Adobe focuses on speed — but just how fast is the new Lightroom 7.2?

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Lightroom photographers have been pestering Adobe with one big request: make Lightroom faster. Answering the call, Adobe’s latest update to Lightroom Classic focuses largely on performance, boosting the asset manager and photo editor as newer cameras increase both the file size and the editing time. On Feb. 13, Adobe launched Lightroom Classic 7.2, a speed-focused software update that both enhances performance and gives photographers a handful of organizational tools to find photos faster.

For photographers using computers with at least 12GB of RAM, Lightroom 7.2 means faster batch processing because the software is optimized to scale across multiple cores, creating a more efficient use of the computer’s memory. The update brings faster imports with preview generations and grid loading. Switching between images in loupe view, rendering adjustments in Develop, and merging HDR images and panoramas also see a speed boost, along with faster exporting.

So just how fast is the latest update? In our early access to the build, importing images was around 20-percent faster when building a 1:1 preview and smart preview during the import. The difference in exporting wasn’t as significant, but short 10-image exports were a few seconds faster.

Performance, however, will vary significantly based on the hardware — computers with faster memory see a bigger increase than systems on the low-end (below the 12GB requirement). Our test results were using a Mac with 16GB of RAM. The update was also tested with a new catalog and a freshly cleared cache. A fully decked-out computer, in Adobe’s tests, saw a 30-percent increase in import speeds, while users at that lower end of the 12GB requirement will see a smaller increase.

A 30-percent increase is fairly significant, while a 10-to-20-percent improvement for machines with less power is not as obvious unless you’re sitting with a timer. The update is a step forward for performance, however small, and Adobe says more speed-focused updates are coming.

Adobe says the update also addresses an issue which users said investing in a faster computer didn’t offer the same amount of improvements to Lightroom speed. Another fix corrects an issue that meant Lightroom Classic slowed over time for some photographers.

Outside of the performance enhancements, the update also aims to save time simply through new workflow tools. Photographers can now create collections based on folders — a request from users who wanted easier syncing with the mobile-centric Lightroom CC. Lightroom Classic also now allows for creating a collection of images taken in the same location, using the map module by right-clicking on a pin or pin group.

For sorting through those images, a new filter option allows photographers to separate edited images from the unretouched shots, or to create a Smart Collection of only edited photos or only non-edited photos. The search tool has also been enhanced, allowing users to filter the results to include only a certain folder, or to search only folders marked as favorites.

The Lightroom Classic update is rolling out now, alongside an update to Lightroom CC.