I have gotten my hands on a Toshiba Ultrabook, and i reckon it could do a decent job at doing basic Lightroom tasks when in the field. Its small, light and has a good battery life... The problem is storage space... It has a 128Gb SSD, of which there is about 40Gb free after Windows, Office, Visual Studio (i am a professional developer by trade) and Lightroom. There is an SD Card slot (currently got a 16Gb card, waiting for a 64Gb to arrive), which i am currently using mostly for Dropbox and other storage...

Anyway, I am trying to figure out the best way to do a workflow on a device with such a low amount of storage. There are USB3 ports on the machine, so i was thinking a portable USB Hard Drive of some sort, but does anyone have any tips, tricks, etc, for actually working on a device this small with a large amount of files? My camera is a 5D MKII, and i usually shoot directly in RAW. That's a 24MB+ file for each photo!

by the way, just to clarify: When i say "workflow" on the ultrabook, i basically mean tagging, rating, geo-tagging and minor adjustments... ideally, once completed, i should be able to import all photos plus edits and metadata into lightroom on my main workstation and finish the edits, exports, etc...


  • I don't know if it helps, Lightroom 5 has smart previews Jul 18, 2013 at 7:58
  • Just watched that video and yup, that sounds perfect! Have to try this out! :)
    – TiernanO
    Jul 18, 2013 at 8:33

3 Answers 3


The reason why your notebook has good battery life, is light and is small is primarily because of the SSD drive in it. The trade off for large amounts of storage is that it forces you to use spinning disks which consume more power. Using spinning disks via USB is more or less the same power drain as via direct SATA connections.

My suggestion (and what i generally do) in this situation. I've got a small 1TB USB 3.0 external hard-drive. I copy the photos off my camera onto my USB drive, then copy the photos i want to edit to the SSD. Then i disconnect the drive, edit the photos, and copy the finished edits back onto the USB drive when i'm finished (and delete everything off the SSD to make room for the next batch)

You could also check out getting an external USB SSD drive which would save your battery life somewhat and give you fast access to your files. Only downside is they're not as cheap! :)

  • So, with the comment from Janoszen about Lightroom 5 having Smart Previews, this sound perfect for what i want! I plug in my external USB drive, import the photos into Lightroom using the external drive as the location and local for the Lightroom folder and then use smart previews... Once finished, i can kill the previews to save space... very cool stuff! Happy days!
    – TiernanO
    Jul 18, 2013 at 8:36
  • @TiernanO Cool! If its answered your question please don't forget to upvote/mark as answered :) Thanks!
    – NULLZ
    Jul 18, 2013 at 8:49

I would get an external medium sized SSD (512GB) in an USB3 case. This should almost preserve battery life and be reasonably fast to work with. 20k photos may not be enough for you to carry, but then, for just on-the-road tagging and rating this would probably get you through a week at least.

  • 512Gb may be overkill... i do, however, have a couple 64Gb SSDs floating round and could get larger also... i like this idea, since its less moving parts... fully solid state could be what i need alright!
    – TiernanO
    Jul 18, 2013 at 19:44

I'm not that familiar with smart previews but, don't you have to import them on the main catalog, then sync the JPG previews to the other device (ie the ultrabook). Have you instead considered having a LR catalog on the ultrabook (or on a drive attached to it) for a particular shoot or week and then merging it later on a desktop? That way you can import on your carry around device and work immediately using RAW files. Obviously you'd still have to transfer it via dropbox or external drive.

Adobe-Help talks about merging catalogs below: http://help.adobe.com/en_US/lightroom/using/WSBED0E080-63AF-4ba4-ACCF-EC48C4F92D6D.html#WS9DF6F3F5-4A14-4351-ADD9-0849ED8B2195

This is useful when, for example, you initially import photos into a catalog on a laptop computer and then you want to add the photos to a master catalog on a desktop computer.

  • looking at the example in the video above, it seems that you do import them into your main catalog, but instead of copying the files to the local drive, you put them on an external drive. then you can unplug the external drive and go on your merry way...
    – TiernanO
    Jul 18, 2013 at 19:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.