Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Updated: How About PhotoUNFAVS Today: Lightroom 3 beta Import

Good Afternoon Everybody,

We finally got dug out yesterday about 3:00 p.m. so things are pretty much back to normal here in the frigid Midwest.

Master Class Shot - Fall Hey gang, I almost forgot to mention this but my Digital Master Class [link] coming up April 26-30, 2010 is almost full.  We never really announced it but people just started signing up. When I last checked yesterday, I saw we only had about 3 spaces left -yikes! That's why I thought I should get the word out today.  Give my studio manager, Jennifer, a call at 800.292.2994 right away if you want her to reserve a seat for you.  

You will also want to check out the “Where’s David” link above for the latest greatest updates to my schedule.  Lots of good stuff happening.  I’m doing a podcast this Thursday and two next week. Hit the “Where’s David” link above for details.

For the last few days I've been trying to get the DPT posts to hit my Facebook page and Twitter but I'm not having the best of luck.

For Twitter, I'm using  It worked the first time and now seems to be dead - nothing has posted since last Friday. The feeds all look OK so I'm stumped.  Facebook is normally supposed to update in about three hours but took more that 24 hours for the last post to hit.  Yesterday's post hasn't made it yet.  Don't you love all this digital stuff ;~)

I'll save the "bug chase" for another day - on with today's post.

Updated: PhotoUNFAVS Day: Lightroom 3 Beta Import Functionality.

Please scroll to end of the article for my update.

1680x1050 - LR - Dueling Import OK, I'm writing today's post with fear and trepidation that the Photoshop police are going to be knocking on my door after I post this.  But, here goes anyway.

A few months ago, I like so many others, downloaded the public Beta of Lightroom 3. Hey, I loved what I saw, but I kept stumbling over the new import function.  Here is my fist blog post about it right here where I posted that it took me 10 minutes to import 150 images!

OK, granted it’s a Beta so I decided to hang in there. Besides, I loved so many of the new features, I wanted to stay on board. I continued to wrestle with the new import function. It continued to be a hair pulling frustrating experience.  You can read my follow up post to the Lightroom 3 Beta import function right here - scroll down till you find it.

It's been 3 1/2 month's since I've re-visited the LR3 beta import issue.  I was having a conversation with one of the internal LR3 beta testers and casually asked if Adobe had done anything to FIX the import issue. He reported, that to his best knowledge, the import feature would remain the same. I can't tell you who I was speaking with otherwise they would have to "kill" me - you know, NDA's and all ;~)

Anyway, all joking aside, I decided to give the issue a very close look yesterday and see if I could quantify the issue, that is actually put a stop watch on the import process - maybe I was missing something.

No, unfortunately, I was not missing anything.  I wanted to import one image off a flash card - it was yesterday's "snow image".  I popped the card into my card reader, opened up LR2.6 and had the image in Lightroom 2.6 in 15 seconds.  I then fired up LR3b and started the stop watch. 7 minutes later I had the image imported into LR3b. The entire process took 2800% longer than with LR2.6!!!  I tried it a second time.  Since the thumbnails were already in place, it only took 3 1/2 minutes the second time around - still unusable and too long a time.

For my next test, I wanted to import a few images from a recent wedding.  I pointed LR3b to a directory where several thousand images resided. In this particular file I shot about 4000 images covering the event. It took 10 minutes to populate the thumbnails this time - totally unacceptable in my workflow!!!

Check out the video below to see what I'm talking about - it's a short one but surely points to the MAJOR problem with LR3b's import functionality.

Why hasn't this been reported by anyone else?  I'm in LR2 everyday importing the occasional image for a project, blog post, etc. LR2 works like a charm. So what's the problem?  I believe the problem lies in the fact that I'm a professional photographer with several terabytes and over 1,000,000 images on my hard drives at any one time.

LR 3 Disks Lightroom 3b wants to look at every one of those files before it will let me get to the import process. I just want to quickly drill down to the few files I want to import and be done with it.  LR2 does this perfectly and it really bothers me that this speedy import functionality is going away with the new version - or so it seems.

For me, that means that LR3 is not a working solution for me at this time if things - the import function - stays the way they have it programmed in the current  beta.  I certainly hope Adobe takes a hard look at this before releasing the final version and gives those of us (professional wedding photographers) with lots of data on our computers an option of returning to the legacy LR2.6 import procedure.

I know I'm fired up about this thing.  I sure wish others would take a hard look at this issue and bring it closer to Adobe's attention.  I'm a huge Adobe Lightroom fan and am not against "change" but this change is for the worst.  Until the import speed returns, I'm sitting out this next upgrade.

UPDATE To Post: Hey everybody, thanks for all the comments. I’m glad I’m not the only one having the problems.  You know, the original idea of this post was to raise awareness of the issue in hopes that adobe doesn’t “go to press” with the new import function “etched in stone.”

We can get all “gee whizzed” with all the great newest, latest greatest features of LR3b without even looking at how SOME of the changes can and will seriously affect our workflow.  Hey, aren’t those the kind of things a public beta is supposed to uncover?

I love lots of features on the new version, especially the new noise reduction features.  But do I love them enough to jeopardize costly increased production costs for my studio, maybe not.

The main problem lies in the fact that the more data (hard drives) you have hanging off your computer, the slower the import. Lightroom 3b wants to look at ALL that data before it lets you get to the import function. 

If you import frequently into many catalogues, as I do, the new import function becomes a PAINFULLY time consuming process and simply no longer works for my workflow.

As far as timing my imports, I started the clock the moment I hit the import button and stopped the clock when all the images had populated in LR3b.  The video shows this very clearly. If you want to do your own testing, drop your results into the comment section below – just be sure to “start the clock”  as soon as you hit the “Import” button and list the amount of data on you local computer.

Sure, the argument can be made for newer, faster computers, etc. but hey, give me a break – LR2’s import is FAR superior to LR3b!  I still stand behind the import speed of LR2.  My question is, “Why neuter the speedy legacy process in a new version?”

I liked the very creative work around offered by Shambrick who suggested, “If you set up auto import, you can copy your single image to the specified watch folder then it should auto import quickly.” – Good idea.

Your thoughts??? -David


Hey gang, that's it for me today. The air is brisk, the sun is trying to peak out from the clouds and it looks like a great day in the neighborhood.  See ya' tomorrow for a very cool Business day Thursday.  Adios,  David


  1. I just did a time test in LR 3 beta and it took 30secs to import 316 RAW images from a D3.

  2. Thanks David for validating me. That is the reason I stopped using the LR3beta altogether. I know I don't have the fastest computer, but the import times were becoming unbearable.

  3. Will you try aperture 3 then? I love your product reviews and would want to get your opinion on apple's aperture.


  4. Just opened the Import dialog with a card of a hundred or so 30D photos... not really stressing it much, but the thumbnails were what I'd call a little slow. Still, they came up much faster than your example.

    Looking at a folder on my hard drive (previously un-browsed) with a lot more photos it WAS slow, but then I unchecked "Include Subfolders" that pops up next to the Volume name so it wasn't trying to scan all photos from 2009 and it stopped bogging down... although that doesn't seem to apply in your case.

    Any chance there's videos from your 5Dm2 or 7D? I've seen a few quibbles about LR3b not liking videos (yet... you can't help but think that Adobe will put something in the final release now that Aperture 3 see videos...)

  5. I never even got that far in the import with LR3. Every time I tried to import, LR would freeze up completely. I let it go for over 10 minutes one time just to see if it would ever figure it out, but to no avail. I went so far as to uninstall and reinstall LR3, but still kept getting the freezes.

    I checked in the Adobe Support Forums and found that a lot of people are having problems with the import. I have faith that the issue will be resolved in the final release, but I really did want to try it out!

    This probably sounds weird, but I actually feel a bit better knowing that someone with a bit of NAPP clout has been having similar issues!

  6. You are "right on" David. I have actually started using Bridge again because it's so frustrating.

  7. David, you have a valid point, but another option springs to mind:

    If you set up autoimport, you can copy your single image to the specified watch folder then it should autoimport quickly.

  8. Hey David,

    I'm the math police so I just wanted to tell you about this:
    If one picture takes 15 sec and the other takes 7 min, the second takes 2700 % longer, because
    in %: 2700 %.

    I know, I'm a crazy guy re-calculating your math :)

  9. Hi David,

    Zack Arias posted his workflow on his blog the other day and he uses Photo Mechanic to import is files, view them, rate them, and then uses lightroom to import his selects into his catalog. Since this import is done from the hardrive rather than his card, it's much much faster. Both of you shoot high volume so it might be something worth looking into.

    Check his site - and watch his workflow video.

    Hope this helps,

  10. I haven't done a comparison because I don't have the LR3 beta on the same computer as LR2.6. However, if the import in LR3 is SLOWER than LR2, that it very unfortunate, because LR2 was already too slow!

    I've been using iView Media Pro for years because it was the fastest way to import, select & rename images. Then I imported only the "keepers" into LR for processing. However, iView doesn't seem to work in 64-bit Windows 7 so I need to find another tool. LR2 is already a lot slower than iView, so if LR3 is even worse, I'll stick with LR2.

    And even if it isn't slower, I don't like the import function as well either. I hope they don't keep it.

    Please add my vote for the existing import function!

  11. The LR3 Beta import is super slow for me also. I just got a new 27" iMac and the import takes forever. 150 photos takes about 20 minutes. I shot 2500 images one day and it took about 5 hours to import. With the Aperture 3 trial 150 photos takes about 2 minutes to import. And you can work with the rest of the program as they import. In lightroom 3 beta (and LR2 as I remember) the program is almost unusable while importing. I have tried changing my setting so that it doesn't convert to DNG and it generates minimal jpg previews, but it's still slow.

  12. I too greatly dislike the new import. But, I have found that I don't have to wait for it, just select the right folder and hit "Import." I don't wait for it to populate the thumbnails, since I'm not going to look at them anyway. I frequently add to a folder and then use the "Synchronize folder" option the same way, and it's fast as long as I don't wait.

    The problem comes if I just want to import selected files. Then, it's a waiting game.

  13. I'm using LR3 with Windows 7 and importing 5D Raw images. I have not noticed any performance decrease from LR2.