Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Saving space by converting to DNG - Lightroom Tip

Spray and pray.

If you are anything like me, when you come home form a shoot, personal or business, you have thousands of images to process. Some are junk, most are ok and some are really good. You want to delete the the junk and process the really good ones... But what do you do with the ones that are just ok?

Bringing it down to a select few

Using my Lightroom process (which you are more than welcome to follow), I pretty quickly get separate my photos into three categories. Selects, Rejects and everything else. My Selects are processed and the Rejects are deleted.  Lets take an example. I shot the KWF Karate World Championship a few months ago and came home with roughly 2.000 images. When I reached point 5 in my work-flow, I was down to 400 images that I wanted to use, 400 that I wanted to keep and 1200 that I just deleted.
The 400 'good' photos were processed, mostly using presets, and I was technically done. They were handed over to the client. But there were still 400 images that were too good to just throw out but at the same time, I didn't really think I would be using them.

Storage! Diskspace is cheap, but...

All my finished projects are stored on my NAS (a Synology box, that I just love), and there is plenty of room for the next few years, and as everyone keep saying like it was a Internet Meme or a mantra:
"Diskspace is cheap!".
That is correct, but one thing that people tend to forget is backup!
More and more people are moving their backup to the cloud, be it Amazon Glacier, BackBlaze or something else and a common thing about them all, is that they are all dependent on your upload speed. In my part of the world, upload speed does not come cheap or fast (Yay, Canada!) so the only way you can make a online backup solution feasible, is by bringing down the amount of data to backup.

Bring in the DNG!

When I'm done with my image processing, my files are in two different folders.
  • \Selects\ which contains the good ones, and...
  • \RAW\ which contains everything else.
To save space, I convert everything in the RAW folder to DNS with lossy compression. Why? To keep the speed of the DNG (embedded preview), keep the EXIF
data and all the keywords.

  1. Select all the images in the RAW folder
  2. Click Library -> Convert Photos to DNG...
  3. Select...
    - Delete originals... (if you don't, two versions of the images will be
    keep and you won't save any space)
    - Embed Fast Load Data
    - Use Lossy Compression (you might loose quality, but will absolutely
    gain space)
There you have it. As soon as you press OK, Lightroom will start processing your images and converting the images that you will probably never use again, to DNG, saving you space, bandwidth and time!

What is the savings?

I took a test library with 89 RAW images taking up 2.36 Gb of diskspace and converted them to DNG with the above settings. After the conversion the images take up 432 Mb of diskspace. That is a a 82% savings! Think about what that saves in backup time! YAY!

Whats the draw-back?

Of course there are a drawback. Using lossy compression DOES remove some of the information in the images. They will not be as good a base for further adjustment, but then again; they weren't images you were going to use anyway.

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