Lightroom 4 Is Killing Me

I love Adobe Lightroom for its functionality and ease of use.  I freaking hate it for its speed which is the equivalent of the three-toed sloth (the slowest moving animal on Earth).

Okay, I get that the Nikon D800 RAW files are massive.  Each photo is 75 megabytes on average.  I realize that’s not trivial.

I’ve gone to Adobe’s website and followed all of their instructions for speeding up Lightroom.  And then I’ve done a few things on my own.  I know that my catalog file is huge (around 40,000 images) and that can slow things down.  So this morning I’m trying to edit last night’s shoot by using a new catalog that only contains the 400 photos I shot last night.  Plus I put both the RAW files and the catalog on a Solid State Disc (SSD).  The only thing I can’t do is to shut down the other programs that are currently running, though I killed all but the most essential ones.

I’m seeing a slight speed-up, but nothing as dramatic as I was hoping to see.  It’s like, I click on the crop tool and then see my mouse pointer change into a spinning circle for 5 seconds.  I crop, slowly, because after each adjustment I get the spinning wheel again.  Finally I’m done cropping, I click on that crop tool, and now I see on the task bar all these little “shadow process” windows opening and closing.

Now I don’t think that my PC set-up is too shabby.  I’m running 64 bit Windows 7.  I’ve got an Intel Core i7 2.67 GHz.  I have 12 gig of RAM installed.  I have an AMD Radeon HD 6800 video card with 1 gig of RAM – not top of the line but should suffice since I’m not into playing games on my PC.

This is affecting my editing AND my shooting.  My editing because now I’ll sit and ponder over each edit, is it worth the 10 seconds it will probably take?  And my shooting – last night I very consciously shot less than I normally would because I figured more photos would mean more time editing.

This morning it has, so far, taken me about 4 hours to go through 236 photos and edit 118 of them.  And it’s not as if I’m doing anything more than minor edits.  No gradient filters.  No touch-up brushes.  Just some sharpening, some adjustments to exposure, clarity, sharpness, contrast – cut and paste the settings from one photo to the next, a few minor adjustments as called for, a bit of cropping now and then.  I should be able to do each photo in 30 seconds or less.  Instead each one is taking 2 to 3 minutes.

Right now I don’t know what the answer is.  Are there other steps I could take to speed this up?  Should I switch to a different RAW processor?  Suggestions?

(One thing I’m thinking of – doing my editing on my MacBook Pro, which seems a bit zippier than my PC and also I could be working there with no other programs running.  On the other hand, I’d have to do my editing on an external drive.)

Oh, here’s one of the photos from last night ….



  1. davethevet January 7, 2013 at 9:44 pm #

    Hi Spike, are you doing a cull before you go in to edit? I usually grade everything on download and I choose whether to just do the four and five star images. Ill usually mark a few for deletion and then bulk delete those.
    Is your white balance changing all the time in that light? If not I guess you could preset a custom white balance and presharpen for everything in the same room and light, then its just one click for the bulk of your editing.
    Ive got last years mbp which I put an ssd into and it handles d800 files ok, faster than the olympus raws sometimes, strangely enough.
    Im sure youve tried most of this but good luck.

    • spike January 7, 2013 at 9:57 pm #

      I have two different workflow methods but in the end I only edit the keepers. On the other hand, I delete almost nothing, ever. On a studio shoot, white balance remains consistent but in all my location stuff, there can be quite a bit of variety from shot to shot, though I have to say that auto white balance on the D800 is relatively accurate more often than not, at least for me.

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