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Like this article? We recommend Smart Preview Visual Indicators and Workflow

Smart Preview Visual Indicators and Workflow

Once the all the previews are generated, if the mobile drive you imported from is still connected, you will see evidence of both preview types beneath the Histogram. The words “Original + Smart Preview” should appear each time you click on one of the image thumbnails in the Library module or Filmstrip.

By default, as long as you’re connected to your imported files, the thumbnails in the Library and Filmstrip modules will have the same appearance as seen in previous Lightroom versions. The difference will appear when you first disconnect the hard drive that Lightroom is referencing.

All of the “disconnected” thumbnails will (after a few seconds) display a black “badge,” letting you know that Lightroom can no longer “see” the original files you imported, but that it does have Smart Previews that will allow you to continue the workflow, including Develop changes and Quick Develop (see Figure 3).

Figure 3 When you disconnect from an external drive or other import source, thumbnails that have Smart Previews available will display a small black rectangle.

When you select one of the thumbnails with a badge, the description under the Histogram will change to “Smart Preview,” also letting you know that you are “working offline” with respect to those original shots. Note that you might still be connected to other hard drives and in those cases (for those connected shots), the Smart Preview workflow will not apply.

From this point, all you need to do to develop shots “offline,” is select an image with the Smart Preview badge, and then click Develop to jump into the Develop module. All of the panels and controls will be available to you, and you can edit as you normally would in most circumstances.

There are two notable exceptions:

  • Because you’re working with a compressed format, anytime you shift one of the tonal or color values by a large amount, you may introduce artifacts into the shot. For shots taken under lighting that is more balanced or with more subtle tones and colors, this should rarely be a factor.
  • When applying noise reduction or capture sharpening in the Detail panel, zooming in to 100% will not provide the same advantages as doing so with a full 1:1 preview.

The best part about Smart Previews, though, is that when you reconnect to your hard drive(s), all of the edits and changes made to your Smart Previews will be automatically synced up with your main previews and metadata, allowing you to keep going as if you were connected the entire time!

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