I'm looking for a way to use Lightroom to mass process photos from location A to B without having to go through the whole import rigmarole.

Ideally I would :

  1. create a standard profile.
  2. Point it at my camera as the source.
  3. Give it a folder destination and
  4. it will take RAW from my camera and spit out jpeg in the folder.

I can then clear the camera of RAW and nothing is in my Lightroom catalog. All I have is the JPEGs.

Is this possible?

  • \$\begingroup\$ The main reason I want to use lightroom is because of the range of options I can define as well as lens correction etc. The down side is the import export rigmarole and the fact I end up with a bunch of digital negatives that cost a lot of disc space and that I don't really want. I dont want to shoot in JPEG because I want the raw files and to maintain the burst rate. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 16:28

3 Answers 3


I am sure you know this, but for future readers, I should note that if you save only the JPEG, you lose nearly all capability to reprocess later. This is equivalent (in the film days) of keeping the print, but throwing away the negative.

Recall that Lightroom does not 'import' your photos, it imports that data from your images. So its not actually copying your photos to the Lightroom database.

Lightroom does helpfully offer to copy your images to where ever you wish, because that is standard practice, as RAW images are not images, but 'digital negatives' needing processing. Most photographers wish to keep RAW, as they can continue to re-edit in the future, and typically updates to the RAW processor in Lightroom bring significant future benefits, such as improved noise reduction.

OK now that I have argued that what you want to do is not the best practice, on to how to do it:

In this case, what you need to do is add your camera or card to the list of Folders that Lightroom knows of that contain images. Normally, this is your list of Folders that Lightroom copies images to during import, however, it does not have to be.

So, do the following:

  1. Be sure your camera or card is connected first. Then, in the Library Module, in right-hand pane, click on the '+' next to 'Folders'.
  2. Choose "Add Folder", then choose the folder (camera or card). Click "Select Folder". (be sure to choose the folder with images, not the non-photo containing parent folder)
  3. This will bring up the Import Dialog. At the top of the window, there are four options: Copy as DNG, Copy, Move, Add. Choose Add.
  4. This will import your image data without moving the image off the card.

If you also wish to convert to JPEG, simply create a Develop setting that does your edits of choice. I do not know if you can also export at the same time, but if not its a simple click of exporting after importing.

A few downsides:

  1. If you delete your RAW files from the card after import, they will show as missing in LR, because LR is looking for that folder as a repository of original images. You will have to ignore the '?'.
  2. If you remove your card after import, the Folder will show as missing, you will not be able to edit your images (RAW) unless you put the card, with RAW images, back into the laptop. This means that if you delete the RAW, you can no longer edit those RAW. You can edit the JPEG once you import them.
  3. You will need to import the JPEGs you created, causing a separate import action...in other words, you need two import actions to achieve what you want: import without moving or saving RAW, and then import again to add the JPEG to the catalog. Exporting does not provide an option to import as its is exporting.

This really runs quite contrary to the natural order of Lightroom in that Lightroom wants to be an ongoing repository for your photos. It actually sounds like you'd benefit from a way to script Adobe Camera Raw functionality - here's a thread that touches on what capabilities exist in this area. In addition, if you've got Photoshop, it appears that something like this might do the trick.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This looks like it could do what I want. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 16:32

Basically, you're trying to screw in a light bulb with a hammer. Lightroom isn't designed to work that way and I don't know of any way to convince it to do that, nor do I think it'd be a good idea to try. You'll be much happier in the long run if you learn how Lightroom wants to do things and adopt some form of that processing setup.

If that's what you really want, why aren't you just having your camera generate JPEGs instead of RAW? Or generate RAW+JPEG, use the JPEGs and keep the raws around in case you need to specially process an individual image? It's not what I'd do, but it sounds closer to what you're asking for.

  • \$\begingroup\$ sorry commented on the wrong post! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 16:31

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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