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Best way to access LRC catalog and masters from more than one machine

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Tahoe Dave

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First of all, I'm sorry. I know the catalog topic in this forum is a more-than-dead horse but I don't seem able to find a single answer to this issue.

What is the BEST(as in MOST EFFICIENT and least-prone-to-error) way to access a LR catalog for editing from more than one machine? Local or remote. I have two iMacs and a laptop in the house. (I like to move around when I work.) I also have an iPad. And ADD.

Right now, my LR catalog is in a Dropbox folder, and the master files are on an ED attached to my main machine. No problem as long as I stay on that machine. The master files are organized by date, and I tend to work on many different files and folders. In other words, despite it being 2022, I may want to work on files from anytime in the last 12 years. But when I access that catalog from another machine, even tho it's on DB, things go wonky.

But I would like to work on the other iMac or laptop without having to move drives, plug/unplug, download/upload, copy catalogs or master files, etc.

What makes sense?
 
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I’m afraid there isn’t really a way. Lightroom cannot use a network shared catalog, it has to be local. That means that any solution will be something that involves copying catalogs, or placing the catalog on an external disk that will be used with different computers.

What you can consider however is using Lightroom cloud. You sync the images from Lightroom Classic to the cloud, and use Lightroom desktop or Lightroom mobile on the other devices. This works with synced smart previews, but you won’t really notice the difference.
 
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…But when I access that catalog from another machine, even tho it's on DB, things go wonky.

But I would like to work on the other iMac or laptop without having to move drives, plug/unplug, download/upload, copy catalogs or master files, etc.

What makes sense?
. Without placing your image files and catalog file on a portable HD, I don’t think anything will fit your needs. You have described all of the traditional options.

There is one thing that you have not mentioned and that is using Lightroom in combination with Lightroom Classic. It to has limitations but these can be worked around if you considered the incompatibilities between Lightroom and Lightroom Classic.

Here is what works for me: My iMac is my master computer and it hosts my master catalog. All of my master images end up being stored locally on the iMac. I have sync’d all of my (important) images from Lightroom Classic to the Adobe Cloud. These are available on any device running Lightroom. You can install Lightroom on your other Mac, iPad or iPhone.

My iMac lives on the second floor in my office. It runs 7X24. I spend most of my time downstairs and do all of my casual work (such as this topic reply) on my iPadPro. If I go to my back yard and shoot a few images of my Koi pond and flowers, I will come back inside and import these images into Lightroom on my iPadPro where they are sync’d to my Lightroom Classic Catalog. I don’t do keywords in Lightroom because they do not sync properly. I don’t delete image files from Lightroom because they may not get delete from my iMac. I mark images as rejected in Lightroom and later delete them permanently from Lightroom Classic. Printing is another thing that happens best on Lightroom Classic.

I take my iPad Pro to the field and will import a day’s shoot to Lightroom on the iPadPro when I get back to the hotel in the evening. If the internet connection is good, all of my images are in my master Catalog when I return home.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 
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As @Johan Elzenga stated. this is the use case for Lr cloud ecosystem. And the main reason I switched.
Before Lr cloudy, I used sync solutions to move between laptops and desktops. Dropbox is too expensive, over the years I used dropbox, box, Google Drive, MS OneDrive plus a slew of others including self hosting.

In all cases, the images and catalog were synced locally. Before you opened Lr on a new machine, you have to check that which ever tool you use has completely finished syncing on the old machine. And also on the new one. Otherwise, you will have conflict problems and possible corruption.
Lastly, there is only one practical solution for the iPad. Switch to Lr cloud version. The impractical solution, is a virtual desktop you access from the iPad (yes I did this, more to prove it could be done, it was really not very usable).

So with that said. Unless there was a show stopper / deal breaker, switch products is the best answer.

Tim
 

Tahoe Dave

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Thanks for the thoughts and ideas folks. I’d move to the Adobe cloud solution, but capacity is capped at 1TB. Not enough, although I don’t understand why they don’t offer larger plans. Everyone else does. And everyone else doesn’t specialize in resource hogs like digital media. I’d have to split the catalog as well as the masters folder. Which all of these solutions require…absent a 6 or 8TB ED. I could put it all on a 4TB drive, but with the LR catalog and the masters, it’s about 3.1TB. I don’t want to switch to a solution that’s going to be obsolete a year or so from now. And EDs that large are still really spendy.

Oh well. I’ll keep looking. By the time I figure something out Adobe will have a 8TB plan, and 8TB ED’s will be $100.
 

Tahoe Dave

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Never mind above reply. Apparently I can’t edit or delete a post >10 minutes. Which seems odd.

What I was gonna say is…

Thanks for the thoughts and ideas folks. I’d move to the Adobe cloud solution, but it’s $10/mo/TB. Which doesn't qualify as a cost effective solution when my LR catalog and masters total about 3.1TB.

Oh well. I’ll keep looking. By the time I figure something out Adobe will have a 8TB plan for a reasonable price and 8TB ED’s will be $100.

Thanks again for the suggestions.
 
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Thanks for the thoughts and ideas folks. I’d move to the Adobe cloud solution, but it’s $10/mo/TB.
The suggestion was to synch images from LRC to the cloud. Those images will be "Smart Previews" and will not count against your 20 GB limit. They will be plenty good for editing from Lightroom Desktop or Lightroom Mobile.
 
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Thanks for the thoughts and ideas folks. I’d move to the Adobe cloud solution, but it’s $10/mo/TB. Which doesn't qualify as a cost effective solution when my LR catalog and masters total about 3.1TB.
Let me expand upon what Hal and Johan have pointed out. I have the 1TB plan simply because importing into the Adobe cloud imports full size images where as syncing an existing catalog does not count against the storage plan limits. A typical camera card today is 32GB and this alone would exceed the 20GB plan limits.
When I first added Lightroom to my Lightroom Classic workflow, I added all of my important images and left the thousands of mediocre images that should probably be deleted as I should either process them properly or purge them from LrC. So Out of 25,000 images I synced about 8000. This took up none of my storage plan limits as recommended by Hal and Johan.
Since I use the iPad Pro as the front end import to LrC, I either needed to do a lot of housekeeping to keep the 20 GB plan in check or go to the 1TB plan. I chose the 1TB plan. I have now imported more than 3000 full size images using the iPad Pro and Lightroom and my cloud storage has not yet exceeded 100GB.
To manage the storage plan limits, you need to first sync full size images from the cloud to Arc and have them stored locally. Once stored locally, you need to remove them from LrC Sync (temporarily) This will remove them from the Adobe Cloud. Once that is complete then you can add these image to a syncing collection or the "All Synced Photographs" special collection which will cause LrC to add smart Previews to the Adobe cloud and not count agains your plan limits.
 
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LR Classic solution:

I would like to comment on what, you say you want to do and what you might consider doing.

Let's take the case of what I think is very common with many if not most serious photographers. You work on a home desktop, or fairly powerful laptop connected to a hub that has high-end editing monitor or dual monitors on the desk. . Let's call that the home studio. That home studio has a 32-inch 4K IPS (or soon - mini-LED). It has a late model CPU and boots off of a fast internal M.2 PCIe 4 (soon to be 5) SSD. On that SSD is your OS, Adobe programs (LR) and your one and only master LR Master Catalog. In your case, since you have less than 2 TB worth of raw files, you put all of your raw files on a second SSD (2, 4 or 8 TB as you grow) and it is installed internally or connected externally on a fast USB-C port (TB3/4 or USB 3.2 Gen 2 or USB 4).
That is where you do all of your home LR work because that machine is a joy to work on, mainly because of the incredible monitor and super-fast rig.
Your second LR machine is the laptop. The laptop is for doing LR work while away from the house on shoots, trips or travel. When you get home, the folder of raw files that you shot and edited are then quickly and easily transferred to the LR Master Catalog that is on your Home Studio. Then you delete all those files from your laptop. Your only LR catalog is on the Home Studio. Your image files are all on a single drive and backed up at least 3 times to other single drives.

What I described above has an even sexier version, and one that more photographers will utilize soon. You do everything off of one powerful new Windows or MacBook Pro 16-inch laptop (with M2 Ultra chip) and you have no desktop system. On the laptop is the Master (and only LR Catalog) and if you have less than 4TB of raw files, all of your image files. Everything is on that laptop (backed up to external drives of course). When at home, you quickly connect it to a TB4 Hub that has the monitor or monitors I described connected to the Hub, along with external storage and backups. When you want to work elsewhere in the house or on the road, you disconnect one cable and walk away with the laptop. No syncing catalogs. Everything simple and powerful. Ultimate flexibility and capability. That is allowed by advancing tech and new, very powerful laptops.

17 Clear Advantages:
1. You avoid the mess of trying to sync LR and LR Classic.
2. You avoid the mess of trying to have all of your raw files stored in the cloud that requires fast internet wherever you are in the world.
3. Most of your LR work is done on a fast home studio (or the single laptop solution) that has everything on it.
4. You experience the joy of using a top-end 32-inch professional 4K monitor, which is affordable now and was not before. That dramatically improves your photography enjoyment and your LR editing work.
5. You have one catalog and only one catalog, and that catalog is on the same fast SSD as your OS and LR program and that is on your home studio (or the single laptop).
6. LR runs at warp speed on that one good Home Studio (or laptop connected to hub).
7. Your raw files are on one fast, reliable SSD and backed up to other single disks.
8. You have a laptop with LR Classic and you use it for all work away from the home studio. You then use one of several methods for getting your raw files you shot and the edits you made into your home studio - the data disk and the catalog synced.
9. Simplicity - Speed - Reliability.
10. Avoids RAID
11. Avoids NAS.
12. Avoids the daily pile of sync issues we read about here on this forum.
13. Maximizes new tech while also saving money (if you shop smart and study).
14. Simple backup solution.
15. Moves you to SSDs and away from HDDs.
15. Maximizes the capabilities of LR while avoiding its weaknesses.
16. Will make you happy.
17. Won't make you sad.
 
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. Without placing your image files and catalog file on a portable HD, I don’t think anything will fit your needs. You have described all of the traditional options.

There is one thing that you have not mentioned and that is using Lightroom in combination with Lightroom Classic. It to has limitations but these can be worked around if you considered the incompatibilities between Lightroom and Lightroom Classic.

Here is what works for me: My iMac is my master computer and it hosts my master catalog. All of my master images end up being stored locally on the iMac. I have sync’d all of my (important) images from Lightroom Classic to the Adobe Cloud. These are available on any device running Lightroom. You can install Lightroom on your other Mac, iPad or iPhone.

My iMac lives on the second floor in my office. It runs 7X24. I spend most of my time downstairs and do all of my casual work (such as this topic reply) on my iPadPro. If I go to my back yard and shoot a few images of my Koi pond and flowers, I will come back inside and import these images into Lightroom on my iPadPro where they are sync’d to my Lightroom Classic Catalog. I don’t do keywords in Lightroom because they do not sync properly. I don’t delete image files from Lightroom because they may not get delete from my iMac. I mark images as rejected in Lightroom and later delete them permanently from Lightroom Classic. Printing is another thing that happens best on Lightroom Classic.

I take my iPad Pro to the field and will import a day’s shoot to Lightroom on the iPadPro when I get back to the hotel in the evening. If the internet connection is good, all of my images are in my master Catalog when I return home.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
Do you shoot any video? I’m wondering if the video files sync, etc the same.

Currently I’m frustrated because LR Classic doesn’t import Canon’s RAW video files (*.CRM) nor XF-AVC files although it does understand the more common MP4 and MOV files.
 
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LR Classic solution:

I would like to comment on what, you say you want to do and what you might consider doing.

Let's take the case of what I think is very common with many if not most serious photographers. You work on a home desktop, or fairly powerful laptop connected to a hub that has high-end editing monitor or dual monitors on the desk. . Let's call that the home studio. That home studio has a 32-inch 4K IPS (or soon - mini-LED). It has a late model CPU and boots off of a fast internal M.2 PCIe 4 (soon to be 5) SSD. On that SSD is your OS, Adobe programs (LR) and your one and only master LR Master Catalog. In your case, since you have less than 2 TB worth of raw files, you put all of your raw files on a second SSD (2, 4 or 8 TB as you grow) and it is installed internally or connected externally on a fast USB-C port (TB3/4 or USB 3.2 Gen 2 or USB 4).
That is where you do all of your home LR work because that machine is a joy to work on, mainly because of the incredible monitor and super-fast rig.
Your second LR machine is the laptop. The laptop is for doing LR work while away from the house on shoots, trips or travel. When you get home, the folder of raw files that you shot and edited are then quickly and easily transferred to the LR Master Catalog that is on your Home Studio. Then you delete all those files from your laptop. Your only LR catalog is on the Home Studio. Your image files are all on a single drive and backed up at least 3 times to other single drives.

What I described above has an even sexier version, and one that more photographers will utilize soon. You do everything off of one powerful new Windows or MacBook Pro 16-inch laptop (with M2 Ultra chip) and you have no desktop system. On the laptop is the Master (and only LR Catalog) and if you have less than 4TB of raw files, all of your image files. Everything is on that laptop (backed up to external drives of course). When at home, you quickly connect it to a TB4 Hub that has the monitor or monitors I described connected to the Hub, along with external storage and backups. When you want to work elsewhere in the house or on the road, you disconnect one cable and walk away with the laptop. No syncing catalogs. Everything simple and powerful. Ultimate flexibility and capability. That is allowed by advancing tech and new, very powerful laptops.

17 Clear Advantages:
1. You avoid the mess of trying to sync LR and LR Classic.
2. You avoid the mess of trying to have all of your raw files stored in the cloud that requires fast internet wherever you are in the world.
3. Most of your LR work is done on a fast home studio (or the single laptop solution) that has everything on it.
4. You experience the joy of using a top-end 32-inch professional 4K monitor, which is affordable now and was not before. That dramatically improves your photography enjoyment and your LR editing work.
5. You have one catalog and only one catalog, and that catalog is on the same fast SSD as your OS and LR program and that is on your home studio (or the single laptop).
6. LR runs at warp speed on that one good Home Studio (or laptop connected to hub).
7. Your raw files are on one fast, reliable SSD and backed up to other single disks.
8. You have a laptop with LR Classic and you use it for all work away from the home studio. You then use one of several methods for getting your raw files you shot and the edits you made into your home studio - the data disk and the catalog synced.
9. Simplicity - Speed - Reliability.
10. Avoids RAID
11. Avoids NAS.
12. Avoids the daily pile of sync issues we read about here on this forum.
13. Maximizes new tech while also saving money (if you shop smart and study).
14. Simple backup solution.
15. Moves you to SSDs and away from HDDs.
15. Maximizes the capabilities of LR while avoiding its weaknesses.
16. Will make you happy.
17. Won't make you sad.
This is what I’ve done for a fairly long time. Two computers is too complicated — backups, sync applications, sync application settings, blah blah blah .

In my case, I have the raw images for years 2002-2021 off on a NAS and 2022 on the laptop. I was using external drives with a backup but eventually opted for a NAS and it is backed up to a cloud service for catastrophic recovery.

I sacrifice editing of images before the current year if I’m on the road. But, I have the previews and smart previews on the local laptop so I can view all my images in some form from anywhere. I believe even this could be solved with current technology such as rclone and other options. I originally assumed I would dig into these things but so far, I’ve not needed to.

This was more or less suggested to me by somewhere here… perhaps it was you. Between using external drives and the NAS I tried using Dropbox as the remote server but it really isn’t designed for what I want so I’ve switched to my own local NAS. The NAS is used for much more than my images so that was part of my personal situation as well.

On a negative note, I’m confused why, for example, Adobe decided to not sync keywords between LR and LR Classic — and other incompatibilities between the two systems. Adobe chose not to be my cloud image server and it baffles me why.
 
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My above solution some may say is expensive and requires having the latest gear. Not really. You can do it with a good desktop and decent laptop. The point is that current top-end laptops (Mac and Windows) are serious desktop replacements for photo editing purposes even at a very high end and with bug high-res files. Connecting that fast and powerful laptop to a Thunderbolt 4 Hub is quick and easy (one cable does all) and you have a full-size keyboard, 32-inch 4K IPS monitor and all the external storage you can imagine 5 seconds after setting your laptop down on the desk or table (and everything is on it). You can then unplug one USB-C port in 4 seconds and walk away with that same laptop anywhere and there is never a need to sync the LR catalog or import from other catalogs or move the raw files (except to back them up of course). It is the master everything. And it can be done because the laptop has a powerful CPU (incredible really), powerful GPU, tons of fast RAM, latest big SSDs and the screen is 4 or 5K. Amazing stuff. Impossible two years ago.

But your solution has a major disadvantage. I have to be able to work off my laptop on the road and edit as I go. Most people do. No need to avoid that. Then get the files and their edits onto the master cat and data disk/disks on the desktop when you get home. That is a quick process and people here can talk you through that.

Anyway, what I suggested is possible only because laptops are so powerful now, and desktop capability is accelerating at a fast pace and for less money. Great screen tech, vastly improving SSD speed and size, previously unheard of connectivity capability, CPU/GPU/RAM advances and spill-down to lower priced systems makes it possible.
 

Tahoe Dave

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Joined
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Messages
28
Do you shoot any video? I’m wondering if the video files sync, etc the same.

Currently I’m frustrated because LR Classic doesn’t import Canon’s RAW video files (*.CRM) nor XF-AVC files although it does understand the more common MP4 and MOV files.
Very little video. Mostly just short clips from my iPhone that (somehow) wind up in my LR catalog.
 

Tahoe Dave

Member
Joined
Aug 25, 2020
Messages
28
LR Classic solution:

I would like to comment on what, you say you want to do and what you might consider doing.

Let's take the case of what I think is very common with many if not most serious photographers. You work on a home desktop, or fairly powerful laptop connected to a hub that has high-end editing monitor or dual monitors on the desk. . Let's call that the home studio. That home studio has a 32-inch 4K IPS (or soon - mini-LED). It has a late model CPU and boots off of a fast internal M.2 PCIe 4 (soon to be 5) SSD. On that SSD is your OS, Adobe programs (LR) and your one and only master LR Master Catalog. In your case, since you have less than 2 TB worth of raw files, you put all of your raw files on a second SSD (2, 4 or 8 TB as you grow) and it is installed internally or connected externally on a fast USB-C port (TB3/4 or USB 3.2 Gen 2 or USB 4).
That is where you do all of your home LR work because that machine is a joy to work on, mainly because of the incredible monitor and super-fast rig.
Your second LR machine is the laptop. The laptop is for doing LR work while away from the house on shoots, trips or travel. When you get home, the folder of raw files that you shot and edited are then quickly and easily transferred to the LR Master Catalog that is on your Home Studio. Then you delete all those files from your laptop. Your only LR catalog is on the Home Studio. Your image files are all on a single drive and backed up at least 3 times to other single drives.

What I described above has an even sexier version, and one that more photographers will utilize soon. You do everything off of one powerful new Windows or MacBook Pro 16-inch laptop (with M2 Ultra chip) and you have no desktop system. On the laptop is the Master (and only LR Catalog) and if you have less than 4TB of raw files, all of your image files. Everything is on that laptop (backed up to external drives of course). When at home, you quickly connect it to a TB4 Hub that has the monitor or monitors I described connected to the Hub, along with external storage and backups. When you want to work elsewhere in the house or on the road, you disconnect one cable and walk away with the laptop. No syncing catalogs. Everything simple and powerful. Ultimate flexibility and capability. That is allowed by advancing tech and new, very powerful laptops.

17 Clear Advantages:
1. You avoid the mess of trying to sync LR and LR Classic.
2. You avoid the mess of trying to have all of your raw files stored in the cloud that requires fast internet wherever you are in the world.
3. Most of your LR work is done on a fast home studio (or the single laptop solution) that has everything on it.
4. You experience the joy of using a top-end 32-inch professional 4K monitor, which is affordable now and was not before. That dramatically improves your photography enjoyment and your LR editing work.
5. You have one catalog and only one catalog, and that catalog is on the same fast SSD as your OS and LR program and that is on your home studio (or the single laptop).
6. LR runs at warp speed on that one good Home Studio (or laptop connected to hub).
7. Your raw files are on one fast, reliable SSD and backed up to other single disks.
8. You have a laptop with LR Classic and you use it for all work away from the home studio. You then use one of several methods for getting your raw files you shot and the edits you made into your home studio - the data disk and the catalog synced.
9. Simplicity - Speed - Reliability.
10. Avoids RAID
11. Avoids NAS.
12. Avoids the daily pile of sync issues we read about here on this forum.
13. Maximizes new tech while also saving money (if you shop smart and study).
14. Simple backup solution.
15. Moves you to SSDs and away from HDDs.
15. Maximizes the capabilities of LR while avoiding its weaknesses.
16. Will make you happy.
17. Won't make you sad.
Thank you for that thorough explanation. This sounds like a possibility. Is there an idiot's guide to the smart preview thing?

Over the weekend I opened up Lightroom (the other one, not Classic) and see that there are 743 photos there. I have NO CLUE how they got there. I cannot find any corresponding folder or collection in my LRC catalog that includes that quantity or the specific collection of photos included, so cannot see that some collection or other "synced" by accident. (By accident I mean only "not on purpose.") It includes photos from my iPhone taken as recently as 2 weeks ago, along with a variety of photos and videos spanning a 12 year period from iPhones and my "regular" cameras, and--in most cases--having no universal common metadata or attributes that I can identify. It includes SOME photos from my Apple Photos collection, but not all. It includes SOME photos taken from a trip to Death Valley three years ago, but not all. It includes raw, tif's and jpg's. If the "master" has both a raw and a jpg from when the image was captured, SOMETIMES this phantom catalog will include both, sometimes not.

For reference, my MAIN folder of masters includes 92,574 files, spanning years from 1998 to the present. Stored on an external SSD, backed up to two other ED's plus on Backblaze. I'm a backup fanatic, which I think sometimes results in folders replicating themselves with, shall we say, less "intentionality" than I prefer. My main .lrcat resides on my main machine internal HDD. Also backed up all over the place.

It seems completely random. And because I don't know how they got there, or if they're previews, smart previews or replicants of masters, I don't want to just clean out the catalog and start over. The one thing I can say is that, if I access my Adobe account online, this catalog seems to be the same as that. Or so it appears. Both have 743 photos. I have not spot-checked for complete consistency but that would seem likely.

I can't find where on my desktop these photos (or the versions of them in LR) are stored unless I "edit in photoshop" and click on the file name in the upper left and click "show in finder." In which case it takes me to some temp folder buried deep in the sys files, and not to the master file. So I suspect these 743 photos are all online only and can be safely deleted. But not knowing how they got there in the first place is driving my batty. The file names are the same as in my .lrcat, and I can find them that way, so I have to assume that this phantom catalog got exported or synced from there.

If I go to my profile online or in LR check "my account," it says I'm using 12.1 gb of 120 gb. What? Where do I have a 120 gb account? My Creative Cloud account includes 20 gb. Not 120 gb. That same info panel offers me the app to "delete LR library." Again, I don't know what I'm deleting or how it even got there in the first place.

If I do delete, I will--again--back up my .lrcat to my main ED, and disconnect it before doing so.

I also see that I can migrate a LRC catalog to LR "only once," so I'm not sure how that impacts things. I feel like I should create a small .lrcat from my main .lrcat and migrate that just to see what happens.


Oh, the perils of Pauline.
 
Last edited:
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Do you shoot any video? I’m wondering if the video files sync, etc the same.

Currently I’m frustrated because LR Classic doesn’t import Canon’s RAW video files (*.CRM) nor XF-AVC files although it does understand the more common MP4 and MOV files.
Lightroom and Lightroom Classic do not share video sync well. Neither app is IMO designed for video editing and very limited video image management, mostly archival. It does not surprise me that Lightroom does not recognize the Canon RAW video format. You might try converting the *.CRM fils to CinemaDNG and let Lightroom import those.
 
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Lightroom and Lightroom Classic do not share video sync well. Neither app is IMO designed for video editing and very limited video image management, mostly archival. It does not surprise me that Lightroom does not recognize the Canon RAW video format. You might try converting the *.CRM fils to CinemaDNG and let Lightroom import those.
Convert to CinemaDNG sounds like exactly what I need. I need to go find out how to do that. If you know and post before I figure it out, that would be great. I'm familiar with DNG but was unaware of CinemaDNG
 
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Hal beat me to it, but that is exactly the point. The suggested solution does not take any cloud space because smart previews aren’t counted in that space.
Wow, can you suggest the best tutorial for making use of the cloud while continuing to use LR Classic on your main computer?
 
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Classic
Wow, can you suggest the best tutorial for making use of the cloud while continuing to use LR Classic on your main computer?
Have a read of the Cloud Sync chapter of your Missing FAQ book, especially the "Syncing Lightroom Classic" section.
 
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