Canon 5dSR Wedding Workflow

Canon 5dSR and Canon 5dS wedding workflow

Having had the Canon 5d, 5dmk2 and 5dmk3 I decided to upgrade to the 5dSR…it’s took a long time for the 5dmk4 to come out (Still not out yet!) and my mark 3’s are getting a bit battle worn.

The 5dSR was not touted as a wedding camera by Canon…it’s aimed at studio, portrait and landscape photographers. It has a whopping 50.6 megapixel sensor.

I’ve shot just over 20 weddings with my 5dSR now…and it’s a fantastic wedding camera ! I like to shoot mainly with prime lenses for most of the wedding day…the downside to that is sometimes you can’t get into the position you want to frame the photo exactly as you would like…the 5dSR gives you the ability to crop into the frame drastically and still end up with a large workable file still.

Obviously, working with 50.6 megapixel files can put a strain on most computer systems…

I don’t tend to overshoot on the wedding day and I am not someone who shoots thousands per wedding, everyones different, depending on the wedding I generally shoot 600-1200 shot’s on a regular 10-12 hour wedding, out of those the blinkers, shots of the floor and duplicates are culled.

I used to just use Lightroom to cull every wedding, my iMac has a fast SSD and it handled the 5dmk3 files easily. The increased file size of the 5dSR files and Adobe ‘updating’ Lightroom…and deciding to kill off support for my Graphics card, meant I needed to rethink my workflow.

So this is what I do now…I cull in Photomechanic, then do the bulk of the editing in Lightroom and any retouching is done in Photoshop. To be able to work using Photomechanic and Lightroom you need to write the metadata to an external file…

You need to set this up in Lightroom before importing your next wedding. This only has to be setup one time (For each catalogue).

Go to Catalog Settings and click on the Metadata tab…then click “Automatically write changes into XMP”  This now means that Lightroom makes an extra ‘file’ for every image…within this file it stores all the changes you have made to the RAW file…an added benefit of this is if your Catalog becomes corrupted you can reimport the files, using the extra metadata file and no settings will have been lost.

catalog settings

As this…


Once this has been done, import a couple of photo’s to check that it is writing the XMP data externally…

external xmp

For each RAW file you will end up with an extra .xmp file

In Photomechanic you just need to set one bit in the preferences… Make sure that “Always create and/or update XMP sidecar file” is selected.


Once this is done you can the move between Photomechanic and Lightroom easily.

Wedding Workflow

Step one: When I get home from a wedding, the memory card (1 x 128GB) Compact flash card is copied to my internal SSD drive on my iMac, one card is more than enough for me on a one day wedding. I shoot RAW to both cards. The second card (SD 128GB) is then kept in a firesafe till the files are backed up offsite.

Step two : The files are then imported into Lightroom overnight, I add them to a collection, assign my import preset, metadata preset and make 1 to 1 previews. This is done overnight, so the files can be checked in the morning to ensure there were no problems copying them across, even if I have a wedding the following day it takes a few minutes to check that there has been no errors on import. (The internal SSD drive is cloned automatically every morning at 4am to a separate external drive using SuperDuper)

Step three: Once the files have been copied over to my internal ‘work in progress SSD drive’ I then copy them to my main year job folder on a Drobo 5d RAID system. (This Drobo is cloned to another Drobo automatically at 6am using Super Duper)

Step four: I use Backblaze for my initial offsite storage and this runs automatically 24/7. So once the files have been copied from the compact flash card onto the SSD drive and the Drobo, I then ‘force’ Backblaze into scanning the drives for new content. This then means that Backblaze starts to backup the new files immediately and by the morning the RAW files are now backed up in 4 internal locations, 1 offsite location and still on the spare SD card.

Step five: Open Photomechanic and navigate to the folder containing the RAW files that you want to work on. Double click on the folder and that will show you the thumbnails…

Then double click on the first one, this then opens another window on top with a full screen preview, this is the window that I cull in…


Step 6: Image selection, I ‘edit in’ so I select the keepers. There are various ways to do this in Photomechanic, I like to ‘1 star’ the keepers. I use a custom X-Keys MW 11 keyboard (an old RPG keyboard) This allows me to assign various ‘function’ to an individual key on the keyboard. I use the arrow keys to move left and right through the images and have a key set to “ctrl 1” on my keyboard. Once you have selected your keepers you can then just quit out of Photomechanic, your changes have been written to the ‘XMP’ files as you were working along. All the keepers have now been assigned 1 star.

Step 7: Open Lightroom, select all images in the folder/collection that you are working on. Then click on the Metadata menu and select “Read Metadata from Files”

Then you will see all the files updating, some will now have a ‘1 star’ rating.

read metadata

Step 8: Select images by star rating, then reverse the section and set the ‘no stars’ as rejects. This is how I like to work, then it allows me to keep the rejects in Lightroom and have them hidden easily.

Select by star rating

Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 20.03.37

Invert selection

Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 20.06.35

Hit X on the keyboard to make all the ‘selected’ photos “rejected’

Then you can hide rejected ones out of your view, but they are still there if you need any of them.

Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 20.02.11

Step 9: Edit photo’s in Lightroom. Most of my work is already done by my ‘import preset’, I generally just need to tweak white balance, crop and fix horizons.

Step 10: Edit ‘hero’ shots in Photoshop, most of my Bride and Groom portraits will go into Photoshop for a bit of extra work.

Step 11: Export from Lightroom to Zenfolio using Jeffries Lightroom Export plugin

Step 12: Beer

Next: How to share a Lightroom catalog on two separate computers




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