Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Photo Importing Times

I The photos used for this testdecided to try out the loading times for some common photo management software (ie packages I have and am familiar with from my many mistresses project). All photos where loaded from the same memory card, a Lexar Platinum 4GB with a 4 speed rating. There where 24 images ( 12 photos of clouds with both jpeg & raw versions saved) with a combined file size of 225MB, taken over two days. All where loaded onto an older computer (running windows Vista) which I knew would be slower but that would give more a better chance to more accurately record and compare load times. Finally the loads followed my normal procedure to upload the photos and delete them from the card (ie I had made a copy of the cards contents and restored them between each test). In lightroom I used no extras, no keyword/exif updates and minimal preview render.


Load from SD card

Smart previews



8 secs


System Copy

11 secs

Drag & drop from card

System Move

14 secs

Drag & drop from card, set to move rather than copy.

Windows Live Photo Gallery

13 secs

* Did not load some RAW files



** Does not include setup time



18 secs

27 secs

Does not catalogue matching JPEG but did load them

Photoshop Element PSE


knew better than to try it!

(**) I have been experimenting with using file synchronization to move my photos around my LAN and I have added using synkron as a photo import function. So I had to set up a customized synchronization task to move the photos to a folder based on the date photographed and verify the copy before deleting it

I was actually a bit shocked by these times. Whilst I already knew picasa would be the fastest I didn't realize it was faster than a file copy at system level? I now have a lingering doubt that picasa may not verify the copy before deleting the original on the card, However you do see the thumbnails of each image being created from the folder on the hard disk, which does give immediate feedback and some confidence that the file load went ok. Windows Live Photo Gallery was also fast, again as I expected, however it was disturbing that it had chosen not to load some RAW files(*) while it did load others, and there was no message about this at the import time.

All packages correctly loaded the data into two separate folders based on date taken. However there was quiet a variety in the actual names, so they all loaded into different folders in practise! This could become very frustrating.

My current preferred procedure for loading into lightroom or photoshop elements for that matter, is to only import the photos from the hard disk location after they are loaded via picassa (ie from the two directories Picasa had set up). So the following table has two times, because there are two folders, 14 photos in the first sub-directory and 10 in the second)



From folder




4 secs

3 secs



3 secs

2 secs

16 secs

15 secs


6 secs

4 secs


These results are consistent with the general discussion about the new lightroom 5beta, it is somewhat faster than lightroom 4.4. The interesting outcome is that excluding the time lost swapping packages and selecting two different folders. It is clearly faster in elapsed load time to import from the cards into picasa (8 seconds) then import into lightroom (4.4->4+3=7 total 8+7=15seconds, or 5b->3+2=5 Total 8+5=13seconds). The creation of smart previews actually took longer, which is a bit of a puzzle. For a few photos this difference may not amount to much but for a full card or several full cards the time saved will be significant and measured in minutes! I am not surprised that the photoshop element was the slowest, my version 7 organiser is showing its age, and hopefully the organiser has been performance tweaked in more recent versions, I just keep PSE around for the few occasions I want advance manipulation and perhaps layers, although I usually prefer to use Corel Photo Paint in such situations.

So really I have just confirmed what I had already chosen. Picasa is my favoured mistress to load photos from camera cards and to do the preliminary organisation and weeding of my photos. Then I later import only the ones I want to keep into lightroom, my favoured mistress to finesses my raw photos, but from the date based folders created by picasa. Thus the story of more than one mistress continues … ...

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