Organizer to Lightroom…almost

This entry is part 5 of 12 in the series Lightroom

Over the holidays I considered converting my photo catalog from Photoshop Elements Organizer to Photoshop Lightroom’s Library.   There are lots of reasons to convert but the overriding item for me is how the Library and Develop pieces are more integrated than in my current work flow.   On top of that Lightroom allows me more access to meta data which as time goes on will be more and more important.   After I set up a test catalog in Lightroom to see how things would look I found the steps I used to catalog images in Organizer would be about the same in Lightroom.  At that point the decision was made.

Now to convert.  I thought it couldn’t be all that hard to convert because Lightroom has an “Import from Elements” option built right in.  Software developers you can stop reading here, you know what happens next…

As with any conversion there are some things which must be done to the ‘source’ data to make it more usable in the ‘target’ system.  I carefully read several posts on the preparation needed and once done I fired it off.  Happily I could sit and watch as Lightroom imported my photos and tags and went about the process of organizing every thing in the Library.  In a geeky way it was fun!

When the conversion finished the first thing I noticed is that some of my Organizer Tags did not land in the Lightroom keywords in the same hierarchy.  As I snooped around some and I found the keywords outside the hierarchy were simply duplicated so deleting them would solve that issue.  Various discussions around the Adobe Lightroom forum confirmed my conclusion.  At that point I estimated 30 minutes or less to correct.  So far so good.

The next thing I noticed was the captions were missing.  Oh oh, that’s not good, that’s my record of train symbols and other miscellaneous facts at the time the photo was captured.  Back to the forums I went looking for how to convert the captions.  After hours of digging it became apparent the captions on RAW files just weren’t converting from the Organizer database to Lightroom.  Lightroom’s conversion was always taking the caption from the image meta data instead of pulling it out of Organizer’s database.   Some quick math told me I had just over 5,000 images with captions.  To quote Aaron “That’s a lot of copy and paste”.

Lightroom is a fabulous product and it is where I want my catalog to end up.  With each version it becomes more and more bug free so my hope is in one of the upcoming releases this conversion item is addressed.  If its not, I will likely make the decision to convert anyway and do the copy and paste.   Hey, my daughter is always wanting to earn money maybe she’d do it?

For now I’m back to Organizer.

Sigh, No Captions

Where’s my caption?

[tags] adobe, convert, elements, lightroom, organzier, photos, photoshop, railroad, trains [/tags]

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17 thoughts on “Organizer to Lightroom…almost”

  1. (Steve, I’ve pretty much said all this to you privately but I’ll post it so the whole world can listen to me babble)

    It sounds like Adobe is definitely heading in the right direction with the cataloging features in Lightroom. I’m really happy with IMatch for organizing but my one complaint is that it’s defintely a sidestep in the workflow; it would be nice to have something more integrated with the RAW conversion process. From what I’ve read from the IMatch developer forum, the world of metadata, IPTC tags, XMP sidecars, and other assorted bits of related data is a messy one, so it’s not surprising that the conversion wasn’t 100% successful.

    Perhaps Adobe will expose some options that might let someone build a better conversion if they don’t do it themselves. The scripting engine in IMatch is lovely; if Adobe were to expose something similiar in Lightroom they would only be helping to strengthen the product (as well as build a big developer/user base due to that feature).

  2. I too am struggling with converting from Elements to Lightroom. I have two monitors and haven’t figured out a way to get Lightroom to use them effectively. I also prefer the Keyword hierarchy of Elements. Anyway, your post was interesting and I intend to monitor your progress and insights.
    Bob Geissler

  3. Exposing options for conversion would be fabulous and would allow each individual to control the conversion of their data. One of the premises of LR is that each photographer’s work flow is different so offering conversion options I believe supports that premise further. We do have to remember that it is a smaller part of the population that will use this import from Elements feature so I’m not sure where improvements to it lie on the priority list.

  4. This is interesting. I have thought about Lightroom to replace Elements, but my budget doesn’t right now include the $$$. Nevertheless, converting the Elements catalog (including the captions) into the Lightroom catalog is simply an exercise in SQL programming (I believe both the catalog in Lightroom and the catalog in Elements are simply Microsoft Access databases), so it is not unreasonable to think Adobe could put out a fix to this part of the programming. I can’t believe there are major technical difficulties in doing this, its just a matter of whether or not Adobe will do so. Perhaps a third party could write an add-on utility that simply moves the captions as Steve needs.

  5. For Lightroom the database is based on SQLite. I’m not sure what Organizer is based on but it too is a database. As a software developer I was thinking the same thing, this is probably easily solved through SQL. Too bad I don’t have access to the database schemas the way I do in my day job! I’m sure if we have patience some of these items will be corrected.

  6. The Photoshop Elements database is Microsoft Access. Make a copy, change the extension of the copy to .mdb, and voila, the file can be opened into MS Access.

  7. Thanks for the tip Piage. I did just as you suggested and was able to open my Organizer catalog using Access. Did I find anything useful? No. I was hoping for a situation where there might be some confusion over which field is the caption, but alas that isn’t the case. The Organizer data model is quite tidy and the ImageTable has two columns each with a SAK which points to the short and long captions.

  8. Seems to me it ought to be trivial for someone with SQL skills to extract the long caption from the Elements catalog to somewhere (even a text file), and then place those into the Lightroom database properly. Even though I’m no SQL expert, I could do it in under 10 minutes using software my employer provides for me — except of course I’m not legally allowed to use that software for this purpose.

  9. Absolutely. I figure using Access I could extract the caption and file name info from Organizer into Excel. I could then build a VB script to write out an XMP sidecar file with the caption which I could then easily pull into LR. Now, do I want to spend the time messing with that or shooting more photos?

  10. I think if the choice is not going to Lightroom, or doing the work you describe, I would do the work and switch to Lightroom. It certainly beats the cut and paste option you mentioned. Certainly, here where I live, we have enough days with bad weather that I could do that work and not miss any photography time at all.

  11. Just a note that I’m following this post, as I’m about to move to an IMac from a PC. I have over 10K photos in elements and from what I can tell the options are:
    1. use virtualization software (vmware/parallels) to run elements on the Imac.
    2. move to lightroom.
    3. move to Apple’s apeture.

    Comments, suggestions, warnings appreciated.


  12. John, I’m not much of an expert in the Mac to PC so I really can’t offer you too many suggestions. I bet you can find some good advice on a photography forum or in Adobe’s forums.

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