I have some observations on the new software, after a quick test-run yesterday on my new quad G5 (4.5 GB RAM).
It's a small and neat application; quick to download and install. But I'm not impressed with the current performance.
I'm fully aware that this is a beta, so this is in no way meant as a lament over unusable software; Lightroom seems to have very good potential, and I'm sure that several of the performance issues can be fixed.
I'll report to Adobe on the problems I see.
I decided to import the 9400 files or so I had lying about.
During the selection of import choices, I chose to change the ordering to go "by date". Oops, bad choice! Lightroom now spent several minutes "Calculating dates for 94xx files". Apparently, it uses the EXIF metadata for organizing by date, I can think of no other reason why this should take so long.
The import itself seemed to do okay in the background, until I decided that I wanted to browse some pictures while it was importing. Big mistake; beachball galore. And the beachball itself took at least a couple of seconds -- sometimes more -- to show up.
I checked the CPU usage with the excellent command line tool "top", and the application used between 90% and 100% CPU. This indicates that there is no multi-processing or OS-level multi-threading between the import and picture browsing, which is quite a disappointment. Imagine coming back from a major shoot (such as a trip to Antarctica ), eager to get started with your photos.
While the import is working, Lightroom is essentially unusable.
After importing, it goes on to generate thumbnails. Thumbnails are generated in the background. A friend with a G4 PowerBook reported that this bogs down the entire system. On the Quad, we finally see some signs of multi-processing being utilized; I had decent response times to operations I wanted to do, there was no direct problem with "developing" images while it was generating thumbnails.
CPU usage was at this stage reported to be at well above 100%, which also indicates that multi-processing or multi-threading is used.
My friend reported on the memory usage (around 1 to 1.5 GB for 3000+ five megapixel JPEGs), but I must admit that I didn't pay particularly much attention to this. I suspect the memory usage was above 1.5 GB in total.
Another annoyance, apart from the performance, is the function for editing images in Photoshop. I don't think Michael tested this, since he didn't report on it: the images are exported in Adobe RGB (1998), and there's no choice about it.
Yes, for regular file exports (which is only possible while in library mode, not in developing mode, another minor annoyance), you may select e.g. ProPhoto RGB. That's good. But it means that my workflow is hampered when I have to export to TIF format first, and then open that file manually with Photoshop.
Regarding the controls for "developing" images, I found that they were a bit unwieldy, it was tricky to get exact and smooth control. But I really like the diversity and flexibility offered by new tools such as the "compression" tool. Great!
My friend also pointed out that there were several places where you'd expect the scroll wheel on a mouse to work, where it didn't. I agree; the user interface isn't very consistent in where such things work or not.
All in all, it's a very usable application, and I think I'll be using this more than I use Bridge.