After years of complaints, Adobe acknowledges Lightroom Performance Issues

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I thought my eyes were deceiving me when I read this post in the official Lightroom blog this morning. It seems that Adobe has finally agreed to what its users have been telling them for years. Lightroom’s performance is abysmal.

In a blog post penned by product manager Tom Hogarty, the following is stated:

I would like to address concerns recently voiced by our community of customers around Lightroom performance, as improving performance is our current top priority. We have a history, starting with our first public beta, of working with our customers to address workflow and feature needs, and we’d like to take that same approach regarding your performance concerns.

Ok, I get that you speak for the company, and it’s great that you are accepting that this is a major issue, but, saying that you have a history of working with customers to address workflow and feature needs is bullshit. Excuse my language. If anything, the opposite is the case. I, like many others, have been expressing concern (or rage) about the quality of X-trans conversions for years, and after several years of complaining they finally promised to do something about it. That was back in 2005. Since then, nothing. So this doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence.

The only time they worked to address “specific needs” was after the backlash against the new import dialog a few years ago. Then the backlash was so overwhelming they had to do something. I want to be optimistic, and fair to the company, but the software is becoming barely useable in its current form. The post continues:

We already understand many of the current pain points around GPU, import performance, certain editing tasks and review workflows and are investing heavily in improving those areas. Over the past year we’ve added numerous enhancements to address your performance concerns but we understand we will have a lot of work to do to meet your expectations.

Again, I’m sorry, but this is bullshit. In some cases the performance in these areas is so bad, and has been for so long, that I can’t help but wonder why they’re only coming to this realisation now. And as far as I can see, the “enhancements” added have only made the software more buggy, slower and in some cases almost unusable. But hey, at least you’re still getting those subscription fees, so its all good, right?

Every new release seems to bring some new random bug. It still has issues in the Library module, with a large number of Develop Module Presets, which they said had been fixed (it hasn’t) and is kind of a ridiculous issue in the first place. I’ve now started getting a bug, where if you attempt to create a HDR or Panorama, it gets stuck adding it to the collection (even though it’s not in a collection) and keeps adding stuck status bars to the task manager. If you follow the forum posts on the official Adobe forums, you’ll see that some of the problems people are having are so ridiculous and so random, you havr to wonder just how badly programmed it is. I’m sorry Adobe, it’s not just a few “pain points” it’s the whole damn application from top to bottom, and if you don’t understand that, then the first company that offers a complete solution to everything Lightroom does (and a few are very close) are going to obliterate your marketshare.

In the comments, a few users have pointed out how bad the issues are for them, and of course there’s the obligatory retaliatory comment from someone who doesn’t have any issue, therefore the implication is that the people complaining must be making it up, or it’s somehow their own fault.

As a side point, if you have ever tried to use Adobe’s support forums you’ll know this tactic all too well. Any time anyone leaves any message or request for support, someone leaves a comment saying that they don’t have the problem, and imply that because they don’t have it, the person with the issue must be doing something wrong, or are making it up. In my opinion, this is at least part of the problem with Adobe. The diehard fans crush any attempt to report issues, and have completely soured the community. It is Adobe’s own fault for having their support system go through a public forum instead of a proper feedback based system like Zendesk. Anyway, that’s beside the point.

I generally try to write in a positive way, so why am I so ticked off about this? I recently came back from a trip abroad and tried to edit images I took with my A6000 only to find it almost impossible in Lightroom. It’s an issue that cropped up a few versions ago. On certain system configurations, with Sony ARW files, Lightroom is so slow, it’s unusable. I’m not the only one to discover this, and like others I tried to report it to Adobe, using their support forums. Within minutes someone came on describing how they don’t have the problem and so I must be imagining it. It was so utterly unhelpful. I checked other posts on the forum and almost all of them have the sake kind of responses. So, on the official way of getting help, where people are going specifically for help, there’s a segment of the community who feels the need to shout down anyone who had a problem. These people for whom everything is perfect, don’t seem to have any reason to be on a forum for people with issues in the first place.

So now we have Adobe acknowledging an issue that has affected people for years, has gotten much worse, and already there are the same people saying everything is fine. I want to believe that Adobe will address these issues, and all the other ones that people have, but I’m not optimistic. I sincerely hope that I’m wrong, and perhaps Adobe is finally feeling the heat from renewed competition.