Advice needed to upgrade workflow (speed) with mac/lightroom

Started 4 months ago | Questions
trak2r New Member • Posts: 1
Advice needed to upgrade workflow (speed) with mac/lightroom

Hi,

I use Lightroom as my goto tool (vs. 3), and photoshop as assisting tool. Recently bought a Sony a7r iii - to get larger files mainly - around 42mb.
I use an old Imac (late 2009) 16 mb Ram at the moment (this is probably what I need to upgrade..) and am looking for a faster solution for external HD to store my Lightroom archives on. I am not sure what the fastest connection on the Imac is, but I use USB2..
I would think my first question would be - stay with the Imac or upgrade to a used Mac floor model. An upgrade is fine by my finances, but only if I need it. It is the load speed in lightroom I need to improve.
Also the external HD solution is up for an upgrade I believe - and is within budget as well.
I have very little knowledge on tech. My understanding boils down to: it is a choice related to future work - and the connection speed to the ext HD is the bottle neck.
I do no video work.

(backup solution: 2 external HD - #2 is a copy of #1. 1 cloud backblaze copy of #1).

I probably need to give you more info - but unsure of what - so pls ask! All help is greatly appreciated!!

Looking toward an Apple Mac Pro 2010 2.6 GHz 16‑Core Intel Xeon 32 mb ram and 480 ssd hd - this would be my choice of upgrade - but I am not sure of anything here https://brugtecomputere.dk/stationaer/7501-apple-mac-pro-16-ghz-16core-intel-xeon.html

ANSWER:
This question has not been answered yet.
terrydev Regular Member • Posts: 409
Re: Advice needed to upgrade workflow (speed) with mac/lightroom
3

You're using a 12 year old machine. Upgrade. It will be faster. Recent machines use USB3 or 4 (Thunderbolt) these are much faster than USB2. Your version of LR will have to upgrade too.

Seriously, upgrade to some 2021 hardware. It will make a considerable difference.

graybalanced Veteran Member • Posts: 7,005
Re: Advice needed to upgrade workflow (speed) with mac/lightroom
4

You may not gain much improvement working with such old Macs. Lightroom will probably run much faster through a combination of modernizing your software and your hardware. The reasons…

Lightroom has been optimized in recent versions (I think version 7 and later) to make better use of GPU and multi-core CPUs. But old Macs have weak GPUs and CPUs.

trak2r wrote:

archives on. I am not sure what the fastest connection on the Imac is, but I use USB2..

That will be a major bottleneck. USB2 is so slow and outdated now that it is only able to deliver a fraction of the full speed of a modern hard drive.

If you could just connect the same 7200RPM hard drive to USB3, it would be able to load files 5 to 10 times faster than USB2.

If you could connect a SATA SSD to USB 3, it could load files potentially 20 or more times faster than USB 2.

The fastest connection on your 2009 iMac is FireWire 800, it is more than twice as fast in real world use than USB 2. But trying to use FireWire 800 is not recommended today because only very few companies still make and support FireWire 800 drives. You should require USB 3 on your next Mac, the drives for it are bigger and faster for less money.

If you want the biggest speed improvement for the least money, it is probably to buy the current M1 Mac Mini. Its performance will destroy any affordable used Intel Mac by a large margin, it will absolutely embarass that 2010 Mac Pro you are thinking of and will be supported by Apple for many more years. And the fast USB3 ports will let you store most files externally instead of upgrading the expensive internal storage.

Lightroom 3 won’t run on a new Mac so you will have to upgrade to Lightroom Classic 10, but that should be worth it given the long list of features and performance optimizations added in the last few years. I would not want to continue using Lightroom 3 even if it did run on a recent Mac.

robgendreau Veteran Member • Posts: 9,108
Re: Advice needed to upgrade workflow (speed) with mac/lightroom
1

trak2r wrote:

Hi,

I use Lightroom as my goto tool (vs. 3), and photoshop as assisting tool. Recently bought a Sony a7r iii - to get larger files mainly - around 42mb.
I use an old Imac (late 2009) 16 mb Ram at the moment (this is probably what I need to upgrade..) and am looking for a faster solution for external HD to store my Lightroom archives on. I am not sure what the fastest connection on the Imac is, but I use USB2..
I would think my first question would be - stay with the Imac or upgrade to a used Mac floor model. An upgrade is fine by my finances, but only if I need it. It is the load speed in lightroom I need to improve.
Also the external HD solution is up for an upgrade I believe - and is within budget as well.
I have very little knowledge on tech. My understanding boils down to: it is a choice related to future work - and the connection speed to the ext HD is the bottle neck.
I do no video work.

(backup solution: 2 external HD - #2 is a copy of #1. 1 cloud backblaze copy of #1).

I probably need to give you more info - but unsure of what - so pls ask! All help is greatly appreciated!!

Looking toward an Apple Mac Pro 2010 2.6 GHz 16‑Core Intel Xeon 32 mb ram and 480 ssd hd - this would be my choice of upgrade - but I am not sure of anything here https://brugtecomputere.dk/stationaer/7501-apple-mac-pro-16-ghz-16core-intel-xeon.html

I would think that even with an ancient slow USB 2 connection that if you build 1:1 preview and/or use smart previews you can mitigate slow external storage. Since Lr Classic doesn't have to read the file itself to edit. And Lr usually loads previews, which should be stored on your boot drive, which is about as fast as you're going to get...so if that's slow not much you can do but get a modern computer to match your modern camera.

So, basically, yes, that old computer and hardware attached to it will be a speed bottleneck. 45MB files, especially in raw, will tax most computers.

I don't think a 2010 computer is a good investment either. Try more recent models, especially the M1 Macs.

JPAlbert Senior Member • Posts: 1,099
Re: Advice needed to upgrade workflow (speed) with mac/lightroom
1

At 12 years old, the iMac may have been a capable machine in its time, but it's not worth putting any money into it.

A 2010 Mac Pro isn't much of an upgrade, really. Pass it by.

You want something new or at least Apple-refurbished.

I'd say nothing less than a 2017 iMac.
Or perhaps a 2019.
2020 would be better (SSDs are standard).
And then there's the new 24" with the m1 CPU. If you get the 24", MAKE SURE you get the "4-port version", not the one with only 2 ports on the back.

Or...
A Mac Mini.
Either a 2018 model, with an Intel CPU and SSD
or
A 2020 model with the m1 -- MAKE SURE you get 16gb of RAM.

If you're going to "upgrade", then GET a real upgrade...

lightandaprayer Veteran Member • Posts: 4,743
Re: Advice needed to upgrade workflow (speed) with mac/lightroom
5

You make passing mention of your budget but if you want better advice, you should let us know just how much you are willing and able to spend. . . The info will significantly reduce the time folks waste thinking about your situation while proffering advice that you are either unable or unwilling to use.

Spending money on Macs that are at or nearing the end of their useful life doesn't make any sense. And this is coming from someone who tends to keep Macs for a longtime. . . I am not a Serial Upgrader!

IMO the base-model M1 Mac Mini is one of the best Mac values ever when it comes to performance and price at $649. (A refurb costs $589.) A RAM upgrade to 16GB adds $180 (a refurb price isn't currently available) but if the software you use most benefits from it the upgrade will turn the Mini into a pint-size powerhouse.

It's too early to make specific recommendations. . . But the Apple Silicon Macs are the future and I would not go with an Intel Mac unless there are compelling reasons to do so.

Tom_N Forum Pro • Posts: 19,333
Re: Advice needed to upgrade workflow (speed) with mac/lightroom

trak2r wrote:

Hi,

I use Lightroom as my goto tool (vs. 3), and photoshop as assisting tool. Recently bought a Sony a7r iii - to get larger files mainly - around 42mb.
I use an old Imac (late 2009) 16 mb Ram at the moment (this is probably what I need to upgrade..) and am looking for a faster solution for external HD to store my Lightroom archives on. I am not sure what the fastest connection on the Imac is, but I use USB2..

The fastest external connection on a Late 2009 iMac is Firewire 800. These days, it is hard to find Firewire 800 drives – but you can buy Firewire 800 + USB 3.0 enclosures (for either 3.5" or 2.5" drives) from Other World Computing.

I have four of their DIY enclosures (three unused 3.5" ones, and one 2.5" one containing a SATA SSD) and would recommend them if you want to stick with the old machine.

My reason(s) for sticking with my Late 2009 iMac are (1) trying to get the most value out of the machine and (2) being able to run old software (PowerPC; 32-bit).

If you're looking for a big speed increase and you can switch to new application software (i.e., the latest "subscription" versions of Lightroom and Photoshop), a new Apple-Silicon-based Mac would definitely be the way to go. The only question is: M1 now, or M1X/M2 later?

I would think my first question would be - stay with the Imac or upgrade to a used Mac floor model. An upgrade is fine by my finances, but only if I need it. It is the load speed in lightroom I need to improve.

Catalog load speed might be improved by storing Lightroom catalog and preview files on a very fast drive – e.g., a PCIe NVMe SSD like the ones in the M1-based Mac, as opposed to the hard drives in most Late 1009 iMacs.

Preview generation speed might be increased by a fast CPU such as the M1.

A M1-based MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, or Mac Mini custom-ordered with 16 GB of RAM,. and running "subscription" Lightroom and Photoshop, should smoke a Late 2009 iMac.

Also the external HD solution is up for an upgrade I believe - and is within budget as well.

Don't spend a lot of money there. Do look for a drive mechanism that has Conventional Magnetic Recordingt technology (not the Shingled Magnetic Recording kind), but USB 3.* (whether with a USB-A connector or a USB-C connector) is fast enough for a hard drive.

I have very little knowledge on tech. My understanding boils down to: it is a choice related to future work - and the connection speed to the ext HD is the bottle neck.
I do no video work.

An external hard drive, itself, will be a bottleneck. Hard drives make a good choice for backup storage, and are fast enough for most data files, but even a mid-range USB 3.0 SSD will outrun a HDD on benchmark tests.

Looking toward an Apple Mac Pro 2010 2.6 GHz 16‑Core Intel Xeon 32 mb ram and 480 ssd hd - this would be my choice of upgrade - but I am not sure of anything here https://brugtecomputere.dk/stationaer/7501-apple-mac-pro-16-ghz-16core-intel-xeon.html

A SSD is not a HD. The term "SSD HD" makes about as much sense as the term "car bike"; the things are alternatives!

PerTulip Senior Member • Posts: 1,612
Re: Advice needed to upgrade workflow (speed) with mac/lightroom

trak2r wrote:

...

I use an old Imac (late 2009)

C2D, i5 or i7? C2D: way too slow.

16 mb Ram at the moment (this is probably what I need to upgrade..)

More is always better. Won't improve storage, CPU, etc. speed. Moving from 8GB to 16Gb is significant, moving from 16 to 32 probably won't change much.

external HD

Too slow. Internally, the 2009 iMacs have 7200rpm HDs: too slow. So your cataglog (and smart previews) are probably on a HD: too slow.

... USB2..

Too slow.

Conclusion: everything in your setup is slow.

 PerTulip's gear list:PerTulip's gear list
Nikon D5 Nikon D850 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm F1.4G +5 more
robgendreau Veteran Member • Posts: 9,108
Re: Advice needed to upgrade workflow (speed) with mac/lightroom

PerTulip wrote:

Too slow.

Conclusion: everything in your setup is slow.

Except the A7riii...and that's the problem.

I was just reading a good review of the R6 and R5, and it was the first reviewer who was thorough and mentioned the semi-hidden costs of newer high pixel count cameras. And one big one is the need for computer upgrades (and the OP will also  have to factor in software upgrade costs if we get a budget). And more storage cost. And also in the camera, since in the R5 at least that could mean say $500 or so in CF Express cards, and a reader. But I think the A7Riii uses the slower cards, fortunately.

And then there are features like USB charging, which might require a hub with USB PD. And if one wants to attach or tether the camera, maybe at least USB 3 and USB C on some.

But good luck to the OP; at least Apple is coming out now with some good solutions, and I like that they started with more affordable options. And even an iPad Pro might be worth considering.

graybalanced Veteran Member • Posts: 7,005
Re: Advice needed to upgrade workflow (speed) with mac/lightroom
1

Tom_N wrote:

The fastest external connection on a Late 2009 iMac is Firewire 800. These days, it is hard to find Firewire 800 drives – but you can buy Firewire 800 + USB 3.0 enclosures (for either 3.5" or 2.5" drives) from Other World Computing.

I have four of their DIY enclosures (three unused 3.5" ones, and one 2.5" one containing a SATA SSD) and would recommend them if you want to stick with the old machine.

For the benefit of the original poster: If you must buy FireWire drives because you want to use them with an old Mac, the OWC drives Tom mentioned are a good idea because they also have USB 3 ports, so they will work with both old Macs and the latest ones.

A cautionary tale is that one of my priorities is to migrate all data off my remaining FireWire drives while the last of my FireWire Macs still works. New Macs do not have FireWire ports and adapters to connect FireWire to current computers are clumsy, rare, and not cheap, so if you got committed to buying some drives that only have FireWire ports and then your decade-old Mac dies and you get a new Mac, it could be a major challenge to get that data to the new Mac.

This is just another justification for not going ahead with another old slow Mac and getting something more recent instead.

lightandaprayer Veteran Member • Posts: 4,743
Re: Advice needed to upgrade workflow (speed) with mac/lightroom

FWIW, I have owned the OWC Mercury Elite Pro enclosures with FW800 and USB 3 ports since around 2015. While they have been OK I have experienced persistent wake-from-sleep issues when they are attached and running via USB 3.

When the problem occurs I must use the Mac power button to turn-off the Mac, then power-off the enclosure and reboot the Mac. I've tried to address the issue without success. Other more recent enclosures haven't had the same issue.  I am running a 2018 Mac Mini.

I am in the process of replacing the OWC enclosures because they are relatively old technology that have not been updated for quite some time. There are other potential issues with the Mercury Elite Pro enclosures (non-booting from cloned volumes with certain HDD model drives confirmed by OWC) etc.

joger
joger Veteran Member • Posts: 7,130
Re: Advice needed to upgrade workflow (speed) with mac/lightroom

lightandaprayer wrote:

IMO the base-model M1 Mac Mini is one of the best Mac values ever when it comes to performance and price at $649. (A refurb costs $589.) A RAM upgrade to 16GB adds $180 (a refurb price isn't currently available) but if the software you use most benefits from it the upgrade will turn the Mini into a pint-size powerhouse.

It's too early to make specific recommendations. . . But the Apple Silicon Macs are the future and I would not go with an Intel Mac unless there are compelling reasons to do so.

excellent advice and summary.

I gave a M1 equipped MAC to my brother to replace his super old Mac mini from 2010 - investing in renovation would have costed me hours on end and would have lead to a speed increase of maybe 20 % or best case 30 %

On the other hand side the M1 MBA is probably 10..20x the speed of his Mac mini.

Always a question of budget of course.

-- hide signature --

_____________________________________
A7R IV - one camera to rule them all
ISO 9000 definition of quality: 'Degree to which a set of inherent characteristic fulfills requirements'
I am the classic “Windows by Day, Mac by Night user'
“The horizon of many people is a circle with zero radius which they call their point of view.” Albert Einstein
"In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move." Douglas Adams

 joger's gear list:joger's gear list
Sony a7R IV Sony FE 135mm F1.8 GM Sony FE 35mm F1.4 GM Sony FE 50mm F1.2 GM Sony FE 14mm F1.8 GM +13 more
Fred-Garvin
Fred-Garvin Junior Member • Posts: 32
Re: Advice needed to upgrade workflow (speed) with mac/lightroom

+1

I upgraded from a 2009 17" MBP to a 2019 8core i9 MBP and an external SSD.

The difference is ASTOUNDING.

It took my 2009 about 23 mins to render a 5 min video in FCP.

My 2019 can do the same thing in 2 mins.

 Fred-Garvin's gear list:Fred-Garvin's gear list
Nikon D810 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-120mm F4G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm F1.8G Nikon AF-S 70-200mm F2.8E FL ED VR +4 more
Jacques Cornell
Jacques Cornell Forum Pro • Posts: 14,148
Base model M1 mini + 24" display for $800
1

trak2r wrote:

Hi,

I use Lightroom as my goto tool (vs. 3), and photoshop as assisting tool. Recently bought a Sony a7r iii - to get larger files mainly - around 42mb.
I use an old Imac (late 2009) 16 mb Ram at the moment (this is probably what I need to upgrade..) and am looking for a faster solution for external HD to store my Lightroom archives on. I am not sure what the fastest connection on the Imac is, but I use USB2..
I would think my first question would be - stay with the Imac or upgrade to a used Mac floor model. An upgrade is fine by my finances, but only if I need it. It is the load speed in lightroom I need to improve.
Also the external HD solution is up for an upgrade I believe - and is within budget as well.
I have very little knowledge on tech. My understanding boils down to: it is a choice related to future work - and the connection speed to the ext HD is the bottle neck.
I do no video work.

(backup solution: 2 external HD - #2 is a copy of #1. 1 cloud backblaze copy of #1).

I probably need to give you more info - but unsure of what - so pls ask! All help is greatly appreciated!!

Looking toward an Apple Mac Pro 2010 2.6 GHz 16‑Core Intel Xeon 32 mb ram and 480 ssd hd - this would be my choice of upgrade - but I am not sure of anything here https://brugtecomputere.dk/stationaer/7501-apple-mac-pro-16-ghz-16core-intel-xeon.html

A base-model M1 Mac mini with 8GB RAM and 256GB storage, connected to an affordable 24" IPS display is probably the best bang for your buck these days and a very capable machine. You could put this kit together for around $800. My base-model M1 MacBook Air outperforms my previous 8-core cylinder Mac Pro.

-- hide signature --

"I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it." - George Bernard Shaw
http://jacquescornell.photography
http://happening.photos

 Jacques Cornell's gear list:Jacques Cornell's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1 Panasonic FZ1000 Panasonic LX100 Sony a7R II Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 +49 more
Tom_N Forum Pro • Posts: 19,333
Re: Advice needed to upgrade workflow (speed) with mac/lightroom

graybalanced wrote:

For the benefit of the original poster: If you must buy FireWire drives because you want to use them with an old Mac, the OWC drives Tom mentioned are a good idea because they also have USB 3 ports, so they will work with both old Macs and the latest ones.

A cautionary tale is that one of my priorities is to migrate all data off my remaining FireWire drives while the last of my FireWire Macs still works. New Macs do not have FireWire ports and adapters to connect FireWire to current computers are clumsy, rare, and not cheap, so if you got committed to buying some drives that only have FireWire ports and then your decade-old Mac dies and you get a new Mac, it could be a major challenge to get that data to the new Mac.

Yes.  The dual-interface capability was one big factor in my decision to buy FW800 / USB3 enclosures from OWC.  I didn't belabor USB3 because I thought, probably mistakenly, that the value of the USB3 "forward migration" path would be obvious.

This is just another justification for not going ahead with another old slow Mac and getting something more recent instead.

Agree.

The only reasons to stick with an old slow Mac are (1) to preserve "obsolete" software, (2) to stretch your budget if you really can't afford anything new right now (e.g., you need the money for rent, to avoid being evicted!), or (3) as a money/time-consuming hobby.

lightandaprayer Veteran Member • Posts: 4,743
Re: Advice needed to upgrade workflow (speed) with mac/lightroom

Fred-Garvin wrote:

+1

I upgraded from a 2009 17" MBP to a 2019 8core i9 MBP and an external SSD.

The difference is ASTOUNDING.

It took my 2009 about 23 mins to render a 5 min video in FCP.

My 2019 can do the same thing in 2 mins.

Here is a video comparing 4k video rendering using a souped-up Intel MacBook Pro and two M1 Mac Minis. . .  The only difference between the Minis is 8GB RAM:

Intel MBP and M1 Mac Mini Video Rendering Tests

CBR1100XX Senior Member • Posts: 1,155
Re: Advice needed to upgrade workflow (speed) with mac/lightroom

I'd stay away from the computer in that link.  Looks like they are likely using 2 8 core chips, and a 3.6 GHz chip from 2010-2011 is much lower on single thread speed, not to mention multiple generations of improvements of the architecture meaning more instructions/speed per Hz.

The M1 advice is really hard to beat right now.  It's not the top performing chip out there right now but in terms of bang for the buck you'd be hard press to beat it and it should easily beat those older chips.

Remcodb
Remcodb Regular Member • Posts: 100
Re: Advice needed to upgrade workflow (speed) with mac/lightroom

Definitely upgrade the old iMac, not only speed but also to keep fully functioning software on a platform that is not legacy (OS will become legacy as soon as your model is ±7 yrs old). Compatibility issues will only get worse so good investment to upgrade.

I just went from 2012 top-spec iMac to 2021 M1 Mac Mini. It was time...

External HD main media drive: recommend to go for the best, thunderbolt 3 (type C connector) drive by someone like LaCie. Else a cheaper USB-3.1 or 3.2(Gen.2) type C. Gives you at least 10x practical speed vs. what you have.

-- hide signature --

Best regards,
Remco
www.remcodenboer.com
www.flikr.com/remco_db
www.instragram.com/remco_db

 Remcodb's gear list:Remcodb's gear list
Fujifilm XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS Fujifilm XF 56mm F1.2 R Fujifilm X-E3 Fujifilm X-T3 Fujifilm XF 10-24mm F4 R OIS +6 more
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum MMy threads