Lightroom Classic Importing Challenge

I’ve started shooting with a Panasonic Lumix 100 LX about 2 years ago. I shoot only RAW and I import them directly from the camera memory card. When I tried to import the new images LR would only let me copy them not add them. I’ve never experienced this problem before.

Any thoughts?

Hi Robin,

That is totally normal and good. Lightroom wants to ensure that you don’t add images directly from the memory card. If you were to do that, Lightroom would be referencing the images living directly on the card. This means than when you remove the card, Lightroom won’t be able to see your images anymore.

What’s worse is if you formatted the card after using the “Add” option from the card, all of the images would be gone as Lightroom never copied or moved the images anywhere.

On older computers sometimes Lightroom would allow you to add from a card, but it’s nice that they’ve fixed that in later versions and no longer allow you to do this.

Thanks, Forest. And thank you and everyone at RMSP for creating this forum available and responding so quickly - not to mention the library of photo tips.

Dear Robin,

Forest’s is 100% correct and accurate.

If I may take things a little further though there is a concept here that continues to harm thousands of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic users like you.

The key concept here is that your Lightroom Catalog is not a place where your photos actually live. Your Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic Catalog is an index of the locations where you have chosen to store your images.

When Lightroom Classic refuses to let you ADD the images on your memory card to your Catalog, when it forces you to use COPY, the program is trying to tell you that on the card is not an acceptable long-term image storage location and Forest’s explanation of why that choice is not allowed here is spot on.

If I may suggest, the best way to deal with this question-where to put the new images from your memory card-is not to answer it again and again. The best way to deal with the import from memory card process is to carefully record a scripted answer, to create a template, so that you can tell Lightroom Classic to use the exact same settings for every memory card that you ever shoot from here on.

Please click here for more on why I believe that building an Import Preset to handle all of your future memory card imports is a vital skill.

David Marx


Thank you David,

I think that may be the problem. I do have more than one catalog and may have committed the cardinal sin: placing the photos (and editing them) in the wrong catalog.Would consolidating the work into one catalog do the trick? If so, how do I do that?

~ Robin

Good Morning Robin,

Unless you are a professional wedding, or event photographer, with expert image management skills then working with multiple Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic Catalogs is not advised. See One Lightroom Catalog Is All You Need for my long and very dull lecture on why I urge you and 99% of all Lightroom Classic users to work with one Catalog only.

Consolidating all of your existing Catalogs will not change anything about the way that Lightroom Classic imports your images. The same question about copying your new images from the memory card to a specific storage location on hard drive X remains no matter how many Catalogs you use.

But consolidating them all into one will solve numerous other potential problems and it will make it far easier for you to back everything up.

Dishing out vague advice on Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic best practices though is easy. What’s much harder, without being able to see into your computer, is giving accurate advice on how best to consolidate those Catalogs together.

One option if you are working with Catalogs that do not overlap, and if you have not extensively used features like the Pick / Reject Flags, Virtual Copies, and Collections is simply to import all of the images from Catalog A into Catalog B as if they were just any other folder of images that you found inside of your computer.

Option two, if there is a lot of overlap or if you used any of the features that cannot be stored as Metadata, is to use Lightroom Classic’s dangerous Import from Catalog command.

Both options have risks and rewards.

If I were in your shoes, and if all of your Catalogs contain important work that you could lose, then I would ask someone like @FoChap to take a remote look inside your machine and help you come up with a clear game plan before you start the merger.

I hope this helps and no matter what you do I urge you to back everything up before you begin merging Catalogs together.

David Marx


Hi there

After having "spoken with the two of you, I believer the problems I am having may be related:

  1. When importing photos LR will only copy, not add,
  2. Some LR catalog files out of order (see below)
  3. Sorry to say - multiple catalogs in multiple locations (HD Pictures folder and external"Photos Go Here" folder and external back up drive.

I’d like to clean this all up in an organized fashion and, of course without losing edits, virtual copies or collections foldrs.

Where do I begin? What would you recommend as a process?

Sending you an email in the next few minutes!