Lightroom Classic: Is it possible to use XMP files with DNG?

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This conversation has been merged. Please reference the main conversation: Lightroom/Camera Raw: Store the xmp metadata outside DNG, jpeg etc file to be backup efficient

It was suggested that I bring this discussion over here from another forum, so I apologize if you've seen this before.

I have used XMP files since the very beginning of Lightroom. It's a handy way of having an "instant backup" of changes just in case something ever happens to my Lightroom Catalog.  I love the safety net that XMP files give me.

A year and a half ago (after 15 years with Canon) I switched to the Sony a7iii.  The biggest downside to that is that Sony's ARW files are 47mb each.  But if I use the Adobe DNG Converter, I can losslessly compress them down to just 27mb each.  As I shoot thousands upon thousands of images each month, that 20mb per image savings is huge.  Especially when you take into account backups.  

However, there is one big thing I hate about using DNG files.  And that is that every time I make a change in Lightroom (change a star rating, adjust exposure, crop, etc) that 27mb DNG file needs to be backed up.  AGAIN.  Because unlike my Canon raw files, with XMP sidecar files, the DNG files are written back to whenever I make any changes.  

Is there any way to change Lightroom to write to a tiny XMP file every time I make a change, rather than modifying my 27mb DNG files?  I would much rather backup and rebackup tiny little XMP files.  It makes no sense to have to backup an entire 27mb file just because a few bytes inside of it have changed.  And it costs me money (I have to pay extra to Internet provider as I go over their imposed limits). 

For a real world example, let's say I shoot 64GB worth of files for a wedding.  It backs up 64GB worth of files right after I get home and import the files into my system.  It'll be a few weeks before I get to the wedding, but when I do, I'm going to rate all of the images.  Now they all get backed up again (that's an extra 64GB needlessly being backed up).  I probably won't finish all of my edits in one day, so the next day as I continue editing... any remaining files that get changed will be backed up again.  And again.  And again, for as long as I keep making changes inside of Lightroom.  See how this is suboptimal?  Certainly it's not a lot of money, but it all adds up and is costing me extra for my Internet usage because it is metered.  Whereas if it was using XMP files, then only tiny (what, 10K?) files change as I make my LR edits and that is all that has to be backed up, with XMP files the much larger raw files remain unchanged.

So for me ... DNG storing internally any changes is expensive.  I would love to have an XMP option if it were available.  It would reduce how often my local drives get hit with backups as well as the my internet cost for backing them up. 
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David Terry

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Posted 7 months ago

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Tom Mickow

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Not possible, as far as I know.  If you use DNG, your edits will be written to the files themselves, not XMPs.  Your options, as I see them, are - 

1) Go back to using your ARW's.  It drives me nuts when people say this, but the truth is storage actually IS really cheap these days.  The cost is in the time & effort of managing that storage, backing it up, etc.

2) Find a backup solution that only sends the deltas when files change.   I'm not 100% sure, but I believe Backblaze is one that works that way.

3) Change your workflow.  Turn off the auto-write to XMP so Lr keeps your changes only in the catalog to begin with, then when you're "done", manually save the metadata to the file(s).
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Santhad Suebsart

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Hi. David
I choose the Copy as DNG and then determine the destination folder Drives in other sources. Lightroom Classic CC. To process the backup Raw files, that is. DNG, which is separate from the work in the process of processing conditions of the program, it's great that folder is not 
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Johan Elzenga, Champion

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As mentioned in the other forum, XMP files are not a good backup. There are quite a few things that aren't written to XMP, such as flags, stacks, edit history, collection memberships, and virtual copies. Make regular backups of your catalog, then you don't need XMP files at all.
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John Kjellberg

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I believe you can force LR to write to XMPs if you want. Go to catalog settings - metadata - and tick “automatically write changes to XMP”. I haven’t tried it but it sounds like what you’re looking for. Good way of minimising traffic. 
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Johan Elzenga, Champion

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Nope. That will not create XMP files if the original is a DNG, only if the original is a proprietary raw file.
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John Kjellberg

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Sorry, I think I got it wrong. You'll have to change your DNG-files to "Read only" too. But maybe I got it wrong again?
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Johan Elzenga, Champion

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Locking a DNG will indeed force Lightroom to write a sidecar file, but that doesn’t sound like a very useful workflow to me. Making regular catalog backups is a lot easier. I’m also not sure that Lightroom will read those XMP files if you would ever need them as a backup. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were ignored, and instead the embedded metadata would be read...

My advice is to use Lightroom as it was designed, rather than trying to rely on some hack that may, or then again may not, work.
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john beardsworth

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The locking trick only works in Bridge, not Lightroom, and it produces the problems that Johan describes. Lightroom will not know whether to read the sidecar or the embedded XMP.

DNGs are designed so they don't need sidecar XMP files. If you use them, you adapt your workflow and backup practices.

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