Lightroom 5 – Not quite there

I love using Lightroom. I do most of my image processing there. Just go to Photoshop when is something special or something that needs a higher level of correction.

Lightroom 5

Lightroom 5 came recently and have tools that would make my “trips” to Photoshop even less frequent. From the new features, the best one in my opinion is the “healing brush”, that came to replace the “spot healing brush”. The sport healing brush was great, but would fix spots, like blemishes. If you bump into a wrinkle or eye bags, photoshop. Now you can work on them, reduce the density (Lightroom’s opacity), and have a great blending. At least in theory.

I’ve been using Lightroom since version 3.something. Than upgraded to Lightroom 4, if I remember well, not right away. Lightroom 5 beta came along with those great features, but I was too cool for betas 😉 Really, I have very little time for that, specially to put up with bugs of beta versions (the fixed something like 400 bugs to the shipped version). Then Lightroom 5 came and I decided to give it a try (30 days trial are great 😉 ). Not only the healing brush, but the “radial gradient”, that allows you to have vignetting where you want, not only in the center, “smart previews” are great if you’re mobile, and some other nice stuff.

Well, installed, started to try. First use of the healing brush, moving the selected region (that Lightroom automatically selects as sample to replace your content) reminded me of my old PC … I moved it and nothing happened. Some seconds later the region moved. Nothing like the adobe demos and NAPP tutorials you see about the tool. Actually just activating the brush and the tool movement is already jagged.

Dug in a bit and found some complaints about the tool performance. Lightroom is not exactly a high performance software. It’s based on a database of commands (SQLite, if I’m not mistaken). It reads and applies those changes every time. But this was never so bad, in a reasonably new computer.

The first suggestion was that upgrades were not “cleanly” performed, so preferences should be reset to defaults. Done, tiny improvement. So, not the culprit. Than the empiric part starts. Some people noticed that if you disable the lens correction it gets better. An Adobe website mentions that tone corrections, noise reduction and sharpening reduce the performance of tools. So, new catalog, with a single image, not adjustments whatsoever indeed give you a reasonable performance. As soon as you put adjustments to it, it becomes totally unusable. Really unusable.

I contacted the Help Desk of the NAPP, which replied very quickly, as usual, but unfortunately they also don’t have the secret handshake that makes Lightroom 5 works minimally well. They added to my list that if the brush’s flow and density are too low, performance also goes down.

Together with other bugs related to sharpening and noise reduction on exporting, I really decided to terminate my trial and go back to Lightroom 4 (now 4.4) and hope that Adobe fixes this issue for Lightroom 5.1, even though is still not in their list of recognized bugs yet.

It doesn’t really work for me when you have so many limitations. I need to see the shot with the proper exposure and colors before starting to look for wrinkles and problems. Also noise reduction makes me like my shots better. A noisy shot annoys me, so I really can’t make corrections before I’m happy with those parts.

I must confess a good deal of disappointment with a product released with this kind of performance problem, specially after seeing Tom Hogarty (Lightroom’s product manager) at The Grid presenting the iPad version of it (still to come) in an iPad2 and mentioning its good performance. I would like to have the same performance on my new desktop.

If it’s a hardware incompatibility, well, also needs to be tackled at software level. It’s not like I have a out of ordinary hardware, just the usual Intel processor, normal mother board, ATI video card and Windows 8.

Let’s see what comes … so far, Lightroom 4 is back to my workflow.

Did anyone experienced something like that?

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About Cris Da Rocha

Astrophysicist, DB manager, cyclist, musician and, why not, "photographer to be". Back to enjoy photography after many years ... it's cool. Might share something nice and get something new.
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