Facebook Pixel How to Find Your Best Photos Using Compare View In Lightroom Classic CC

How to Find Your Best Photos Using Compare View In Lightroom Classic CC

To compare your images in Lightroom, you can either use Survey View or Compare View. In this article, I will focus on Compare View in Lightroom Classic CC.

Comparing images allows you to choose the very best image or images to edit in the Develop Module. Compare View is used to compare two similar images, whereas Survey View is useful for comparing a series of similar photos to narrow down your favorite choices.

I personally use Compare View often because as a still life photographer, I am often filtering through many images that are very similar to each other. Compare View allows you to do this efficiently. Grid View in the Library Module is where you can find and utilize Compare View.

Using Compare View

With the images of the Brussels sprouts below, my goal was to select the best composition. Although the pictures look really similar, some of them are better than others in terms of the placement of the knife and the Brussels sprouts, and how they lead the eye through the frame. I wanted the cut Brussels sprout to fall in one of the focal points according to the Phi Grid, and the other small pieces to look random and well balanced.

This is how some of the unedited images look in Grid View.

Grid View-Best Photos Compare View In Lightroom Classic

To compare your images, start in Grid View. The keyboard shortcut to get to Grid View is G.

Then enter  C to go to Compare View. You can also hit the X/Y icon on the left-hand side of the toolbar.Using Compare View-Lightroom-DPS

Choose the first image you would like to compare. This will appear in the left-hand window and is labeled Select in the upper right-hand corner. The next image in the Lightroom filmstrip appearing on the right is the Candidate.

Select Candidate Compare View In Lightroom Classic

Info Overlay

If you hit the letter I on the keyboard, you will be able to see the date and time you shot the image in the left-hand corner of the image, as well as the pixel size. If you hit the “I” key again, it will display your camera settings and lens information. Hit it for the third time and the info overlay will disappear.

Compare View In Lightroom Classic

File date and size.

Compare View In Lightroom Classic

Camera metadata and shooting information.

If you select only one photo and then switch to Compare View, Lightroom Classic CC uses that photo and either the last, previously selected photo, or an adjacent photo in the filmstrip.

Compare View-Lightroom-DPS

When you look at your filmstrip, the white diamond in the upper right-hand corner of the image is the Selected one, whereas the black diamond is the Candidate. The Selected image is brighter as seen here (thumbnail on the left).

The difference between the Selected image and Candidate is that the Selected image will remain where it is on the left, while you can choose different photos in the Candidate window. You do this by clicking on the right or left arrow in the toolbar, or using the arrows on your keyboard.

Compare View Icons

Here is the toolbar in Lightroom’s Compare View.

LR Toolbar - Compare View In Lightroom Classic


The cool thing about Compare View is that you can zoom in on your image, which you cannot do in Survey View. You can access the zoom at the bottom left of the tool panel, as shown in the photo below.

You can also use Cmd/Ctrl+ to zoom in, and Cmd/Ctrl- to zoom out. While you are zoomed in you can click on the image and drag it around to inspect it closer, to see if it’s in focus, or if there was dust on your sensor, etc.

The link focus icon looks like a lock. When you’re scrolling through a zoomed-in image, both of the images will move. If you click on the lock icon to “unlock” it, it will allow you to scroll around only on one of the photos.

This is good if you’re comparing images with a slightly different composition. It’s a great tool when you want to check that all of the people in a group photo have their eyes open, for example.

Compare View Compare View In Lightroom Classic


If you click to unlock the Link Focus tool, once you want to go back to viewing the same parts of your image at the same time, you simply need to click on the Sync button next to the zoom. This button controls the zoom sync ratio.

sync-compare view-lightroom


Use Swap to change the image that shows up in the Select window. It swaps it out with the image that is currently in the Candidate window.

Take care that when you are choosing photos in the filmstrip that you actually click on the photo itself, and not the frame. If you click on the grey part, not only are you choosing the photo as a Select but also you are choosing the photo next to it as the Candidate photo.

You can also swap photos by clicking on the images individually in the filmstrip.

Compare View In Lightroom Classic

Make Select 

When you click on this icon, it will move to the Select Window and use the next photo in the filmstrip as the Candidate. Swap simply reverses them.

Compare View-Lightroom-DPS

Select Previous/Next Photo

Then you can click on the arrows to toggle through the images in the Candidate window.

Compare View-LR-DPS

Rating Images

Photographers all have their preferred way of rating their photographs, whether that be by flagging them, adding a color label, or star rating. You can do this in Compare View.

I personally find flagging is the easiest way. After I have finished going through my photos and am in the Develop Module, I will use star ratings to signify where I am in the editing process. For example, four stars need further editing, while five stars indicate that I have finished editing and exported them to the appropriate file.

I use color labels to separate my personal photos from client work and stock images. Currently, this is what is working for me. You may have a very different system.

Flag the photographs you are potentially interested in editing by hitting P, which marks it as a “pick”. To mark one as a reject (for later deletion), hit the X on your keyboard. If you keep your CAPS lock on, you can simply hit the arrow keys. You can later delete all of those rejected images in bulk.

To Sum Up

  • Go to Grid View
  • Choose your Select Image
  • Choose C for Compare View
  • Use the arrows to cycle through the images. Inspect them as necessary, using the Zoom and Link Focus tools as necessary. 
  • Pick the images you want to keep by hitting P to flag them. Hit X for any images you want to get rid of. Rate them now if desired.

Compare View is a bit more difficult to use than Survey View. However, you can also cycle through your images very quickly, once you get the hang of it.

Take advantage of Lightroom’s powerful features to quickly filter through tons of your photos. You can immediately get rid of images that don’t work and you’ll never use, or images that are very similar but miss the mark. This will free up space and make your life a lot easier when it comes to searching for photos and going through Lightroom’s filmstrip.

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Darina Kopcok
Darina Kopcok

is a writer and professional food photographer who shares her recipes and photography on her blog Gastrostoria. Her latest work can be found on OFFset, as well as her online portfolio at darinakopcok.com.

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