Why I will not buy Lightroom 5.0

“The goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best but legendary.”
- Sam Walton

I could have also titled this: “Why I don’t love Adobe anymore” or “Loosing my religion”. Heck, I could come with a bunch of them.


  1. The problem
  2. Suggested solutions (Part 2 … to come)
  3. Alternatives to Lightroom  (Part 3 … to come)

The problem 

When Lightroom 4.0 came out I didn’t think it twice and upgraded from LR 3.6. Why wouldn’t I? Lightroom 4.0 had a lot to offer: an improved process version, soft-proofing, maps integration and a variety of other improvements. What I didn’t know was that all that came at a (high) price: A very poor performance that would increase my workflow and editing time by more than 10 times! But what is wrong with Lightroom 4.0? (or 4.1 or 4.2RC for what matters)

I have listed below a short list of some of the problems I have found with LR 4.x so far:

  • Sluggish sliders (Develop Module)
  • Non-responsive program message at different times
  • Very slow reaction of the Spot Removal tool
  • Difficult operation of the Grad Filter
  • Slow reaction of the Crop tool
  • Incredible long times importing and exporting photos
  • Poor performance when using two monitors

For more details on what other users are experiencing, you can check Adobe’s longest thread in the Lightroom forum: “Experiencing performance related issues in Lightroom 4.x“. Throught the 33 pages of comments here (at the time of writing this blog), users report their problems, are asked to report what system they have and are entertained with (mostly) useless causes of why it is not performing well. Don’t get me wrong, some of the proposed solutions have solved some (or even all!) the problems that a small group of photographers have experienced but it distracts users with the same problem and people thinking in buying/upgrading to LR 4 from the main problem: Lightroom 4.0 has big issues that Adobe need to solve and that months after (prematurely IMO) released LR 4.0 are still standing. Users that report encountering these problems own PC’s, Mac’s, old computers, new and powerful computers. The image below shows what my perception on what’s going on on Adobe’s forums is:

Lightroom 4 is very slow

But why won’t I buy Lightroom 5.0? All softwares have problems and bugs, right?  Yes, that is true. It is the lack of transparency, the lack of response from Adobe and the way this particular issue has been handled that will make me think twice, or even wait on upgrading to Lightroom 5.0 when it comes out. That is if I didn’t change my workflow by then and didn’t leave out LR then. Because, if Adobe doesn’t fix this problems until the next big version of LR, I won’t have another choice than moving to one of the Lightroom alternatives.

But wait… Maybe I am just ranting and LR is not really working slowly right? Find below a video of part of a wedding editing session. Let me know if this is an acceptable behaviour of a professional-level software.

Lightroom 4 is very slow! from Unveiled Photography on Vimeo.

I like starting all my blog posts with a quote relative to what I want to discuss so I did a quick search on “customer service quote” and click on the first link I got. These, together with the one at the beginning of the post, are my top 10. In my opinion, Adobe should read them all and do something about it. At this point they fail at every single one of them.

  1. “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
    Bill Gates
  2. “It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages.”
    Henry Ford
  3. “Well done is better than well said.”
    Benjamin Franklin
  4. “Spend a lot of time talking to customers face to face. You’d be amazed how many companies don’t listen to their customers.”
    Ross Perot
  5. “If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.”
    Jeff Bezos, CEO Amazon.com
  6. “In the end, the customer doesn’t know, or care, if you are small or large as an organization. She or he only focuses on the garment hanging on the rail in the store.”
    Giorgio Armani
  7. “The customer experience is the next competitive battleground.”
    Jerry Gregoire, CIO, Dell Computers
  8. “Customer satisfaction is worthless. Customer loyalty is priceless.”
    Jeffrey Gitomer
  9. “Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the client or customer gets out of it.”
    Peter Drucker

In part 2 I will summarize the proposed solutions as well as give a general guidance to keep lightroom running as good as possible. Of course, these solutions only help taking away from the equation our part on Lightroom performance. Still Adobe needs to solve a problem that has been outstanding for half a year already! Many people are suggesting the issues with LR 4.0 won’t get solved until the next big release (5.0) meaning that loyal Adobe customers will be punished for, well… being loyal! They will have to pay for a non-working release of Lightroom + a new release where Adobe (maybe) fixed what should have been fine from the beginning.

(to be continued…)

3 Responses to “Why I will not buy Lightroom 5.0”
  1. Chris G says:

    I agree. My lightroom is slower, I thought it was my newer camera with larger images, but I upgraded my PC and it’s just as slow. Older versions are fast though.

  2. Spencer says:

    I absolutely agree. I can’t understand how Lightroom is the one software on my high-end 8-core computer that can’t run acceptably. Adobe needs to prove to me that they an get the LR4 optimized before I plunk down money on the newest version. There’s no reason that my computer can render 3D images at 2560×1600 so fluidly while pushing multi-channel audio and running a virus scan at the same time while LR4 sluggishly responds to slider movement.

    • Exactly Spencer. Even with Lightroom running all by itself, operation is sluggish and image rendering is extremely slow. It is unfortunate because the new process version does help getting nicer photos.

      It is also troubling that having a top of the line computer won’t guarantee a good LR performance. So it is basically a russian roulette buying/upgrading to LR 4.0. It might work or it might not. And of course Adobe won’t refund you for a sub-performing product.

      And that is in my opinion the worse of this situation. Adobe’s way to handle this. Half a year into this and there is no improvement.

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