I can see a lot of photographers sending images in an unsuitable size or file format. For example, sending high-resolution JPGs as an email attachment or for example or highly compressed JPGs for print. In this video, we will discuss the best export settings in Adobe Lightroom from a professional point of view.
You can find the export function in the library module. The library module is like the logistics centre of a big company where you control what goes in and what goes out. Here you can see the exports and the import function in the lower left-hand corner. Keep in mind that you will export all the images that you have selected, if you have selected one image, you will export one and if you have selected 10 images, you will export those.
We will look at three critical elements: file naming, file settings and image size.
You can see at the top of the window the “Export to” function in Lightroom, here I select the right location, the right folder from the “Choose” dropped on the menu.
This is how I organise my files: I have one Lightroom catalogue folder, one folder for the RAW files and another one for the files that are going to be exported, that is the one that I’m going to select.
The next feature I would like to talk to you about is file naming, here you can choose to rename your file. You can either choose renaming templates from the drop-down menu or create your own. I like to create my own templates as it allows me to add custom text to the file name.
Select “Edit” from the drop-down menu, which opens the file name template editor. At the top, you can see the text box where you can insert different file name elements. This is, in fact, a text box and I am going to delete everything just to start from scratch. I like to keep things simple, insert fine name (that’s really important, as I think it always allows me to trace back which raw file the images based on), then I’m going to give it a space with the space bar. Then custom text: I use custom text a lot as it allows me to name the files according to their usage. For example: “high res”, “1500 pixels for web page” or the file size for a particular magazine.
From the drop-down menu, select “Save current settings as a new preset”. This allows me to add my own custom text to the files, this a really useful feature.
The next feature I would like to discuss is the File Settings. There are lots of different file formats for us to choose from but the two most relevant for photographers to export images in Lightroom are JPG and TIFF.
Let’s look at JPGs first. JPG is a compressed file format that you would typically use when image quality is less important than file size, as email attachment or to show images on a Web page. That means that you should not use JPGs as your working file format but only to export images. Then select a colour space: sRGB and JPG are really good friends as sRGB stands for small RGB and is a colour space that is so small that it can be reproduced on almost any device, it is like the smallest common denominator. And it is perfect for JPG as you often don’t know how your images are being viewed or who uses them.
The next setting is “Quality”. With the “Quality”-slider, you control the relationship between the image quality and the file size, the sweet spot is between 60 and 80. I choose 70 to export all my JPGs. You don’t tick the “Limit file size” to box as a file size should be a result of the image dimensions and the quality setting and you do not want to limit it artificially.
The next option is TIFF. TIFF is a high-quality file format that you would choose if the image quality is more important than the file size as TIFF files are roughly 10 times larger than JPGs of the same pixel dimensions. It’s by nature a lossless file format that can be used as a working file.
Typical uses would be to submit files to clients, export them for use in other applications like Photoshop or whenever you require the best image quality like gallery printing. The next option is “Colour space”. TIFF and Adobe RGB are really good friends. Adobe RGB is a large colour space that is used for high-end applications.
The next option is compression: choose “LZW Compression” whenever possible. Keep in mind that this is only available if you export your images as 8-bit files. Set the file depth to 8 bits if this is the final file and doesn’t require any further grading or 16 bits if you want to export the file to Photoshop for further editing work.
The last option is “Image size” and that’s the technical bit. First of all, if someone requests a high-resolution image, a HiRes file, then that means that they want to get a file that with the original fire resolution. In this case, you would untick the “Resized to fit” box. If you want to resize your files, then we have two options. Either you resize the images for use for screen or to be printed.
If the images are being used for screen then the units should be pixels and the resolution doesn’t matter for screen. Find out what pixel dimensions are required for your web page or a social media platform and this information should be readily available. For example, Squarespace requires images that are two thousand five hundred pixels wide.
If you want to control the images by width and height, then select this option from the drop-down menu. This would be the case if the images need to fit into a box with a particular orientation and fixed dimensions. For example, my web page contains a box for the images with an orientation of 1000 pixels wide and 650 pixels high. This means that images in portrait form will fill out the height first and the width is a consequence of the aspect ratio. Whereas images with a landscape formant will fill out the width first. Remember, this option does not crop your images to these dimensions. It rather defines a box with these dimensions that the image is then fitted into. That also means if the width and the height are not the same and the box is rectangular, then portrait and landscape formats are exported at different sizes.
If both portrait and landscape format are supposed to be exported to the same size, then you choose “Long Edge”. In this case, the long edge, no matter if it is the heights in portrait format or the width in landscape form, it will be the same. This would be used if you want to export the images for an exhibition where the images are supposed to be of identical size, but just with different orientations.
If the images are exported to be printed, then you need to define the physical size in inches or centimetres and the resolution.
Let’s begin with the resolution. The standard resolution for print is 300 pixels per inch, short “PPI”, as it is the resolution threshold of the human eye and will result in photorealistic prints.
For example, if you intend to resize the image to be printed in DIN A4, then you should select width & height. 21 centimetres for the width and a height of 29.7 centimetres, which are the dimensions of A4 and then a resolution of 300 pixels per inch.
You should create a preset on the left-hand side if you repeatedly export images for the same purposes. A preset is nothing else than a record of the right panel group. You can see that I have created and named presets for my most common uses, like “Export for my web page” or “Prints portfolios”. You create a preset by clicking on the add button and name it accordingly. Those presets should be saved under “User presets”.
That’s pretty much it and you click the export button. You can see the progress bar in the upper left corner of the Library Module and the images are going to be exported to the location that you have selected.