Lightroom 7 / Lightroom CC2018 – Getting the best performance
In life there are a lot of causes of pain. Kidney stones, Childbirth and if you’re someone who does a lot of heavy image editing, Lightroom.
Well, Lightroom 7 is here and with it a boost in the general speed of the program. Adobe’s programming team have focused pretty much exclusively on speeding up performance, so much so they’ve split the program into two entities. Lightroom classic, which is based more around a centralised file system and Lightroom CC which is more cloud based.
This post covers what the team at Adobe have done to improve things and what other things you can do as an end user to hack some additional speed from your general day to day running of the program and covers Lightroom Classic CC 2018 / 7.
What’s new in Lightroom 7 / CC2018:
- Adobe have increased the ability to utilise powerful gpu’s a lot over previous versions.
- Improved Cache Management for Faster Rendering of High Resolution Standard Previews
- Color and Luminance Range Precision Masking
- Auto-masking Improvements
- Faster Switching from Library to Develop Module
- Graphics Library Upgrade for Faster Rendering in Grid, Loupe, and Filmstrip
- Faster Culling using Embedded Preview
- Faster Preview Generation
- Catalog Loading Time Improvement
- Improvement in Loading of Images and Use of Develop Controls
- As Adobe promised, it’s all about speed on this release and they’ve done an excellent job. Splitting the software between Classic and cloud based cut a lot of bloat from the programs which was needed. Over time Adobe has added more and more features to Lightroom and this came at a cost.
What I’d liked to of seen in Lightroom Classic CC2018:
Export scheduling – I export 6 threads at once and it’s not as fast as when I send one after the other.
More multithreading support. In the new age of Intel’s i9 and AMD’s welcome return with Threadripper it’s a challenge for developers to make the use of all cores. If you visit Puget’s benchmarking page here: Puget Lightroom CPU Benchmark you’ll spot the Intel I7 7700k still holds it’s own against the big guns overall. When we’re talking a 250 GBP chip holding it’s own against a 2000 GBP i9 7980XE processor it’s obvious there’s room to improve somewhere. Although the new worthy successor for Lightroom editing appears to be the 8700K.
- External midi controller suport without a plugin. Midi rocks. Support it.
- The ability to run two instances of Lightroom at the same time.
- Aliens with free candy
Speed hacks and tips to get the most from Adobe Lightroom.
Now, before I continue I must disclose the environment I’m talking about. With these tips some people will definitely improve by using them, others, it may just affect me and my use alone. But there are some great things here to assist. Find what works for you.
I’m a windows user too, the test rig is based around M2 polaris boot and cache drives along with a full SSD setup for all incoming and outgoing work. There are no traditional spindle based drives in my system anywhere. The amount of ram in my system is 64gb and the cpu an 8 core, (16 with hyperthreading) Intel i7 5960x which is running at the max turbo boost of 4.2ghz.
- Tip one: You’ll need more than 16gb of ram.
With Lightroom 7 / CC2018 you’ll hit close to 14-16gb ram on export. Based on this you should have more than this in your system for other programs to run (well) at the same time. If Lightroom needs the ram give it as much as you can but I’ve not seen it go over this. I have seen a constant 6-8 gb used when the program is running though.
- Tip two: Put your computer into maximum performance mode.
Due to exceptionally good power management by apple and microsoft they are very, very quick to slow down your cpu to low power. Almost too good. To test this (Windows users) hit CTRL-Alt-Delete and go pay a visit to your system monitor and check the speed of your cpu to the speed on the chip. On my 5960x in balanced mode it runs at 1.4ghz even though my stock setting is 3.5ghz windows slows do the cpu to conserve power. Which is great on paper. In practise though it creates a lot of lag.
Here’s one scenario where this matters: You’re editing photos in lightroom, but the edit itself doesn’t take a lot of juice, loading the next photos does and there is a lag between the cpu going from low power mode and turbo boost. It happens every time you move to the next photo or if you are exporting images.
To rule this lag out put your cpu into high performance mode via the power options. Windows users can download a piece of software called Full Throttle and set it to only go into high performance mode when certain programs are running. If any Apple users are reading and know of software for IOS then let me know in the comments and I’ll post it here.
That way you won’t be wasting power in standby (because you’ll forget to change the power settings – honest).
- Tip three: Edit your photos in a regular order.
Sounds weird I know right? But, as someone who often outsources their basic editing (exposure / White balance / basic panel stuff). I can tell you that editing those photos take longer and slow my machine down quicker than if I did it myself.
I used to think it was a catalogue issue or something between the images being edited elsewhere and while Adobe’s official advice is HERE along with other cool info like increasing cache size and so on it boils down to this:
- Spot healing.
- Geometry corrections, such as Lens Correction profiles and Manual corrections, including keystone corrections using the Vertical slider.
- Global non-detail corrections, such as Exposure and White Balance. These corrections can also be done first if desired.
- Local corrections, such as Gradient Filter and Adjustment Brush strokes.
- Detail corrections, such as Noise Reduction and Sharpening.
- Tip four: It’s human software and behaves accordingly.
Lightroom may be based around zero’s and one’s, code etc but it’s conceptualised, designed and tested by humans. It isn’t perfect and never will be. Restart the software every 100 photos or as soon as you feel the crop tool is geting sticky, images are loading slowly or well, you know, it get’s annoying.
- Tip five: Disable hyperthreading in your bios.
If you have more than 8 physical cores you may find a benefit from disabling hyperthreading as it reduces the overhead. The downside is that if you want to use your emails, social media or do something else your OS may slow down as a result. It does for me. With the new version of Lightroom only the Export part of the software leaves me wanting.
- Tip six: Disable antivirus from scanning your specific program drives.
This is a last resort option for some, but I disable antivirus scanning on my incoming drives (which contain my raw files) and also on the Lightroom program folder. Some antivirus software scans files on access every time and it introduces lag.
- Tip seven: Use smart previews and change the name of the source folder.
Lightroom actually has this as an option in the program but I recommend disabling it and doing it yourself. By generating smart previews first, then changing the name of your source folder it absolutely and without compromise forces lightroom to use those. The smart previews are the same images, just 8 bit DNG raw files that are 2000 pixels long. This is a massive jump in size and efficiency between a 6000+ pixel long 14/16bit file and you’ll see a MASSIVE increase in speed through develop as a result.
The option you can use in Lightroom works, but it also renders the full resolution raw if you zoom in and that slows things down again. Just ensure that on export you change the name of the folder back!
- Tip eight: When smart previews aren’t so smart.
Little known is that while smart previews are smaller versions of our raws they aren’t rendered per say. When you load the images into develop they still need to be rendered. Which seems a bit odd but the reason behind this is that in creating smart previews your just creating another raw file. The word ‘previews’ is misleading.
So, after you’ve rendered your smart previews and changed the source folder name, make the thumbnail sizes in the library as small as possible and watch them render before your eyes. You’ll know they’re done because a small circle will appear next to each one on the top right hand corner. Do this for the full set too.
Now, when you move between each photos in develop they will be already rendered and you will find zero delay (or a lot less) when editing.
- Tip nine: Restart lightroom before any export
This really makes a difference to me. Sometimes I’ve started 6 exports of the same images to different file sizes and 8 hours later it’s still going. Restarting the software and then exporting seems to cure this. Same for slow develop and so on. Lightroom loves a restart. Looooooves it. It’s a bit of a shame Adobe hasn’t figured out why this is or implement a fix so we don’t have to.
- Tip ten: The file type you export to makes a lot of difference.
I export my raw files to 8 bit tiff before they go to jpeg. The reason being is that when you export a raw file the edits are applied each time. So if exporting to jpeg just once you won’t benefit. But if you’re exporting to 3 types of jpeg, then again to black and white it is a really smart idea to create your colour tiffs and your black and white tiffs then load those into Lightroom and export to jpeg. Because tiff isn’t compressed and can be exported ‘as is’ without adjustments (as these were applied when sent to tiff from raw) the export will be MUCH quicker than if you exported the same raw files 6 times with adjustments.
Other stuff that helps speed up editing in Lightroom:
So we’ve covered the software but what about workflow itself? Personally I use three things that help with my editing speed.
Loupdeck and midi controllers
For general editing I use a Loupedeck which is very responsive and works flawlessly with lightroom. It’s expensive, but the software developers work closely with the Adobe Lightroom api’s and as such it’s very responsive and smooth.
That being said, the Loupedeck software as it currently stands is flawed in that I cannot customise the buttons to any configuration I want and this would also be useful if the exposure dial could be changed for another should it break. The next and previous image buttons are on my right hand side but as a leftie I’d like them on the left! To their credit though they release software updates regularly. But it is slightly frustrating it’s aimed at professionals and these are the guys with a system in place. I never use the zoom buttons but there are two on the board, let me change them!
In order to step around this issue is I also implement the use of a Behringer X-touch mini which has all the things I can’t customise via Midi2lr (You can run both lightroom plugins at the same time) and lastly I use an Asus Spatha mouse with the buttons configured to have my next image, previous, crop tool, gradient, radial and brush tools on as well as delete and copy previous settings.
I tried several MMO mice but the Spatha mouse was the best due to the size of the buttons and finger rest on the right. Many mice had either too many buttons, ones that were too big or small or that favoured a claw grip (buttons were too far back).
Good things are said about a pen / stylus but I’ve not had any experience of those.
I hope you found these tips useful and as always I’d love to hear from you in the comments below about your experience with Lightroom, feature suggestions, tips, bugs any anything else. Please also let others know your system used too!
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