Resolved Lightroom user looking for new system advice

Darmok N Jalad

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Sep 26, 2017
2,626
10,575
Tanagra (not really)
So the tax return is in, and I'm trying to decide if I want to make a move on an upgrade. I'm not exactly a power user, but I do work in 20MP RAW photos from my DSLR in Lightroom. I notice when working with the photos, there's often a several second "loading..." lag when I zoom in, and the clone/heal brush can get really slow at times, often to the point of frustration. I'm currently running a single socket cMP, with a W3960, 16GB RAM, a 7870, and even a PCIe-to-SATA3 adapter for a 525GB SSD. About the only thing left to try is to get a PCIe-to-NVMe adaptor to get even more access speeds for a working disk. The question now is, should I even bother to do that, or should I just call it a day for the cMP and get an 4K/5K iMac or a 6,1 MP? Another side benefit with an iMac would be a better, more color accurate display than my current Dell monitor, which is really having me leaning for a new build.

My max ceiling is $1700. Here's what I'm weighing:
  1. Try a few more cMP upgrades, like the NVMe adaptor, and maybe buy a nice new monitor. Make a bigger move later.
  2. I actually found an open box base 6,1 MP in my price range. This wouldn't provide a display upgrade, but at least RAM, SSD and even potentially a CPU upgrade would be possible down the road.
  3. Go with a 4K 21.5" iMac. Based on my budget, I can get some trade-off of SSD storage or 16GB RAM (which I probably want since it's not upgradeable). If I go with 8GB, I have a better shot at the SSD storage. I know the SSD is the real pain to upgrade.
  4. I actually found a nice refurb deal from Apple on the 27" 5K iMac. Only snag here is it's a Fusion drive. Would that leave me staring at loading screens still?
So do any Lightroom users care to weigh in? I hear fast storage is key, which is what puts me in my current dilemma. That 5K iMac is really tempting, but the Fusion drive leaves me hesitant.
 

kingjames1970

macrumors regular
Mar 18, 2008
244
447
Hampshire, UK
So the tax return is in, and I'm trying to decide if I want to make a move on an upgrade. I'm not exactly a power user, but I do work in 20MP RAW photos from my DSLR in Lightroom. I notice when working with the photos, there's often a several second "loading..." lag when I zoom in, and the clone/heal brush can get really slow at times, often to the point of frustration. I'm currently running a single socket cMP, with a W3960, 16GB RAM, a 7870, and even a PCIe-to-SATA3 adapter for a 525GB SSD. About the only thing left to try is to get a PCIe-to-NVMe adaptor to get even more access speeds for a working disk. The question now is, should I even bother to do that, or should I just call it a day for the cMP and get an 4K/5K iMac or a 6,1 MP? Another side benefit with an iMac would be a better, more color accurate display than my current Dell monitor, which is really having me leaning for a new build.

My max ceiling is $1700. Here's what I'm weighing:
  1. Try a few more cMP upgrades, like the NVMe adaptor, and maybe buy a nice new monitor. Make a bigger move later.
  2. I actually found an open box base 6,1 MP in my price range. This wouldn't provide a display upgrade, but at least RAM, SSD and even potentially a CPU upgrade would be possible down the road.
  3. Go with a 4K 21.5" iMac. Based on my budget, I can get some trade-off of SSD storage or 16GB RAM (which I probably want since it's not upgradeable). If I go with 8GB, I have a better shot at the SSD storage. I know the SSD is the real pain to upgrade.
  4. I actually found a nice refurb deal from Apple on the 27" 5K iMac. Only snag here is it's a Fusion drive. Would that leave me staring at loading screens still?
So do any Lightroom users care to weigh in? I hear fast storage is key, which is what puts me in my current dilemma. That 5K iMac is really tempting, but the Fusion drive leaves me hesitant.
If it was me, I’d definitely not get the 4K iMac - don’t forget that all that zooming in and out will be as much of a time killer as a slower machine. I’d have a look on the second hand market and see what your budget might get you with a 5K.
 
  • Like
Reactions: ElectronGuru

monokakata

macrumors 68000
May 8, 2008
1,897
414
Ithaca, NY
If you're on CC, make sure to try the new LR Classic. It was released yesterday or the day before. I was going crazy with lag on my i7 / SSD / 24 gb 5k iMac and I'm less crazy as of the new LR. D850 raw images.

I see definite speedups. I see more cores being used in situations where it looked as though only one or two were being used in the previous version.

So, verdict from here is that it ain't snappy but it's better than it was.

And, about coming from cMP to 5k iMac -- I worried about the shift when my cMP died, not having had an AIO before. I was poised not to like it, but I liked it immediately (but not cheaply, as I had to buy an OWC Thunderbay for all my disks). I haven't changed my mind. It's really about the screen as much as anything, though.

I have to admit that sometimes I look into my workroom from the door and say, "Uh, I'm that guy with an iMac."
 

h9826790

macrumors G5
Apr 3, 2014
14,238
6,840
Hong Kong
It sounds like you are really talking about LR but not LR Classic (because you mentioned "clone/heal brush").

My cMP as per my spec, perform quite well in LR indeed. I just used a 20MP RAW image from this website.

Brush size 50, both feather and opacity 100. There is some lag, but just around 0.2s.

If increase the brush size to 80, then the lag go up to around 0.5s.

If I set the brush size to 100, then the lag may be up to around 1s.

I capture the quick test (Quicktime is not very good for screen recording, especially at high resolution, the video only has 3FPS, but it is in real time. So, good enough to show the lag)


Since I am also just using a 840 Evo via a PCIe SATA 3 card, your "few seconds lag" most likely not straightly because of "slow storage". However, if running out of RAM, storage speed does matter. But in this case, you should install more RAM but not go for NVMe SSD. Another quick simple test can easily rule out storage speed issue. Just create a small RAM drive, put the test image at there. If that significant improve the lag, then it means storage is a bottleneck in your case.

Also, even though most processing still done by CPU, but a faster GPU may help to avoid UI lag. Of course, you won't need a 1080Ti for LR, my 1080Ti is for other purpose. But it may make the difference experience. The 7870 is really outdated now. And Adobe apps doing better with Nvidia GPU in general. You may consider upgrade to a better GPU.

However, if you can also get good performance with the above testing image. Then highly likely you really need another computer for your workflow.
 

mollyc

macrumors 68030
Aug 18, 2016
2,652
12,359
It sounds like you are really talking about LR but not LR Classic (because you mentioned "clone/heal brush").
LR Classic *is* the original LR.

To the OP, I can’t really help you spec out your cMP, but I moved from a 2012 i7 iMac to a 2017 i7 iMac and the lag I had when using any adjustment brush went away. I had 32gb of ram in my old machine which should have been plenty. The new machine is much faster (even before this week’s update.
 
Last edited:

h9826790

macrumors G5
Apr 3, 2014
14,238
6,840
Hong Kong
LR Classic *is* the original LR.

To the OP, I can’t really help you spec out your cMP, but I moved from a 2012 i7 iMac to a 2027 i7 iMac and the lag I had when using any adjustment brush went away. I had 32gb of ram in my old machine which should have been plenty. The new machine is much faster (even before this week’s update.
I know, but NOW, LR is LR, LR Classic is another Apps, that’s Adobe’s official decision.
 

Darmok N Jalad

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Sep 26, 2017
2,626
10,575
Tanagra (not really)
Thanks for the replies so far. I guess I should say this is using LR6, as it’s the last edition that isn’t using the subscription model.

It sounds like you are really talking about LR but not LR Classic (because you mentioned "clone/heal brush").

My cMP as per my spec, perform quite well in LR indeed. I just used a 20MP RAW image from this website.

Brush size 50, both feather and opacity 100. There is some lag, but just around 0.2s.

If increase the brush size to 80, then the lag go up to around 0.5s.

If I set the brush size to 100, then the lag may be up to around 1s.

I capture the quick test (Quicktime is not very good for screen recording, especially at high resolution, the video only has 3FPS, but it is in real time. So, good enough to show the lag)


Since I am also just using a 840 Evo via a PCIe SATA 3 card, your "few seconds lag" most likely not straightly because of "slow storage". However, if running out of RAM, storage speed does matter. But in this case, you should install more RAM but not go for NVMe SSD. Another quick simple test can easily rule out storage speed issue. Just create a small RAM drive, put the test image at there. If that significant improve the lag, then it means storage is a bottleneck in your case.

Also, even though most processing still done by CPU, but a faster GPU may help to avoid UI lag. Of course, you won't need a 1080Ti for LR, my 1080Ti is for other purpose. But it may make the difference experience. The 7870 is really outdated now. And Adobe apps doing better with Nvidia GPU in general. You may consider upgrade to a better GPU.

However, if you can also get good performance with the above testing image. Then highly likely you really need another computer for your workflow.
I haven’t had a chance to watch the video, but under light use of this tool, there’s not really a problem. The issue comes from when I use the brush mode than just a few times in an image.
 

h9826790

macrumors G5
Apr 3, 2014
14,238
6,840
Hong Kong
No. The difference is Lightroom CC (for mobile) or Lightroom Classic, the renamed original Lightroom.
I bet you mean “Lightroom CC” and “Lightroom Classic CC” (both of them have “CC” in their name) :D

Anyway, OP already told us it’s LR 6.
 

h9826790

macrumors G5
Apr 3, 2014
14,238
6,840
Hong Kong
Thanks for the replies so far. I guess I should say this is using LR6, as it’s the last edition that isn’t using the subscription model.

I haven’t had a chance to watch the video, but under light use of this tool, there’s not really a problem. The issue comes from when I use the brush mode than just a few times in an image.
I don’t have LR6 on my cMP anymore, can’t test it.

My wife is the main user who do photos work (I mainly use the cMP for video work). From memory, she mentioned about the lag when using large brush before I upgrade the hardware. But I really can’t remember which upgrade fix the issue. Anyway, for photos work, iMac should be a good choice. If budget allowed, move to a much newer iMac most likely can give you better experience.
 

MachCrit

Suspended
Jun 5, 2017
187
363
Lurking About the Planet
LR Classic *is* the original LR.

To the OP, I can’t really help you spec out your cMP, but I moved from a 2012 i7 iMac to a 2027 i7 iMac and the lag I had when using any adjustment brush went away. I had 32gb of ram in my old machine which should have been plenty. The new machine is much faster (even before this week’s update.
2027 i7? Of course your performance is awesome, your machine is from the future!

RAM seems to be important once the editing starts, and the update definitely helped. I’m on a nMPro w/32gb and find the mem usage maxed when using clone/heal tool.
 
  • Like
Reactions: h9826790 and mollyc

Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
19,604
6,823
OP wrote:
"I notice when working with the photos, there's often a several second "loading..." lag when I zoom in, and the clone/heal brush can get really slow at times, often to the point of frustration."

I'm not a [regular] Lightroom user, but I do recall reading that some of the lag you're experiencing is due to Lightroom itself - and not from "the Mac". That is to say, the application could be better optimized to run faster. But this is something Adobe has to do, not Apple. Perhaps the -new- release of LR addresses this.

Of course, a faster Mac always helps.

I would normally suggest a "midrange" 27" iMac with a 256gb SSD. But that's going to run more than 1,700.
In that case, you might consider an Apple-refurbished 2015-release 27" iMac (again, with an SSD inside). That should get you closer to budget.
 

OBirder

macrumors 6502
May 13, 2015
362
256
To the OP, I can’t really help you spec out your cMP, but I moved from a 2012 i7 iMac to a 2027 i7 iMac and the lag I had when using any adjustment brush went away.
No wonder your lag went away using the 2027 hardware while the rest of us mortals are at best at 2017 hardware :)

But on a serious note I thought that the brushes etc. benefit from the graphics acceleration.

Even on Lightroom Classic on an iMac Pro this still not satisfying to me especially if you have many adjustments. But didn’t know if LR didn’t take advantage of the fairly new GPU.

With the latest update to 7.2 it seems to be improved. But didn’t spent enough time for a final verdict.

For the OP, while with newer hardware the lag will be quite a bit improved I will assume with LR 6 it will still will not be what we would like to see.
 
  • Like
Reactions: mollyc

mollyc

macrumors 68030
Aug 18, 2016
2,652
12,359
Haha, yes, all you guys are still living in the past, while I have my future built Mac. ;) This is why I try to avoid posting on my phone. It is a 2017 model, not a 2027.
 

Darmok N Jalad

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Sep 26, 2017
2,626
10,575
Tanagra (not really)
Well, if I shop the refurbished section on the Apple Store, I can actually get a few decent machines with 256GB of SSD storage in (or near enough to) my budget. I can get the 4K 21.5” model with 16GB RAM, or the 5K with 8GB (this model appears and disappears rapidly on the refurb store). I can always upgrade the RAM in the 5K, which really adds to its appeal. My main concern with the 5K is if it would be “too big” for me. I currently have a matte 21.5” display, so I’m definitely used to that form factor. I know that may sound crazy, but I have a relatively shallow desk and have some concerns about being too close to such a large display, and maybe even if I’d be fighting more glare. Are these valid concerns?
 

monokakata

macrumors 68000
May 8, 2008
1,897
414
Ithaca, NY
When I first got my 5K iMac, I was using a temporary desk that was 24" deep. I made it work by pushing the iMac as far back as I could (and then choosing not to think about earthquakes). Now I'm at a 30" desk and the advantage is that, if I want to, I can move the iMac to the back or the front, as I please.

Are you in a place where you can get to a dealer or an Apple store? Because if you are, then you could position the iMacs as they'd have to be on your desk, and see how that works for you. Something as simple as a piece of string cut to the depth of your desk would work fine. True, I'm not near an Apple store but the last time I was in one, I think the iMacs were tethered loosely enough so that you could move them.

I was worried about glare, but overall I haven't felt it to be a problem. A lot depends on placement, obviously. If I had my back to a window, it might be pretty bad, but I don't.
 

OBirder

macrumors 6502
May 13, 2015
362
256
Provided your images will fit on 256, I would get this config and not look back

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1342876-REG

Even if that meant lifting the foot to push back the display, there’s no substitute for pixels
Slightly over budget, but I would second that opinion and no tax outside NY.

What has not been mentioned to the OP, the biggest impact to the lack of speed is the SSD drive and memory.

The Lightroom catalog and previews need to fit on SSD while the photos can remain on regular HDD.

LR does not change the actual photos, all edits are kept in the catalog and the rendering in the previews.

What is your folder size now for catalog and previews?

If you only have a few thousand photos the system and LR catalog, settings, previews should fit on the 256 SSD.

As mentioned you can always add memory.

Screen: once you moved to a 27 inch you will ask yourself how you have managed to work with a 21 inch.
 

Darmok N Jalad

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Sep 26, 2017
2,626
10,575
Tanagra (not really)
Provided your images will fit on 256, I would get this config and not look back

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1342876-REG

Even if that meant lifting the foot to push back the display, there’s no substitute for pixels
That is the exact model I’ve been considering. I might just have to watch the refurb store like a hawk. :)

And I think 256GB will be fine. I lived on 128GB for quite a while, and my plan is to export a JPG to Photos/iCloud and then offload the RAW originals to external storage when editing is done. I’m also aware that I could eventually expand to an external TB3 drive—something my cMP can’t handle. Sounds like I might have found my choice. If the 21.5” model had expandable RAM, I might have a harder time deciding.

It sounds slightly crazy, but another appeal of the 5K is that is still has a CPU socket too. I wouldn’t likely upgrade any time soon, but maybe in 3-4 years I could upgrade the SSD and add an i7 for relatively cheap. I may never do so, but it’s nice to know it’s a possibility.
 
Last edited:

Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
19,604
6,823
OP wrote:
"My main concern with the 5K is if it would be “too big” for me."

Once you try the 27", you'll never want to "go back" to anything smaller.
You'll just have to trust me on this one...
 
  • Like
Reactions: Darmok N Jalad

Darmok N Jalad

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Sep 26, 2017
2,626
10,575
Tanagra (not really)
Well, it arrived today. Wow is this screen huge! I'm glad I could adjust the brightness, as it was a little too bright for my eyes, but it seems like it will work on my current desk setup. Haven't had a chance to really test Lightroom, but I can see the whole "not needing to zoom" situation already.

Thanks again!
 
  • Like
Reactions: h9826790

shaunp

Cancelled
Nov 5, 2010
1,811
1,394
I've run lightroom on a cMP 6-core with D700's and 64GB RAM with all SSD storage and performance was 'okay'. I'm currently running it on a PC, again with 6-cores but with a faster GPU (GTX980 Ti), SATA SSD's for the storage and a ton of RAM and again it's 'okay'. I too get frustrated with the speed at which LR works - the noticeable pause when moving between images in the develop module, creation of 1:1 previews taking an age when utilisation of disk, CPU, RAM and GPU is low. There's no hardware bottleneck, so it has to be the way LR is written as it's slow no matter which platform you use.

I tend to use PhotoMechanic during my culling process as it uses the inbuilt preview from the RAW files and is very quick. Only when I've got the final bunch of files that I want to keep do I then bring them into LR for editing. This saves me a ton of time.

Yes I still find LR frustrating at times, but overall it's a good product and I can't see anything else on the market that comes close. I did toy with CaptureOne and while I like it to a point and the performance is better I'm still not 100% convinced that it's the product for me so I'll stick with LR for now. If they upped the speed when moving between images in develop and made better use of available hardware I'd be 100% happy. It does everything else I want.
 

Darmok N Jalad

macrumors 68030
Original poster
Sep 26, 2017
2,626
10,575
Tanagra (not really)
I've run lightroom on a cMP 6-core with D700's and 64GB RAM with all SSD storage and performance was 'okay'. I'm currently running it on a PC, again with 6-cores but with a faster GPU (GTX980 Ti), SATA SSD's for the storage and a ton of RAM and again it's 'okay'. I too get frustrated with the speed at which LR works - the noticeable pause when moving between images in the develop module, creation of 1:1 previews taking an age when utilisation of disk, CPU, RAM and GPU is low. There's no hardware bottleneck, so it has to be the way LR is written as it's slow no matter which platform you use.

I tend to use PhotoMechanic during my culling process as it uses the inbuilt preview from the RAW files and is very quick. Only when I've got the final bunch of files that I want to keep do I then bring them into LR for editing. This saves me a ton of time.

Yes I still find LR frustrating at times, but overall it's a good product and I can't see anything else on the market that comes close. I did toy with CaptureOne and while I like it to a point and the performance is better I'm still not 100% convinced that it's the product for me so I'll stick with LR for now. If they upped the speed when moving between images in develop and made better use of available hardware I'd be 100% happy. It does everything else I want.
There are some newer alternatives, but I haven't heard how they compare. I tried Luminar for a while (free trial), but it seems to be more about pre-configured corrections than more custom corrections.
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.