Why Is Lightroom Exporting Such Small Files?

Lightroom is a powerful post-processing tool that has become a necessity for many photographers. Not only can it edit photos, but it acts as a photo management tool as well. But what happens when files are exported at a much smaller size than expected?

Often, files are uploaded to Lightroom in RAW format, which is a large file size with a lot of information. When a file is exported from Lightroom, it is usually done in the form of a JPEG. This is a compressed file format, meaning the file size is smaller than the original upload.

Seeing a file shrink from 25MB to 800KB can come as a bit of a shock. Keep reading for more information on why Lightroom exports such small file sizes.

Why Are You Lightroom Exports So Small?

There are several reasons why exported finalized photos from Lightroom are so small. However, it’s not as detrimental to your photo as it might seem. In fact, it is completely normal that Lightroom is exporting much smaller files.

To start with, many photographers shoot in RAW with cameras that have a lot of megapixels. Because of the vast amount of information these files hold, they are generally quite large.

Images in RAW format are not compressed. The way these files are saved in Lightroom enables you to always have access to the original pictures. However, once editing is done, the file needs to be exported in a different format.

The compression technology built into JPEG is very effective. When you export to JPEG, data that was present before compression is lost and the pixel values that are produced are lossy compressed. However, you won’t be able to tell the difference because of how cleverly this is done. JPEGs will always be smaller than their RAW file sources as a result.

How Do You Export A Full Size In Lightroom?

When exporting photos from Lightroom, you want to do so without losing quality. This generally means you’ll want full-sixed files, which usually results in large file sizes.

If you are exporting for print, using a full-sized file is recommended. However, if your photos are intended for use in the digital space, large image files are not necessary. Still, full-sized is generally the norm. Follow these steps to export full-sized images in Lightroom.

Choose Which Files To Export

One of the appealing aspects of Lightroom is batch editing. This also means that you can export multiple images at a time without having to repeat the process for each one. So, your first step is to select your photos.

Once your files are chosen, click the Export button to open the Export dialog box. From here, set the save destination and either choose an export preset or specify custom export settings.

Select Export Settings

If you want to export your photos using the presets that already exist within Lightroom, simply select the preset and click export. These Lightroom presets may include:

  • Burn Full-Sized JPEGs
  • Export to PNG
  • For Email
  • Social (Facebook, Instagram, Web)

The preset export options in Lightroom have basic functionality that may make them seem convenient, but may also prevent you from getting the best results.

Another approach is to manually specify each export option. As a result, you have more control over the export process and can select the precise options that are best for each format.

You can then select export settings for quality and color space based on the format you select. Additionally, there are options for image sizing in the Export dialog box. These options can be based on predefined dimensions, a maximum width or height, or a predetermined resolution.

Exporting From Lightroom: What Is The Best Setting?

How you export your photos will depend on how those images will be used.

Prints for photography, for instance, can range in size from wallet-sized images to extra-large, frame-ready prints. One of the biggest export concerns is making sure the photos maintain the highest level of quality because they can be printed in very large formats.

On the other hand, there are a variety of uses for images created for online use, so you should make sure you have the best Lightroom export settings for the web. Each photographer will have different preferences, but when it comes to exporting images from Lightroom for online viewing, a smaller file size takes precedence over an exceptionally high resolution.

Final Thoughts

This article hopefully gave you a better understanding of why Lightroom is exporting such small files. Knowing how to export photos from Lightroom is only one aspect of the multi-functional program. However, this knowledge can help you avoid mishaps such as poor image quality or image size limitations in printing.