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Using Lightroom to buy a Lens

I’ve been thinking about buying a new lens for several years now, and I can never figure out what I want to get.

At the moment, I only carry three lenses:

I lost my EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM last spring, when it decided to go for a swim, and picked up the 75-300mm as a quick replacement.

I must say there is a noticeable difference between those two lenses.

Anyhow…

In my effort to figure out what Lens I wanted to purchase next, I needed to assess my style of photography, again.

In my film camera days, I carried 5-6  fixed length lenses, but in the digital age, I’ve gone down to three.

Mentally I had an idea, but I had no data to back up my real work environment.

Or so I thought…

While in Adobe Lightroom, I realized I could use the EXIF data contained in the metadata of each file – Lens and Focal Lengths!

This is a very fascinating look, at all of one’s images, over 31,000 in this one catalog!

Using Lightroom and the embedded EXIF metadata information, I could clearly see:

Most Used Lens

  • 18mm-55mm –  8168 images (25.79%)
  • 28-135mm –  16332 images (51.56%)
  • 70-300mm –  3798 images (11.99%)
  • 75-300mm –  1996 images (6.30%)

Most Used Focal Lengths

  • 18mm – 4258 images (13.44%)
  • 28mm – 4363 images (13.78%)
  • 70mm – 1339 images (4.23%)
  • 135mm – 2626 images (8.29%)
  • 300mm – 1888 images (5.96%)

Needless to say, sorting by every focal length alone is a large grouping, but in my case, I looked for any Focal Length over 1000 images or spikes.

Oddly, there is no spike around 55mm (473 images), which suggests that I never really used the 18mm-55mm all the way zoomed in.

Here is an exercise: What if your Lens happens to cross over in their Focal Length?

In this case, simply isolate/select a given Lens and Record the Focal Length numbers, which can reveal which Lens you actually used for a similar situation, and Thumbnails, just below.  It’s a great way to remind you of what you did!

I wish there was a way to export the data and bring it into a spread sheet for my geeky fun! (Note to Self…)

In my case, it turns out to be the Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM, which is now verified with actual Lens data.

That did not surprise me in the least, but which side of the Lens should I consider for my next Lens?

Clearly, my next largest ranges are 18mm (13.44%) and 28mm (13.78%) — about 27.22% of the images.

At the same time do I look at the 70-300mm range, which is 18.29%, because I a shot 70mm+ 18.46% of the time?

If this confuses you, don’t worry, because the more you dig into the data, the worse it becomes!

Try some of these!

  • Sort by Year – See how your Capture needs have changed
  • Sort by Body – Most used combinations to compare results

The list goes on.

I just wanted to highlight another aspect of Adobe Lightroom that might help you in your decision-making.

Now if you have any ideas on what I should do about my Lens dilemma, please let me know via email.

Update(s) –

07/17/2015 – In my morning reading, I ran into this site lightroomdashboard.com, in which you upload your Lightroom catalog file (.lrcat), and it will visualize your shooting habits. With a backup of my live catalog (1.27 GBs), I tried the “Drag-n-Drop” interface, and Chrome crashes. There is a Note that says they are aware of issues with 2+ GBs LR Catalogs. I would not be surprised their server(s) are being hit hard today. Need to check later.

>>> “Commenting Off” because of Spammers – send email! <<<

- Andrew
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Moving Computers – Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom Icon
Adobe Lightroom Icon

It is always a pain to move to a new computer because there are so many files and settings that need to be redone for the user to really get productive again.

With this idea in mind I offer the following tips and advice in regards to moving an Adobe Lightroom User from one machine to another.

This guide is geared towards people who are technically proficient on the Windows operating system, but should be able to serve as a guide to those working in a Macintosh environment.

If you have any other ideas or tips please feel free to send them my way!

Transferring the Data

As any User of Lightroom knows, the Catalog and Image files are the heart of your work and business, and if you are moving to a new machine, you need to consider what to do with them as you move forward.

On the “C:” drive of Old Machine –

There are several of options available to you, if your original catalogs and Images are still on the main “c:\” hard drive of your old machine.

Transfer files across the Network

If both machines are still attached to a network, you can easily transfer the catalogs across, but that is going to take time, and chew up various network resources.

Remember, depending on the number of Images you have, your catalog directory could easily reach several gigabytes worth of data,in my case: Catalog: 12.7 GBs & Images: 261 GBs

Remove the old hard drive –

If you remove the hard drive, you have two basic options, but before you begin, backup your files on the old machine in your normal manner.

Install in new computer –

By simply taking the hard drive out of the old machine, and installing it into your new machine, is most certainly the easiest of the options, and also gives you a second HD spindle when dealing with I/O operations in Lightroom.

But before you remove the hard drive, be sure to check the compatibility of data interfaces on your new machine – Can the new machine deal with the older IDE interface?

An example I can give, is my new machines, that is based on the Asus Z87-Pro motherboard, which does not have any IDE connections.

Also keep in mind, that if you connect the old “C:” drive, and it wants to reinitialize for whatever reason, and you have not backed up your data…

External case –

This is another good alternative, and does give you the flexibility to move to different environments with little issue, and also gives you the additional spindle speed during I/O, but is subject to the port speed when you plug-in, assuming that the chipset on the external drive is the faster of the two.

Backups

There are three critical areas that need to be transferred to your new machine for it to work in a fashion that you are used to: Images, Catalogs and Preferences.

Images –

Do I really need to say more?

Catalogs –

As mentioned earlier, catalogs can easily reach several gigabytes worth of data, but does all that data need to be transferred to the new computer?

Again Users of Lightroom know, and unless they have change the default settings, the program will prompt you to do backups, which are located in a sub-directory of the main catalog directory.

c:\My.Adobe.Lightroom.Catalog\Backups\

By simply looking into the backup directory, one could easily save time and the amount of data that needs to be transferred, by simply cleaning out old unnecessary files, but this is completely user based.

Just check to see which “Date – Time” named directories really need to be moved.

Preferences –

Since this is most likely a new software install, none of your preferences will be in place, so where are those files located?

Like all other User preferences, they are stored in the operating system’s Users profile directory, that is hidden through the normal interface, that can be easily accessed with a little forethought.

C:\Users\%userprofile%\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Lightroom

Once you are inside Adobe Lightroom directory, it should be very easy to recognize which directories are most important to you.

In my case I transferred files from these directories onto my new machine:

Adobe\Lightroom\Export Presets
Adobe\Lightroom\Filename Templates
Adobe\Lightroom\Import Presets
Adobe\Lightroom\Keyword Sets
Adobe\Lightroom\Locations
Adobe\Lightroom\Metadata Presets
Adobe\Lightroom\Smart Collection Templates
Adobe\Lightroom\Watermarks

Once installed in the new directories, Lightroom should have no issue accessing the “.lrtemplate” files. (BTW – If you really want to be geeky, you can open up these files in a text editor and play with them to your heart’s content)

Conclusion

When I moved to my new machine, I used a combination of techniques described above.

On my old machine, the Lightroom catalogs and images were already located on an internal secondary SATA hard drive, so I just removed the old hard drive, and installed it into the new machine.

From there, I copied the images and catalogs (approx 275 GBs) to the root directory of my new machine, creating a new backup of the files.

Even across the SATA III bus, this still took several hours, and I could smell hard drive smoke. (just kidding!)

When I got to my preferences, I connected to my old machine across the network and simply copied the files into the associated directories.

From there, I reconnected the Lightroom catalogs to the local main image directory, now located on the root of my main “c:\” drive.

Finally, I rewrote my old robocopy script to include the additional external hard drive, that I added for redundancy in my backup solution.

  • HDD1 (1.0 TB) – Enhanced (WDC Black) (Live Data)
  • HDD2 (1.5 TB) – Seagate Barracuda 7200 – Backup 01 (Internal)
  • HDD3 (2.0 TB) – WDC Green – Backup 02 (External)

Some may argue, that having all my data on the “c:\” will produce bottlenecks, while I would agree in theory, I also have to wonder with my usage of Intel’s RST technology, reduces this as an issue.

I have also, set the cache files of both Lightroom and Photoshop, to the extra space left over on my Solid State drive, as mentioned in another post.

If you have any thoughts or ideas I’d be very interested in hearing from you.

Good luck!

- Andrew
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