Wednesday, March 24th 2010

Speed: Lightroom 3 beta 2 vs Lightroom 2

I’ve done a few timed tests of some heavy tasks in Lightroom to see what progress has been made since the first beta of version 3.


Here’s what I wrote about the first beta back in October:

I imported (added to a new catalogue) two folders containing a total of 295 photos from my Canon EOS 30D. I chose to render 1:1 previews at the same time. This took just over six minutes in Lightroom 2, but almost three times as long in Lightroom 3 beta!

This time I did a slightly different test, but it is obvious that beta 2 is a lot more efficient than beta 1. Now I imported 200 raw photos from my memory card in the card reader and chose to render 1:1 previews.

The actual import (copying of the files) took roughly 2 minutes 50 seconds in both versions. The rendering though took 4:25 in Lightroom 2 and 6:29 in Lightroom 3. That is almost 50 percent longer.

Still, it is a great deal faster than beta 1.


I also timed how long it took to export 100 raw files to full-size JPEGs. (No sharpening in the export settings.)

Lightroom 2 took 2:31 and Lightroom 3 beta 2 took 2:55. While it is still 16 percent slower than Lightroom 2, the new beta is a lot faster than the first beta. Here’s another quote from my previous review:

I also tried exporting 82 photos to full-size JPEGs. This took 95% longer in 3 beta, even though it was using roughly 80% of the CPU compared to around 63% for v2.

Navigating Through Photos

I tried to think of a way to measure how quickly Lightroom displays photos when flicking through them. So I decided to measure how long it took to click through 19 photos in the develop module, while waiting for the Loading sign to disappear for each photo.

Obviously, this method does introduce some user error, but I still believe it is accurate enough to give an idea of the responsiveness of the two versions.

The test took 45 seconds in Lightroom 2 and 57 seconds in Lightroom 3 beta 2. That’s 27 percent more time. Lightroom 2 definitely felt snappier too while doing this test, so I think it is a fair result.


Adobe have managed to make huge improvements to the speed of both importing (preview rendering) and exporting since the first beta of Lightroom 3. Beta 2 still lags behind Lightroom 2 in these tasks, but I feel the speed difference is not a big deal any more considering how much the image quality has been improved thanks to the new rendering engine.

One Response to this post:

  1. Bembe says:

    Thanks for this test.
    I made some tests myself and I’m still disappointed with the overall speed in Lightroom 3 beta 2. It is faster over beta 1 but still, in my case, it is still far far away from Lightroom 2 speed. After this beta 2 I have no hope that final release would be a match compared to Lightroom 2.