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I recently upgraded to a Nikon D850 which produces RAW files on the order of 37MB in size. I take these as DNG files into Lightroom. When I edit an image in Photoshop and then return to Lightroom with the image saved as either 16 bit lossless compressed TIFF or PSD (all layers flattened into a single layer), I wind up with a file size that exceeds 200MB. I do understand why this is happening, and if it is an image that is of really fine quality that I might want to someday print or do more with than post on the internet, then the file size is ok with me.

The problem is that I travel a lot to dance festivals and take lots and lots of social dance photos, perhaps 500 or more images in a weekend. And I will wind up retouching a lot of these images in Photoshop for one reason or another. In most cases the images are only posted as exported JPEG on the internet, e.g. on Facebook or Flickr, and so it seems to be a massive overkill to have the 200+ MB TIFF files lying around. On the other hand, I would like to retain all the retouching that I did in Photoshop, just in case I decide to do some more changes on the images later.

Can anyone who also has run into this same situation recommend a good workflow so that I can avoid spending my life savings on external memory storage? Is there an alternative file format after Photoshop that can be used? Should I save the Photoshop files as high quality JPEG instead? Or go down to 8 bit? Or does it make sense just to resize in Photoshop from the huge image sizes, say by 50% or 25%? What do people normally do in this situation?

Thanks for any good tips!

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    Why do you feel the need to 1) convert to DNG and 2) export to TIFF at all? If you maintain your LR catalog properly (or if you choose the LR option to append the metadata directly to the file, rather than storing it in a separate sidecar file), all you need to do is open the original NEF file in LR and your previous edits will be applied. You can pick up right where you left off the last time you worked with the file. The same goes for PS edits, all of the instructions for what you did are saved in your sidecar files (or appended to the file if you choose that option). – Michael C Apr 7 at 11:38
  • LR is not my problem here, as it works on the original RAW file, whether it be NEF or DNG. The reason for converting to TIFF is because this is what Photoshop does. After working in PS I need to save the file in some manner, and for PS the usual choices to retain the changes is either as PSD or TIFF. I flatten all my layers to reduce file size but the files are still huge. I don't know about you, but the PS that I use does not save image edits in sidecar files. – steve_denmark Apr 7 at 11:54
  • What are the odds you will ever print one of the pictures larger than 8x10? And if you do need a large image, is it something you can create at that time? In software there is the term YAGNI for “you ain’t gonna need it.” If you have shot five hundred images twice without needing to print one large, you are already less than 0.1% likely to need any picture large. Twenty times? That’s >0.01%. The need for large prints is almost never. – Bob Macaroni McStevens Apr 7 at 23:39
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I keep my NEF & sidecar, also the PSD of anything that went through Photoshop.
Any intermediate TIF is discarded [as it's in the NEF+Sidecar]. You can get an 8TB drive for a couple of hundred $£€ these days. Buy a new one when that's full.
I wouldn't compromise the data on my keepers, I'd just learn to cull harder.

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