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Laptop and Desktop Options with Lightroom Classic

Ian Farlow

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As I see it, there are two basic options if I want to use Lightroom Classic with both a desktop and a laptop:
  1. I would have a master catalog on the desktop where all of my images reside, and a secondary (or "temporary") catalog on the laptop for use when I am away from the desktop. If I import from my camera on the laptop while away from the desktop, when I return I would export as a catalog from the laptop and import the catalog into Lightroom on the desktop. I would also set up synchronized presets using symbolic links so that my naming, metadata, label, etc. data would be available on the desktop and the laptop.
  2. I would have a master catalog on an external SSD and would save presets in the catalog so everything was portable and available to either the desktop or the laptop depending on which device is connected to the SSD.
Option 1 seems to be the most common, but it means that if I want access to my files while away I would either need to use the built-in sync with Lightroom Cloud or export select catalogs from the desktop for use on the laptop. Option 2 would mean that I would have access to all of my files from either device, but the logistics is a bit more cumbersome (make sure to take the SSD with me, extra cabling, etc.).

Any thoughts or opinions on either approach?

One question that I have that I can't seem to find an answer for relates to generating Standard Previews. On the laptop, Standard Previews max out at 2880px, while on the desktop they are much larger. If I use Option 2, what happens with Standard Previews that are generated when the SSD is connected to the laptop (therefore only 2880px) when I later connect the SSD to the desktop (which expects much larger Standard Previews)?

Thanks.
 

Zenon

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I have been using Option 1 for years when I travel. I may not have access to all my files at home but in a way I find that very refreshing.
 

Ian Farlow

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I have been using Option 1 for years when I travel.
Years ago when I used Lightroom I only had one computer to worry about. I never bothered with it on a laptop. Now that I'm back into dealing with photos, I started out by using Lightroom. It won't work for everything I want to do, so I'm starting over with Lightroom Classic, but the one thing that I found nice was the ability to get to any photo on either the laptop or the desktop if I wanted to.

Of course, there is no real reason for me to need to do that so I'll probably just end up going with Option 1. I can always sync with Lightroom Cloud if I need to. I'm still curious about opinions on either option, however.
 
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There is a third option.

I used Option 1 for years until Lightroom and the Adobe Cloud. Who really wants to take an EHD along when they travel. For that matter who want to lug a large laptop. You mention the issue with previews, It is simple enough to let Lightroom Classic regenerate previews once the travel catalog has been imported to the master catalog.

The easiest solution for me has been to incorporate Lightroom and the Adobe Cloud into the workflow. Use the cloud as follows:
  1. Sync as many photos from the master catalog as you deem necessary. These show up as proxy smart previews in the cloud with a long edge of 2560px. If you wish you can sync your whole catalog inventory as these do not count against your plan storage.
  2. Run Lightroom on a mobile device, phone tablet or laptop. I replaced my 13"MBP with a 12.9" iPadPro. Much lighter and easier to travel with.
  3. In Lightroom on the mobile device you can process your LrC cataloged images as you would if you were on the desktop.
    1. Keywords do not sync back from the cloud but everything else does. I leave keywords until I return home for that reason.
    2. Rather than delete from the cloud, I reject (X) while in the field. Choosing to delete once everything has synced back to the master catalog.
  4. Importing in the field is a little trickier. Full-size images are synced from the cloud down to the master catalog. These to count on your plan storage. If you have a 20GB plan you need to manage carefully so as not to exceed your plan limits. I chose to opt for the 1GB Photography plan because 20GB is actually less than my standard camera card.
  5. In the field I import from the camera card to Lightroom on my iPadPro. These are usually in my master catalog full sized by the time I return or within minutes of connecting my iPadPro to my home network.
I can simple work on images from any computer or mobile device where I happen to be. My desktop stays upstairs in my office and I use my iPadPro as a from end to Lightroom downstairs, importing all of my image first to the iPadPro.
 
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I believe you forget one thing with your two options: the location of the original images. You do not mention these in your options. As your images reside on your desktop computer, neither option gives you true ‘access to all your files’. You can use smart previews for on the road, but depending on what ‘access’ means to you, that may not be enough.
 

Ian Farlow

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For that matter who want to lug a large laptop.
I actually take my laptop everywhere for reasons beyond Lightroom, so I'll have it and might as well use it. I even use my laptop at home while sitting in the living room, so my iPad got downgraded to a new iPad mini. I only use the iPad for light consumption and for playing card games. So, I would prefer to use my laptop for Lightroom when mobile.

I'm starting to lean towards Option 2, but I still would like to know what happens with Standard Previews generated on the laptop (2880px) when I connect the SSD to the desktop. Lightroom on the desktop would want larger previews, so will it regenerate them, or simply use the smaller previews generated by the laptop?
 

Ian Farlow

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As your images reside on your desktop computer, neither option gives you true ‘access to all your files’.
Not exactly. With Option 1, the images would be on the desktop. With Option 2, they would be on the external SSD which means they are available wherever the SSD is.
 

Zenon

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Not exactly. With Option 1, the images would be on the desktop. With Option 2, they would be on the external SSD which means they are available wherever the SSD is.
I have considered that but like I said when I travel it forces me to go out, shoot and get new stuff to work on.
 
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I actually take my laptop everywhere for reasons beyond Lightroom, so I'll have it and might as well use it. I even use my laptop at home while sitting in the living room, so my iPad got downgraded to a new iPad mini. I only use the iPad for light consumption and for playing card games. So, I would prefer to use my laptop for Lightroom when mobile.

I'm starting to lean towards Option 2, but I still would like to know what happens with Standard Previews generated on the laptop (2880px) when I connect the SSD to the desktop. Lightroom on the desktop would want larger previews, so will it regenerate them, or simply use the smaller previews generated by the laptop?
Option three is still on the table. Simply install Lightroom (cloudy) on the MBP.
When you get ready for an new laptop, you might then consider an M1 iPadPro. I think with the M1 chip, the distinction between the table and the laptop will eventually disappear. When I retired my aging MBP, I found that the iPadPro could and did replace it for every need I had for a mobile laptop. I challenge you to name one task that requires the MacOS and can't be manages by iPadOS.
 

Ian Farlow

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Option three is still on the table. Simply install Lightroom (cloudy) on the MBP.
True.

When you get ready for an new laptop, you might then consider an M1 iPadPro. I think with the M1 chip, the distinction between the table and the laptop will eventually disappear.
Perhaps, but until that day comes I'll stick with a laptop instead of an iPad as a primary device.

I challenge you to name one task that requires the MacOS and can't be manages by iPadOS.
Music creation via Logic Pro.
 
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True.


Perhaps, but until that day comes I'll stick with a laptop instead of an iPad as a primary device.


Music creation via Logic Pro.

You can continue to use your MBP with Lightroom. I think it will be possible that Apple will eventually develop an iPadOS version of Logic Pro. Especially since the M1 chip is being used in Macs and IPadPros.

I use a product called Guitar Pro to create or transcribe music. Guitar Pro comes in both MacOS and iPadOS flavors.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 

Ian Farlow

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I think it will be possible that Apple will eventually develop an iPadOS version of Logic Pro.
Truth be told, I do imagine that the iPad will eventually replace the laptop as the only mobile option. It may be close now, but it my experience not all apps are ready for exclusive use on an iPad. Heck, Lightroom is a good example of this today. It’s good, but for some people it’s not a replacement for Lightroom Classic.

With regards to Logic Pro specifically, I remember when Apple dropped Aperture like it was nothing. I could see the same happening to Logic Pro before I could see a full fledged replacement on the iPad.
 
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Not exactly. With Option 1, the images would be on the desktop. With Option 2, they would be on the external SSD which means they are available wherever the SSD is.
You did not mention that, and that is why I pointed it out.
 
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