Not all of us have bleeding–edge hardware to run their processor and memory–hungry software on (*cough* Lightroom and Aperture *cough*). My mobile machine — a 3–year old 15” Powerbook (1.5 GHz G4 w/ 1.5 GB RAM) — is definitely showing its age when processing and displaying RAW files, and it doesn’t even hold a candle (color temperature: 1850 K) to the machines that are currently rolling off the assembly lines.
However, Lightroom is by no means a slouch on older hardware — especially when compared to its archrival, Aperture. But restraints and limitations can blossom into creative solutions, and I’ve gradually adapted my mobile workflow to adapt to the machine I’m working on. In doing so, I’ve come to learn and understand Lightroom’s nooks and crannies much better than I would have if I didn’t need to coax as much performace out of my laptop as I have.
In this week’s blog post, I’d like to share some of my tweaks with you to help you get the most out of your hardware (those of you with machines that have multiple processing cores and more RAM than they can shake a stick at can ignore this suggestion and move right on to tip #2):
Quit every application that isn’t Lightroom. Every little utility and takes up RAM and processing cycles, which is precisely what we’re trying to save for Lightroom. And yes, you should kill iTunes while editing; fire up your iPod or sterero if you’re feeling the need for some tunes while working.
Commit the keyboard shortcuts to memory and understand how they can help you be more efficient; memorizing Lightroom’s Panels shortcuts (in the Window menu) will go a long way to speeding up your workflow.
Use Lightroom’s full screen feature to maximize your screen real estate, especially when on a small display: hide the panels, menu bar, and your dock/taskbar in one step with
SHIFT+CMD+F; hide all of the panels with
SHIFT+TAB, or just the side panels with
Toggle the panels on and off so that you only see what you need when you need it. When making adjustments to my photos, I like to leave my workspace no panels, toggling them on and off as needed. For instance, tapping the
F6key will hide and show the filmstrip in the bottom of your workspace. But by holding down the
F6key, you can bring the filmstrip into view, select the photo you wish to view in the loupe, and then release the key to cause the strip to hide from view again. This tip is equally as useful with the
F7(left panels) and
F8(right panel) keys to quickly make adjustments, apply metadata, or switch to a different folder of images.
Select the preview rendering option that suits your situation. If I need to begin editing my shots immediately, then I will neglect to generate previews of the images to get the images into Lightroom as quickly as possible and get down to work. On the other hand, if I can start importing my shots and leave my computer as it chugs away, then I’ll have Lightroom generate the previews so that everything is ready upon my return. Converting your images to DNG on import adds even more time to the import process, but may be worth the effort depending on the circumstances.
If you’ve got some tricks up your sleeve to coax the most out of your hardware, please leave post them in the comments to share with others!