Lightroom: Rendering Previews
category: Lightroom • 2 min read
Previews are controversial, somebody will tell you that you should render them 1:1 on import of the photos. Somebody else will tell you that you shouldn’t generate the 1:1 previews.
- There is NO correct answer.
- It’s a preference.
- No matter what you decide, Lightroom needs the 1:1 previews. You will have to pay the piper, the only question is when. Will you pay at the front-end or at the back-end?
The 1:1 preview of the photo is used in:
- The library module when you go to a high resolution enough, usually around 1:3 to 1:2 but that depends on the standard preview size as defined in the catalog setting.
- The develop module: always.
- The slideshow module when you go to a large enough slide.
- The print module: always.
- The web module: almost always, depending on the size of the photo behind the gallery.
Selecting to generate the 1:1 previews of the photos is a balance between:
- Available disk space
- Perception of speed
And the keyword here is perception. It always takes exactly the same amount of time to generate the 1:1 preview of a photo. The question is:
- Do you want to spend the time at import?
- Do you want to spend the time when you are working on the photo?
- Do you want to spend the time when your computer is idle?
- What’s the number of “almost” identical photos. 300 almost identical photos, and you select to
Developonly 1 or 2 photo, then you only need the 1:1 preview only for these couple photos.
In the Library module, from the Library menu:
Lightroom: Generate Previews
Lightroom: Generate preview for only 1 selected photo or all photos
So what’s the correct answer? Your preferences! You will have to balance:
- Your perception that Lightroom is slow
- The available disk space
- Your patience
- Having these thousands and thousands of files, for your previews, on your disk.
- How many of the photos do you need to process and develop?
My personal preferences:
- For a few hundred photos: generate all the previews 1:1 at the import and keep them.
- For a few thousand photos: generate all the previews 1:1 as an overnight job and keep them.
- Storage is cheap, $40 Canadian per terabyte and it’s becoming cheaper every 3 months.
- If you need space, all previews can be deleted from the same menu. Lightroom will regenerate them as needed.