What computer to easily process D800 files?

Started Jul 30, 2013 | Discussions thread
PhotoKaz Contributing Member • Posts: 524
Re: I'm using a Mac pro from 2006 and it inhales D800e files with no problem

The Andy G wrote:

PhotoKaz wrote:

The Andy G wrote:


This is a non-issue.

Mac Pro or Macbook Pro? Both came with 1GB of memory as standard in 2006 so unless yours was a custom build I'm having a hard time with your "no problem" statement.

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May 26, 2013 19:42:56

I’m using Lightroom 5 on a Mac Pro 1,1 from 2006 and really have no issues processing D800e files apart from it gobbling hard drive space.

My current configuration is a 5 GB of ram, with a SSD for the boot drive. I have also upgraded the video card a few years ago but Lightroom isn’t particularly dependent upon video cards so it’s not really the issue.

The reasons why I suspect most people have trouble with Lightroom are because they don’t understand what happens in develop mode, their catalogues are too big and they’ve moved file locations.

The only real issue that bugs me is the building of previews. I’ll address that below.

Here are three links you may find helpful:

First off, SSDs will help LR in many ways but not much in develop mode. Even less of you've moved the cache to another non-SSD volume. Why? Once the action has been moved into processor and RAM, the volume is out of the process, cache aside.


This is why snappy video cards also don’t appear to make much of an impact on your LR performance. In develop mode, it’s all about CPU and RAM.

Secondly, building those 1:1 previews may need planning. Not much for it except to do as Adobe advises.

  • Set your cache to the job size or larger.
  • Keep the catalog and preview cache in the same folder. No, really, don’t move this and do not move it to a slower drive.
  • Build those 1:1 previews on demand. Meaning, if you're rarely using LR, and only working with it on spot jobs, Library/Previews - Standard previews or 1:1 can be chosen on demand as you need. However, you can in preferences choose what your standard previews are. By default, photos being worked on automatically force 1:1 builds so you may have hit a ceiling with your processor/HD combination. Meaning, if the item is in a pokey “Green” drives somewhere, move it onto a 7200 RPM, 10,000 RPM or SSD.

Building the 1:1s is really the only slowness I've noticed on my system but I tend to batch process an import, work on it for two weeks and then move off to the next project.

Thirdly, work order is important.

Adobe's recommended work order is:

  • Spot healing.
  • Geometry corrections, such as Lens Correction profiles and Manual corrections, including keystone corrections using the Vertical slider.
  • Global non-detail corrections, such as Exposure and White Balance. These corrections can also be done first if desired.
  • Local corrections, such as Gradient Filter and Adjustment Brush strokes.
  • Detail corrections, such as Noise Reduction and Sharpening.
  • Use native rather than irregular zooms (1:1/1:2/1:3/1:4 et cetera)
  • Consider going back to the 2010 colour profile for less resource-intensive image processing.

My own work order is to add the lens geometry upon import since I tend to shoot wide and corner brightness is more variable in those lenses I rarely use spot healing apart from jacket lint and acne.

Fourthly, maintenance matters.

Adobe advises keeping catalogues to under 10,000 images. This is not only good practice as it keeps your DB from having a single point of failure but maintenance is also easier. Optimization and back up of the catalogue can be a dog once the number of images gets big.

Random slowdowns I was experiencing and sudden spikes in processor demand went away once I did as Adobe advised and work with smaller catalogues.

One more thing to consider:

If you are shooting 14-bit, and compressed, these will invariably slowdown LR when building previews. I do not know the answer, but probably the decompression may be slowing down the preview builds; added the 25 per cent increase in colour space and there's your slowdown.

I always shoot 14-bit compressed so I don't even think of how much it slows operations down any more. It may be that the decompression is not infinitely thred-able. There are probably bubbles in the pipeline but what they are, I don't know.

Take home points:

  • SSDs only partially boost Lightroom 3/4/5 performance. Activities that are processor and RAM dependent like developing are not likely to see an improvement.
  • Work order matters.
  • Configuration and maintenance also matter

As always, be careful with advice from crazies you meet on the internet!

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What do all the buttons and dials do?

From the article you linked to (I added the bold):

So, having established that the use of an SSD offers only marginal improvements to Library preview rendering and photo load times in Develop module where can we realistically see an SSD helping a Lightroom user? Well, Lightroom isn’t just about rendering Library previews or loading photos into the the Develop module editing window. At Lightroom’s heart is a SQLite database, and the very fast access times associated with SSDs means that reading metadata from the catalog, searching the catalog, etc will be noticeably faster than on a conventional disk drive. Likewise, Library module thumbnail and preview scrolling (sometimes referred to as louping) will be noticeably faster and smoother. Other areas where the the use of an SSD will help include application launch times and computer boot time. Overall, installing Lightroom (includes catalog, previews and Camera Raw cache) on an SSD will result in the application feeling more responsive than is the case with a conventional disk drive.

When I build a fast computer, I don't try to simply improve my workflow when using the develop module in LR.  I strive for fast performance in every aspect of photo processing and general computing outside of LR and PS.  My own experience with a D800 and benchmarking shows that both the SSD and a decent video card made a big difference.

1. Having LR and PS installed on the SSD make startup MUCH faster.

2. Having my LR catalog on a fast SSD makes using the library noticeably faster.  I don't even need a benchmark to tell me this, I can see it for myself just through simple use.

3. Having my temp files, cache, and scratch disk on an SSD makes LR and PS perform much faster.

4. Having a lot of RAM helps when opening multiple files.  Having my Windows pagefile on a fast SSD makes it even more so.

5. Adding a good video card made the biggest impact when using the NIK plugins, and for me specifically Silver Efex Pro.  The difference was significant and immediately noticeable.   The money was well worth it as using Silver Efex before resulted in frustration while I waited for the filter effects to be applied.  It was not a long wait, maybe a few seconds but that makes a huge difference when using the sliders.  Sometimes you just make minor changes to the slider to get the effect you want, and you need to adjust one several time, then another, and may go back to the first to tweak it.  If you are waiting two seconds for each adjustment it makes processing each image much more tedious.  Despite having a 4.5GHz CPU, I still wasn't happy with the performance of Silver Efex Pro on my computer.  Adding the video card made the adjustments instant, even on big (80 megapixel) files.

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