Archive for August, 2007

Lightroom Performance Stats

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

For those of you interested in the Lightroom 1.1 performance, here are some stats I pulled from a recent wedding job.

The PC in use was my laptop computer with an Intel Core Duo T2300E 1.66 GHz running Windows XP SP2 and with 1 GB of RAM. Usually this machine is a good performer. The computer was manufactured in May 2006.

Now, the images that I exported were RAW files coming from my Canon 1ds mark II (60% of the images, usually 16 Megapixel) and the Canon 1d mark II N (40% of the images, usually 8 Megapixel). The average image size is thus 16×60%+8×40% = 12.8 Megapixel, about the size of a Canon 5D shot.

I typically turn and crop the images, adjust color and brightness, and remove noise. I exported the images to three resolutions: (a) original size in “Quality 85″, for posters and high-end prints, (b) contrained to 2496 pixels in “Quality 80″, for normal prints up to 8″x12″, and (c) constrained to 750 pixels in “Quality 70″, for web use and email.

As Lightroom seems to behave strangely when you are running more than one export job at the same time (see previous post), I had to do three exports in total. Exporting the 764 images took each time 112 minutes, i.e. 8.8 seconds per image, or 0.7 seconds per Megapixel. The size of the resulting image does not affect process time in any way. This makes sense as the operations are performed on the high resolution image anyway. The image will only be resized and written to disk once all the steps have been done. From this, I think Adobe should consider having a “multiple size” output option. As most of the processing time is spent on processing the image, this would mean a huge performance increase for those exporting the same set of images to different sizes. Just let the user select (up to) three constrained export sizes!

Anyway, the resulting image files were on average 2.4 MB in size for the high-res files, 782 KB for the “2496 constrained” files, and 111 KB for the “750 constrained” files. Image quality was good, as expected.

Adobe Lightroom Woes!

Sunday, August 26th, 2007

OK, the Adobe people urgently need to fix their buggy software. As much as I am a fan of Lightroom, as much I am a fan of usable software. And Lightroom 1.1 is currently not such a software. While Adobe fixed a lot of bugs with their 1.1 release, a number of critical bugs seem to have remained.

1. Photos fail to export

Today I wanted to export 764 photos from a wedding – urgent stuff to me because the couple was waiting for the DVD. The export process took quite long (2 hours and 10 minutes), but I was doing other exports (resizes of the images) at the same time. To my horror I found that Lightroom stopped exporting after 329 images. It just showed an error message “435 photos failed to export” without any further explanation at the end of the whole process, i.e. after 764 images.

Huh? They can’t be serious about this one. This is critical. I think that IF an image fails to export, they should (a) mention the reason for the failure, and (b) offer to abort the process immediately, maybe with a button offering to “ignore this error for this export”. It is not acceptable to show a progress bar as if nothing had happened, and then tell the truth about the problem to the user at the very end. No, this does not work.

By the way, restarting the computer and re-starting a single export process for the “Error Images” has apparently solved the problem. If the problem was caused by the three exports running at the same time, I suggest that Adobe removes this feature until the software is solid enough to handle multiple export processes at the same time.

2. Database corrupted?

Whenever LR reminds me to backup the database, I usually click “Backup” and wait the few seconds until it has finished. The last successful backup was done on 13/08. Now, the last few days I clicked the backup message away, as I was a bit under pressure. However, LR kept reminding and asking me upon startup. And when I finally wanted to do the backup I clicked “Backup” (with the default “check integrity” checkbox checked), all I got was the error message:

“Lightroom was unable to back up Lightroom Catalog.lrcat. The catalog file you attempted to back up is corrupt and cannot be used by Lightroom.”

To me, frankly, this sounds ultimately scary, resulting in nightmares of all my work being lost. However, Lightroom appears to be working fine, once I press OK > Continue. All the images seem to be there, including the most important recent images!

3. Undo

The Undo function is still not fully working correctly. This is more than just an annoyance because it leaves you with unpredictable results. You better use “Undo” as the last retreat, because you never know how many steps are actually undone by the software. I’d say in 90% of the cases the feature works as intended (i.e. just the last step is undone), however in 10% of the cases any number of steps were undone, including those changes other images you have done before the current image. Not acceptable.

4. The Tab Key

The Tab key is still not working like it should in Development. I can jump from “Temp” to “Tint” to “Exposure” to “Recovery” back and furth without problems, using the Tab key. However, from “Clarity” it does not jump to “Vibrance”? And from “Vibrance” it does not jump to “Saturation”! In fact, the cursor does jump somewhere (it does not stay at the current text entry field). Same with Noise Reduction. I can not jump from “Luminance” to “Color”! Instead Lightroom jumps from “Luminance” directly to “Sharpness Amount” (skipping “Color”). Stupid.

5. Grabbing the focus

And then, why the heck is Lightroom grabbing the application focus while exporting images? I open the Windows Explorer to see which files have exported to the disk already, but Lightroom keeps pushing itself to the foreground, blocking the view on the Explorer window. This silly bug can be bypassed by actively putting Lightroom to the background, but I think a software should not grab the focus when another application has been launched by the user. I admit that this is more an annoyance than the bugs mentioned before. (Apparently, Lightroom does not always do this, so I am wondering what the heck is going on with my installation?)

So, while Adobe seems to be on a good way, it still has a lot of work to do. I am waiting for Lightroom 1.2. It took about four months from 1.0 to 1.1. So 1.2 might be out by end of October. Let’s hope they get their act together this time.

Update: Adobe engineer Dan Tull has left a comment to this post, explaining that they had a drop (an intermediate software release) that fixed additional bugs. And he offers his help to fix the database problem. Now, that’s what I call customer service.

Update II: Lightroom 1.2 is available. Read my review.

Weekend Break in Copenhagen

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

We had an unforseen opportunity to visit my father-in-law on his small yacht at the Baltic Sea, something that we had done before. After a summer in Norway and Sweden he finally approached Copenhagen, Denmark, and said: “If you guys want to join me for a weekend, just pop into a plane and come to Copenhagen.” We did not need to think twice, packed our stuff and hopped on the next plane to Copenhagen.

Uwe Gorber Sailing
Mark Zanzig/zettpress

It’s not a long flight from Munich to Copenhagen, and so we met Friday evening in Copenhagen’s Christian’s Havn, probably one of the most scenic and authentic city harbours around. In countless small channels you are greeted by ships big and small, by yachts as well as old timers. You are surrounded by appartment houses, small shops, restaurants, cafés and supermarkets, and the city center is still just a 15 minute walk away.

Christians Havn Copenhagen
Mark Zanzig/zettpress

Christians Havn Copenhagen
Mark Zanzig/zettpress

Of course we took the opportunity to briefly visit the other must-see harbour in Copenhagen, Nyhavn (“The New Harbour”). This is a very touristic place, especially during summer, as people stroll along the restaurants and cafés or just enjoy the busy place. All the tourist boat trips start here, making the place even busier. Only old timers and historical yachts are allowed to moore here, so we did not qualify for this, but then again, we had come for a good bunch of sailing…

Nyhavn, Copenhagen
Mark Zanzig/zettpress

On Saturday morning, the wind was right to get to a small town called Rødvig, situated just south of Copenhagen, all-in-all a short 20 sea miles leg. Easy.

Rødvig Denmark on the map
Mark Zanzig/zettpress

Mark Zanzig/zettpress

All said and done, we entered the Carina and sailed away. A clear and sunny day with plenty of wind and waves were enough for a pleasant ride to Rødvig, were we enjoyed one of the excellent fish restaurants in the evening. The most impressive thing about sailing is to me that it gets you carried away from your daily business and worries really fast. Just two days of fun on the water have the same recreational value as if you were away for a week or so. :-)

Sailing Baltic Sea
Mark Zanzig/zettpress

And so, on Sunday we sailed back to Copenhagen and took the last plane in the evening back home. Too sad that it was just a weekend break, but I am lucky to be able to enjoy this luxury.

I want to close off this blog entry with a lovely shot of Petra taken in the very moment when a bigger wave crashed across the ship, threatening to splash across her as well. The shot is all blurry, and I loved it the second I saw it on the back of my camera. It is my absolute favorite photo from this trip:

Petra Zanzig Sailing
Mark Zanzig/zettpress