Which is better?

  • Use the Develop module to crop an image to a specific ratio and then export it to a JPEG


  • use the Print Module and print them to a JPG with a specific page size (aspect ratio)?

To me, the Print Module seems easier because I don't have to make temporary virtual copies, however I am wondering if this has any downside.

The goal is to upload the images to an online print service to get prints made.

3 Answers 3


I think the primary difference here is conceptual. If you view the target aspect ratio as the ideal form of the image, it might make more sense to crop early in the workflow.

If, on the other hand, the ratio you are choosing for printing is just what you're doing this time and the image happens to be a less convenient shape in what you consider to be the "full" form, you might prefer the Print Module approach.

Either way, the result will be the same, but different processes might fit your ideas better.


Since Lightroom is non-destructive until output, there shouldn't be any difference. The only thing I could think of would be that it might be trickier to select the exact size and orientation of how the image is cropped, but otherwise there should be no differences that I can think of.


In one key way, they aren't the same. When you do this through the develop module, you are controlling the crop that changes the aspect ration. When you do this through the print module, you are ultimately allowing the system to make cropping decisions for you.

Depending on the image, those decisions might be fine. But there will be images where it won't be.

I've been doing experimentation on this recently, and my decision is that aspect ratio decisions are something I need to control on an image, which means, as the original poster noted, virtual copies and some time in the develop module. But after trying a few different ways to do this without the manual steps, I've come to the conclusion it's necessary, or I'm going to have images that "break" from unacceptable crops that I need to go in and fix manually anyway. I might as well build ONE workflow where I crop them properly up front than have to override an automated workflow repeatedly with manual "fixes" to get what I want.

  • Can you give an example of when it "breaks"?
    – J. Chin
    Feb 20, 2013 at 15:47
  • If your exported aspect ratio and the aspect ratio of the existing image aren't the same, then some kind of crop is going to be needed. In a recent setup I was working on, I was going from (primarily) 2:3 (my camera's native ratio) or 4:5 (a common crop for me) to 16:9. If you use something like Jeffrey Friedl's Crop for Ipad regex.info/blog/lightroom-goodies/crop-for-ipad to handle the change, you have to choose where to crop (top/bottom or both from the center). I ended up with lots of birds with heads chopped off.
    – chuqui
    Feb 21, 2013 at 22:31
  • It looks like roughly 60-70% of the images need manual "fixing". at that rate, I might as well do the crops by hand and do them right up front, rather than build a broken process I have to be constantly manually fixing.
    – chuqui
    Feb 21, 2013 at 22:32
  • If you setup a 16:9 print in the Print Module and print them to JPG, wouldn't you be able to "move" the image around to get the proper "crop". My original question is, does that make any quality difference than manually doing each image (virtual copy, crop image and export to JPG)?
    – J. Chin
    Feb 22, 2013 at 19:38
  • technical quality? no, it wouldn't make a difference.What I want are workflows that work reliably without a lot of manual tweaking, and that's tough to do using the print module.
    – chuqui
    Feb 23, 2013 at 6:40

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