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(Lack of) Speed of working with RAF Files in Lightroom CC

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My powerful workstation laptop (Lenovo Thinkpad W540) with an i7 processor and 32 gigs of RAM on W10 struggles HARD with my RAF files from my X-T2. Every adjustment lags, and even scrolling down my photos in the Library module is choppy. Hard quick adjustments like spot healing skin or masking adjustments takes multiple seconds per click to see my adjustment show up on the preview, no matter what I do. I've got a 40GB cache, I've turned GPU processing on, and back off, to see if it makes a difference (it doesn't) and nothing I've done seems to make any difference. My drive has 40% free space, I only have about 6000 photos in my catalog, and I back-up and Optimize regularly.

 

In hunting for solutions, I found someone suggesting that I could import all of my photos to a fast external drive, render Smart Previews, then disconnect the drive, and work exclusively with the smart previews, which are supposedly smaller, lighter, and faster to work with, and then when I'm done, re-connect the drive, apply the changes, and export/work in Photoshop from there.

 

Wondering if anyone has any better tips for speeding up Lightroom when working with RAF files, or if anyone has tried the Smart Preview method described above to tell me whether it provides any advantages?

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In my experience I had the same problem when I upgraded to Win10.  At first I blamed Win10, but after investigation I found that only partially true.  

 

My problem was the hard drive.  Lightroom does not put everything in memory and then write to the hard drive later like most software - it writes to the hard drive as you work and make changes causing each move to be dependent on the speed of the hard drive.  Win10 defender and other system utilities in Win10 also write to the hard drive frequently.  Even without Lightroom open I found my hard drive being used at 100% for 100% of the time.

 

I changed to a Macbook Pro with an SSD drive and found Lightroom flies!  Not because of the power of my system - I suspect a Win10 system with an SSD drive would fly as well.  

 

I use my 11" Macbook Air when I travel with an external SSD drive.  That system with 1.6 GHz processor, 8 gig RAM, and 128 gig SSD drive simply flies.  Makes my Windows systems look like slugs (actually slower than slugs).  The software is loaded on the system 128 gig SSD drive with the catalog and images on the external 1T SSD drive.  Works incredibly fast, in fact I would say it keeps up with my more powerful Macbook Pro.  I found the difference is the SSD drive instead of HHD.

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That's good info, but unfortunately, not particularly useful to me. Switching to a macbook is out of the question for me for a few reasons, the simplest of which is cost. 

 

I'll keep hunting. Thanks for the tip though. 

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Yes, as the OP said, you need to create smart previews and then close LR and simply rename the RAW folder.  When you restart LR, it will only be using the smart previews and performance will be much better.  When done your edits, close LR, restore the RAW folder name and fire LR back up.  You are then good to go to export your work!

 

It's a nuisance ... but an easy work around to make things a bit better.

Edited by Adam Woodhouse

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I decided to open up and watch my Task Manager while working through an import and some processing, and interestingly, my CPU usage spikes to 100% the whole time I'm importing or working (Quad core i7), but only 6 to 8 GB of my 32 gigs of RAM get used at any point. That seems backwards to me...

 

The laptop also gets REALLY hot. Like, uncomfortably hot, with the fans running at full blast.

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You can run a quick benchmark just to see if your CPU is working as expected. This standalone program http://www.userbenchmark.com/ is really usefull; it compares your computer with other computers with same specifications. A couple of days ago, This program helped me to find issues with my CPU.

 

Also, do you have a SSD drive? Such drive can boost any computer and since Lightroom is writing all single action to its database, a SSD with high write speed will help.

 

But keep in mind that unfortunately, Adobe is sold to Mac.... They don't put that much effort to optimize their Windows applications. Even their iOS apps are generally more complete than Android. But for me.... I willl never buy an Apple product, but that's me!

 

Additionally, you can also download Intel Extreme Tuning Utility to get some stats from your CPU (temperature, frequency, turbo boost, etc.). Again, this helped me to figure out that the turbo boost feature was disabled.

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You can run a quick benchmark just to see if your CPU is working as expected. This standalone program http://www.userbenchmark.com/ is really usefull; it compares your computer with other computers with same specifications. A couple of days ago, This program helped me to find issues with my CPU.
 
Also, do you have a SSD drive? Such drive can boost any computer and since Lightroom is writing all single action to its database, a SSD with high write speed will help.
 
But keep in mind that unfortunately, Adobe is sold to Mac.... They don't put that much effort to optimize their Windows applications. Even their iOS apps are generally more complete than Android. But for me.... I willl never buy an Apple product, but that's me!
 
Additionally, you can also download Intel Extreme Tuning Utility to get some stats from your CPU (temperature, frequency, turbo boost, etc.). Again, this helped me to figure out that the turbo boost feature was disabled.

 

Thanks for the suggestion on the benchmark test. My processor results:

"With a good single core score, this CPU can easily handle the majority of general computing tasks. Additionally this processor can handle moderate workstation, and even light server workloads. Finally, with a gaming score of 71.9%, this CPUs suitability for 3D gaming is very good."

 

I also got a 92% on my SSD, so that's good. My only "fail" is my graphics card, which makes sense since the card in my Thinkpad is pretty much there for decoration.

------------

 

I spent 2 hours with Adobe support controlling my computer trying to solve the problem with no luck. My tech took a bunch of logs and said they were going to do some testing and get back to me ASAP. Fingers crossed for a solution!

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I decided to open up and watch my Task Manager while working through an import and some processing, and interestingly, my CPU usage spikes to 100% the whole time I'm importing or working (Quad core i7), but only 6 to 8 GB of my 32 gigs of RAM get used at any point. That seems backwards to me...

 

The laptop also gets REALLY hot. Like, uncomfortably hot, with the fans running at full blast.

 

That's not backwards.  Import/Export is a processor intensive task, so the CPU should peek at 100% since the computer is putting all resources into that task.  You only need to use lots of RAM should a large amount of data need to be stored in memory at the same time for quick access.  The software will load the image, process it, then move onto the next image.  So not RAM intensive.

 

With the CPU being used @ 100%, that will generate the most amount of heat, so your computer will get hotter (more noticed on laptops versus desktops).  GPU (graphics card) will also do the same if it is pushed real hard, but that only happens (usually) with gaming.  If the fans are running at full blast that's a good thing because they are doing what they are suppose to be doing.

 

With a faster CPU and more RAM, it doesn't mean the computer will now process the images/video with less RAM or CPU usage ... they will still peak ... it means it should process quicker.

Edited by Adam Woodhouse

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That's not backwards.  Import/Export is a processor intensive task, so the CPU should peek at 100% since the computer is putting all resources into that task.  You only need to use lots of RAM should a large amount of data need to be stored in memory at the same time for quick access.  The software will load the image, process it, then move onto the next image.  So not RAM intensive.

 

With the CPU being used @ 100%, that will generate the most amount of heat, so your computer will get hotter (more noticed on laptops versus desktops).  GPU (graphics card) will also do the same if it is pushed real hard, but that only happens (usually) with gaming.  If the fans are running at full blast that's a good thing because they are doing what they are suppose to be doing.

 

With a faster CPU and more RAM, it doesn't mean the computer will now process the images/video with less RAM or CPU usage ... they will still peak ... it means it should process quicker.

Well all of that makes good sense. And I suppose as I think about it from a different perspective, I WANT it to be using my whole processor so that it moves more quickly. So really it's not much of an issue as you help me reframe my issue.

 

So I guess now I'm just upset that even though it's using my entire CPU for 2 hours at 150 degrees f, why does it still take so ridiculously long to process RAF files. Haha

 

Either way, thanks for helping me understand. Makes sense to me now.

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"So I guess now I'm just upset that even though it's using my entire CPU for 2 hours at 150 degrees f, why does it still take so ridiculously long to process RAF files. Haha"

 

 

We have all been asking that exact same question!

 

I have followed discussions about this over the many months and it appears that Adobes default RAW decoding algorithms are customized for Bayer pattern sensors and not the X-trans sensor design of the Fuji system.  So there is lots of extra, inefficient work done in the ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) software for Fuji files ... which makes the decoding noticeably slower.

 

Other RAW decoding tools that are coded specifically for Fuji RAF files are much quicker.  That is where the many reviews and forum discussions take place ... which tool is not only faster but which decodes the RAF files the best.  If you do a Google search on the topic, you should find some informative websites that have done thorough testing/reviews.

But for those of us that use LR ... we live with the slow performance when using our RAF files.  

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My raws work fine as long as I wait for the std previews to generate, which does take a while from compressed raws.

 

I have an i7, triple ssd, 16gb of ram and a 3 year old video card. And Windows 10.

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The only thing that is quick and does decent decoding is Pictorial. It's a shame that it is not feature complete otherwise it would be superb.

 

The best decoder, Iridient is also slow, and worse, you don't see that it is busy, so you never know if it is really done..

 

But agreed, Adobe is one of the slow ones...

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My powerful workstation laptop (Lenovo Thinkpad W540) with an i7 processor and 32 gigs of RAM on W10 struggles HARD with my RAF files from my X-T2. Every adjustment lags, and even scrolling down my photos in the Library module is choppy. Hard quick adjustments like spot healing skin or masking adjustments takes multiple seconds per click to see my adjustment show up on the preview, no matter what I do. I've got a 40GB cache, I've turned GPU processing on, and back off, to see if it makes a difference (it doesn't) and nothing I've done seems to make any difference. My drive has 40% free space, I only have about 6000 photos in my catalog, and I back-up and Optimize regularly.

 

In hunting for solutions, I found someone suggesting that I could import all of my photos to a fast external drive, render Smart Previews, then disconnect the drive, and work exclusively with the smart previews, which are supposedly smaller, lighter, and faster to work with, and then when I'm done, re-connect the drive, apply the changes, and export/work in Photoshop from there.

 

Wondering if anyone has any better tips for speeding up Lightroom when working with RAF files, or if anyone has tried the Smart Preview method described above to tell me whether it provides any advantages?

 

Can I ask: 

1. What do you consider "slow" or "long"?  I really am curious here as I'd like to benchmark my LR and my X-T2 raws.

2.  I shoot uncompressed.  I wonder if Adobe has to take time to de-compress the files to actually make the changes (?)  I'm only asking here, as I am not an engineer.

 

But I'd be very, very curious to determine what you consider a long time, or slowness.  My catalog as over 55,000 images in one, and over 40,000 in another so doubt if your 6000 are causing the issue.

Thank you

Edited by jlmphotos

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Can I ask: 

1. What do you consider "slow" or "long"?  I really am curious here as I'd like to benchmark my LR and my X-T2 raws.

2.  I shoot uncompressed.  I wonder if Adobe has to take time to de-compress the files to actually make the changes (?)  I'm only asking here, as I am not an engineer.

 

But I'd be very, very curious to determine what you consider a long time, or slowness.  My catalog as over 55,000 images in one, and over 40,000 in another so doubt if your 6000 are causing the issue.

Thank you

Importing about 1000 uncompressed raw photos and creating 1:1 previews for all of them takes about 3 hours with my CPU at 100% and the fan cranking at full speed, assuming I just set my computer down and don't try to do anything else while it's working.

For comparison, I tried it with some Canon raw files and that process took about 15 minutes. 

 

I don't shoot compressed raw just because I have plenty of card space and lots of spare hard-drive space, and didn't see the benefit of shooting compressed, even though it's supposedly still full quality. 

 

I've spent about 3 hours with Adobe support controlling my system, changing settings, resetting permissions, uninstalling and re-installing things, doing research on my processor and graphics card, etc. The tech I worked with was very confused about the behavior, and brought in higher level techs/engineers twice for advice on the matter. We finally ended the session with her saying she would continue to do research and get back to me later with a solution. Two days later, I got an email saying that I should disable GPU processing, and update Lightroom, and that was it. (Neither thing made a difference).

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I do not remember if I posted this yesterday, I actually meant to:  

You may want to go to this website:  https://www.lightroomqueen.com

 

Not only does she provide useful information, but there are an entire set of Forums in there that "may" be able to help you out.

Give it a run and see what you think.

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I do not remember if I posted this yesterday, I actually meant to:  

You may want to go to this website:  https://www.lightroomqueen.com

 

Not only does she provide useful information, but there are an entire set of Forums in there that "may" be able to help you out.

Give it a run and see what you think.

Thanks for this. I'll head over there and do some reading. If it's helpful, I'll report back. 

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Compared to sony RAW files, Fuji RAW files really processing slow. about 3-4 per file vs about 10 seconds. It is strange because latest Capture One process Fuji files at comparable to sony raw speeds about 3 sec per image...  

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I realize this is a pretty old post, was hoping that you had an update. I have a Surface Book and I am having similar issues with the same time comparisons. Trying to decide whether I need a new machine or if it's just the way that Lightroom handles X-Trans III files. I didn't have this problem with my x100s files or Nikon files. Appreciate any updates you could give. 

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It's Lightroom.  In the fall of 2017 there was an update that was suppose to improve performance across the entire Lightroom application for everyone.  Loading files, exporting, switching between modules, etc.  Some commented it was noticeably faster.  It just depended on what you were doing, and the type of files you were processing.

I have a workhorse of a machine and found the improvement in speed (in some cases) noticable.  But it wasn't anything to get excited over.

I still convert my RAW files with X-Transformer to DNG (I do this in batch), then I load the DNG into Lightroom.  Even with working with Adobes own DNG format .. I still find the performance of Lightroom to be disappointing.  Particulaly if you use the clone/healing tool quite a bit in a single image.

 

I'd recommend giving the demo of a couple other tools a try.  I have read via the FujiLove site that Alien Skin Software - Exposure X3 is quite good and is very similar to Lightroom in layout and editing.

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Guest Him

Can't help... Haven't touched a PC since 2001...  

 

Join the happy throng, me too since 2003

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Guest Him

The only thing that is quick and does decent decoding is Pictorial. It's a shame that it is not feature complete otherwise it would be superb.

 

The best decoder, Iridient is also slow, and worse, you don't see that it is busy, so you never know if it is really done..

 

But agreed, Adobe is one of the slow ones...

 

What is definitely not slow is Alien Software's Exposure X3, which is fast. So I have ended up with Pictorial and EXposure X3. Both I can get on with and I like the interface of these two.

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Guest Him

That's good info, but unfortunately, not particularly useful to me. Switching to a macbook is out of the question for me for a few reasons, the simplest of which is cost. 

 

I'll keep hunting. Thanks for the tip though. 

 

Do you have any refurbished Mac sellers near you? I saw one in Zürich recently and I thought wow, if that place does not make good money something is wrong! They had all sorts of Macs, refurbished and looking pretty good kit for fair prices. So hopefully you can follow that chain of thought and get lucky.

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What is definitely not slow is Alien Software's Exposure X3, which is fast. So I have ended up with Pictorial and EXposure X3. Both I can get on with and I like the interface of these two.

I don't know Pictorial nor Alien Software Exposure X3. If they are faster they are worth a look. But do you know of actual test data? Say Lightroom vs Irident vs Pictorial vs X3 to convert RAFs to Tiff's? In a batch of 10, batch of 100, batch of 1000? (I'll say up front that converting 1000 has got to be a commercial event.)

 

Sent from my Pixel XL using Tapatalk

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Guest Him

I don't know Pictorial nor Alien Software Exposure X3. If they are faster they are worth a look. But do you know of actual test data? Say Lightroom vs Irident vs Pictorial vs X3 to convert RAFs to Tiff's? In a batch of 10, batch of 100, batch of 1000? (I'll say up front that converting 1000 has got to be a commercial event.)

 

Sent from my Pixel XL using Tapatalk

 

No tests as such but I have recently bought Alien Software's Exposure X3 and then I have got it to display and allow me to edit several folders with 350-500 images in each, RAF and DNG images from Fuji and Leica. The images load up quickly and editing is no issue speedwise. I ignored the old Lightroom backup and therefore all Lightroom adjustments.

 

That's as close as a test that I have gotten so far in my first week or two of using Exposure X3. Pictorial handles the import even faster, but does not have such vast array of tools for post-editing. It is good for images that need not much detailed work in post.

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