Create a Smaller, Emailable Copy of Your RAW Photo Using Lightroom’s Export


Need to send someone some RAW photographs but hate the fact that they weigh tens of megabytes each? You can actually resize the files to smaller sizes quite easily in Lightroom, making sending small copies back and forth a snap.

It’s a built-in feature that’s a part of the software’s Export tool. To get started, let’s find a hefty RAW file that would be a pain to send through email. This one weighs in at 26.1 megabytes:


Right click the photograph, and select Export->Export:


In the resulting menu, choose DNG as your image format, select Medium for JPEG Preview, and check the “Use Lossy Compression” box. Under Image Sizing (the panel underneath File Settings), click the Resize to Fit box, make sure it’s set to Long Edge, and set the size to 2560 pixels (or whatever size you’d like to send):


Once you have those settings down, click the Export button to save the DNG file to your computer. In the case of the RAW file used in this example, we were able to drop the file size from 26.1MB to a very emailable 1.7MB!


The tradeoff to all this is that you’re sending a lower-res, lossy version of the original RAW file. It’s not the original, but it’s a RAW file that you can easily share and get feedback on.

(via Victoria Bampton via George Jardine via John Nack)

  • Epo

    What is the point of using DNG if it’s going to be lossy? It’s harder for your friends to view. So you might as well just export a PNG or JPEG

  • Matt

    Why? If it is resized and lossy it really is not a RAW anymore.

  • Brawndo

    But RAW’s got what plants crave.

  • Jared

    So they can have full control over white balance. PNG and JPG have the white balance “baked” into the JPG PNG files without much room for adjusting it.


    It’s just a smaller version of the RAW file with less pixels, like a Medium RAW file. You don’t get the option to make Medium or Small RAW files in-camera unless you have the professional series of cameras like the 60D, 5DM3, etc. The T3i,T4i, T5i only give you an option for Large RAW.

  • Marc van der Veen

    Ik was kinda wondering what the benefit of selecting a smaller RAW file would be in my 60D. I still don’t see the value of selecting RAW for extra data in your image etc. ├índ selecting a smaller one, thus not fully using the capabilities. Enlighten me please.

  • Color editor

    The main usage of this feature is for sending large amounts of photos (i.e. weddings) to editors. The editors can still set white balance and do tonal corrections, then export a set of XMPs to send back to the photographer.

  • Round Colour

    This would be fantastic for photographer/retoucher workflow.
    But the xmp generated by a read-only compressed dng are not usable by the full dng or original raw. The only way to transfer the settings applied in Lightroom by a retoucher is to manually copy and paste the settings from the compressed raw file to the original one. Doing this one by one for a 400 image wedding is an incredible waste of time!

  • klaus44

    you can use LRs Smart Previews feature for that. It’s based on a lossy DNG files and the settings get synced back to your original file as soon as it’s available again.
    You just need to export them as a catalog…

  • Round Colour

    True, unfortunately not all our clients have Lightroom 5 and we can’t force them to buy it…

  • K S B

    You forgot the 5DMk2. We have SRAW1 and SRAW2 too.

  • Round Colour

    Unfortunately the XMPs created from a compressed DNG are only good for themselves. Lightroom or ACR ignores them when placed beside the original RAW or DNG file.

  • bo b

    why sharing your raws in the first place?

  • Color Editor

    you can still use them if you put them through a process that edits the xmps. Literally takes less than 1 minute to get them working.

  • Guest

    If they just send the file back and he/she just copy the settings in Lightroom over to the original raw it’s no problem at all.

  • markx

    if you are sending them to your layout or touch up artist for proofing….

    also as you can get, for most purposes, good prints up to A3+ from even 3 to 6 mp image I could do this for selected shots taken on the road without blowing out storage or worrying about low bandwidth while on the road.

  • Peng Tuck Kwok

    As proof of ownership ?

  • louisleblanc

    Timelapse would be something that comes to mind. You want the latitude of a RAW file but you don’t need the full resolution of the file as you’ll probably be ending up with a 1080p video.

  • yankeesam

    so there is a solution but you’re not willing to accept it because you are too pussy to ask your client to fork out fifty bucks for an upgrade. dude just buy them an upgrade, it’ll save you that much within a day and they will love you for the free gift.

  • Round Colour

    Most of the time upgrade is not possible because they’re using a hardware controller with software not ready for Lightroom 5. Obviously Smart Previews is the way to go, but this post is about small raw and its possible usage.

  • Round Colour

    Care to share the method? As far as I know several lines in the xmps would need to be edited in order to make them compatibles with the original raw file.