Lightroom Classic 9.0: Changed HEIC Metadata doesn't seem to get reloaded

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  • Problem
  • Updated 5 months ago
  • Solved
  • (Edited)
There is a problem with automatically detecting external metadata changes in HEIC files.

I have Lightroom Classic (9.0, latest 11/2019 version) installed on two
networked computers as allowed by the license: a desktop and a laptop.
Both machines have "automatically write updates into XMP" set.

Once I import and develop our travel photos on my desktop, my wife synchronizes the pictures folder on her laptop, sometimes adds captions, and picks photos to print for scrapbooks by setting those photos to "Green". I then synchronize the shared pictures folder on my desktop and order prints of the ones she picked.

This system works great for .JPG and DNG files produced by my Nikon SLR.  But we also use our iPhones at times when I don't want to carry the SLR.  On this last trip, I set our iPhones to produce HEIC files because Lightroom now supports these.  After importing and developing, we set the color of the photos on the laptop to green, I synchronized the folders on my desktop and while the green color appears on the JPG and DNG files, the color does NOT appear on the HEIC files unless I manually "Reload Metatadata From Files".  I can go to the laptop, set the color, and force the metadata to be saved -- it still doesn't appear in Lightroom on the Desktop if I only synchronize the folder.  I have to "Reload Metadata" on the photos and then the color appears.

The colored HEIC files are also not marked as being in conflict on either machine (don't know about captions or titles as none of these had those). Lightroom is simply not detecting that the color metadata has changed on disk because "synchronize folder" doesn't pick up the color change, but "Reload Metadata" does.

Adobe: please reproduce this and fix.  Both machines have Adobe version 9.0, Camera Raw 12.0, and the about box says "Build [201910151439-b660523e].  Thanks!
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Uwe Baemayr

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Posted 8 months ago

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John R. Ellis, Champion

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Synchronize Folder doesn't read changed metadata for .heic files. Here's a simple recipe that reproduces the bug:

1. Put two photos, a.jpg and a.heic, into a folder by themselves and import them into LR.

2. Clear the photos' captions, color labels, and star rating and do Metadata > Save Metadata To File.

3. Use ExifTool on a.jpg and a.xmp to set the labels to Red, the caption to "mycaption", and the rating to 5:

exiftool -xmp:label=Red -xmp:description=mycaption -xmp:rating=5 a.jpg a.xmp

(Note that LR uses .xmp sidecars for .heic files even though the HEIC format supports metadata.)

4. In LR's Folders panel, right-click the folder and do Synchronize Folder. Check the option Scan For Metadata Updates and click Synchronize.

5. Note that a.jpg gets the changed label, caption, and rating, but a.heic does not.

6. Select both photos and do Metadata > Read Metadata From File.

7. Note that a.heic now has the changed label, caption, and rating.

Most likely, when support for .heic files was added to LR, the developer forgot to modify Synchronize Folder to check the corresponding .xmp file.
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Smit K, Employee

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We have been able to reproduce this issue and logged a bug for the same.
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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Excellent, thanks.
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Rikk Flohr, Official Rep

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Updates to Lightroom Classic, Camera Raw, and the Lightroom Ecosystem were released yesterday and contain a fix for this issue.  Please install the appropriate update and see if it solves this problem. You can read more about the updates here.

Thank you for your patience. 
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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I tested the bug recipe above and it now behaves correctly in LR 9.2, thanks.
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Uwe Baemayr

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I just synchronized some Lightroom Classic image folders containing iPhone HEIC photos that are stored on my desktop with Lightroom Classic on my laptop over my network, and the colors and tags appeared in Lightroom on the laptop!  So it does look like the problem has been fixed.  It also looked like synchronizing was a bit more reliable than in the past, with no photos in conflict -- that's been a problem in the past, where Lightroom on the laptop seems to believe files were changed locally when they were not altered.  I do wish there was a way to see more detail about what the conflicts are when this happens.  But in the meantime, thanks for the fixes!
(Edited)