Straight Lightroom export Start 12:43:48
Finish 12:55:14
Duration 00:11:26 100%
Code: One overall task, each image passed individually Start 12:09:33
Finish 12:16:26
Duration 00:06:53 60%
Code: Separate task per folder, each image passed individually Start 12:31:17
Finish 12:35:38
Duration 00:04:21 38%
Code: Separate task per folder, images passed as array Start 13:07:29
Finish 13:12:05
Duration 00:04:36 40%

Imagine you are doing a large export. What’s faster, selecting all the images and hitting export – or breaking the export down into a few batches and exporting each batch individually? I was messing around with some code and thought I’d try a few alternatives. The results were pretty interesting.

My starting point was 267 Nikon D700 NEF files in 3 folders which I was exporting as DNGs with full size previews, then importing into the catalogue. On my main machine, an i7-920 Window 7 64 bit PC with 12Gb of RAM, this export and import took almost 11 and a half minutes. Not too bad, and while it’s running I can always do something else, but faster is better, right?

Using code to export one image at a time reduced the start-to-finish time to 60% of the straight Lightroom export. I then simulated the effect of exporting the three folders simultaneously and shaved more than 60% off the original time.

I’m sure others have been down this track before, and I’m not really surprised at the results, but this multi-folder export is something I do quite often and saving that much off the export time isn’t going to hurt, is it?

Update October 2014

I haven’t tested this since August 2012, but I am reliably informed it’s still true.