Lightroom performance issues

Even with a new and fast laptop, Lightroom has performance issues. But one by one. I use Capture One as my favourite RAW converter for years. I like it more than Lightroom, which was the converter I used before. But the cloud-based features of Lightroom could be very convenient. So I gave Lightroom a chance. Actually two chances: my sweetheart has a cloud subscription now and is very happy with the solution. A few moments after editing, she sees her pictures in the app on her smartphone. She is very enthusiastic because she always has her photos with her automatically now. For her, Lightroom is perfect.

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New experiences with Lightroom Classic

It was clear to me from the many interesting comments and tweets I received about a recent Lightroom post and from the conversation with Sven Doelle, Principal Business Development Manager at Adobe in Germany, that currently (2019) solely Lightroom Classic is an option. There is a difference from Lightroom, and it will be a while before Adobe can resolve this confusing naming. It surely wasn’t helpful that Adobe has removed the “CC” from the names lately. Simply put, Lightroom is to be used as an Omni-device-RAW converter in the cloud, while Lightroom Classic is the desktop version for professionals.

My latest approach with Lightroom Classic was wildly open because I really like the new structure control. I had talked to Sven about this control in Capture One at the time, and he had already made me curious about the upcoming implementation in Lightroom. This control works differently than in Capture One, but that’s not a bad thing. For a quick retouch in portraits, it does a really great job. (The emphasis is on “quick”.)

But I often have a lot of photos to edit, and therefore, performance is often more important than great features. After all, there is really no shortage of excellent RAW converters. I’ve been using Capture One for years, and because of the Lightroom performance shown here, it’ll stay that way.

Measurements with Lightroom and Capture One

Two simple examples illustrate the Lightroom performance issues. I imported 181 images and measured the time to complete the rendering of the (smart) previews. I also exported files with a certain edge length and measured the times. Of course, the source, the data used, the destination and the type of export were comparable. Here is the table with the hand stopped results.

TasksLightroom ClassicCapture One
Importing 181 files0:40 min0:12 min
Rendering (smart) previews1:40 min1:05 min
Export of 181 images3:37 min1:30 min

For the same task, Lightroom Classic takes almost 6 minutes in total, while Capture One doesn’t even use 2:50 minutes. So even with only 181 images, this doubles the time spent in front of the computer without me being able to do anything.

If you would like to do a similar test to compare my values: I used RAWs from Sony’s A7RIII and Nikon Z7. The hardware used was Apple’s new MacBook Pro with i9, 8 cores and 32GB RAM. A good indicator for the Lightroom performance problems is the fan, too. It blows much more prolonged and louder during export than during the same task by Capture One. Of course, this may also have something to do with the fact that the CPU has to work much longer with Lightroom than that of the competitor.

My conclusion on Lightroom performance

Those who regularly have to work with a lot of pictures will be much better served with Capture One. This surprises me even more because of the mass processing of images used to be Lightroom’s competence. Copying one editing scheme to all other images is just as comfortable in Capture One as it is in Lightroom. And it also works faster because the previews are rendered more quickly.
So if Adobe wants to push through new prices, you already know another satisfying RAW converter. There is no reason to stay with Lightroom from a performance point of view.

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