Monday, July 17, 2017

The Lightroom Manifesto: Adobe Has Lost Its Way

Jim Harmer (via Chuq Von Rospach):

Almost two years ago I posted a video showing the import speed of Lightroom compared to the competition. The test showed that Lightroom’s import was 600% slower than the next worse alternative. Adobe saw the video and reached out to me, but their response was mostly “There has to be some kind of bug. Tell me about your system.” That was frustrating. It wasn’t just me and anyone using the program could see that instantly. I heard from hundreds of other photographers who were all seeing the same thing.


Jeff Harmon has been calling for a culling module for ages, and I think he’s right. The speed of the develop module is fine. Import and culling IS the issue.


Also, the feature set in Lightroom has slowed to a crawl ever since Adobe locked us into a subscription. They swore up and down that the subscription model would allow them to make better improvements to products and consistently develop them over time. That is simply not factual. The list of significant features added to Lightroom in the last two entire years is barely one sentence long.

Lloyd Chambers:

Testing Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (or Photoshop) often shows modest speed gaps between computers that ought to diverge more strongly, e.g., an 8 core system runs only 20% faster than a 4 core system—or more slowly.

This thread at Adobe asks for performance suggestions. I could take days and speak to any number of issues in Lightroom and Photoshop, but this post will be my contribution—being an unpaid consultant pays no bills.


Lightroom appears to serialize I/O with computation (akin to stop lights smack dab in the interstate highway) instead of using separate work queues and an I/O read-ahead queue and an I/O write queue. The result is that CPU cores are forced to idle while waiting for I/O to complete.

While the iMac 5K SSD is very fast, its speed is only half of its peak speed up to 2MB I/O sizes, that is, I/O sizes of 64MB or so are required for maximum seed. And yet Lightroom apparently never uses I/O sizes larger than 1MB, thus cutting the peak I/O speak to less than half of what is possible.

I haven’t been using Lightroom long enough to really compare the development progress with previous 2-year periods. I will say that, switching from Aperture, some things were faster and some were slower. Importing feels slow, and this is compounded by the fact that some parts of the user interface don’t work properly while an import is in progress.

I also ran into bottlenecks where simply having certain types of smart collections, even when not viewing them, could massively slow down basic operations like importing and moving photos. It was as if it were re-evaluating all the smart collections against all the photos after processing each individual photo, not at the end of a batch, though that may be fixed now.

Lightroom performance is much better on my new iMac than on my old MacBook Pro.

4 Comments RSS · Twitter

I'm sure Apple dumping Aperture helped encourage Adobe's lack of urgency wrt Lightroom, to some extent.

Adrian Bengtson

> Also, the feature set in Lightroom has slowed to a crawl ever since Adobe locked us into a subscription.

I know this has been mentioned before here on your blog when discussion payment models for software, but it's worth pointing out again: this is a big reason why the subscription model for software sucks and why I'm not happy with the direction 1Password is heading. It's so easy for the developers to become lazy and slow down the development since the money is coming in all the same.

Developers can swear to commit to a steady stream of updates with better features and less bugs, but in reality some (many? most?) of them do not follow up and Adobe unfortunately shows the way here.

[…] Jim Harmer (via Michael Tsai): […]

[…] May 2015, Adobe offered Lightroom for either a flat or monthly fee. I chose $149 instead of $10/month. Now 26 months later, it seems […]

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