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A Question about images in the Lr 11 catalog

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FredHuebsch

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I make a new catalog for each project, usually around 5,000 photos per project.
(I know that some say it is better to have one catalogue for everything, but I prefer this approach.)
I did a clean install (new PC) a while ago, and now the size of my catalog is much larger. I think there is a setting I did not remember when I installed from scratch.

On 26th October 2021 David Gordon started a thread her "LrC 11 catalog isn't smaller".
In it, he writes that his catalog with around 250,000 photos is 2.86 GB.
On 27th October 2021, in response to a person that comments on the small size of his catalog, David Gordon writes "You must be storing your images within your catalogue.".
I have looked for a setting where I can prevent 'storing images within the catalog. So far, no results in LrC itself or searching for an answer.

When I read these numbers by David Gordon, I thought that this might be why my catalog is also much bigger than his catalog.
For around 1800 cr2 (raw) photos with around 600 jpg's from those, my lrcat file is 2.01 GB.
Corrected for the number of photos, this means my catalog is 73 times (!) bigger than it apparently has to be.
For completeness: my lrcat-data folder is 23,1 MB, my Previews.lrdata folder is 2,31 GB and my Helper.lrdata folder is 332 kB.

Can someone please help me what I have apparently overlooked?
Thanks in advance!
 
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You cannot store images within the catalog database itself (i.e. the *.lrcat file). David Gordon was probably meaning storing the images "within the catalog folder" which some people might do.

If your catalog file is genuinely around 2GB in size, for only around 2500 images, then a possible explanation would be the develop history. Lots of edits to an image increases the history, which in turn takes up more space in the catalog. My own personal catalog has 23k images, but that takes up only 700MB of disk space.....but my catalog contains no history steps at all.

If the size of your catalog is a concern, and you don't mind losing the history steps, you could delete the develop history to see what effect that has on the size of the catalog file.
 
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I suspect you are saving 1:1 previews. Take a look at the files/folders that come along with your catalog file and see where the disk space is going - especially the Previews and Smart Previews folders.

If indeed the bulk of the disk space is taken up by the ".lrcat" file itself, Jim could be correct, but I don't think history panel steps take up that much room as they are mearly instructions, not pixels, but even so can contribute. Other factors could be number of collections (including Publish Service). Of course you shold try the catalog optimization tool if you haven't already.
 
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With 2500 photos, I think the 2GB is the size of the catalog folder, not the size of the catalog itself. The catalog folder contains not only the catalog itself (the .lrcat file) but also some folders like the "<Catalog name> Previews.lrdata" folder wich is in fact a cache of the previews shown in the Library module. This preview folder might be big but must be in the same folder as the catalog.
 
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For around 1800 cr2 (raw) photos with around 600 jpg's from those, my lrcat file is 2.01 GB.

To triple-check, you are indeed referring to the size of the <catalog>.lrcat file that's inside the catalog folder? Your posts are pretty clear on that score, but let's confirm.

2.01 GB / 2400 photos = 838K / photo in the .lrcat file, which indeed is huge.

1. Definitely do File > Optimize Catalog as suggested by Califdan.

2. While it's possible the History steps account for that bloat, for the past many years LR has been compressing the history steps, so that would be a huge amount of steps per photo, which I think is unlikely. But to build on Jim's suggestion, a safe way to test that is to make a copy of the entire catalog folder, open the copy, select all photos, go to Develop, and do Develop > Clear History. Then do File > Optimize Catalog to delete unused space from the .lrcat file.

3. Another possibility: Do a large number of these photos have creative profiles applied to them? That is, in the Develop Basic panel, is Profile set to a profile that starts with something other than "Adobe " or "Camera "? Creative profiles are stored in .xmp files that you import into LR. Prior to LR 11.0, copies of creative profiles applied to photos were copied into the catalog. LR 11 now stores those copies in the .lrcat-data file, but it may be that the upgrade process didn't move out existing copies from .lrcat to .lrcat-data.
 

Colin Grant

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Interesting stuff this. I have 2714 images in a catalogue, so not a lot. My Lr folder shows a size of 16.35 gig. Looking at the files within the folder the DATA file (V11 Previews) is 15.08 gig. That must surely be excessive so how do I get it back to a manageable size? Attached is a screenshot of the Lr folder contents.
 

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Go to ‘Catalog Settings’ and check the size of the Standard-size previews that Lightroom generates. If it is set to ‘Auto’ and you have a high resolution display (Retina, 4K, 5K) then Lightroom sometimes generates huge previews. This is a long standing bug that occurs when you have set the display resolution lower than the hardware resolution (which is normal for high res displays, because otherwise your menus and other interface items will be tiny). Lightroom will then generate previews that are 2x the width and 2x the height of your screen setting, which may even be much bigger than the hardware resolution of your screen. For most screens setting it to 2880 pixels wide is enough.
 

Colin Grant

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Spot on Johan, thanks. What size would you suggest 2048, 2880 or some other? It is a 4k monitor. Sorry, just seen you suggest 2880. Do I need to delete the related DATA file before/after changing the setting?
 

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FredHuebsch

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Thanks for all the tips.
I will try out all of them as soon as my work permits.

But to be clear, my complete catalog folder is over 4 GB in size, the lrcat-file alone is 2.01 GB.

Thanks again for all replies!
 
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Spot on Johan, thanks. What size would you suggest 2048, 2880 or some other? It is a 4k monitor. Sorry, just seen you suggest 2880. Do I need to delete the related DATA file before/after changing the setting?
You don’t have to delete it, but if you want Lightroom to replace the large previews then yes.
 

FredHuebsch

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Today I have experimented to find out what makes my lrcat file so big.

I did all the steps that johnrellis described.
After that, my lrcat file wasonly 114 KB in size. So the huge size must be because of the history steps.

I did a lot of AI Masking, and in each of those mask I had to reduce the mask with the brush.
These brush strokes are indeed a large number for each photo.
So for a few thousand photos that apparently adds up.

I thought I had understood that the Masking is not stored in the lrcat file.
But apparently at least the changes to these masks are stored in the lrcat file and they quickly increase the size of lrcat.

To John Elzenga: I do not have 4K or larger monitor, so therefore I did not change the "Auto" setting.

Thanks to you all for your kind help! :)
 
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After that, my lrcat file was only 114 KB in size. So the huge size must be because of the history steps.
Hmm, did you mean 114 MB? 114 KB / 2800 photos = 40 bytes/photo. 114 MB / 2800 photos = 41 KB/photo, which would be normal.
 
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I did some crude experiments to measure space in the .lrcat file consumed by various actions. History doesn't use huge amounts of space except for extensive brushing.

I think this is because the brush strokes for a brush mask are stored in the catalog, and if you've done extensive brushing, they can be much larger than all the other catalog space for a photo. The History steps have to store a copy of each brush stroke, since it needs to be able to undo the stroke.

Here are my measurements of how much .lrcat space is used for various actions on a photo:

1. Importing raw photos: 14K bytes/photo.

2. Develop > Auto Settings: 5K bytes/photo.

3. Adding Subject or Sky mask: 7K bytes/photo.

4. Subtracting the entirety of a Subject or Sky mask with a couple dozen brush strokes: 253K/photo (lots of brushing).

5. Clear History / Optimize of all the Develop steps except the brushing: 61K bytes/photo

6. Clear History / Optimize of just the brushing: 140K bytes/photo

This is significantly less space than was being used in your catalog, but it's the same order of magnitude.
 
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