Getting images from my memory card into PL4 - Workflow

My question for this thread is trying to optimize getting my photographs moved from my memory card to a folder where I will edit the images in PhotoLab 4.

It seems to me that the first step is to quickly determine which my better images are - culling. Until now, I’ve been doing this work, along with the importing, in PhotoMechanic. I thought I was satisfied with PM, until several people in this forum suggested the program “Fast Raw Viewer”, My friends here overwhelmed me with screen captures of how FRV can help me select the best images. I spent much of tonight watching videos about FastRawViewer.

From that I learned that culling images based on looking at ‘jpg previews’ is not a good idea. The images, and the histograms from jpg previews are NOT an indication of the quality of my captured images - they only look at the ‘jpg previews’, but that defeats the purpose of shooting in raw. I don’t know how other software handles this, but FRV offers so many ways to quickly evaluate images (and cull out the poor images) that I’ve decided that starting today, I will be learning and using FRV.

Hypothetical question - suppose I started out with 100 images, and as I often do, several images of essentially the same thing. By the time I finish culling, I suspect I’ll have eliminated over half of them.

I still need to find out if FRV is better than PhotoMechanic in renaming, organizing, and copying my images to my hard disk. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been using PM.

Once this is done, the editing in PL4 begins.

I again need to thank all the people who have been helping me capture the best image to later edit in PL4. That has a lot to do with finding the right camera settings for taking the image. If I get the best possible images into PL4, the editing should be easier.

1 Like

I’m not quite sure I understand where you are culling your images. I assume you are not culling them directly from you memory card. Is that correct? Hopefully you are copying everything to a folder on your hard drive first.


1 Like

I might not have explained that correctly. I open PhotoMechanic and point it at the memory card. I fell out the form with the data to be copied over along with the image, and tell PM where to save the new folder, what to name the new folder, and how to rename the images being copied into that folder.

At this point a gallery of my images appears on my screen, showing the newly created folder on my computer. I then quickly go through the images, deleting the ones I don’t like. When all this is finished, I close the folder.

At this point I only delete “garbage” images. Until now, I also selected my best images, but from what I’ve been reading and watching, maybe I should be doing the culling with FRV ?

I’m mostly asking for advice here - how do I change the way I used to do things, now that I have FRV? The FRV videos seemed to be selecting the best images while they were still on the memory card. Should I be doing that before I use PM ?

If you have a fairly fast computer and a large enough hard-drive, then why not just import all your pictures to the computer? Take a look at them in DXO PL4. Sometimes you have to “play” with them a little to see if they are keepers or not. You can easily get rid of the pictures you do not want from inside PL4. It seems to me you are making many unnecessary steps before looking at the photos in PL4, and you risk “trashcanning” shots that PL4 may save.

1 Like

For moving images I use the software that comes with my camera, Canon, and have it set so that it creates a folder at the required destination - in my case a temporary folder on my SSD where I do the culling, adjustments, processing etc. (Goes to a normal larger drive + backup drive once I have done everything)

Then I use FRV to do the culling for the basics.
It allows for checking edge sharpness, noise, highlights and shadows to determine what is worth keeping at a basic level

Ones that I think will be ok are then sent to PL4 for a detailed look and processing.

Which steps do you feel are unnecessary?

When I’m ingesting photos from the memory card to my computer, quite often I have several similar images of the same scene, trying different things. It’s usually pretty obvious to me as to which images “worked”. I will continue to delete images because of the content.

One charge is I also used to select (cull) images based on exposure. The FRV videos have convinced me to not do that, until I’ve used FRV to select the best image based on the raw files. This will be a big change.

Back to your question, why do I want to keep worthless images? In sports, for example, sometimes I capture the image at the perfect time, and sometimes I’m too early or too late. When I submitted the images to a magazine, over time I got to know which images captured the moment best. My magazine editor wanted only “the best 25 images”. I suppose other magazines want “all” the images, and they would do the culling.

Lastly, if FRV clearly shows one image has sharp detail, and others don’t, all other things being equal, why do I want to clutter up my hard drive with bad images? …but the question I was hoping to get an answer to wasn’t which images to keep, it was how to use PhotoMechanic, and FastRawViewer, and PhotoLab4 most effectively, and in what order?

I simply

  • Copy ALL files with macOS’s Finder or with Lightroom.
  • Then, I eject the card, I don’t immediately format it as a safeguard.
  • I rename the files to replace the “IMG_” prefix by the shooting date e.g. “20201208-” in Lightroom (when I use Lightroom to copy the files) or with GraphicConverter (when I use the Finder to copy the files)

I then rate and cull on the computer before investing in edits.

1 Like

My image manage is fairly simple and straight forward. I copy all the images off my SD card to a pre-named folder in the format YYYY-MM-DD Location or Subject using the fully configurable and programable file manager Directory Opus which I use for all my file management, not just for images. .

I then use Directory Opus and the Faststone image viewer to quickly cull obviously bad or boring images and others I have no interest in keeping. Faststone also lets you compare and zoom up to 4 images simultaneously so I can quickly run through, and delete by eye, images that are clearly inferior to similar ones. I can cull most images that way very very quickly. If needed, I than use FRV for those images which require more assistance. If I have taken two or three hundred images in a session I can delete from one-half to two-thirds of them easily and quickly this way. Any other one-off deletions come later in PhotoLab.

I then create subfolders with similar naming conventions as needed to break the grouping of images down further, and move images to those subfolders and then rename all the images to coincide with the folder names using the move and batch rename features my excellent file manager Directory Opus.

Finally, I’m ready to start editing in PhotoLab. Unlike some, I don’t keep every image I’ve ever taken. I review and cull older images periodically and never have more than eight or ten thousand images on my computer even after all these years. I don’t use metadata very much and pretty much remember when and where I’ve taken all my images. My folder structure lets me find what I need easily. It is rare that I can’t locate a specific image quickly.

I have looked at several of the better known and well respected DAMs and in each case found that using them just added an additional layer of complexity to my workflow and didn’t save me any time or provide me with any benefits I rerquired.


Sometimes the joy of a Mac is that you really don’t need all that extra software.

I organise my images in a hierarchy of Location/Subject | Year | Month | Day

When I plug my camera into my computer, Apple’s Image Capture opens and I open Finder window and create an appropriately named folder (either in the existing hierarchy or a new one) for the images I am going to transfer. Then I simply drag and drop from Image Capture to that folder.

For culling, I can open a Finder window in “icon view” and see large thumbnails of my images.

If I want to do a comparison, or just view an image, at a larger scale, I select a few images and press the spacebar to get a QuickLook popup with just those images in.

For keywording, I can add Finder Tags to files

… then use the system’s Spotlight search to find files by this keywords.

I updated my earlier post a bit while you were posting. That is exactly what I do with the completely configurable and programable Directory Opus file manager except that I click on an icon to run it rather than have it start automatically. Directory Opus goes far beyond the functionality of Windows File Explorer.

I do almost all my culling in either Directory Opus or the FastStone Viewer, which I use primarily for its compare and zoom feature. If needed I then occasionally use FRV. In the folder highlighted below I had forgotten to rename the images, but I can do it easily with the batch rename feature in Directory Opus or the new batch rename in PhotoLab. I realize I didn’t make all this clear enough in my previous post.


Directory Opus file manager

It seems we all have ways to do this. Until a few days ago, I thought I was all set:
Memory card > PhotoMechanic > save in organized manner > image editor

For me, “image editor” used to be Lightroom, but it now has shifted to PL4.

I was all set, or so I thought, until all of you threw a monkey wrench into my gears by bringing up RawFileViewer. For me, RFV should be in addition to my other tools, not “instead of”.

About culling - most of the time, I think a shot through, and carefully take one to three images, leaving me a choice for later as to which I prefer. BUT… when I’m walking around on the causeway bridge where the Pelicans are hunting for fish, I can’t “plan”. I take perhaps 30 or 40 photos, trying for the perfect shot, but knowing all but five or ten will be discarded. Even then, I should use a 200mm lens, but the longest lens I have for my Leica is 90. I guess I could bring one of my Nikon DSLR cameras, and make it much easier, but I’m trying to use my Leica as if it was my only camera. Also, for car racing - I might take 1000 photos to get 10 good photos. Things happen too fast and too unpredictably to plan, just as with the pelicans!

Speaking of pelicans, every so often things work well enough to get a result I enjoy. Here are three files from one of the images I preferred, the last being the image I posted on my Smugmug account ( With my Nikon DSLR and a long lens, this would have been easier to capture, but the day started out with me looking for nature photos, not wild birds!

(With what I’ve learned since mid-November, I could process this image better now than what I knew how to do back then. Maybe one of you wants to have a go at it?)

11-20-2020-Nature Walk_L1001248.dng (25.4 MB)

11-20-2020-Nature Walk_L1001248.dng.dop (11.3 KB)

1 Like

Joanna, before you got me hooked on FastRawViewer, what you’ve been writing reminds me of how I have been doing things for years. Then, last night, I spent most of the night on the FastRawViewer web site, watching video after video. Not sure if you’ve done that, as you already know the program so well.

Basically, they are saying that just about every way that exists to compare images for culling involves seeing the histogram and images from the embedded jpg image inside the raw file. I don’t want to say much more here, as I’ll probably mangle what I’m trying to explain, but after an hour or so of watching and learning, all my old ideas of comparing, culling, and selecting images have gone out the window. After what you showed me from my image of the boat, and then after they showed in great detail how important it is to ONLY consider the raw image, I’ve changed my mind about all this (yet again!!!). Bottom line seems to be if one is willing to go to the trouble of shooting in raw, it is silly to evaluate the results based on the embedded jpg.

If you have time, watch the videos. They show this better than I can explain it.

One example:

Here is just a quick take on your original DNG. I did not download your dop file. One of my main goals was to extract more detail from the bird and separate it a bit more from the background. Even if you did not see that detail from your vantage point it was there and the camera saw it.

I also cropped it to similar dimensions as yours but framed it differently to include more of the trees and shoreline to add additional interest, and lastly I brought out more detail in the sky . The bird’s head is right on the intersection of the top third and right third of the image. I don’t always follow the rule of thirds but thought it worked in this instance

I think your original image has a lot of potential.


I have a confession to make. I, personally, mainly use FRV as a teaching tool on why people should use RAW.

Not wishing to sound big-headed but, since I took the time and effort to get my head around all this stuff I have been sharing, I take a lot less photos and rarely bring many home from an outing.

The only big exception in recent years was shooting the Armée de l’air French aerobatic team, when I shot over 600 in a very short period of time. Other than that, Jazz concerts can produce anything up to 100.

Because of the way I transfer images from my camera and because I find PL plenty fast enough in rendering RAW files, I use PL to evaluate the relatively low numbers I produce “in situ”. That way, I can play with the RAW data without having to evaluate in one app, only to have to use another app to make changes.
So, my workflow is :

  1. Transfer to organised folders through Image Capture
  2. If anything is obviously wrong (composition, etc) do an initial cull either in Finder or my own browser
  3. Open one of the files from a folder in PL and start evaluating, culling if necessary
  4. Continue to edit those files that are worth keeping (and a few for “sentimental” reasons)

Only occasionally will I look at a file in FRV if I am not sure if I can properly recover deep shadow or extreme highlight detail.

I really don’t have much need for keywording or ranking and my folder hierarchy allows me to use my home-brewed browser to look for files by sight.


In every way, you managed to modify the image into something better than what I imagined or created, especially the pelican.

You wrote “even if you did not see that detail from your vantage point”… to me, that’s almost humorous, and maybe a good reason to go back to a DSLR for photos like this. What I had was a very small optical viewfinder on my Leica, with an even smaller rectangle to represent the coverage of a 90mm lens. All I “saw” was the rough shape of the bird, which I tried to keep in the middle of my frame so the bird didn’t get cropped down to maybe half a bird… :slight_smile:

I ordered a “visoflex” finder for my Leica, which goes on the accessory shoe, and gives me a view more like what I would get from a DSLR. I dug it out yesterday, never having tried it before, but it was the wrong model, and didn’t fit on my Leica. So it is on the way back to B&H Photo, and I have ordered a replacement which is specifically designed for my M10 Leica. With that, I may be able to use the Leica more like how I use my DSLR cameras.

What you did to bring the detail out in the pelican is wonderful. Supposedly I know enough to do things like this now. The biggest challenge for me was waiting for the birds to be close to me, to keeping them in focus, and to “pan” with the bird so while the rest of the photo might get blurred, the bird would be sharp.

Once my Visoflex arrives in a few days, it will be easier for me to capture images like this, almost as if I had a DSLR. If you’re not familiar with a Leica, here’s a photo of my camera with the 90mm lens. The small windows at the top right is the viewfinder, and the other even smaller window towards the left is the rangefinder window.

Sounds to me you’ve already learned much/most/all of what there is to learn, son based on that, you can accomplish what you want in PL. It also sounds to me like for a while, I will benefit from using FRV until when/if I learn these things.

My photo world has been turned upside down. I used to spend most of my time taking photos, and just enough time to select the best and get them either mailed out, or posted on my SmugMug account. Then all this new stuff showed up, and I’m taking MUCH more time in processing images than in taking them.

Of course my entire world is now topsy turvy because of the virus, and I don’t go out much, meaning I have all the time in the world to work on my computer at home. If I spent three or four hours yesterday in this forum and the related forums, I consider that to be like time in school, learning, with LOTS of talented teachers.

I’m glad you like it. If you are interested here is my .dop file. I used a control point to enhance the pelican, with vibrancy, micro contrast, sharpening, and a bit of ClearView Plus. My single favorite global and local adjustment tool is Micro Contrast. I sometimes struggle with myself to keep from over using it…


11-20-2020-Nature Walk_L1001248.dng.dop (10.8 KB)

Thank you - not knowing a better way to do this, I went to the folder with this image, and renamed my original “dop” file. Then I copied yours in its place. When I went to the folder, I saw my original image briefly, and then it changed to your image. Then I viewed the pelican at 100%. WOW. So all that detail was hiding there the whole time, waiting to be exposed to the world to see. I am speechless!!!

Knowing the history of the photograph, and the struggle to capture it, I don’t know what to say. I zoomed in on the bird, just to see what you had done. Thank you - you’ve put a nice smile on my face.

1 Like

If as is the case right now, I end up with multiple “dop” files, each for a different “look”, what is the best way to deal with that? I did it the easy way - renamed my original ‘dop’ file and copied yours into the same folder. Is there a better way to deal with this?

I actually updated the image a few minutes ago and the .dop file was updated as well . If the local adjustment control point has 2 circles you have the most current version… If only one circle, you can download the most current version of it from the same location. I also fixed an over-sharpening issue which created a slight halo along the curving arc of the bird’s wing.


1 Like