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Raw + JPEG Pairs #1
Jim Pappas's picture
by Jim Pappas
March 15, 2015 - 11:07pm

I’ve been an avid Aperture user and I am getting ready for a transition to LR.   In Aperture, I would import using RAW+JEPG (using JPEG as the original).  My reason (I believe I learned this from Robert Boyer) was because out of the camera with no processing, JPEG generally looks better than RAW.    Hence, during the early stages of organization… you get a better idea of the quality of the photo looking at the JPEG.

Aperture binds the RAW + JPEG originals to each photo, and allows you to switch between the two at ease.   I would switch to RAW before doing any image editing because of the increased latitude available.

What should I expect in Lightroom?  Will both the JPEG and RAW originals transfer over?  Will they be associated with one photo, or will they be two separate photos?   Should I switch 100% of my photos over to “RAW as Original” within aperture before changing over?

I *THINK* that LR does not bind them together… and as a result, I will switch to an “only RAW” workflow.    I’ll live with that restriction, but I want to make the transition as easy and error free as possible.


/Jim Pappas

PhotoJoseph's picture
by PhotoJoseph
March 18, 2015 - 1:20pm

RAW+JPEG management is horrible in Lightroom. It's one of my biggest frustrations, because I nearly *always* shoot RAW+JPEG now. I do this because I've dialed in a look to my cameras, and often switch between looks, that I actually quite like. I'll only go to the RAW file now if I need to edit the photo. For many projects, the JPEG is client-ready. For others, I use the JPEG as a client proof (i.e. if I'm shooting B&W for a project and the client is looking over my shoulder, they can see B&W images as I go), then edit a version from RAW for delivery.

Anyway in Lr it's nonexistent. You can tell to not ignore JPEG files (which is a setting in preferences, not in import) so you do actually get them off the card, but that's where it ends. After import, I search for JPG and put them in one collection, then search for RAW and put them in another. I will preview the JPEG files with the client and then not the file numbers, search for, and tag the RAWs for editing.

It's insanely bad. I have had conversations with Adobe about this. If it's fixed in Lr 6… say thank ya ;-) 

— Have you signed up for the mailing list?

Jim Burgess's picture
by Jim Burgess
March 18, 2015 - 7:16pm


Have you explored the use of stacks in LR to possibly make RAW+JPEG handling a little easier?

Using your example, here’s an approach using stacks that doesn’t use collections, and automates the selection of corresponding RAWs..

- Import the RAWs and JPEGs as separate images, i.e., the LR preferences setting “Treat JPEG files next to…” is checked. And BTW I totally agree this should be an import option like it is in Aperture, not a global option.

- Next stack the RAW+JPEG pairs using auto-stacking (select Photos->Stacking->”Auto-Stack by Capture Time…”). Set the “Time Between Stacks” slider to zero. This should stack the RAW+JPEG pairs together. I say “should” because I had difficulties with this feature in the past when shooting a high-speed burst of images. It just wasn’t reliable…maybe they’ve improved it. It does seem to work properly when shooting a frame at a time. The dialog also offers some help in that it tells you how many stacks you’ll end up with.

- Now collapse all the stacks using the menu option “Collapse All Stacks”. You could also select all the images and use “Toggle Stacks” - keyboard shortcut S. At this point either only the JPEGs or only the RAWs will be displayed depending on the extension used for your RAW files. I.e., for Nikon images JPEGs will be displayed, for Canon images RAWs will be displayed, etc. If RAWs are displayed, select all and push the RAWs down the stacks using the “Move Down in Stack” menu option – keyboard Shift-]. Only the JPEGs should now be displayed.

- At this point you can go through the JPEGs making selections by using ratings or pick flags with the RAWs out of the way.

To flag the RAW images that correspond to your flagged JPEGs, do this:

- With the stacks collapsed, filter so only the rated or flagged JPEG images are displayed, then select all of them.

- Turn off the filter. All the JPEGs are displayed with the flagged images still selected.

- Expand the selected stacks using the S key.

- Push the selected images down the stacks using the shift-] keyboard shortcut.

- Collapse the stacks using the S key. At this point the RAWs corresponding to the selected JPEGs will be selected, but note they aren’t flagged or rated.

- Flag or rate the selected RAW images. You now have a set of rated RAW+JPEG pairs.

Obviously this approach won’t be applicable for all workflows, but it does show that using stacks can help with the management of RAW+JPEG pairs. Also be aware that LR does not permit stacks with images located in different folders, so that could complicate some scenarios as well.

Jim Pappas's picture
by Jim Pappas
March 18, 2015 - 7:01pm

So as far as the transition, what is the most effective process?

Most of my Aperture originals are as follows:

  1. RAW+JPEG (RAW as original) from my DLSRs for edited photos
  2. RAW+JPEG (JPEG as original) from my DSLRs for unedited photos
  3.  JPEG only (from 10’s of thousands of scanned film or years of family P&S)

My assumption is to follow the following processes respectively for the 3 categories above

  1. Create a new TIFF image for each of my edited photos, since Aperture adjustments do not migrate to LR.  Then migrate the RAW original and the TIFF edit as two separate images
  2. Convert all RAW+JPEG (JPEG as original) to RAW+JPEG (RAW as original)
  3. Leave them as JPEG… since there is no really good other option

I’m currently using a managed Aperture library (about 440GB) and will be converting it to a referenced library prior to the transition.   I am not 100% sure what happens when I create a referenced library.   Do I get both JPEG and RAW originals, or only the one that is selected as the bound.  Obviously… this is easy for me to test on my own.  ;)

In LR, I will probably dump the concept of RAW+JPEG… but I’m not sure.   I loved the way Aperture handled the pairs… and it seems that LR is vastly inferior.

I am going to try really hard to learn to love LR.   So far, I am skeptical if I will succeed.


/Jim Pappas

Jim Pappas's picture
by Jim Pappas
March 18, 2015 - 11:53pm

Jim Burgess:  When you stack the JPEG and RAW images as a pair… is all of your metadata work (eg:  keywording, geotagging, etc) limited to the stack pick (using A3 terms)… or to every image in the stack?  I am assuming that it only applies to the pick.

If so, then the stacking technique is is  probably not that useful regarding DAM operations.  Likewise, Joseph’s approach of having two separate collections for JPEG and RAW may not be that useful either.

Is it logical to conclude that switching to a 100% workflow of always using either RAW or JPEG originals (but never both) is prudent?


/Jim Pappas

Jim Burgess's picture
by Jim Burgess
March 19, 2015 - 1:09pm


In LR, applying metadata to images in stacks behaves just like it does in Aperture, i.e., the metadata is only applied to the selected images in the stack. So if the stack is closed the metadata is applied to only the top image. To apply it to all images in the stack, again as in Aperture, you have to expand the stack and select all the images. In LR, however, the process is much easier than it is in Aperture since any metadata applied via the metadata and keyword panels is applied to all the selected images. Unlike Aperture which is inconsistent in that regard and forces you into using the poorly designed batch change feature.

The way Aperture handles a RAW+JPEG pair is well designed in that metadata is applied to both types of images, just as it should be. 

The point of the discussion is that LR’s handling of RAW+JPEG pairs sucks, and it does. And I was not advocating that stacks is a replacement for the poor handing of RAW+JPEG pairs in LR, because it is a long way from it. I was merely pointing out that use of stacks can possibly help with the handling of pairs in LR, and offers a way to keep the related images together.

Regarding always using either RAW or JPEG but not both… I think that varies all over the place depending on a photographer’s requirements, workflow, performance issues and more. I find myself still using all 3 methods with Aperture. If I switch back to LR, I’ll likely use RAW+JPEG a lot less. Unless they fix their design… and I’m not holding my breath on that based on their responsiveness to other suggested design changes in LR

Jim Pappas's picture
by Jim Pappas
March 20, 2015 - 2:42am


Thank you for the explanation.   My expectation was that stacks in fact work the same as they do in Aperture.

This leaves me with a dilemma.

  • I have many thousands of RAW+JPEG pairs in Aperture
  • An Aperture referenced library will have both the RAW + JPEG originals side by side in each project.
  • Likewise, if I export originals, then I will still have RAW+JPEG separate originals side by side.
  • When I import those into LR, I will end up with two images (vs the one I have in Aperture)
  • As far as I know (but I am not sure)… I cannot instruct LR to only import the RAW images. (is this assumption correct?)
  • Hence… it sounds like I will either have to live with double photos in LR, or go through a tedious process of deleting certain photos after I import them into LR.

Yuck… this sounds like the digital age version of life before digital… where people would order double prints… and then never separating them… hence flipping through a stack of photos and seeing each one twice.  ;)

If you have any suggestions on automating dumping the JPEG masters (just those with an associated RAW pair), I would love to hear the option.



/Jim Pappas

Jim Pappas's picture
by Jim Pappas
March 20, 2015 - 4:53am

I did some testing… and I am greatly relieved.

I exported a few projects out of Aperture using:

  • Export Originals
  • Subfolder Format: Project Name
  • Name Format: Original File Name
  • Metadata: Create IPTC4XMP Sidecar Files

When I imported these into Lightroom 4.4, the result was:

  • Only the RAW files were imported
  • Metadata (GPS, Stars, Keywords) all moved over fine

Note that if you use a different name format (such as “custom name with counter”… then the JPEG and RAW photos both import into LR since they have different names.   It seems that LR will choose RAW only if the RAW and JPEG file names are the same.

Also, LR has a preferences option “Treat JPEG image next to RAW as a separate image”.   That also needs to remain unchecked.

It seems that it will be fairly easy to migrate over, and switch to a workflow of having RAW-only originals for all of my pre-existing RAW+JPEG images.

As I mentioned… I am relieved.   I thought I was in for a mess.



/Jim Pappas

Jim Burgess's picture
by Jim Burgess
March 20, 2015 - 2:36pm

Good to hear you’ve worked out an approach that works for you. As you discovered, the preference setting is the key to controlling the import of RAW+JPEG pairs with LR. Unfortunately, it is the ONLY control, it’s very limited, and it’s in the wrong place–it’s a global setting and should be an import setting. What were they thinking?


Jim Pappas's picture
by Jim Pappas
March 20, 2015 - 3:51pm

I believe my approach will be to give up on RAW+JPEG pairs since I can’t envision a way to use both given the limitations of LR in this area.

Right now, I am more in the planning stages, so most of my actual work is in Aperture.   I’ll be doing experiments on various aspects of the migration, and making sure that my Aperture library is optimized for the transition.

Thanks again for your help.   I’ll be asking more questions on various topics.


/Jim Pappas

Pete's picture
by Pete
April 9, 2015 - 4:45pm

Hi Jim,

that is as well a key feature, that is preventing me from switching to LR or C1 for now.

Other than you I’m not willing to change my shooting style because of the limitations in LR or C1. In the long run I still hope either will get RAW+JPEG pairs support or a new player might hit the market, that has this feature. Until then Aperture will at least be responsible for the DAM part of my workflow. I’m currently investigating in easier ways to roundtrip to external editors without the overhead of storing huge TIFF or PSD files.

Davidset's picture
by Davidset
April 25, 2015 - 7:35pm

Has anyone found any change in the way Lightroom CC handles Raw+Jpeg pairs yet?

Just want to make sure that if there was a change I don’t miss it.

David s


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