The end goal for your photos will determine the export settings that you choose in Adobe Lightroom. This Lightroom exporting guide will walk you through the various settings in the Lightroom export dialog box.
NOTE: Lightroom will remember your export settings from the last time you exported.
If you are new to exporting photos from Lightroom, I recommend watching the video below.
The first section of the export dialog is the Export Location tab. This is where you will tell Lightroom where to save your photos on your hard drive. First, you will want to click on Export To:. More than likely you will want to choose Specific Folder. When this option is chosen you will see a Choose… button appear to the right. Click on the Choose… button to choose a folder to export you images to.
By default you can choose between the following options.
• Custom Name • Custom Name – Original FileNumber • Custom Name – Sequence • Custom Name (x of y) • Date – File Name • Filename • Filename – Sequence
I use the Custom Name – Sequence option quite often in my workflow when I’m exporting a series of images for a third party website. This option allows me to change the name of the files to the area where the images were taken and then simply attach a number after that name. For example San Francisco – 1, San Francisco – 2, ect…
The default options are just the beginning though. The sky is the limit when it comes to renaming you photos. You can attach copyright info, camera info and just about any type of meta data that you can think of. To create a custom file name check the Rename to: Box and open the file renaming drop down menu. At the bottom of the menu, you will see edit… Click on edit… and you will see the Filename Template Editor.
This editor is where you can create your custom file name settings. Once you have chosen the attributes that you want to use, you can save them as a preset by clicking on the Preset Dropdown menu at the top of the dialog box and choosing Save Current Settings as New Preset…
If you selected videos and would like to include those videos in your export, simply click the Include Video Files box before choosing the export format and quality that you desire. H.264 is the most common format for high quality video.
The File Settings tab is one of the most important dialogs to pay attention to when exporting your photos. It is important to know the end use for your photos in order to make the right choices here. An image saved for the web might be a different file type than a an image saved for print or further editing.
The most common image format is JPEG. These images are compressed so their file size is smaller which makes them the perfect choice for the web. If you’re saving for the web, it’s a good idea to drag the quality slider to the left in order to shorten the loading time for your images. A good compromise on the quality is usually between 70 and 80. You probably will not notice any image degradation using these settings. You can also limit the max file size to a specific number by clicking the Limit File Size To: box.
IMPORTANT: All images saved for web use should be saved in the sRGB color space. Using any other colorspace could cause inaccurate color reproduction on screen.
Some print labs prefer JPEG files over Tiff images. If you are sending you image off to print, make sure that the quality slider is set to 100%. This will ensure that you get the best possible results. Check with your printer to see what color space they prefer. Most will use the Adobe RGB color space.
Tiff files are highly universal image files that are uncompressed and capable of storing Photoshop layers. This is a great format to choose if you want to continue editing your images in a non RAW editor such as Photoshop or the DXO Nik Collection.
When saving files to be edited again you’ll want to make sure to preserve as much data as possible. To do this, make sure that Compression is set to none and the Bit Depth is set to 16 bits/component. The color space you choose will depend on your workflow. Some photographers prefer Adobe RGB while others prefer ProPhoto RGB. ProPhoto RBG is the largest color space but most devices and printers cannot reproduce all of the colors it contains which will result in some colors being out of gamut. (Color Space deserves its own article so I will not cover it in great depth here.)
NOTE: Check the Save Transparency Box if you’d like to retain transparent layers in your Tiff file. (This will only pertain to images that were already edited in software other than Lightroom)
If your print lab accepts Tiff images, I recommend sending them a Tiff because it will give them more data to work with in the event that they need to color correct or adjust the brightness of your image. Most printers will want to work with a colorspace of Adobe RGB. Make sure that your files do not contain any layers when you send them out to your printer.
PSD stands for Photoshop Document. Today, there is little reason to use the PSD file format because Tiff images are more universal and are just as capable of retaining layer information.
PNG files are useful for people who want to save their images to the web but still retain the files transparency. Any transparent area of a jpeg file becomes white, while transparent areas in a PNG remain transparent when posted to the web. If you are saving a PNG for the web it is best to choose a bit depth of 8 and an sRGB color space. If you’re going to continue editing you PNG further, choose 16 bits and an Adobe RGB or ProPhoto RGB color space.
DNG stands for Digital Negative and is Adobe’s version of a RAW file. These files can be handled by any raw editor which makes this format a great choice if you want to share a partially edited photo with someone who uses the same editing software as you. For example, I often have my clients send over DNG files that they have already processed in Lightroom. When I open that file in Lightroom I can pick up right where they left off and them send them the file back with my addition edits and meta data.
NOTE: When choosing DNG or Original, most of the export window settings will be turned off.
Choosing original will export the file in whatever file format it is within Lightroom. If you are exporting a RAW file it will export in your camera’s original Raw file format and any edits will be exported as a separate XMP file that will be placed next to the raw image. If I know that I do not need to be working with my camera’s original raw file, I will usually opt for a DNG file to avoid having a bunch of XMP files what take up visual space.