Lightroom: HEIC photos import with Metadata Status: Changed On Disk

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  • Problem
  • Updated 6 days ago
  • Solved
When HEIC photos from an iPhone are imported, they immediately have Metadata Status: Changed On Disk. Editing the photos changes the status to Conflict Detected.The incorrect status prevents metadata changes from being written to the .xmp sidecars when the option Automatically Write Changes Into XMP is enabled.

To reproduce:

1. Download and unzip these sample photos: https://www.dropbox.com/s/h9xwwlk11d3jdcc/heic-metadata-bug-2019-06-13.zip?dl=0

2. Import the photos into LR using the import option Add.

3. Wait a few seconds and notice the metadata status changes to Changed On Disk:



Tested on LR 8.3.1 / Mac OS 10.14.5 / Iphone 7 / Ios 12.1.4
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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Posted 2 months ago

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Bruce Forstall

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I also have seen this problem, on macOS Mojave 10.14.5, running Lightroom Classic 8.3.1. Note that the problem does not occur with Lightroom Classic CC 8.2.1 (I reverted to this version to double check), so this bug is new, starting with 8.3.

Starting with Lightroom Classic 8.3, when I import iPhone XS HEIC photos, I get an icon on each image indicating the Metadata Status is "Conflict detected." When I click on the icon, or the "Metadata Status" in the "Metadata" panel, I get a pop-up that says, "The metadata for this photo has been changed by both Lightroom and another application. Should Lightroom import settings from disk or overwrite disk settings with those from the catalog?" with buttons "Import Settings from Disk", "Cancel", and "Overwrite Settings".

I have never seen this before, but now I see it every time I try to import iPhone HEIC photos. I haven't changed the method I use to import iPhone photos.

It's frustrating because the icon shows up immediately. I have no other apps running (there presumably could be some background processing running that I'm unaware of). I also have no indication about what metadata has changed; Lightroom doesn't say what is different. So besides the fact I don't expect this "Conflict detected" state to exist, it's hard to make a decision about which option is the appropriate one to choose.

I import iPhone photos by letting my photos sync in iCloud (full resolution), open Apple Photos, select the photos, and export to a local drive with File->Export->Export Unmodified Originals... Then, I import these into Lightroom Classic using Import with the "Move" option to both import the photos and move them to be co-located with all my other Lightroom managed photos.

When I import Canon CR2 RAW files from a CF card via a CF card reader, I don't see this behavior.

I also reported this here: https://forums.adobe.com/message/11118757


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John R. Ellis, Champion

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LR has long had problems with spurious metadata conflicts (since LR 3, at least). If you're sure that you haven't changed a photo with an external application, it's safe to do Metadata > Save Metadata To File with Overwrite Settings.
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John R. Ellis, Champion

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I'm guessing this has something to do with the shortcut Adobe took implementing metadata for HEIC files. 

With all other non-raw files (JPEG, TIFF, PNG, PSD), LR uses the industry-standard metadata sections in the files themselves to store metadata.  But with raws, LR uses .xmp sidecars to store metadata, with the received wisdom being that raw formats (except DNG) are proprietary. (But do note that Adobe Camera Raw reads the proprietary raw files.)

But strangely, LR uses .xmp sidecars for HEIC files, even though HEIC has a well-defined industry standard for metadata (HEIC is based on QuickTime). I'm guessing that the product engineers didn't have a readily accessible code library for writing HEIC metadata and thus took the expedient route of using .xmp sidecars. This is ironic, since Adobe has resisted for years using .xmp sidecars for storing video metadata.

Since HEIC is the only non-raw still format using sidecars, there's probably some code path that's gotten confused about this.
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Smit Keniya, Employee

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Official Response
We have been able to reproduce this and loggeg a bug for the same.

Thanks,
Smit
Lightroom Classic
Adobe
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Phil Burton

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Have you been able to reproduce this bug on Windows?
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Smit Keniya, Employee

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We have been able to reproduce this bug on both macOS and Windows. We are working on this.
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Rita Emerick

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Any updates on when the fix will be rolled out?
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Michael Becker

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled “Metadata Was Changed Externally” on all imported photos since Lightroom Classic ....

Here are the steps to reproduce the issue:
Install Lightroom Classic 8.3 on macOS 10.14.5
Create a catalog
Import a photo
The photo will have the “Metadata Was Changed Externally” icon
 
Here are the steps to restore the expected behavior:
Install Lightroom Classic 8.2 on macOS 10.14.5
Create a catalog
Import a photo
The photo will not have any warning icon
 
Please correct the bug 8.3 to show the correct behavior of 8.2
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Jeremy Elgar

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just to add another datapoint, I have the same issue and it is reproducible just by taking a photo on my iPhone, adding it to CC on my phone and letting it sync to ClassicI
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Janis Coltin

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I have also encountered this issue as described in the original post. It is annoying to have to address this issue for every imported photo. Please prioritize a fix to correct this bug. 
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Rikk Flohr, Official Rep

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Lightroom Classic 8.4 was released today and contained a fix for this issue. Please update to 8.4 and verify that you are no longer seeing the issue. Thank you!
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Michael Becker

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Thank you very much.
I imported HEIC with 8.4 and can confirm that now it's fine.
Kind regards.Michael 
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Bruce Forstall

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Looks like it's working with 8.4. Thanks!