Test Shows Lightroom Import Screen Is X6 Slower Than The Next Slowest Alternative

Oct 13, 2015

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

Test Shows Lightroom Import Screen Is X6 Slower Than The Next Slowest Alternative

Oct 13, 2015

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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Do you like Lightroom’s new import screen? That’s what I thought. It turns out that in addition to the import being over simplified for some and too complicated for others, it is the slowest (by far) from the competing photo management applications out there.

How much slower? Jim Harmer of improve photography took Lightroom for a spin of import, comparing it to 3 other popular image management suites: Capture One, Photo Mechanic and Apple’s Photos App. Each contestant would have to import and generate full previews for 97 random files. The results absolutely blew me away. Never using anything else other than Lightroom I thought that the import and preview generation time was inherent to the process but Jim’s test shows results up to 20 times faster with other programs.

YouTube video

Here are Jim’s final test results:

  • Lightroom- 190 seconds just to bring in the photos, 685 seconds to bring in all photos and build full previews
  • Capture One – 27 seconds to bring in photos, 114 seconds to bring in all photos and build full previews
  • Photo Mechanic – 12 seconds to bring in photos and allow for lightning fast full-screen browsing
  • Photos App – 9 seconds to bring in all photos and allow for lightning fast full-screen browsing

I am not even sure how to respond to this one. But I think that Adobe had better put import speed as a top priority for their next release.

I know that it’s nice that Lightroom plays nicely with Photoshop, and that it is nice that it’s included in the $30 CC license, but if you are a heavy user, you may want to consider the alternatives: Capture One Pro is selling for 229 EUR, and Photo Mechanic is selling for $150, both offer a free trial.

[Lightroom Is 600% Slower Than the Competition | improvephotography]

P.S. if you are really in for some lulz jump to 1:10 where Lightroom just crashes in the background.

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Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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10 responses to “Test Shows Lightroom Import Screen Is X6 Slower Than The Next Slowest Alternative”

  1. Morgan Glassco Avatar
    Morgan Glassco

    maybe I should be happy my CC application perpetually fails I haven’t been able to update to the to the horrid import version

  2. Kay O. Sweaver Avatar
    Kay O. Sweaver

    LR has gotten slower with every release. I’ll be sticking with version 5 as long as it supports my camera gear.

  3. Chris Hutcheson Avatar
    Chris Hutcheson

    Bear in mind that Photo Mechanic is really primarily useful as an image browser, importer and metadata tool (on steroids – I use it to to quickly select what I’m going to import to Lightroom). Lightroom is simply much too slow for doing that kind of work when you have lots of images to review. Beyond that, you really need to use something else for any kind of meaningful post processing work.

    Did your importing do anything other than bring the images in, BTW? Any pre-processing of any kind, or metadata work? If so was it consistent across all applications?

  4. David Perez Avatar
    David Perez

    I have not installed the latest updates, but am equally frustrated by LR’s slowness.

    In the library module, my laptop can take 30 seconds for an image to fully render. I’m left staring at the screen wondering if my image is horribly out of focus, or if LR is still rendering. There’s no loading indicator to let me know it’s done.

    The develop module, thankfully, is much quicker to render so I end up skipping the library for the rejecting-less-than-ideal-images part of my workflow.

    When I used photo mechanic, I was extremely pleased by its import speed and ability to render quickly.

  5. Robert Mitchell Avatar
    Robert Mitchell

    The new Lightroom import module is a huge step backwards. It’s slow and features have been removed. Epic fail, Adobe.

  6. TheInconvenientRuth Avatar
    TheInconvenientRuth

    Can you clarify a bit more about the settings? The post mentions “full preview” and “Full screen preview” alternately, does that mean for example a 1920×1200 preview? Lightroom tends to render the entire image in full resolution, not just “full screen”, depending on your settings. For a 36mp D810 file that’s going to make a considerable difference. Are all tests about a fully rendered 100% viewable image? I haven’t updated to the latest LR version yet, so I can’t test it myself, but if it is THAT slow I might reconsider upgrading..

  7. Gen. Jack D. Ripper Avatar
    Gen. Jack D. Ripper

    I gave up on Lightroom for the initial import and grading about a year ago. I now use Windows Explorer to copy from my card to my computer. Then Photo Mechanic to do most of the reviewing and grading (usually 3 passes to identify 3* images). Then I finally “import” in Lightroom with minimal previews, which is quite fast since the files are already in place and no real previews are being built. I filter in LR to show only the 3* images and build 1-1 previews only for them (sometimes I will apply a few overall presets or adjustments first—in Develop with auto-sync). Then I do my final processing of the images in Develop. This is a pretty efficient workflow and one I should have moved to long ago.

  8. Ben Uri Avatar
    Ben Uri

    After working with Lightroom for 5 years, I just found Picktorial (www.picktorial.com), which is a new photo editor and organizer (still in beta, free, for Mac only).
    It displayed 96 thumbnails of raw files (NEFs) in just 3 seconds!
    I love its import workflow – simple drag-n-drop folders that immediately appear at the browser – available for viewing and editing.
    The awesome thing is that Picktorial comes with non-destructive editing features including local adjustments (patch tool, skin-smoothing, defocus blur, details enhancement, etc.) which I found very handy, and the team behind Picktorial says it’s only the beginning.
    Bye bye Lightroom…

  9. George Jardine Avatar
    George Jardine

    You turn on Smart Previews without mentioning it, and that alone probably doubled (or more) the time your LR import took.

    LR is admittedly slow, but it’s not that slow. Also, C1’s organizer, Photos, and PM all only show you the camera embedded JPEG. LR builds its own screen-sized preview FROM THE RAW DATA, whether you’re set to Minimal or not just as soon as you start going through the photos in Loupe view.

    You’re disqualified.

  10. Joon Ha Kim Avatar
    Joon Ha Kim

    oh.. Please. LR can be slower than other App. But Total process(editing and batching image process) and final product image (export) are not slow.