Show Import dialog when a memory card is detected” option is unchecked, you will have to import the photos manually using one of the following manual methods: choose File → Import Photos and Video..., click the Import... button in the Library module, or use the (Mac) or (PC) keyboard shortcut.
  3. If the Lightroom Preferences are configured as shown in Step 1, Lightroom will automatically open the Import Photos dialog. How the Import Photos dialog is displayed will depend on whether you last used the compact interface (shown above) or had checked the expand dialog button (circled) to reveal the full range of options in the expanded mode view (I used the compact interface here). In this example, the EOS_DIGITAL camera card appeared in the From section. In the workflow section you can choose to Copy as DNG, Copy, Move, or Add. For card imports the choice boils down to Copy as DNG or Copy. I nearly always select “Copy” here.
  4. The To section initially points to the computer user’s Pictures folder. This is a sensible default, but if you wish, you can select an alternative destination folder.
  5. For camera card imports you will want to import your images using folders segmented “By date” or “Into one folder.” There is a lot to be said for the “By date” option. All your files are imported and placed in dated folders and this provides a neatly ordered way to manage your camera card imports. However, to make this work effectively you’ll need to tag the imported photos with at least one keyword; otherwise, you’ll experience difficulties later when tracking down specific photos. Importing photos into one folder (and naming the folder appropriately) will allow you to search for photos by the Folders panel name as well as by keywords.
  6. If you select the “Into one folder”option, then you will most likely want to check the “Into subfolder box” (as shown here) and type in a name for the subfolder you wish to create in the destination location. To keep things easy (and repeatable), I suggest that every time you import photos from a card you do so to a standard import folder. I usually name this “Imported photos.”
  7. If you already have a prepared IPTC metadata template, it is a good idea to select this now from the Metadata Preset menu list (circled).
  8. After you have configured all these settings it is a good idea to go to the Import Preset menu and save the import settings as a new preset for future use. When you are done just click on the Import button to commence the camera card import. Lightroom will import the files from the card to the Lightroom catalog. As the images are imported, the thumbnails will start to appear one by one in the Library module view. Meanwhile, the status indicator in the top-left corner will show the import progress. Often, there may be at least two processes taking place at once: the file import and the preview rendering. The progress bars give you a visual indication of how the import process is progressing. If more than one operation is taking place at a time, you will see the grouped status indicator (seen on the left). If you click the small arrow to the right, you can toggle the status indicator between each of the tasks in progress and the grouped indicator.
  9. Normally, you should not encounter any problems when importing files from a camera card. But if you choose the Copy Photos as DNG option, you will be alerted to any corruptions in the files as they are imported. After you have successfully imported all the images to the computer, you can safely eject the camera card and prepare it for reuse. However, at this stage I usually prefer to completely delete all the files on the card before removing it from the computer. The reason I suggest doing this is because when you reinsert the card in the camera, you won’t be distracted by the fact that there are still images left on the card. For example, when I carry out studio shoots I find it helps to establish a routine in which the files are deleted immediately via the computer before ejecting. I find on a busy shoot it helps to avoid confusion if you clear the cards as soon as the files have been imported. Otherwise you may pick up a card, put it in the camera, and not be sure if this is one you have imported from already or not. This might cause you to wonder whether you have removed all the images. I would also advise you to always reformat the card using the camera formatting option before you start capturing further images. This is good housekeeping practice that can help reduce the risk of file corruption as new capture files are written to the card.
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