Last week I published a video on the Improve Photography Youtube Channel showing that Lightroom import is 600% slower than other competitive programs. Dozens of you wrote back and asked how photographers can use Photo Mechanic together with Lightroom for the fastest possible workflow.
I've been testing out this workflow and I've actually found it to be extremely fast and simple.
Photo Mechanic is a third party app that is primarily used by professional sports and event photographers who want to quickly import, tag, and rate photos. Photo Mechanic is not an editing app, so it's not a replacement for Lightroom or Photoshop. It's simply a companion app that does fast culling (sorting through photos from a shoot). I've never been won over by Photo Mechanic because it costs $150 and I was concerned that it would mess up my workflow too much, but I've actually found it to be a very easy addition to my workflow.
The idea is that you import the photos from your SD card to the computer using Photo Mechanic. Then use Photo Mechanic for only tagging and star rating your photos. Then you pass all the photos to Lightroom to continue the edit.
The PhotoMechanic / Lightroom Workflow
- Put your SD card in the computer or card reader
- Open Photo Mechanic and choose File > Ingest (It's their word for import. I guess they like to be unique.)
- The photos will import like LIGHTNING! I imported 100 raw photos and had full screen previews in under 9 seconds
- Flip through the photos with ease and rate the pictures by pressing Control (Or Command on the Mac) and a number key 1-5 to give each photo a star rating. My star rating system is below.
- Do Control (Command) A to select all of the photos
- Drag and drop all the selected photos from Photo Mechanic onto the Lightroom icon.
- You now have the imported and culled photos in Lightroom for editing.
Jim's Star Rating System for Culling Images
- 1 star – Completely useless photo. Can be deleted if I ever need to clear off space. These are photos that are so badly exposed that they can't even be seen, where I bumped the shutter button and took a picture of my foot, etc.
- 2 star – It's at least a visible and not completely blurry photo, but it's not great at all.
- 3 star – Might be an okay photo if I can do some work in Lightroom and Photoshop. Save this photo to edit.
- 4 star – A photo that I consider worthy of being published. Good work.
- 5 star – One of the best photos I've ever taken. A photo that I want to include in my portfolio.
Matt Kloskowski has a great video out showing how he uses Photo Mechanic and Lightroom together, and it's the exact same workflow that I've been using in my testing.
I'm still not certain if Photo Mechanic is worth the $150 price tag for me. After all, I could just be patient and wait for Lightroom's sluggish import process, but I really have enjoyed testing the software.