Lightroom 2.0 is 20% slower, still buggy

Summer is a busy time for photographers like me, especially when it comes to weddings. Since the Lightroom update arrived in the mail, I have been using it to process several thousand photos. My verdict: Lightroom 2 is worth it. If you have not experienced this software, it is about time now.

But I came across a couple of “issues” that I would like to share with you. Just so that you are not surprised when you encounter any of these on your computer after the install.

1) Export is about 20% slower than Lightroom 1.4.1

Yep. Lightroom 2 is slower. Definitely. Same system, same workstyle, same disk space, yet the export takes about 20% longer than in Lightroom 1.4.1. On Saturday I had a wedding with 498 shots to be exported (70% from the 1ds II, 30% from the 1d II N), a total of 6,343,441,920 Pixel to be processed. This took 88 minutes on my Intel Core Duo T2300E system with 1 GB of memory on a clean Windows XP SP2 machine only used for image processing. This laptop is certainly not a beast any more, but still a well performing machine. 6.3 billion pixels in 88 minutes – that’s about 1.20 Megapixels per second. Lightroom 1.4.1 did a similar job (764 photos, 75% from the 1ds II, 25% from the 1d II N) at a speed of 1.51 Megapixel per second.

Interestingly, LR 1.3 was exporting at 1.29 Megapixel per second which is pretty close to the 1.20 Megapixel that I see with LR 2.0. Coincidence?

I read somewhere that Lightroom export performance is “largely disk bound”. I think this is partly true, but why should the application be seriously slower on the same system? I imagine that this may be related to the new correction brush and gradient filters simply requiring more computing power. Or the code base of LR 2 is an older, less performant version of LR 1.x.

2) Crop rotate bug

A nasty one. I go to “Develop” mode and click the cropping tool. Then unlock the aspect ratio, crop and rotate the image to whatever I have in mind. Then I go to the next image, never touched before. I notice that the aspect ratio appears to be unlocked from the previous image. I lock it – it says now “original” aspect ratio. But when I try to crop/rotate the image, the aspect ratio of the previous image is used despite clearly being not the original aspect ratio. Only by selecting first “Custom” from the drop down list and then “Original” again will give you the correct original aspect ratio. Bah.

3) Display bug

I edit a couple of hundred images in Develop mode and all of a sudden I am unable to zoom into the image 1:1. I can still see the small preview, but the program won’t load the high resolution image. It just shows a large grey rectangle where the image should be. Work around: Shut down Lightroom and re-start it. (This workaround points to some kind of memory leak in the software. We have seen this in the early versions of version 1, and it got fixed, I think in the 1.1 or 1.2 release.) I’m not a programmer, but I can tell you that 1.4.1 was behaving better in this regard.

4) Lightroom is slooooooow and sometimes even hangs

Not only export is slower (see above), but also using the various tools. The new correction brush reacts too slow; same goes for the gradient filter tool. Not good. Sometimes it takes ages to move from one image to the next; then the hard disk indicator flashes like mad, but nothing happens. This is definitely worse than Lightroom 1.4.1!

In rare cases, the software even “hangs” completely, i.e. it does not respond to user actions at all. Just the sandclock shows. (This happened to me after innocently clicking into the “Exposure” field in Develop mode to make an entry.) You can shoot down the software with Ctrl-Alt-Del, then re-start the system and launch Lightroom again. The software has forgotten where you were when you terminated it, but all the changes are there! At least, that’s not too bad.

I’ve also noticed that sometimes the application won’t start at all. Well, it does start and shows the last image you have been working on, but then the harddisk LED will flash and flash and flash forever. The application is so performance greedy by then that you even have a hard time shooting it down manually. Geez, never seen such behaviour before.

5) Some exported JPEG can not be displayed in Windows file viewer

Huh? The other day I did a quick export of five images to JPEG, all from the same camera, all from the same day, all from the same batch export, yet one of those five JPEGs would not display in Windows File Viewer? I did the export again with the same silly result. Only opening the image in Photoshop and then saving as JPEG solved the issue. Weird. Do I now have to check all JPEGs whether they can be opened by File Viewer?

6) Installed Lightroom Versions Clash

After you have successfully upgraded to LR2, I strongly suggest to remove Lightroom 1.4.1 from your system. I had some weird clashes between the different versions, e.g. inserting a USB card reader with a memory card opened 1.4.1 instead of 2.0! As the interfaces really look similar, I used the import dialogue only to find after a while that it was importing to the wrong software version. Yep, I know – the top left corner mentions the version number, yet I did not really pay attention to it because it was clear to me that it would launch the newest version. Go figure. (Un-installing is also said to increase performance. Need to double-check this myth.)

7) The re-appearance of the TAB problem

Occasionally, using the TAB key in Develop mode will hide the side panels instead of jumping to the next entry field. It happens to me frequently after the Saturation field, when trying to navigate to the HSL/Color/Grayscale section. This was an issue (though much worse) until version 1.2. Could it be that Adobe started to use parts of 1.2 code as base for Lightroom 2?

8) Color temperature setting is still not read correctly

I run all my cameras at a fixed color temperature of 5800 K. I shoot RAW, so I do not really care about this setting. But when I import the photos into Lightroom, the software can not detect the color temperature of the cameras correctly. This is not a new bug. I experienced it with Lightroom 1.4.1 as well. (And yes, I do agree that it is just a minor flaw. With Lightroom, it’s easy to apply the same color temperature to all the images. Yet it gives you something to think about, especially when you are using “auto white balance” on your camera.)

9) Fills your disk faster than you can say “F…”

Not really a bug, but probably not exactly a feature either. After only three weeks of using Lightroom 2.0, I was baffled to see that the folder Lightroom 2 Catalog Previews.lrcat is practically stuffed with files. Right now, Windows tells me: 25,384 files in 21,902 folders, taking up 10.1 GB on the disk. And in most of these countless folder I see exactly one single file? 10 GB is waay too much IMO. Adobe should provide automated tools to reduce that junk to a suitable size. Tell you what: I’m not going to buy a new machine just because Lightroom is too dumb to use the existing space efficiently.

* * *

The members of the Adobe Lightroom user-to-user forum mention tons of other issues, ranging from install problems (install was almost flawless on my system) to weird crashes (I have not experienced any bad crashes, e.g. blue screens, so far). So I guess your mileage may vary.

P.S.: A very good review of all the new features can be found at ArsTechnica.

2 Responses to “Lightroom 2.0 is 20% slower, still buggy”

  1. Mark Reese says:

    I love LR2, but I have stopped trying to use the local adjustment brush – it is impossibly slow and Viveza’s plug in in CS3 is a cinch to use. I hope they are able fix this in future iterations.

  2. Dylan says:

    Thanks for a good summary of what you have experienced. I’ve been a loyal LR fan, but 2.0 (and 2.1 RC) are not at all what I expected. Better features, but more problems. Random computer shutdowns, slow response just typing in Meta data. Each time I restart my machine, Windows asks to check my photo storage disk. I am attempting to manage about 46,000+ images in one catalog….Wish that LR could find identical images based on image content, not just file name or meta data. It appears I have lots of duplicates…

    All in all, great software, but too buggy for prime time. Wish I had not upgraded so soon. But now I am too far to revert…