It's been at least four major updates to Lightroom throughout which so many photographers have been begging for performance improvements, even at the cost of feature updates. Finally, that day is here. Alongside today's announcement of Lightroom Classic CC (the new "normal Lightroom" for those who aren't yet aware of the name change), Adobe promised major performance updates. We know they're serious this time, but they've made similar performance enhancement claims in the past that have fallen far short of expectation. Do they mean it this time? Short answer: Hell yeah they do.
We're not going to get too technical or too in-depth, but Adobe improved performance across the board in every area they said they did. These aren't small performance improvements by any means. These improvements take me back to when Lightroom was first launched and the awe I first had when editing with it. The sliders, the panels, the modules — it was all so smooth. And smooth it all is yet again.
Switching to the Develop module on a fully loaded mid-2015 Retina MacBook Pro took ten seconds for a relatively standard 24-megapixel image in the Lightroom version we were all using yesterday. The pre-release Lightroom Classic CC I recently installed loaded the same image and was ready to accept edits in a fraction of a second (the first time it loaded, it took two seconds. But upon every subsequent load with previously non-loaded images, it was lightning fast...just had to warm up).
An export of 19 24-megapixel images, each with minor adjustments from the Basic, HSL, and Camera Calibration areas took 2'45" in the now-old Lightroom CC. The new Lightroom Classic CC did the same export in exactly a minute less time.
Brushes flow smoothly and no longer stutter or take forever to load and show their effects.
Preview images seemed to load faster, too.
Of course, none of this could ever be fast enough to satisfy our ever-increasing need for instant gratification. The hesitations I alluded to before are for a mere second or two while something loads for the first time. As I created ten brushes and scribbled around a bit in each one, all as fast as I could, yes, there were some signs of lagging until I paused for a mere second or two. And on occasion, I would get a small flicker of an image when switching between images in a module and waiting a mere second or two for it to resolve. But focusing on all of these "issues" would miss the point completely. Lightroom is an absolute pleasure to use for the first time in years.
Add to this the fact that I had over 200 tabs open in Safari while using an early version of the software and that these issues seemingly resolved themselves once I used each feature for the first time and let it "warm up," and you start realize they're all non-issues.
While I certainly haven't had the time to test every feature of Lightroom Classic CC, it also appears to be the most stable, first, major release in a long time. I edited two recent shoots with it and didn't run into a single major issue. After a few years of my growing, silent cynicism beating down my optimistic hopefulness, I never thought I'd say anything like this, but seriously, now: Go, Adobe! Thank you!
[Update] After having more time to use Lightroom Classic CC, it appears some of the same bugs that appear for many others are appearing for me, too. It took time, but in fairness, I am starting to see a number of slowdowns in certain instances. Sometimes restarting the application can help, and sometimes it does not. Issues such as slowdowns with multiple spot corrections applied, not displaying the selected image (i.e. not changing images in the viewer when the image changes in the filmstrip), and other general performance issues are cropping up and seem to be intermittent, but indeed annoying. This is with heftier D850 files, but it's still something to note. Still, hopefully Adobe releases updates with bug fixes soon. Other aspects such as image imports and much more are indeed faster and seem to have few issues.