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Friday, 03 September 2010


I've been reading about this but honestly have not found speed to be an issue. And I'm using it on a basic MacBook Pro and a 2008 Mac Pro both with 4GB of RAM.
I have both LR2 and Aperture though find myself gravitating to Aperture almost all the time.

Mike- Great site and great debates. This is my go to site for photography. Thank You!!

Kinda. But I prefer it to Lightroom, for reasons I couldn't possibly explain, it just seems to make my work easier and more, dare I say the endlessly abused word, fun.

More information needed. Slow at what? Slow in relation to what?

FWIW, Aperture 3 is noticeably faster at everything than Aperture 2 was, and I'm running it on a Mini, not high end hardware.

If you are using Aperture 3, there's a dirty little secret I've run across: the library file has all the disadvantages of very large files (multiple files of multiple gigs each) and the disadvantages of thousands of tiny files. And they fragment across your drive like you wouldn't believe. When I first noticed my problem, and diagnosed it, most files over 200MB were badly fragmented. There are hundreds of these files in my library. And by badly, I mean that each of them was in upwards of 18,000 fragments. Which means that file access/thumbnail lookup slows to a crawl.

Slapping in a new drive, freshly formatting it, and moving my library to the new drive made a world of difference. This has the effect of pulling all the files back into contiguous blocks. I've got an extra hard drive, so, I now have two drives just for Aperture, and I move my Library back and forth every few months. Not the best solution, but it works for me.

I am not a professional photographer by any stretch of the imagination but I always shoot in RAW so I picked up a copy of Aperture a while back. Yes, it is slow. Worse, it suffers from graphics corruption on my iMac that causes images to fill with random colorful garbage.

Apature makes heavy use of the graphics card. If your graphics card isn't up to snuff, it will seem pretty slow.

If you start with a clean Aperture library and an up-to-date version of the app, speed should be acceptable. Turn off the face recognition, initially, and walk away from that maps business, give your Mac plenty of RAM (iAperture and Adobe's Lightroom 3 benefit from silly amounts of the stuff) and you should be okay.

There's a speed boost to be had from running it in 64-bit on Snow Leopard and another slight boost from booting the OS in full 64-bit mode, though the latter issue isn't worth pursuing for many users.

Give Lightroom 3 a spin, too, though. I like Apple's take on most things but I'm with Adobe on this one.

Depends on your computer. I went from Aperture 2 on an absolute minimum-spec system to Aperture 3 on a brand new 27" iMac. Not slow for me.

I think it needs a reasonably well-specc'd machine, though, to really sing, whereas Lightroom seems to play well with computers of all ages and abilities.

For serious digital editing I recommend not spending a penny on any program what so ever to arise of the mudbrick factory or elswhere. Use the GIMP and learn the enjoyment of using free software that is created and maintained for the love and passion of creating software and not for bottom line of some dispassioned shareholders.

Greetings, Ed

Been using Aperture since 1.5. Yes, it sure can be slow. More than anything else be sure to have plenty of RAM.

I think Mr. Dezendorf is onto something. I loved Aperture (1.5 then 2) until my library got large enough, and cumbersome enough, to slow my work to a crawl. I think if you could come up with a system to recreate a new library periodically you'd probably eliminate much of the issue. Then again, you'd also lose the best benefit of Aperture--organizational wizardry.
I made the switch to LR3, mostly because I heard so many rave reviews. Arguing LR/Aperture is about as productive as Canon/Nikon or Mac/Windows. If it makes you happy, it's perfect. I will say that, after using both, I find that Lightroom seems to have a more robust RAW image editing toolset (at least for what I like to do) while Aperture really seemed to make more organizational sense. Then again, the Lightroom system allows me to periodically take large chunks of my library offline without losing the index, which keeps the thing moving fairly quickly.

I don't find it slow, but I have a ton of horsepower CPU and graphics wise. I don't include the image files in the library however, so my library is small compared to the pictures. I have noticed that the definition adjustment does seem to add processing overhead that other adjustments don't.

I find it slow, but I'm noticing that the bulk of the slowness seems to be from disk access; I have a 1TB external HDD connected via USB2, and I'm kind of thinking that might be the biggest problem. I'm looking to upgrade to a FireWire 800/2TB/7200RPM external HDD soon, and hopefully that will speed things up a little.

Its a little slow when you get into a heavy editing session, but not so much as to make me go back the LR. Aperture lets me catalogue, stills, video AND audio interviews in the same job folder -- that's brilliant in my book!

Dunno. Stopped using it when it corrupted my database, shuffled my thumbnails so that they no longer matched the photos beneath them, randomly changed the dates on all my pics, and irrevocably deleted a few to boot.

I have recently switched from Lightroom 2 to Aperture 3, after test-driving Lightroom 3 and having problems with Adobe, and mostly I am very happy with Aperture. I run it on a MacBook Pro (unibody, almost 2 years old now) with 4GB RAM, and most actions are quite fast. When importing large amounts of photos (I had to import 19000), it does slow down and benefits from being restarted once in a while, but scrolling through large libraries is much faster for me than it was in Lightroom. Organization and editing are very similar between the two, but overall I prefer Aperture at this point.

It's faster compared to Aperture 2 but much much slower than Lightroom 3 (iMac 27" Core i7).

Very brief answer: No

I have just bought an Imac 27" and am currently migrating to Aperture. My initial impression is that importing my database is slow. When setup however with the latest Mac technology Aperture delivers in a powerful way and is not slow. LR never delivered for me. It lacks a simple order which I find frustrating. But then I find that with all Adobe software - unnecessarily complex. Perhaps that is because my roots are in the darkroom where the simple approach does just fine!!!!

Had heard similar things about Aperture being a tad slow. Hadn't known what caused it. I have been thinking about switching from Lightroom 2 to Apeture 3 but think I'll make the upgrade to LR3. Quite like the interface of LR and 3 looks like an amazing upgrade.

I suppose it comes down to what you like and what suits your own workflow preferences.

On top of what other people have already mentioned, Aperture is very memory intensive. If you have less than 4GB of RAM, it's going to be slow with a large library of images, no matter what you do.

One trick to speed up scrolling through images on a slower computer is to press (I think) "P" to enable quick preview mode. In this mode you can't make changes or zoom in, but flicking between images is a lot faster.

I ended up switching to Lightroom 3. It's only slightly faster. The user interface initially felt clumsy but after I got used to it was much more effective for me than Aperture. No doubt others will find the opposite.

Aperture seems to be suffering the Microsoft disease, ABS (Application Bloat Syndrome). It has slowed down with larger libraries. With the addition of "Faces" and :Places" in the manner they were implemented as cute iPhoto like features it has totally turned me off of Aperture. IMO the addition of features like the lens correction in Lightroom is far more applicable to a pro application. So as a way of voting with my wallet I have switched to LR and hve about 1/2 of my library imported into LR.

A strange question from a man who is slowly, deliberately and purposefully building a darkroom.

as already mentioned, graphics cards are important to aperture, and even more so, a good fast hard drive. no hard disk is fast if it is mostly full (ideally, no more than half). i keep my big libraries on an external raid connected via esata, and it makes a big difference.

there is one actual fixable problem some people may be experiencing. under os 10.6.3 (and i think 10.6.2, to a lesser extent), aperture was basically broken. it got to the point where after an indeterminate amount of use it slowed to molasses, sometimes gave graphics gobbledygook, and then usually crashed hard, sometimes every 20 minutes. i was able to replicate the problem reliably in a mac store on multiple demo machines all up and down the line. that was absolutely shameful on apple's part, and unutterably frustrating to me as i was preparing for an upcoming exhibition at the worst of that time. the good news is that os10.6.4 just a couple of weeks ago seems to have fixed all that. so if you are a user who either hasn't updated your os recently, or gave aperture a try a while back and gave up, it would be worth having a go with the current os.

i also have lr3.2, and it is probably somewhat slower for most things at this point.

Much good advice in the comments.

In my experience, the best speedup came from rebuilding the image database -- hold down option-command while launching Aperture. For a large library, it can take hours.

Turn off Faces and Places.

Don't try to do any work at all while Aperture first creates the previews and thumbnails.

Yes, install tons of RAM.

And upgrading to a high-end graphics card is rumored to help a lot.

Aperture 2 was very slow (to the point of being unusable) on my relatively lowly late 2008 Unibody Macbook, even with a small test library. I went with Lightroom instead and have been very happy with it. I'm now running LR 2 on 4GB RAM, a 2GHz Core 2 Duo and 7200rpm Seagate Momentus 4 HDD. Nothing to brag about but Lightroom is decently responsive on 10MP RAW files. Fine for my uses at least.

I think the difference lies in Aperture's greater reliance on the graphics card.

One of the easist ways to speed up Aperture is to have multiple libaries. If I make a trip where I shoot thousands of images during the trip I create a new library just for that trip. I also create a new library for my general shooting each year. I also create separate libraries for my wifes images. I just load the library with the images I want to work on. I have never had a speed problem on my Macbook Pro 13" with either 4 gigs or more currently 8 gigs of memory.

I like Aperture and want to use it but every time I visit the Apple Store to play with the latest version on a Mac Pro it's noticeably slower, with a dramatically smaller library than LR I have running at home on a slower machine. There are definitely some nice features, but time is money.

...btw, the processing king is definitely Bibble 5 both from personal experience and a very informal (not very well controlled) experiment I wrote on my photography blog

Ahhh... the joys of performance tuning. I had similar problems on my MacBook Pro as well, and found that it was mostly I/O bound (i.e. writing a lot to the hard disk). Why? Not enough RAM.

I always have the Activity Monitor running in the background so that I can diagnose what the bottleneck on my Mac (likewise Performance Manager on a PC, or sar or top on and Solaris / UNIX box). Recommend you do the following whilst you are doing actions in Aperture:

1. The moment it slows down, change over to Activity Monitor and find the Aperture process.

2. Check the % processor utilisation. If this is consistently high: then it is CPU blocked (i.e. it is crunching numbers).

3. Check the Disk Activity along the bottom. If this is peaking out: then you are I/O bound.

4. Check System Memory tab along the bottom. If you don't have any memory free, and your swap file is large (i.e. greater than a couple of hundred megs) -- then you do not have enough RAM and your operating system is swapping. This increases the disk activity, and is a huge bottleneck.

5. Similarly, if you are using files over the network, I would add in a check on the network activity as well.

Understanding the balance of CPU / Memory / Disk IO / Network IO is critical to understanding where the "badness" is. The code might be using more memory and you are hitting the system limitations of your MacBook, in which case more RAM might be the solution. As my computer science lecturers (as do I) lament: modern hardware has gotten so good, code optimisation just isn't a priority any more -- because hardware is cheaper than humans.


p.s. I upgraded to 8Gb of ram in my MacBook after about a year of putting up with about 1Gb of swap. It solved most of my performance issues in one fell swoop.

Well. If you use a first generation Intel Mac, chances are that you don't have a dedicated graphics card.

The Aperture sw relies heavily on graphics (hardware acceleration). Otherwise it tends to get sluggish.


When you first import your files, Aperture is doing a lot of background work on them for large imports (like a 4 gig cardful) best to let the import happen wait till background processes have finished before doing any serious editing, alternatively hit the 'p' key to go into non-editing mode and spend the time to cull out any duds or rate the pictures. A3 is a huge leap forward over A2 in Snow Leopard but I would definitely second turning off face recognition and maps, most especially if you are importing an A2 library into A3.
A3 allows real easy creation and switching between libraries so keep them reasonably small. Lots more tips available in google land.

I find it rather laid back - I'm using the highest spec 2010 MBP - although I'm shooting 5D mkII and M9 files in raw and uncompressed. Exporting is agonisingly slow.

Have you tried turning off "Faces" yet? It makes a HUGE difference in speed.

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