Photographers with more than one camera body, or who use several cards in a session, would benefit greatly from being able to import from more than one card into Lightroom without having to start separate import sessions individually. However the Lightroom Import dialog doesn't appear to allow for importing from more than one Source at the same time. Is it possible to import more than one card at a time (assuming you have more than one card reader)?
Yes, this can be done. If you ignore the 'Devices' part of the Lightroom import dialog and instead look at the 'Files' part, ensuring you have 'Include subfolders' checked, you can cmd+click (Mac) or ctrl+click (Win) to select more than one source to import from.
There is a video showing how this is achieved at this page on Petapixel. This works in Lightroom 3 and 4.
In Jared Platt's workshop, The Ultimate Lightroom Workflow, he advises against 1) importing from the camera and 2) using the same catalog for all your projects.
He recommends that you need to manually copy the images off the memory card and organize them into folders before importing into lightroom. However, it's a whole workflow concept so you really need to watch the videos to see why it works so well and what's wrong with this current approach.
If you're on a mac, I've found it faster to copy each card to disk via a Finder copy, and then import everything from disk in one import session. If you use a multi-card reader, you can do multiple copies in parallel to a folder, and then import that folder once everything is on disk.
Doesn't that require monitoring the original copy so you can begin the LR import once it's finished? The idea behind the multiple import is you only start one process, and can leave it running to the end. My concern is not just for speed, but also the need to supervise the process as little as possible.– user456Jun 27, 2012 at 16:23
yes, it does. Some manual interaction's going to be necessary; xenocross mentioned Platt's workshop, which is a good resource on this; the amount of time "babysitting" the import is less if you copy the cards to the disk first, because once you start the import, you can leave it alone. Fewer overall needs to "do something" along the way, and the time spent importing will be the longest part, so it'll go hands off early in the overall process.– chuquiJun 27, 2012 at 23:10
Thanks; I'm intrigued now as to why using Lightroom's built-in import isn't recommended; is it just a speed thing? Xeoncross's answer implies that it's more complicated than that, but I'll give it a go for my next big job and do a side-by-side comparison of the two processes.– user456Jun 28, 2012 at 7:09
Platt's reasoning is about efficiency (as opposed to speed; not necessarily the same thing). In my tests, it's definitely faster to copy images to disk and THEN import. More importantly, if I'm importing multiple cards, copy all cards to disk, then do a singloe import means I can leave the computer alone for most of the import and not have to come back to swap cards. I don't use a multi-card reader at this time, it's overkill for me, so I can't say how that'd affect my workflow. (for 1 card imports, I just leave it to Lightroom adn not worry about it)– chuquiJun 28, 2012 at 18:35
The main premise of my question (albeit added as an apparent afterthought) is that I DO have more than one card reader. Given two cards and two readers, the method I describe allows me to start the process off, then leave it until it's finished, in the same way as you describe with just one card to import. I completely agree that with more cards than readers it makes far more sense to copy the files to disk first, then import.– user456Jun 28, 2012 at 22:53