There is a new way to dramatically speed up your initial image culling process using the Embedded & Sidecar Previews feature inside of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic. If you are a busy photojournalist where every second counts then this new option in the File Handling Tab of the Import Dialog is a wonderful addition to Lightroom Classic.
Before you watch the video above, I need to make it clear that this tutorial is not for everyone. First, if you are someone who does not need to sort through the images that you just imported as quickly as possible then this new feature is not for you.
Likewise, if you are shooting jpeg images only then this trick is not for you. This new feature is for raw shooters with a tight deadline only. Finally, if you are shooting with a Sony, Olympus, or a Fuji type mirrorless camera then there is an important caveat that you need to know near the end of this video.
So what does this new Embedded and Sidecar Previews feature do? Simply put, this new feature allows you to sort through your raw files to find your best compositions without having to wait for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to generate its own Standard and 1:1 size previews.
Using this new feature forces Lightroom to use the Embedded Previews, which are the jpegs that your camera automatically generates for display on the camera’s LCD screen, instead of generating its own. Using the camera generated previews allows for much faster initial sorting but there is a catch.
Although the camera generated Embedded & Sidecar previews are instantly available, these previews are not as accurate as the previews that Lightroom Classic ordinarily generates for every raw file. The Embedded previews that my camera creates are good enough for me to sort through my new images looking for my best compositions but the Embedded previews are not accurate enough for me to make critical decisions about my raw file’s exposure, color, or its need for noise reduction.
If you were to place too much faith in an Embedded preview then you might accidentally reject an excellent image because it appears to lack important shadow or highlight detail. So the last part to using the new Embedded & Sidecar previews option is knowing how to tell Lightroom Classic that the time has come for the program to generate its own Standard size previews.
Fortunately, there are now three easy ways for you to tell Lightroom your need for culling speed has passed and that you are now ready for it generate its own Standard size previews. In addition, there is also a new option in Lightroom Classic’s Preferences Menu that instructs the program to automatically replace your Embedded previews with Standard ones while the computer is idle.