Why are duplicates and originals both listed?
Posted by Jim Keir on 22 May 2012 01:18 PM

The plugin will identify all images that are likely to be copies of each other, based on the image metadata. Many people ask why it doesn't automatically delete duplicates, or why it doesn't exclude the original.

This is simply down to safety. For a commercial photographer, losing a valued original image may be disastrous. Would you really want a bit of software deciding which photo to delete based on some kind of pre-written rule?

Suggestions have included:

  • Keep the one with the shortest name, assuming that duplicates will have a number or "copy of" in the name. So, we delete "Photo (Original).jpg" and keep "Photo (Web).jpg". Wrong.
  • Delete JPEGs, keep the RAW. But what if you shoot in JPEG? What if you convert to DNG and use that as the master, and the RAW is the one you would want to get rid of?
  • Keep the oldest one, on the assumption that the oldest is the master. So, we delete the one to which you have made loads of production edits and keep an early preview you exported for your client. Wrong.
  • Keep the newest one, on the assumption that it will be the one with the most work done to it. So, we delete the older original and keep the web-sized, watermarked export you prepared for a customer. Wrong.
  • Keep the largest one, on the assumption that all smaller ones are previews. So, we delete an original scanned copy and keep a resized-for-printing copy with a banner across it. Wrong.

In short, no matter what rules you have for identifying which image is the "original" and which are "duplicates", there will be someone else who does the opposite. The plugin will help you to identify which images to look at by eliminating most of your library, and letting you display only the potential duplicates next to each other. You can then use Lightroom's own tools to identify, mark and delete any that you don't want, according to your own rules.

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