This is a question about photo management in Lightroom Classic - I pretty much know what I'd like to achieve, but I'm bit uneasy to experiment, knowing how flimsy and buggy LR can be. As such, I'm eager to hear from people with first-hand experience in similar operations.

I use a single catalogue, ~30k photos, ~300GB on disk. I've noticed recently that I primarily operate on last 2-3y worth of photos, not touching older photos. As such, it'd make sense to "flatten" those older photos to JPEGs; I'd save some disk space and make it easier for myself to browse the photos across different devices (DNGs are routinely rendered in a weird manner the moment I step outside of my win10 ecosystem :). I'd prefer to stick to single catalogue for my photos. Is there a sensible way of converting the photos "in place", preserving all of the metadata the original photos have? The edit history would obviously be lost, but I'm okay with that. If that kind of process is relatively bug-free, I could imagine yearly move of the cut-off point, to ditch RAWs from yet another year.

Anyone doing something like that? Any gotchas or ways you've seen this explode?

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ 300GB is trivial. Back everything up on a couple of cheap external drives and then experiment away. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Jan 11, 2021 at 3:07
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Do not convert photos to JPEG, keep them in original format. One 2TB portable disk cost <70 euro \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 11, 2021 at 5:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Closely related question: How to store photos for long term locally? \$\endgroup\$
    – scottbb
    Commented Jan 11, 2021 at 18:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with @Romeo \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 13:38

1 Answer 1


Keep your DNGs! I don't see any reason why you couldn't export all 30k photos to jpg using the export dialog built into Lightroom. Store them in a different folder than your DNGs for faster browsing, but still retain the raw files just in case you need to edit something in the future. If you like browsing in Lightroom, but it's running too slow, you could remove the raw files from your catalog without deleting them. You should save the edits to the individual files before doing this. (Select all photos: Ctrl/Cmd + A, Save: Ctrl + S) Depending on how fast your computer is, I wouldn't plan on being able to use it for many hours (or days) while operations are happening.


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