Over the weekend I (re-)discovered that PhotoLab 3 has a Lightroom plugin that facilitates sending images back and forth. Because I only installed Lightroom after PhotoLab 3, this had not installed. Following the documentation, I got it installed and am delighted to find it works really well. So well, in fact, that I have reworked my processing flow for some significant improvements.
First up, I do not pay for Lightroom. I have a free Adobe account, which enables me to run Lightroom and use the Library module without restriction. The Develop module is non-functional. I have written elsewhere in this forum about my love for the way Lightroom handles keywords and this is the only reason I use it.
What I was doing was importing my images into Lightroom, adding keywords, saving the metadata to the files (DNG files) and then fully switching over to PhotoLab 3 to select, process, and export my images.
What I am doing now is using PhotoLab 3 only for the processing step. I import, keyword, still write those to file for resilience purposes, then audition and select those I want to process, all in Lightroom. Then with those images selected, I send them to PhotoLab 3.
When PhotoLab 3 opens, the images are all inside a newly created Project which is automatically opened, and so in the PhotoLab interface I am easily able to work with all of the images as I had previously. I use PhotoLab to get that legendary sharpness and noise reduction, plus all the other tweaks needed. When all of the photos are done, I return to the Project view, select them all, and click “Export to Lightroom.”
This step takes a while, between PhotoLab’s export and Lightroom spotting the newly arrived files and automatically importing them. The way they are imported is perfect. They are again in an automatically created Collection (like a PhotoLab Project), which makes the next steps easy, plus they are also placed in the same folder as the originals, and automatically stacked with their originals. Perfect!
All of the metadata from the originals is correctly transferred to the new, edited images, and I am now fully back in Lightroom mode with beautifully edited images and the export (and plugin) power of Lightroom to do the final exports.
The only significant downside I have yet to address is by choosing to return the edited files as DNG files, they grow in size by about 70%! It may be better to choose TIFF, or find a way to crunch the DNGs after the fact.
So now I have a fully (free) Lightroom photo process, but with the incredible processing power of PhotoLab — and very little downside! Thanks to DxO for doing a superb job with that plugin.