Lightroom Classic: Poor Performance on Mac with 5K display

  • 4
  • Problem
  • Updated 1 month ago
  • (Edited)
Lightroom is broken. 

I recently purchased a new 5K iMac, reasonably well specced up, and certainly far beyond the recommended system requirements. And Lightroom performs like a one-legged donkey on it. 

I've been using Lightroom since the first release and loved it right from the start. It allowed me to edit photos with an ease and control that I could never manage in Photoshop. But now, for the first time, I'm considering abandoning it in search of something that actually works.

There are endless reports online, on Adobe's forums in particular, about how poorly Lightroom runs on the 5K iMac. And these have been acknowledged by Adobe Staff Contributors. Yes, I understand that the resolution of a 5K display is demanding and resource intensive, however I don't have any issues editing in Affinity or Capture One, or any other graphics/processor intensive software I use for that matter. So inevitably the issue comes back to Lightroom and how it has been designed.

I've followed every troubleshoot step I can find regarding this issue in the hopes of resolving it, and have had Adobe support screen share to do their thing. Nothing has helped the situation. So I'm left with a piece of software that I'm paying good money for, and which is currently essential to my workflow, but which I simply cannot use.

What's the answer here? It seems this is an issue that has been reported for a number of years so I'd ask why nothing has been done about it?

I'd like to be able to continue to use Lightroom. It's still in my mind the best all-round photo editing software, but in it's current state I (like many others) have no choice but to look elsewhere.
Photo of JC

JC

  • 12 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes
  • frustrated

Posted 7 months ago

  • 4
Photo of James Hess

James Hess

  • 259 Posts
  • 42 Reply Likes
Do you have the graphics processor unit enabled in Lightroom preferences? Has that made any difference whatsoever?
Photo of JC

JC

  • 12 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes
Yup, I’ve tried it with graphics processor on and off, makes no difference.
Photo of Johan Elzenga

Johan Elzenga, Champion

  • 2604 Posts
  • 1109 Reply Likes
You posted a long story without once saying what exactly is the problem...
Photo of JC

JC

  • 12 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes
Forgive me, I wrote this out right after getting off a chat with adobe support and explaining it all in detail to them.

In short, the application slows to a crawl whenever I use adjustment brushes, spot removal, crop, graduated filter...basically any of the basic develop tools.
(Edited)
Photo of Just Shot Me

Just Shot Me

  • 446 Posts
  • 127 Reply Likes
Actually the tool you are using are the more advanced tools. The basic tools are the ones in the Basic, Detail, and so on sections.
This seems to a common problem with using the more advanced tools on those 5k systems.
Photo of Carlos Cardona

Carlos Cardona

  • 643 Posts
  • 124 Reply Likes
The answer here may be that you don't have good Mac IT support. I was an Apple Certified Mac IT guy for 25 years, and Lightroom runs just fine on my 2019 27" iMac (3.6 GHz Intel Core i9, 64GB RAM). Question: did you get 64GB of RAM? THIS is the crucial detail in getting resource hogs like Lightroom (which needs a lot of resources) to run properly, and also run Photoshop, a browser, email, etc, at the same time. If not, go to Macsales and upgrade your RAM! Also, if you only have 16GB you could try what I was doing when I had 16GB, running Memory Clean every 5 damn minutes!

But I digress. If you have just "upgraded" your Mac OS several times, and not done a "clean install", you may have tons of "cruft" (technical term) that is slowing down EVERYTHING, not just Lightroom. Doing a clean install of Mojave and then using Migration Assistant to bring your data and apps back from an external boot drive backup may be just the ticket.

Or, if you're lucky, you might just have corrupt caches or application states, or directory damage. Please give your Mac the "once over"! Run the free Onyx (https://www.titanium-software.fr/en/o...), reboot. (In Onyx just run almost everything in the Maintenance tab, deselecting things you may not want deleted, like Launch Services. (Hit the "Options" button and deselect more stuff like Cookies & Other Site Data, Browser History, Form Values, etc.), then hit Run Tasks. After it's done it will ask for a reboot.

If that doesn’t fix it run Disk Warrior if you can ($120), (https://www.alsoft.com), to fix directory damage, reboot. If you can’t do Disk Warrior, at least run First Aid from Disk Utility. Also just doing a "Safe Boot" can clear out caches (restart, hold down shift until you see "Safe Boot" on the screen, then reboot normally. 

If that doesn’t work try launching Lightroom from your other (admin or test) account, with a new catalog, as a test. Does it run OK? If it does it may be a corrupted preference in your Username/Library folder. Check The Lightroom Queen site for instructions on how to reset your preferences (https://www.lightroomqueen.com). Let me know if this improves it?

Photo of Carlos Cardona

Carlos Cardona

  • 643 Posts
  • 124 Reply Likes
Yes, the brushes still sometimes drag a little, but not as much as with 16GB!
Photo of JC

JC

  • 12 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes
Hi Carlos,

Thanks for your detailed response. The machine is running on 40GB - 8GB standard plus 2 x 16GB I picked up from Crucial. I'd read reports that 3rd party RAM could be the cause of the issue so removed the Crucial sticks and the issue remained exactly the same, if anything it worsened. Considering how (relatively) smoothly LR runs on my 2014 MacBook Pro with 16gb RAM, it doesn't seem that RAM should be the issue here. The rest of the machine is very zippy, including Photoshop & FCP X, both of which I've used extensively with no trouble at all while having these Lightroom issues.

A clean install is my next port of call as far as troubleshooting MacOS goes, as I've tried everything else you've mentioned to no avail. My background is also as an Apple certified Mac technician so I feel pretty comfortable that this goes beyond just being an issue with the operating system, though I'm willing to consider any option/solution at this stage.

Cheers,
JC
Photo of Rémi Chauvin

Rémi Chauvin

  • 5 Posts
  • 1 Reply Like
Hey JC, man, your situation seems to be EXACTLY the same as mine.

I just upgraded from a 2014 16GB Macbook pro, now have a 2019 iMac with 40gb ram. Old Macbook is running lightroom 7.5, new iMac is running 8.3.1.

Lightroom on my new iMac is definitely slower, whether it's browsing images, changing between modules, and editing images (noticeably so when undoing an edit, using the local adjustment brush), everything seems slower. But it's really a killer when toggling the before and after button to see how my edits are going (hello pinwheel of death for three seconds) and also when I'm importing photos.

I've just done a test with importing 259 raw files from a Canon 7d (each file around 18mb). So a reasonable amount of images, but older and smaller in size. Shouldn't be any trouble for this new beast of a machine. Except it is TERRIBLY slow!

On my old Macbook, using the same card reader with the same import settings, the times are as follows:
Copy and import - 02:12 
Convert to DNG - 02:20
Render preview times - 00:34
Total import time - 05:07 minutes

On the new iMac:
Copy and import - 02:10 (essentially the same time)
Convert to DNG - 01:43 (half a minute quicker, nice)
Render preview times - 10:34 (literally 10 mins slower, a lifetime)
Total import time - 14:29 minutes

This is unbelievable/unacceptable. This must be an issue with the new lightroom? Is there any way to install the older lightroom and test that?
Photo of JC

JC

  • 12 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes
Hey Rémi, I definitely feel your frustration man, particularly with the lack of clear answers and solutions from Adobe, especially considering how long this issue (or similar) has been reported by users. Have you gone through the troubleshooting steps discussed here (or elsewhere)? It's handy that you've gone as far as to do the timed comparisons as well - that's a pretty shocking difference between the two machines.

I was able to install previous versions (tried both Lightroom 6 and 8.2.1) though sadly this didn't seem to make any real difference. Version 6 was slightly improved but still generally slower than my 2014 MBP. The instructions can be found here, if you want to give it a shot yourself. I'd be interested to hear how you get on: https://helpx.adobe.com/uk/download-install/using/install-previous-version.html

I've also tested it out on a clean install of MacOS as was suggested by Carlos above and this also hasn't made any difference; the adjustment brush and spot removal tool in particular are painfully slow and unresponsive, but so is cropping, before/after, and navigating images in the Library module. 

Currently, I'm waiting to hear back from someone on Adobe's senior support team as my case was escalated after the latest screen share, so I'll report back if we make any progress with it.

In the meantime, I've set a couple of days aside this week to try and wrap my head around Capture One to see if a I can work as efficiently in that as I used to be able to do in Lightroom.

Cheers,
JC
Photo of Rémi Chauvin

Rémi Chauvin

  • 5 Posts
  • 1 Reply Like
Hey JC, I've done a few things within LR (different preview sizes/settings, cache sizes, toggling graphics processor on/off) to no avail. I definitely don't think I need to do a clean install of anything, it's a fresh, out-of-the-box mac, with a fresh install of LR without any other images on the mac whatsoever, let alone a swamp of old collections etc to wade through, this was the first import! 

I'll give an older version of LR a go tomorrow when I get to the studio, but tbh, I'm a bit fed up with LR anyway. I shoot with canon 5d mark iv most of the time, and the support for that hasn't been the best (I still can't tether to LR, despite the camera being released years ago). 

I'll also give a few of Carlos' tips a go, but seeing as so many people seem to be experiencing similar problems, I feel like it's a bit more than directory damages/corrupt caches. The program is working without crashing, it's just going extraordinarily slowly.
Photo of Zigi Putnins

Zigi Putnins

  • 59 Posts
  • 17 Reply Likes
i am in a similar boat.. very poor performance. and i appreciate other folks offering advice, but a bit of research will show that SOME users experience horrible performance, even on fancy machines.

So what is horrible? maybe one person's horrible is another person's slow is another persons ok.

How about this..i am in develop mode. i got to a never-before editd photo. i hit the crop icon and i grab one of the grab segments on the edge. i click the mouse and drag the edge and let go of the mouse. nothing fancy

Frequently, i have to wait up to 3, sometimes 5 seconds, before LR recognizes that the mouse button was released. if i move the mouse too soon after releasing the button, LR thinks the mouse movements are part of the crop action and i wind up with crop sections that are just a single point.

i can tell that LR registered the button release by some cursor change (cant rememer of the top of my head.

This weird action is only with LR. Not PS. Not vegas. Not On1. Not word. Not outlook. Not chrome.
Windows 10, 32G RAM. GPU disabled/enabled does not matter.

And if you look further, adobe actually suggested (and it worked in my case), to change the core (CPU core) affinity settings for LR - in otherwords, dont let it run on all 8 cores i have, but only let it run on two. That did actually help. a couple of releases ago. Then an upgrade later its back to bad behavior.  But this type of solution shows these type of issues go way way way beyond driver updates or gpu acceleration or cache cleaning.

So i get it sounds like generic whining about slow performance and with that i see lots of generic , but a bit of research will show that LR has, for some users,  really bad performance, and requires some more substantial answers.


Photo of Kryštof Kalina

Kryštof Kalina

  • 7 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes
Same here. I have iMac Pro. When it comes to processor (importing, exportin, etc..) I see improvement, but overall experience is not what I would expect. Some things are no different from my super old laptop.
Photo of Carlos Cardona

Carlos Cardona

  • 643 Posts
  • 124 Reply Likes
Please go back and re-read my post. Unless it’s happening on all machines it’s not a bug in Lightroom (and it’s not happening on my new 27 inch iMac).

Please give your Mac that once over that I suggested in my previous post, because the most likely culprit is damage/waste in your operating system. This is likely to fix your issues, but don’t complain until you’ve done it !
Photo of Carlos Cardona

Carlos Cardona

  • 643 Posts
  • 124 Reply Likes
Complaining is less fun than getting your work done, am I right?
Photo of JC

JC

  • 12 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes
I’d say the complaint is pretty valid, since I’ve done everything you (and Adobe) have suggested, including the clean install, and yet the problem persists. I find it incredibly hard to believe this isn’t an issue caused as a result of how Lightroom is built - have a look at Rémi’s post below; identical hardware, fresh out of the box with a totally clean install and he’s having the same issues. Doesn’t really sound like “cruft” to me.

I’d love to be able to get my work done, however that’s proving pretty difficult when I’m currently reliant on software that doesn’t work as it should.
Photo of Carlos Cardona

Carlos Cardona

  • 643 Posts
  • 124 Reply Likes
How much RAM did you say you have?
Photo of JC

JC

  • 12 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes
40GB.
Photo of Carlos Cardona

Carlos Cardona

  • 643 Posts
  • 124 Reply Likes
That should be enough, but don’t run Mail, Safari, while you work. You can get Quitter which closes apps automatically when not in use, or better yet, get Memory Clean 3 and you can see when you’re running out, and then hit clean. The basic app is free, for the Extreme Clean option you have to buy it (I have, it’s cheap).

I have 64 and can NOW keep a browser, Mail, etc. open while I work in Lightroom, use Nik Collection, or Photoshop at the same time.
Photo of JC

JC

  • 12 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes
I get what you’re saying here Carlos, my concern is that as I’ve said in a previous post, I’m able to run the same version of Lightroom without issue on my 2014 MacBook Pro with 16GB RAM while also running Mail, Calendar, Spotify, Chrome with 10+ tabs, and others, all without experiencing anything like the sort of lag I get on the iMac, which on all fronts is a significantly more powerful machine.

There are many reports of the very same issues, particularly with 5K iMacs, going all the way back to when they were first released.

So what gives? I understand that your machine works well for you, and that you’ve got a little extra RAM over me, but that alone doesn’t account for the apparently vast difference in performance between your machine and mine, or my old MacBook Pro and this brand new iMac.

Have you read Rémi’s comment on here? We’re in nearly identical boats - we’ve moved from the same MBP to the same iMac, and we’re experiencing the same issues. The only difference is that he’s running a previous version of Lightroom on his MBP. I’ve rolled back to past versions and haven’t found this to result in any noticeable improvement in performance on the iMac.

So, I’ve got a new machine running a clean, up-to-date install of MacOS and the only software I experience any performance issues in is Lightroom - an application that my 5 year old machine has no issue running.

I sincerely appreciate all your suggestions Carlos, but having followed ALL of them and not seeing any improvement leads me to believe that there’s something more going on here and I’d really like to get to the bottom of it.
Photo of Rémi Chauvin

Rémi Chauvin

  • 5 Posts
  • 1 Reply Like
Yeah look, the issue is definitely with Lightroom. Here's a further example as to why I believe this. I just imported all the same photos again (import and convert to DNG), this time using Bridge. For those of you who haven't used Bridge, it can kind of be used like LR. You import the photos, Bridge then renders out a quick full-size preview, and you can browse through your photos, starring + rating etc, but then when you go to edit the actual images, it opens the raws in Camera Raw (run through Photoshop).

Anyway, as soon as I'd imported the images, I could flick through all these photos instantaneously in Bridge, without any delay between switching through photos whatsoever. So there was no delay in rendering the previews for Bridge (which I'm guessing is like what LR has to do to get the preview for the Library module - which took 10 entire minutes), and I can them open every single one of those, at the same time, in Camera Raw, and perform the same sort of edits as the basic panel in LR and spot removal and toggling before and after etc without any delay whatsoever. You might say it's comparing apples and oranges, but it isn't really. It's similar processes, performed by one program at a sloth rate, and by another program at light speed. It's nothing to do with it being a 5K monitor, Camera Raw uses the full screen/resolution.

I've worked professionally as a photographer for 10 years. There is something wrong with this version of Lightroom. It should not behave this slowly on a machine of these specs.
Photo of Carlos Cardona

Carlos Cardona

  • 643 Posts
  • 124 Reply Likes
I’m not saying there’s no issues with Lightroom, just that you have to make sure it’s not the OS and the hardware first, before you start blaming the app. Another poster found he had bad RAM, have you checked with Memtest?
Photo of Rémi Chauvin

Rémi Chauvin

  • 5 Posts
  • 1 Reply Like
Howdy again JC, 

Ready for a rollercoaster? I'll try to be detailed.

I've just spent a few hours online with one of the Adobe technicians (Deepak - a legend) who was remotely controlling my computer. He fiddled around a lot, checking things,  changing files in the library, toggling GPU, and eventually after having no luck with any of that, he de-installed lightroom 8.3.1, and installed the older 8.2. That was a little better, but not much. He then made an entirely new catalogue, and I imported files into that new catalogue, and things seemed to be going a lot better. He thinks there was a bug with the new lightroom and that first catalogue created. He then got me to update Lightroom again to the newest 8.3.1, and at first it seemed to be stable and working correctly. All the slowness issues I was experiencing were much better. So we called it solved, and ended the help session, and I then went back into LR and deleted the various folders we were testing, and I started a new catalogue again (I'm OCD and didn't want a LR catalogue on my desktop called TEST). I then again went to reimport from my memory card the same images that my whole saga started with, and it was back to being slow. Surely enough, once the import had finished, and I'm playing around with the images, it's slow again. Toggling before/after, adjustment brushes, even the basic panel adjustments are delayed and jerky, not smooth and instantaneous. So I get back onto the Adobe help chat, and my man Deepak calls me back after a little while. He asks me to uninstall LR again, and reinstall 8.2. I do so, it goes a little better, but it's still slowLike, I'm not being difficult, but it's noticeably slower with delayed reactions, less smooth, and just not as good to use as it is on my laptop. Deepak remotely takes the helm of my iMac again, and this time he creates a new user profile on my mac, and we install LR 8.2 on this new test profile. I have a play around, and while certainly better than on my other, original user profile, it's still just not right. It's better, significantly better than LR on my other user profile on this new iMac, but still noticeably different than on my laptop. Deepak had to go, but he downloaded my system information details and will look into it further overnight, before calling me back in the morning. 

As I sit here playing around with LR, I think it's usable, certainly far beyond what it was, but it does feel slower, and there are a few little things which I notice. Like in the Library module with the thumbnails showing, if I scroll up and down, it's not smooth at all. If I grab the scroll bar and quickly go from the top to the bottom, or vice versa, the movement is significantly delayed and jerky in motion. On the Macbook, the motion is silky smooth, no delay, there's no catch-up. Just in the flicking between Library and Develop modules, there's a slight delay. But these are minor issues really. I've been playing for a little bit now, and for the most part, it's completely usable.

The last import of the original 260 raws was as follows:
Copy and import - 02:10 (comparable to first-go iMac and original MBP speeds)
Convert to DNG - 01:17 (much quicker than both first iMac and MBP speeds)
Build Preview - 02:15 (much quicker than first-go iMac, but still slower than MBP speeds)
Total time 05:42

So it's usable. No 15-minute wait for 10-year-old raw files. I wonder if the slower times for building previews is because the previews are now 5k in size, not MBP size. And I reckon I can live with halving the preview size, which should speed that up significantly. 

Anyway, this has been a long day, and a long post. Sorry if it's jumbled and rambling, I've just been adding to it over the last few hours. But hopefully, above all, it helps/gives you some ideas to try. 

To sum up where I'm at, I'm running LR 8.2 off a new mac user profile, and I made a new LR catalogue to do so. I'll post again after Deepak gets back to me tomorrow. 
Photo of JC

JC

  • 12 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes
Hey Rémi,

Thanks so much for sharing all that info, I'm happy to hear you've got things back to a semi-working state. I had previously run through the process of setting up a new user account and doing a fresh install of 8.2 and setting up a new catalog to import to but didn't find this made a tremendous difference for me.

I'm still waiting to hear back from Adobe about all this, as well as a corrupted catalog which they're currently trying to repair, so will let you know if I make any progress myself.

Cheers,
JC
Photo of JC

JC

  • 12 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes
So, got a quick update. I just got my main working catalog back from Adobe who managed to fix it - great, pretty impressed by this - however I'm now back to having the same issues (endless spinning wheel on adjustment brushes, spot healing, crop, overlay switching on/off etc).

So maybe it's just that catalog that's the issue...it's got about 50,000 images in it which could go some way to explaining it's sluggishness, however when I import the jobs I'm currently working on into a brand new catalog I find I've still got the same issues, though slightly less noticeable (but still frustratingly slow and makes working difficult).

Bottom line is I still don't know what's going on, and after everything I've tried and all the advice I've followed I'm just left to think that Lightroom just doesn't work that well anymore, for whatever reason. So I'm still left feeling that it's come time to jump ship and turn to Capture One, which having spent some time with this week I feel more and more is the better piece of software.

Rémi, did you make any progress?
Photo of JC

JC

  • 12 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes
Hey Rémi, hope you're well! Just checking in to see how you've been getting on - have things improved, or worsened, for you?
Photo of Rémi Chauvin

Rémi Chauvin

  • 5 Posts
  • 1 Reply Like
Hey JC, the short answer is no, it's not fully resolved.

I updated to LR 8.4 yesterday in the hope the problems had been solved, but no, LR 8.2 is still quicker to run things. I just spent a while on Chat Support again (man, how many hours this has been now...) and ultimately they said that the issue is known, the engineering team is on the case, but ultimately Lightroom does not support 5k monitors yet. 

I'll be moving to Capture One as well.
Photo of JC

JC

  • 12 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes
Hey Rémi, seems like that's the only option left to many of us now. Amazing that they actually acknowledged it as a known issue - the 5K iMac has been around for nearly 5 years now and it seems that users of Lightroom on these Macs have been complaining of issues similar to what we've experienced for that whole time. So if the engineering team are indeed 'on the case', it seems high time they pull their fingers out or they'll see more and more shifting to alternative software.

Good luck with Capture one - having spent more time with it since this saga began for me I can say with confidence that it's a brilliant alternative to LR.
Photo of Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen

Victoria Bampton - Lightroom Queen, Champion

  • 5486 Posts
  • 2188 Reply Likes
Some of the support guys will tell you anything to get you off the phone. The whole GPU acceleration initiative over the last 5 or 6 years is primarily focused on high res screens, including the new optimizations just released in 8.4. Some of the earlier 5k iMacs run older graphics cards that aren't able to take full advantage of these optimizations, or have some bugs in the drivers, so the newest optimizations aren't always enabled by default. Have you tried turning it on yet? The work to utilise the GPU continues, so it doesn't improve everything yet, but it's heading in the right direction.
Photo of Carlos Cardona

Carlos Cardona

  • 643 Posts
  • 124 Reply Likes
Yes, 8.4 does seem blessedly faster in several ways on my 2019 iMac 27" (AMD Radeon Pro 580X/8GB graphics card).
Photo of BitBlue

BitBlue

  • 1 Post
  • 0 Reply Likes
It's not a solution (that's Adobe's job), but a workaround. If you open the LR applications "Get Info" window and check "Open in Low Resolution", LR will significantly speed up. 
Obviously, there is no point in buying a 5K machine and then not run it at the highest resolution, but I rather have a fast UI than the highest possible resolution. As I said, it's only a quick fix. Adobe, over to you. 
Photo of Carlos Cardona

Carlos Cardona

  • 623 Posts
  • 121 Reply Likes
Did you try the Mac "Once Over" that I detailed earlier in this post (run Onyx, etc.? My iMac 5K runs LR fine. Please do this before complaining that it's Adobe's fault, because there's a HUGE operating system under LR that you're not addressing.