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The awesomest feature in Adobe Lightroom 5.

 
The sin­gle hottest, coolest, awe­somest, and hand­i­est fea­ture in Light­room since ver­sion 1 is.…Smart Previews!

Why? Sim­ply put, we can now edit our images in Light­room 5 with­out hav­ing access to the orig­i­nal files.

Smart Pre­views are high-quality “clones” or “stand-ins” of your orig­i­nal images, with the added ben­e­fit that they have a highly reduced file size (about 5%) of the orig­i­nal pho­to­graph. Unlike the old “dumb” Pre­views we now have access to all the tools in the Library and Develop Mod­ules. The best part is that once we con­nect the Cat­a­log to the orig­i­nal files, any edits we made are synced up and applied auto­mat­i­cally.

There are four ways to cre­ate Smart Pre­views in Light­room 5:

1. On Import, sim­ply select “cre­ate smart previews”

Lightroom Smart Previews - Import

2. Under Pref­er­ences, go to the “Gen­eral” tab, and enable “Build smart pre­views dur­ing import.”

Lightroom Smart Previews -Preferences

3. In the Library Mod­ule, go to Library/Previews/Build Standard-Sized Previews

Lightroom Smart Previews - Library

4. And last but not least, in the Develop Mod­ule, click on “Orig­i­nal Photo” (right below the His­togram), and then click on “Build Smart Pre­view.“

Lightroom Smart Previews - Develop

When NOT to work with Smart Pre­views? I can think of three sit­u­a­tions right away:

1. If you are sharp­en­ing or work­ing with noise reduc­tion.
2. If your image is very under or over­ex­posed.
3. For print­ing. Just because you can print Smart Pre­views doesn’t mean you should.

What about you? Do you find Smart Pre­views use­ful? Can you think of other sit­u­a­tions where you would not use them?