In ImageConverter it looks like this load is not necessary.
In cases such as using S3 to store images this will have a major impact on page load times, as it results in a huge number of HTTP requests.
Note: this is related with CS-6280
Also, on ImageStorage.php line #139 the image is loaded to retrieve image metadata. This has a massive impact on page load times when something like S3 is used to store images as it results in a huge number of HTTP requests. This is especially prevalent on the Search page.
Note: this is related with CS-6281