D-Noc Photography

Improve Lightroom performance with Smart Previews

Earlier this week, Adobe released Lightroom 2015.7 CC, which mostly contained the usual addition of support for new Cameras and lenses as well as a number of bugfixes.

They also added one small feature, which doesn't really seem like much of a deal when you read about it, but after having tried it for a couple of days you can now officially call me impressed.

Some time ago, Lightroom added something called Smart Previews. In essence "just" an image file created from the original RAW file, that had a smaller file size. This Smart Preview could be used when syncing your lightroom library with the iOS app, to avoid having to clutter your iPad or iPhone/Android device with huge RAW files.
The Smart Previews could also be used if, for some reason, your RAW files were unavailable at workstation.

To me that wasn't really much of a deal. I hardly ever use the Lightroom Mobile app and my RAW files are always available, so I hadn't really paid much attention to Smart Previews.

But now, a new feature has been added, which makes it possible to make Lightroom use the generated Smart Preview, even when the original RAW file is available and THAT is really a big deal. On my old-but-not-that-old i7 laptop, I used to have a slight lag between when I started pulling a slider and when the changes were applied. But now the changes are instant. Adding Sharpening or Gradient masks, the results can be seen instantly and that makes Lightroom so much easier to work with.

Of course, when you export the pictures, the RAW file is used, so that you gain all the details from you big old RAW file.

To try it out follow these instructions:

  1. Open the Preferences dialog
  2. Check the new checkbox 'Use Smart Previews instead of Originals for image editing'
  3. Then, if you have not already used Smart Previews, Go to the Library module and select the image or images you want to work on and let Lightroom generate the previews:
  4. If you have selected multiple images in the above step, Lightrooms starts generating Smart Previews. If not you get a dialog that lets you choose if a Smart Preview should only be created for the selected image or the entire Collection in which the image are selected:

That's it! You are now ready to experience the improved performance that the smaller Smart Previews provide.

Of course the Smart Previews show a little less detail, especially if you zoom in, but in most cases the performance gain more than outweights that.


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