Import all photos from your DSLR? Or only the good ones? Please explain.
June 18, 2017 4:24 AM   Subscribe

I'm a Mac OS / iOS person--and also shoot with a DSLR. I do this for fun as opposed to profit, but have been thinking it might be better *not* to import everything that's on the SD card--so many photos just don't turn out. I used to think that it was better to import and then cull. A while back I met a pro photographer and we had an extended chat on the way to an event he was covering. He mentioned that he used some quick import software to review what was on his roll and then import the better ones that he would then edit. Know the package? How do handle the import then cull, or cull then import challenge?

Needless to say, I can't find what he mentioned, or my notes from that conversation. I hacked a workflow together using labels in OSX and preview which sort of accomplished the goal, but it fell down on full screen previews. I searched around and found threads that recommended Adobe Lightroom over Photos--but that doesn't get at the import problem. I may be over-thinking it, but the more I shoot (and then have to store) the more I'm thinking I'd just rather not import the "mistakes" where I goofed on any number of things--exposure, composition, etc. Any amatuer (or pro) photographers out here on MeFi with a similar set of challenges and better solution? Thank you, hive-mind!
posted by teddyb109 to Technology (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
IrfanView Thumbnails, maybe?
posted by aqsakal at 4:45 AM on June 18, 2017

Lightroom gives you a list of thumbnails during the import process and lets you review them and uncheck the ones that you don't want to bother actually importing.
posted by octothorpe at 5:00 AM on June 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: aqsakal - it's in that vein, but for Mac OS...I think IrfanView is PC only.
posted by teddyb109 at 5:01 AM on June 18, 2017

Could it have been Capture One Pro? (I have never used it.. another Lightroom user here.)
posted by starman at 5:16 AM on June 18, 2017

Lightroom is really is the industry standard for this. As mentioned above, you can view the images on the card and only import the keepers. It's part of Adobe's "photo plan" for $9.99 a month, which includes Photoshop and a bunch of other features. It's well worth it even for hobby photographers.

My workflow includes deleting obvious non-keepers right from the camera as I shoot, then culling further on import. Once the import is done, Lightroom makes it easy to "pick" or "reject" images. You can then delete your rejects if you want.
posted by The Deej at 5:37 AM on June 18, 2017

I use photo mechanic but I do it on a PC, dunno if its available on osx. Lightroom is very slow in comparison. I typically import everything though, bring them up in photo mechanic and start a culling and rating process. At the end I sometimes delete the worst ones, but aside from focus misses I don't usually have any out and out trash. I should probably delete my lowest rates ones also.

It's kind of a pain but you can get photo mechanic to sync ratings to Lightroom.
posted by RustyBrooks at 5:42 AM on June 18, 2017

Was he maybe talking about the Image Capture app? It ships with macOS, but is under the radar for most people.
posted by misterbrandt at 8:12 AM on June 18, 2017

iView Media Pro?
posted by humboldt32 at 9:04 AM on June 18, 2017

Does your DSLR manufacturer have transfer/import software available? My Nikon shipped with a cd with transfer software (also available for download). I'm pretty sure other manufacturers have their own versions of the same thing. I've never tried Nikon's software because I already had Lightroom.

Personally I do a first cull in-camera and get rid of the ones I obviously don't want. It can be hard to tell from the small screen sometimes, but I just do the obvious ones. Then I use Lightroom. Usually I'll select and import the ones I want, but sometimes I'm lazy and just import them all, but I never seem to get around to culling them.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 10:12 AM on June 18, 2017

I use Lightroom as well. It is great for this. But I did not subscribe. I just bought it outright.
posted by jtexman1 at 11:32 AM on June 18, 2017

When I first started shooting I realized that so often the shot I thought was The One when I was shooting turned out not to be, and one of the others - which I would have rejected from the little display on the back of the camera - turned out to be the winner. I made a motto for myself which was "The Camera is for Taking Images, Not Deleting Them" and I've stuck to it.

I find it far easier to reject images when viewing them full-size in Lightroom. A quick press of the X and they're flagged for deletion. My advice to you is obviously to do as I do, and don't trust what you think may or may not be the shot until you get it onto the computer.
posted by komara at 11:54 AM on June 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

Lightroom is great but slow to cull. Import all of the images and use the native software provided by the manufacturer to flip through them at full size - keep one finger on the reject button and another on the advance. Take less than 5 sec per image. You will get good at this. Deleting based on thumbnails - no matter the package is a bad idea...

Once you have deleted the rejects then synchronize the folder with lightroom...
posted by NoDef at 3:35 PM on June 18, 2017

I import into Lightroom. Once the smart previews are generated (this can take a while on my computer), it's fairly quick to scroll through the pictures. You can enter full screen mode by pressing f, then press x to reject or press 1-5 to rate the pic 1-5 stars. On the first pass, I basically only reject technically screwed up pics (blurry pics, someone had their eyes closed or were looking away.) After that, if I was taking family pics, I'll use the face recognition to identify people and go through a second pass to pick up any faces that weren't recognized and reject some more pics (usually pics shot in a burst where I'll keep the best two or three and reject the other eight.)

Then I'll go through and post-process the star-rated pics. One of the great advantages of Lightroom is once I get all the tweaking done on one pic, I can use Synchronize Settings to apply the exact same contrast/saturation/etc. settings to every other pic that was taken in a similar light/setting. Going through, I'll probably reject even more pics (usually ones that while not fatally flawed in a technical sense, but are still boring and clearly superseded by another pic.)

After that, I'll usually keep whatever remaining unrejected, unstarred photos. Sometimes I'll find myself going through old pictures and trying a different post-processing approach and I'll turn an unstarred pic into a two-star pic.

But I think just as important as rejecting bad photos, you need to rate your best shots so that you can easily find them later on. In Lightroom (as well as Photos), it's easy to create a smart album of pics rated at least two stars taken in Spain or rated at least two stars and has both Kid1 and Kid2 in them.
posted by alidarbac at 7:52 PM on June 18, 2017

Deleting images on-camera is actually a terrible idea because it makes data recovery harder (some people don't have great opinions about Thom Hogan, but the guy he's interviewing there is a data recovery professional). "Oh, it's never happened to me" isn't really a strong argument for the practice. So if you have that habit, stop now. Import everything, make sure you have backups, and then reformat a card when you want to use it again.

I only fully delete images that are totally unsalvageable and the ones I didn't mean to take in the first place (such as misfires caused by the touchscreen on my camera). I let Photos do all its initial processing, and then I make an album of the set I want to deal with. I do a pass or two at full screen to knock out the ones I don't want to edit (since I'm working in an album I can delete at will, since all I'm doing is deleting them from the album and not my hard drive the operation is fast).

Since I don't delete much I basically just keep buying newer, larger hard drives to accommodate my photos, and I just got a new Mac to deal with my backlog. I use Photos because I became extremely dissatisfied with Adobe and swore them off, but most people on Macs do seem to use Lightroom to do what you want to do. In the old days of Aperture I used to create a new library every couple years just so they wouldn't be too large to open (or take too much space on my laptop) but with Photos and iCloud I have everything in one library I can access from all my devices. So, yay for universal access, boo for how large it is now.
posted by fedward at 10:34 PM on June 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Wow! I am so glad I asked! Thank you everyone--the hive mind is smart. The package I was alluding to was Photo Mechanic, but the responses on the workflow have really given me food for thought. Sounds like I need to give Lightroom a closer look. Super grateful for all the time and care that went into these responses.
posted by teddyb109 at 6:25 AM on June 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

Another no cost option on Mac: the Finder. Use the image capture app or click and drag to copy all images off the card into a new folder. Then in the finder there a multitude of view options. You could use icon view and crank up the icon size as ersatz thumbnails. Or use list view and the space bar for quick look. Command-delete key will instantly move a selected file to the trash.

I use Photos on the Mac so I can use built in screen savers etc. but man it is laggy for selecting and deleting images.
posted by sol at 10:45 AM on June 19, 2017

I'm in the save-basically-everything camp, and recently got a 4-bay Synology NAS to support this habit.
posted by brennen at 10:47 AM on June 19, 2017

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