I'm thinking of going from DX to FX (crop to full frame) this summer. I'm a Nikon user so the options are D800, a used D700 or the unreleased D600 which is rumored to be 24MP.

If I don't go with the D700, I was wondering if it is possible to implement some kind of resizing or pixel-binning workflow. Shoot at full res (36 or 24MP), download to the computer, batch process to either 12 or 16MP, and then import those into Lightroom. Save the original files somewhere else (external hard disk), for a time when my computer is a little beefier to handle them.

A side-benefit is that via pixel-binning high ISO files will look even better.

Is this possible, and if so what kind of software will: a. automate it b. leave the resized files at the highest possible quality?

I'm using Mac OSX.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you a JPG shooter then? Not RAW? \$\endgroup\$
    – rfusca
    Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 7:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am a raw shooter 99% of the time \$\endgroup\$
    – blndcat
    Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 11:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sounds like basically you want to do something like Canon's sRAW but after the fact. That'd be very useful for a lot of people, I think. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 13:13
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Keep in mind, m/sRAW do NOT provide the same kind of post-process flexibility and leeway that true RAW does. Canon's mRAW and sRAW are encoded formats, similar to JPEG. They encode pixel data with greater bit depth, and separate luminance information from chrominance information...but it is still encoded in a NON-RAW format. In my experimentation, it is still very easy to run into situations where color channels or highlights/shadows clip, posterization occurs, or other limitations exhibit. The only RAW is RAW, nothing is a replacement for it!! \$\endgroup\$
    – jrista
    Commented Jun 19, 2012 at 2:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ As for noise, you might benefit from size reduction, but at least with Canon's mRAW and sRAW, improvements to noise do not always exhibit without a concurrent loss elsewhere...such as to sharpness/microcontrast. Pixel binning isn't a magic bullet, and you have to be willing to roll with the losses as well as the gains. If you intend to keep the original RAW's around, the primary benefit Canon offers with an alternative in-camera format to JPEG is not gained. \$\endgroup\$
    – jrista
    Commented Jun 19, 2012 at 2:06

3 Answers 3


If you are a RAW shooter, you will need to do some processing during this automation process. Resizing an image, and keeping it RAW is not possible, so you will have to convert to JPG in the process. However, since you shoot RAW, you will have to apply some corrections before you save the reduced image.

I recommend using Adobe Camera Raw for this purpose. It can open a big number of photos at the same time, quickly apply some basic RAW settings, and save them all to reduced size JPG in another folder.

Complete automation is not possible with result as you wanted.

To do it my way, follow the order I outlined in the image: http://cl.ly/NHut

About the options: saving for web and general viewing requires you to select sRGB and 8bits, as most programs and screens will not show you correct colors with the other color settings. 72 pixels/inch is also a setting for most displays (other settings are only relevant for print). I choose a small amount of sharpening, as this always looks better on the screen on downsized images.

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1, and a picture is worth a thousand words, but could you add a few words about the particular workflow settings in your screenshot - the relative importance of the colour space, bit depth, resolution etc? Would add a lot to your answer IMO \$\endgroup\$
    – MikeW
    Commented Mar 4, 2013 at 7:28

You could shoot RAW + JPG, setting JPG image size and quality to suit the file size you want. Export RAW to external device, JPG to Lightroom. Work is all done in-camera, and if you have situations where the JPG doesn't cut it, you still have the RAW to fall back on.


From my point of view you have three options here: Batch on import, "batch on creation", individual process.

  1. As you suggested (and @normis elaborated) batch process all your photos into lower resolution and smaller file size on import into the computer.
  2. As MikeW suggested, shoot in RAW+JPEG (JPEG could be set to small). This way the camera does the conversion to a smaller format for you.
  3. My suggestion: Shoot in RAW, store the photos only externally and let Lightroom do the rest for you. Selecting "Render 1:1 previews" will take as much time as option 1 but without you having to do manual batch processing. Standard previews will be quicker but much slower if you want to zoom into the image. Even quicker will be "Minimal" but they can only be used in Grid view. If you are like me most of your images won't need retouching and just browsing the thumbnails and checking for focus will be enough. Editing a single image will stretch your computer but that is a situation that you'd have for all three options.

In my opinion, discard option 1. You are doing batch processing with manual tweaks in the beginning where you could save all that time and do it on an as-needed basis. In all respects option 3 is better than option 1 (you can even set default develop options in Lightroom). Less time for you, same time or less for your computer processing, same or less total preview size. All automated and in the workflow of Lightroom.

Option 2 is certainly alluring because your camera does the heavy-lifting for you. This would be especially useful if Lightroom used the +jpeg for the thumbnail. As far as I am aware, it doesn't. So then you would change your workflow to import RAWs and JPEGs as seperate files and then move them into seperate folders.

Both option 2 and 3 could work. I think option 3 is better but that is just my opinion.

Question To You

It has been a while since you posted that question. What did you end up buying and doing?



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