I wish Lightroom had a Save for Web function

by George Mann

Not all photographers are dependent on printing their images or having their image files reproduced in magazines and books (at least not all the time). And all current indicators say that in the future more and more photography will remain digital throughout it's entire lifespan. In other words I believe that the Internet and other forms of digital media are just as important now and probably will be more important than print production in the future.

Just as an example go to your local news stand and see how many Macintosh magazines you can find (there used to be quite a few), then go online and see how many Macintosh websites there are.

Unfortunately in Lightroom you have to trust the numbers and have no visual means of controling an image for digital output. Fortunately Adobe Photoshop CS does have a Save to Web function that allows you to see exactly (or pretty much exactly) what you are going to get before you post your image to your website or other digital application.

ps-saveforweb.jpg

The beauty of the Save For Web tool is that it allows you to see up to four images at one time that all have various degrees of JPEG compression applied to them. Rather than just guessing that Quality 60 will make an OK image at a reasonable size, you can actually see that a TIFF image that was 991K will go down to 83.8K at 60 Quality JPEG and that it will take 31 sec @ 28.8 Kbps to download on the Internet.

If the resulting image looks OK but is too large and too slow, you can try 55 Quality JPEG and see if that still works for you. Go too far down in the compression and you can see the image fall apart right on the screen.

ps-sfw-01.jpg

In this variation of the 4-Up screen you can see a comparison between the same image in TIFF, JPEG, GIF, and PNG-8 formats.

In order to use the Save for Web function on images I have developed in Lightroom, I export the image in TIFF or the highest resolution and size JPEG, open up in Photoshop CS, resize that image, apply an unsharp mask filter, and choose Save for Web.

5 Comments

James Duncan Davidson
2007-05-25 13:40:40
So far, I've been just accepting the default output from Lightroom for uploading to Flickr, and that's been acceptable for many things. But I agree, having Save For Web in Lightroom would be a huge boon in my own work. I think it makes a lot of sense.
Belle-Isle
2007-05-29 00:46:17
I agree that the digital output part of Lightroom is the weak point of this wonderful tool.
95% of the time, my pictures go to my website, so I don't need a slideshow or a print module.
What I'd like is a way to output pictures more efficiently than the Export function. In addition to what has already been said, I feel a folder tree management function would be useful, since your Raw file architecture does not always mirror or include your JPEG file structure...
Roy
2007-05-30 15:12:35
One of the first things I did with Lightroom was to set up a 'Blog Output' preset that lets me export at the size and quality I want. I agree that a more extensive web output feature would be useful, but I get by with the existing tools.
What would be nice would be an option to have watched folders with preset tagging, so that exported images would also be available in Lightroom without the need to import again. For now, I use iView in tandem with Lightroom to monitor where everything is.
Scott
2007-06-06 06:14:29
Hi George, thanks for this piece. However, it seems to beg the question of whether you trust Photoshop resize actions more than Lightroom's for maintaining quality and if so, why? You say that you export a TIFF or highest quality and size JPEG from Lightroom - why not just resize in Lightroom and then Save for Web in Photoshop?
George Mann
2007-06-06 07:00:48
It is quite possible that what you suggest will give me the same results, but I just feel better exporting the TIFF and doing the resizing and Save for Web in Photoshop CS.


The other factor is that once I have exported the image for use in Photoshop CS, I may feel like making some other adjustment in Photoshop CS before I do the Save for Web, so it is my best interest to have the highest quality image possible at that point.