Tips for fast Sigma Photo Pro (SPP) workflow

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brendanpaxton Forum Member • Posts: 54
Tips for fast Sigma Photo Pro (SPP) workflow

Disclaimer 1: I know there are some threads here and there with some scattered info regarding hardware upgrades and settings changes, but I wanted to compile some key takeaways for getting the fastest use of SPP. One great reference I found after doing some of my own tests is:

Disclaimer 2: These tips are for actually using SPP to make edits, not for avoiding SPP.

Alright, so in my personal experience, there is simply very little you can do to improve the performance of SPP if you're hopping around to different folders and opening and closing SPP. If you are disorganized and want to hop right in to start editing photos in this folder and in that folder, you're simply out of luck.

You can, however, prep your editing sessions beforehand.

Section 1: Getting to your edits (SPP load time)


No changes to memory or hard drive technology or graphics cards will boost photo load performance.

In the end, that's a good thing, because you won't have to shell out a bunch of money. No need for a PCIe NVMe M.2 drive. No need to allocate space on an SSD. You can keep all your photos on a storage drive, and there will still be no impact to performance.


If you're wanting the best photo load performance (i.e. getting to the actual editing window) and you're dealing with lots of photos, the only thing you can do is:

  1. Make sure "high speed processing by pre-processing the image" is enabled.
  2. Put all photos for your editing session in a single folder.
  3. Start up SPP long before your editing session.
  4. Navigate SPP to that folder of photos.
  5. Wait for SPP to pre-process all of your photos before you begin editing.

Preferences > Enable high-speed processing (hit OK, then restart SPP)

NOTE: Nothing you do will change the time it takes to process your images, it's just that this processing time will occur on the entire folder's contents while SPP is open (and it's navigated to the folder). Do this before you begin your editing session to reduce your load times by 5-7X.

As the pre-processing is occurring, you'll see little icons pop up on your images, like so:

Pre-processing indicator icons

Data from stress tests:

I ran a stress test with all of my drives for how quickly you can go from the SPP file browser to a color review window to start making edits, pasted below:

Test 1, File = 469.09 MB .X3I
("Use extra memory to accelerate operation" = On)
("High speed processing by pre-processing the image" = Off)

  • 38.8 sec - NVMe M.2 - my PCIe editing drive
  • 38.6 sec - SSD - my internal fast storage drive, connected w/SATA cable
  • 38.7 sec - HDD - my internal 7200rpm backup drive, w/SATA cable

Test 2, File = 469.09 MB .X3I
("Use extra memory to accelerate operation" = Off)
("High speed processing by pre-processing the image" = Off)

  • 39.1 sec - NVMe M.2 - my PCIe editing drive
  • 39.3 sec - HDD - my internal 7200rpm backup drive, w/SATA cable

Test 3, File = 469.09 MB .X3I
("Use extra memory to accelerate operation" = Off)
("High speed processing by pre-processing the image" = On, 10GB)

  • NVMe M.2 - my PCIe editing drive:
    36.1 sec for pre-processing wheel
    +5.88 sec for color review window open time
  • HDD - my internal 7200rpm backup drive, w/SATA cable:
    36.8 sec for pre-processing wheel
    +5.67 sec for color review window open time

The results show that memory and hard drive upgrades will not change load time, and that the only way to improve workflow speed is to "pre-process" your photos by opening SPP and letting it crunch through your folder of photos before you begin editing.

Once pre-processing is finished, these ~500MB .X3I files each open in ~6 sec (instead of ~40 sec), a boost of 5-7X. This is huge.

How long does SPP need to prep my editing session?

Example: for 100GB, which is approximately 200 .X3I images, that would take roughly 2 hours to pre-process all of your images (200 x 36sec = 2 hrs) - and then you'd be ready to perform quick edits. That's enough time to grab a cup of coffee and go get some groceries.

Obviously, make sure you never shut down your SPP browser.

Final note: Most folks shoot only RAW (and not in SFD mode), so for the smaller .X3F file load times, the tests show ~8 sec (no pre-processing) vs ~3 sec (pre-processed).

Section 2: Editing your photos (active SPP render time)


Graphics card upgrades will boost photo edit performance.

I wasn't able to test different graphics cards, but Lars at Fotogenerell was able to cut his active edit time in half by utilizing a higher-end graphics card when compared to his CPU's integrated graphics card.


1) Enable GPU acceleration:

To activate this performance boost, you'll need to utilize GPU Acceleration and select your best graphics card from the drop-down list:

Preferences > Enable GPU acceleration (Hit OK, then restart SPP)

2) Boosting editing performance in the SPP editing window:

  • Click the +/- buttons (i.e. on the Contrast slider) rather than dragging the sliders
    • Dragging the sliders seems to cause issues as photo re-render begins
    • Rapidly click the +/- buttons to fire off a series of commands for better control
  • Do not wait for a full re-render before sending more editing commands
    • For example, if you already know you want to raise exposure and reduce contrast, rapidly click each of those sliders in the directions you want, rather than waiting for a complete re-render of the image after each click.
    • Render time is not bottle-necked by the number of commands you send, it just doesn't matter how many changes are being made in each re-render, so send as many as you know you want, even while SPP is in the middle of rendering.
  • Save settings as Custom Settings to quickly load your presets in the future
    • For example, say you want to always make sure you aren't applying Noise Reduction and that you always want to be "Crispy" in the detail.. and maybe always with a "Vivid" Color Mode in your photo set
    • Perform those edits on your first image, and then click Save Settings to save those edits into a preset
  • Apply Custom Settings to your .X3Fs beforehand if you know the direction you'll be going on the images
    • In the main SPP window, select the images you are planning to edit
    • From the main window's menu, click Edit > Batch Setting
    • In the Batch Settings window, click the setting you want under Call Custom Setting
    • Then click the "Set to RAW files" button (for the images you select, or the whole folder if you'd like)

I hope all these tips help and I'm sorry if I'm beating a dead horse after all these years!

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 brendanpaxton's gear list:brendanpaxton's gear list
Sigma sd Quattro H Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM Art Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG HSM Art Sigma 105mm F2.8 DG DN Macro +2 more
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