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Author Topic: One catalog or multiple?  (Read 2069 times)
HSakols
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« on: January 24, 2014, 06:50:30 PM »
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OK I admit to storing the vast majority of my digital files in a single catalog.  I have a couple other catalogs but they are of some close friends' work.  I see the advantages of having multiple catalogs as separate projects that can be stored easily and taken anywhere, but is there anything else wrong with having one catalog?  I know this has been discussed before somewhere, but I can't seem to find the answer.  How many images can I store in a catalog / catalogue?  Are large catalogs / catalogues inherently slower than smaller catalogs? 
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2014, 07:01:56 PM »
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One large catalogue is OK. I have 75 000 images in mine and no problems.

Best regards
Erik


OK I admit to storing the vast majority of my digital files in a single catalog.  I have a couple other catalogs but they are of some close friends' work.  I see the advantages of having multiple catalogs as separate projects that can be stored easily and taken anywhere, but is there anything else wrong with having one catalog?  I know this has been discussed before somewhere, but I can't seem to find the answer.  How many images can I store in a catalog / catalogue?  Are large catalogs / catalogues inherently slower than smaller catalogs?  
« Last Edit: January 25, 2014, 07:27:00 AM by ErikKaffehr » Logged

Simon Garrett
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« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2014, 07:22:38 PM »
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I keep everything in one catalogue (currently 65,000 images).  The benefits (to me) of Lightroom's image management stem from the ability to sort, search etc all my images. 

The only reason I can think of for having multiple catalogs would be when you know you will never want to search across two or more sets of photos.  For example, when you are processing friends' photographs, as you say.  Or maybe to separate business from private, or different clients' work.  But again, only when you know you will never want to be able to search, sort or manage across the different sets. 

Even in these cases, I can't really see any advantage in multiple catalogs.  You can separate subsets of one's work within a catalogue by folder easily enough.  Perhaps I'm missing something. 
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John Caldwell
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« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2014, 07:22:49 PM »
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I'm sure Erik means 75K images. I use assignment-based catalogs, which area subsequently coalesced into a single master (170K images) catalog. I do the bulk of my work: Library, Develop, Web, Print - within the much smaller assignment-based catalogs. Then the final work is embedded into the Master through Import From Catalog. Works well for my needs; been doing it this way since LR2.

You've touched upon an area the will illicit considerable hyperbole probably. You'll likely be told both ways are *wrong*. I suggest you learn to be organized and technically facile with both methods, and see what works best in your situation.

John Caldwell
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digitaldog
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« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2014, 07:25:58 PM »
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I see no advantages to multiple catalogs unless you hit some limit of images where LR just creeps along. I've heard of people with 200,000+ images (size, kind unknown) without issues. So unless you're seeing huge speed issues, and the hardware will play a role, splitting up catalogs just seems like more work.
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Andrew Rodney
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John Caldwell
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« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2014, 07:28:50 PM »
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Small catalogs are crisper in my hands, particularly when there are frequent switches between L, D and P modules; and particularly when Searches are frequent.

John-
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HSakols
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« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2014, 08:36:52 PM »
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I can see wanting to have a separate catalog for images collected on say a month long trip that are kept on a relatively small drive.  Thanks again for all the help. 
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john beardsworth
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« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2014, 02:02:56 AM »
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As few as you need, Hugh, but no more. Backup, which happens when you're not doing real work, is the only thing that's slower with a big catalogue ("big" - I often work with one nearing half a million photos), and in all other ways it's more efficient to keep your workflow and your pictures under control in a single catalogue. If you have other really separate sets of pictures, such as your friends' photos, then keep them separate. It would also be normal to have a temporary catalogue for a trip or client visit, but afterwards import it into the main catalogue and get rid of it.

John
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gchappel
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« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2014, 07:22:51 AM »
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I am just hitting 100K images. 
I tried separate catalogs each year.  Lightroom was snappy- but 5yr old images were hard to find.
I put everything into one catalog and it was a little slower, at least on my machine.  PC based, 32G, SSD's, i7- machine is not a slouch.
So what works for me- and it is not flawless but works.
I have one catalog for the current year.  I have a second catalog for everything else.  Merge catalogs every January and start another.
My current catalog is small and snappy- and that is where I do the vast majority of my work.
If I need to find something I almost always know if I took it this year or some other year- but I have at most 2 catalogs to search.
This works for me.
Gary
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John Caldwell
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« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2014, 07:40:03 PM »
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...Backup, which happens when you're not doing real work, is the only thing that's slower with a big catalogue...

I am hesitant to disagree with John Beardsworth, as he is clearly deeply knowledge about the LR program, and has contributed generously to us all. I will reluctantly disagree, though, in saying that catalog size does elongate:

1) Time for a catalog to open
2) Time to switch between Library and Develop modules
3) Time to Search within Library panels for (any kind of) content
4) Backup time, as John has already said

But, as John says, there are compromises in not having all your content immediately at hand. It is for this reason that after working on assignment based catalogs, I open my Master Catalog in Import From (assigment-based) Catalog, and thereby coalesce all my metadata edits into the master.

John Caldwell
« Last Edit: March 03, 2014, 08:19:49 AM by John Caldwell » Logged
john beardsworth
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« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2014, 04:15:22 AM »
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...after working on assignment based catalogs, I open my Master Catalog in Import From (assigment-based) Catalog, and thereby coalesce all my metadata edits into the master

Our views would differ more if you didn't do that, John. I'm mainly concerned about controlling one's total picture workflow/collection, and the route they take into the master catalogue strikes me as less critical. At times we all need other catalogues, in some cases working as an inbox workflow like yours, or for presentations, special projectsor trips, but in the end there's only one master catalogue that we depend upon. I disagree more with those who never consolidate their assignment catalogues, but I think it's more a case of their being able to get away with it than it being best practice (it's more common among wedding photographers as they know the event date and have limited cross-job search needs). Attempting to use catalogues to categorize your pictures is another dangerous route, and people quickly find they have pictures recorded in more than one catalogue (so which is the correct set of adjustments and metadata?) or slipping through the gaps and being in none. Sometimes there can be good reasons such as a friend who shoots some stuff the kids or her husband really shouldn't see, but she knows exactly why she's fragmenting control of her work. So my advice is always along the lines of "as few as you need", "until you know better, stick to one".

On your numbered points, while it does take longer to open a single big catalogue than a small assignment one, that's balanced by the time it takes to switch between catalogues. To some extent the same applies to searching - you're either going to have to cut back your search requirements or ability to leverage existing work (eg copy adjustments or metadata from a similar image in an old job) or put equivalent time into searching through different catalogues. As for switching between Library and Develop, that's more related to the number of pictures in the filmstrip, and in a single big catalogue you're probably going to narrow down to a folder/collection with similar numbers to the small job catalogue. My guess is you've also been hit by one of the many factors that can slow down a program as demanding as LR is on system resources.

No problem disagreeing - I always think one has to state a clear case and add the nuances later!

John
« Last Edit: January 28, 2014, 04:17:30 AM by johnbeardy » Logged

dreed
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« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2014, 07:35:48 AM »
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I create a "shoot" catalogue when I'm away from home on a shoot and export that for import on arrival back home.

But apart from that, I keep one catalogue.

Why?

When I'm searching for a picture I took in 2008 of a bear eating a fish (for example), I want there to be one place to look.

Rather than think "OMG, my catalogue is so slow with a bazillion pictures!" my challenge is "I've got 50 pictures of that lighthouse, which one is the best?" and the other 49 get deleted.

By reviewing what I shoot with an aim to delete the crud, I review what I did, what worked, what didn't work, etc. If I just kept every photo I took, I'd learn not very much because I'd never review anything with a goal of deleting.
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Wayne Fox
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« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2014, 01:04:35 PM »
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To me the choice between multiple catalogs and a single one depends greatly on the style of work you do and your needs.  I have two catalogs, one is for my landscape work, one is for the small amount of portrait work (mostly family) I still do.  For landscape work a single catalog that is occasionally purged of files you no longer are interested in keeping works very well.  Lightroom can handle a large number of files.

Using LR to organize images to a different level is useful for some, for example a portrait studio may have a different catalog for each year, a prolific wedding shooter may find it’s easier to keep a catalog of each wedding, or perhaps of each months weddings.  using catalogs to organize work in this manner is effective because often the photographer wants to archive those files and the information so it is accessible, but in reality the odds of needing to access them is extremely low and gets lower as time progresses, so no need to keep them available constantly.

I used to do it this way with landscape photography because I was worried about the catalog getting too large.  I merged them all together, works much better.
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Tony Hubcaps
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« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2014, 10:33:43 AM »
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After a few years of letting the images pile up I was finding LR was moving at a pace roughly
akin to a legless tortoise with a LF camera on it's back.

After noticing how large the ".lrdata" folder itself was, I thought it might be worth starting a new
catalogue.  It certainly put the overall speed back to normal.  My set-up is not very powerful
(processor etc) so this may have a bearing on why the difference was so noticeable.

Perhaps somebody has some tips on what if anything can be done to help keep single large catalogue
running as efficiently as possible?
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john beardsworth
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« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2014, 11:21:28 AM »
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1. File > Optimise. I do this monthly.
2. Fast internal disc
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Phil Indeblanc
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« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2014, 09:38:26 PM »
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Catalog 1: 277,198 (3.5GB) SLOW ..... As others mention. Switching between L and D is just painful.
 
Catalog 2: 135,089 ...Smooth, yet still a pain to having the need to switch from L to D, then adjusting second screen to the different view due to it automatically switching from changing modes.

Catalog 3: 9500  ......Snappy, yet still a pain to having the need to switch from L to D, then adjusting second screen to the different view due to it automatically switching from changing modes.

Made up mostly of roughly 11mp, 14mp, 22mp, some 44mp files Then there are the large PSD's and TIF's that can be as large as 2-3GB (mostly on the small catalog).
running on Dual SSD, 16GB ram on 3.4Ghz quad i7. My previews are 1440 med quality.

If you are organizing for something like a "stock" images, it makes sense to have them together as mentioned for the sake of cross searching.
If you have a specific type of work you do for clients, like Automobiles, or Food....I can see how a dedicated catalog would work for all your automotive (if it is large) clients or just "Product" vs Nature, Street, Arch, Family, Trips...etc.
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dieter268
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« Reply #16 on: February 14, 2014, 01:28:46 PM »
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My very amateur point of view regarding catalogs.
I have 3 catalogues, Nr. 1 is my main catalog, containing all my images (means, images I made)
Catalog 2 contains images I have from friends, downloaded from the net, fun pictures, pictures i just want to catalogue but I do not edit.
Catalog 3 contains my mothers images, she can download her pictures, but always asks my help when it comes to organize and prepare them for her tablet Wink.

Dieter
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Simon Garrett
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« Reply #17 on: February 14, 2014, 05:33:02 PM »
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My very amateur point of view regarding catalogs.
I have 3 catalogues, Nr. 1 is my main catalog, containing all my images (means, images I made)
Catalog 2 contains images I have from friends, downloaded from the net, fun pictures, pictures i just want to catalogue but I do not edit.
Catalog 3 contains my mothers images, she can download her pictures, but always asks my help when it comes to organize and prepare them for her tablet Wink.

Dieter
Dieter,

What would be the disadvantage of keeping all those three groups in one catalog? 

I have similar requirements for all three types of image, but they're all on one catalog.  They're just in separate folder structures. 
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dieter268
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« Reply #18 on: February 15, 2014, 09:51:14 AM »
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Simon,

There may be no other disadvantage then personal preference.
I dont hav my mothers images on my HD, if she needs something she brings her external HD, I plug it in, start her cataloge and do her stuff.
That way I don't have a lot of offline images when I show all images in my catalog.
The same I prefer for the external images, not to have them mixed up with my own.
I know this all can be filtered by collections, but when I display all my images, i want to have just mine, so foreign stuff, no mama's pictures.
And if I search I want just my images, too, or just mama's, if I have loaded that catalog.
So, it's 100% personal preference.

I have had all images in one catalog at the beginning of my LR-career, but I find it more practial the way I have it now.

Dieter
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #19 on: February 15, 2014, 03:52:15 PM »
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I feel that the index question would have been better phrased: "One master catalog or multiple master catalogs".

Many of us use multiple catalogs, in particular when we are travelling.
But the big issue revolves around the merits of a single master catalog or multiple master catalogs.

I think we should also distinguish between a single user scenario versus multiple users.
It might indeed make sense for each user to have their own catalog if there is no reason for combining those images for searches.
In this regard I would say that Dieter, in fact, has only one master catalog.

I would strongly argue that nearly everyone should run only a single master catalog.
I accept that there are specific circumstances where multiple catalogs may actually be a sensible option and those circumstances are pretty unequivocal.
Lightroom performance has been touted as a strong incentive for multiple small catalogs and certain individuals running systems deficient in processing power and RAM, in particular, may experience performance slowdowns when their catalogs increase in size. However, it is also abundantly clear that running Lightroom on a system well specified for Lightroom can run catalogs in excess of 100 000 images with no real issues. So, don't split your catalog for performance reasons - get a better system.

In summary, use a single master catalog unless there is a strong and unequivocal organisational imperative.
The first time you find yourself wanting to search for images cross several catalogs then your system has failed - go to a single master catalog.
Performance is not a good reason for multiple catalogs - upgrade your computer system.

Tony Jay
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