How To Convert Raw Files To JPEG In Adobe Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom is one of the best programs for organizing and manipulating photos. In fact, most photographers prefer Lightroom to Photoshop, as it makes editing digital images extremely easy, and the image management system is second to none!

Another advantage of Lightroom is the ability to upload raws directly onto the program, rather than via the Adobe Bridge for Photoshop.

Yet, despite how easy most of Lightroom’s interface and features are to use, there is one aspect of the software that seems to have quite a few photographers stumped…raw to JPEG conversions.

Not to worry, though, fellow shutterbug. I’m going to be breaking the process down for you right here, right now with an easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide.

But before we dig into the meat of the article, I want to briefly run over a few essentials.

What Is A “Raw”?

For the uninitiated, a “raw” is a file of raw data, meaning the information within the file is yet to be processed. Well, actually…that’s not strictly true.

There has been a small amount of processing on the camera sensor’s part in order for it to present the information to us in the first place, but other than that, it’s a squeaky clean, all-natural file.

To understand the beauty of raws, we first need to discuss compression. Compression is a process that shrinks a file down by stripping away the least important data. As the newly formed file isn’t giving you the full picture (literally), it’s known as a lossy format.

Raw files contain a lot more information than JPEGs because they’re yet to be compressed. In light of this, raw image files are more nuanced and detailed. 

You can think of JPEGs like the MP3s of the photography world. They look fine to most observers, but they’re simply not as high quality as other file formats.

These digital files are not to be confused with film photography.

If Raw Files Are So Much Better, Why Convert Them to JPEGs?

This is a fantastic question. Why are we striving to degrade the quality of our shots? Surely we should be trying to keep as many details intact as possible, right? Well…yes and no.

Raw files are perfectly fine for us photographers, as we have the complex, often expensive software capable of displaying them — thanks Lightroom. But the average Joe, the one you’re hoping to sell your work to, does not.

Converting our raws into JPEGs allows others to view the images, which is kind of the idea of photography.

Then there’s file size to consider. Raws contain way more information than JPEGs, which unfortunately means that they take up a lot more storage space. Compressing these files into the JPEG format frees up tons of storage real estate.

This shrinkage also makes JPEGs much easier and quicker to send to people over the internet, which is essential when sharing large amounts of photographs with clients — they don’t want to be waiting around for weeks on end.

Convert Raw to JPEG in Lightroom

How To Import Raw Files into Lightroom

We’re getting close to the punch here, I promise, but before we can work with our raws in Lightroom, we first have to upload them, which can be done by…

1. Linking your camera or storage device to your computer.

You’ll usually need a USB or Micro USB cable to hook your device up to your computer.

2. Opening the Lightroom software.

Once Lightroom has loaded, you should see a “Devices” list pop up on the right-hand side of the screen. If your device has been recognized, it will be featured in this list. If it’s not appearing, try “ejecting” it, pulling the cable from your computer, then re-inserting it.

3. Selecting your device.

Lightroom will then open a menu displaying thumbnails of the images stored on said device. If any of the thumbnails have a grayish hue, that means that they’ve already been uploaded onto Lightroom.

4. Selecting your raws.

Once you’ve chosen the raw files you wish to upload into Lightroom, you’re given four options, “Move”, “Copy”, “Add”, or “Copy as DNG Files”. These options are displayed in the top middle of the screen.

For uploading raws, you need either the Copy or Move option. Copy makes a copy (obviously) of your chosen image(s), and uploads it to Lighthouse with all the original formatting. Move allows you to take the file from your device, and place it into Lighthouse.

5. Selecting the preview quality.

The preview quality menu can be found on the right-hand side of the screen.

6. Rename your files.

If you copied your files, you may want to give them their own Lightroom identity.

7. Leave the “Apply During Import” settings blank.

You just want the raw, unfiltered files.

8. Apply your metadata to the images.

This will help you find your photos in the future.

9. Choose a location for the files (copied files only).

Your files need a new home.

10. Select “Import”.

The Import button can be found in the bottom right-hand corner of the display.

How To Convert Raw To JPEG In Lightroom – The Final Word

There you have it, folks; it’s as simple as that. While you can’t convert Lightroom raw files completely in-house, all you have to do is select your images, then export them as JPEGs.

You can then re-upload these new files back onto Lightroom for editorial work as well as to keep things organized — perfect!