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Image display takes 5 sec or so for full quality

833 Views 10 Replies Latest reply: Apr 24, 2012 1:15 PM by SierraDragon RSS
viklall Calculating status...
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Apr 14, 2012 7:49 AM



I am on a Macbook pro with a 10,000 image library that is about 115 GB in size.  All managed files.

My latest camera bumped my image size up to about 20-22 MB.  I am noticing that image display is taking about 4-5 seconds now.  (Until the "Loading..." display disappears).


I thought this was excessive so tried to export the current project as a new library and try the same, but it takes the same amount of time to display the image.


Is there anyway to improve this so it displays the full quality image faster (is it using previews and can I pre-compute these at a higher quality etc)?


I am sure others must have run into this, so hoping I can get this answered here.

Many thanks in advance.


Best regards.

MacBook Pro, Mac OS X (10.6.7)
  • léonie Level 8 Level 8 (46,550 points)
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    Apr 14, 2012 8:01 AM (in response to viklall)

    Loading large images can take a long time; that will depend on your hardware (processor, RAM, graphics card), the location of your Aperture Library (internal or external volume), and how full your system drive is - keep at least 20% of your system drive empty.

    Can you tell us more abot the tech specs of your MBP?


    And yes, your images will appear faster in the Viewer, if you render high resolution Previews - with at least as many pixels as your largest display. You can set the quality of the Previews in the "Previews" tab of the Aperture Preferences panel.




  • léonie Level 8 Level 8 (46,550 points)
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    Apr 14, 2012 11:09 PM (in response to viklall)

    I am noticing that image display is taking about 4-5 seconds now.  (Until the "Loading..." display disappears).

    Looking at your hardware, that is not the fastest setup, but not bad either. And the loading time seems to be what can be expected for images of that size. My older MBP is very similar, and I tested with larger scans - loading my images needed 3 seconds for 25 MB. (for images loaded from the internal drive)

    Would be happy to receive any upgrade tips that would offer me significant improvement.

    Check with the Activity Monitor (from Applications -> Utilities ) what is the bottle neck when you are loading images: accessing the hard disk (pages in out), memory use, or processing time.


    My guess is that you may get a significant boost in performance for large images with an upgrade of RAM, if your MBP can take more RAM, upgrade to 8GB (you may get yourself third party RAM and put it in yourself).

    Also the access time to your hard drive is important. If your library is not on an internal drive, put it onto the fastest external you have and connect it to the fastest port you have.


    On my newer MBP (16GB RAM, internal 500GB SSD) the loading time for 30MB images is ~1 second, but check with Activity Monitor.


    (Incidentally do you recommend keeping 20% of my 320GB size disk free at all times?)

    If your System drive is a SSD, then the free space is not so important, but other drives slow down considerably, when they fill up; I start with freeing space on the hard drive usually at 20%, others here recommend even more free space. This will depend on the mixture of data - small files, large files - you have on your drive.


    Looks like I had the previews set to low quality and have now improved that.


    No change in the loading time though..

    The previews will help with browsing, but not with loading for editing.


    Search this forum for recent posts by "SierraDragon". He has posted very detailed recommendations on the best hardware for Aperture.




  • SierraDragon Level 4 Level 4 (2,665 points)
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    Apr 14, 2012 11:35 PM (in response to viklall)

    Pretty much all laptop hard disk drives (HDDs) are lame, and all HDDs slow as they fill so keep your drive as underfilled as possible; IMO no more than 70% full. Replacing the HDD with an SSD or with a larger 7200 rpm HDD would help, but IMO modern (all 2011 and later) Macs are so much more powerful for images work you should probably save for a newer Mac rather than investing too much in that one.


    You can evaluate whether or not you have adequate RAM by looking at the Page Outs number under System Memory on the Activity Monitor app before starting a typical work session; recheck after working and if the page outs change (manual calculation of ending page outs number minus starting page outs number) is not zero your workflow is RAM-starved. Ignore page ins, the pie charts and other info in Activity Monitor.


    If your test shows that page outs increase at all during operation it is affecting performance. You can


    • add RAM as feasible (8 GB seems a very good number, zero page outs for me)


    • restart with some frequency if you suspect memory leaks (common especially with less-than-top-quality applications)


    • and/or simply try to run only one app at a time, for sure diligently closing unneeded apps like browsers


    • and/or switch 64-bit operation to 32-bit operation (which will make some additional RAM space available). Note that your Mac may already default to 32-bit. See Switching Kernels:



    Note that RAM is cheap and heavy apps' usage of more RAM is a good thing.





  • léonie Level 8 Level 8 (46,550 points)
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    Apr 14, 2012 11:41 PM (in response to SierraDragon)

    Thanks Allen,

    I really have been hoping for you to drop in and have a look at this ...



  • Ernie Stamper Level 8 Level 8 (37,455 points)
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    Apr 16, 2012 7:47 AM (in response to viklall)

    Is this each time you switch to a new image in a Project, or when you have first imported new images into a Project, and first time to view?



  • DiploStrat Level 2 Level 2 (345 points)
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    Apr 23, 2012 11:30 AM (in response to viklall)

    As you can see from the very good comments, there are a lot of possible variables at play here. Let me offer a benchmark:


    My main computer is a 2007 MacPro with 21 GB of RAM, the 5770 video card, and a bunch of conventional HD.


    As Alan has pointed out, the first thing is to be sure you have as much RAM as possible, the fastest possible HD, and keep your primary HD, the one that contains your OS/APP/Library as empty as possible.


    As your first HD passes 50%, consider off loading your Master images to another HD. Referenced Masters are not, in and of themselves faster than a Managed Library, but if your Managed Library pushes your first HD much past 50% full, then your computer is going to spend a lot of time looking for free space for work/scratch files and for space to rewrite your Versions as you made Adjustments.


    Smaller/lower quality Previews help scrolling speed, but probably don't help much when you actually pull up a single image. I am not sure if Aperture uses the Preview or the Master for the first view of an image, but I know that the Master is read when you view an image at full resolution.


    Pulling up an image requires several steps which engage all parts of your computer:


    -- The HD reads the Master file.

    -- Then the Version file is read.

    -- Then the two are combined and the GPU puts the resulting image on the screen.


    This is a lot of computing. On my computer it can easily take 3-5 wall clock seconds from the time I click a 120 MB TIFF in Browser view until the image is on screen. Zooming to full resolution can take the same amount of time. But since I have ample RAM, this only happens once. Thereafter, everything is in RAM as shifting views, etc., is instantaneous. And, as I have a lot of RAM, I can read as many as ten images into RAM and then step through them, back and forth, without any "Loading" message reappearing. I can even do up to about five images at full res without seeing a "Loading" message.


    But if I unleash a computationally heavy Adjustment, like Shadows or Edge Sharpen, then there will be lags as the entire image is rerendered and the Version is rewritten.


    Obviously, a newer MacPro or one of the new i7 iMacs would probably be faster than my machine, but the 5770 video card is Apple's current release.


    I hope this slightly geeky post helps you determine exactly where your bottle necks are.




  • SierraDragon Level 4 Level 4 (2,665 points)
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    Apr 24, 2012 12:32 PM (in response to viklall)

    viklall wrote:

    ...Restarting (the whole machine) is a pain as it is getting slower, so I am wondering if I should do a re-install.  Havent done that for a year or more now.




    "Getting slower" is the classic symptom of overfilled and/or failing boot HDD. You should be concerned.


    All hard drives (HDDs) ultimately fail, and a failing or simply overfilled HDD can cause the slowdown symptoms you describe. Before doing anything else you should:

    A) Back up all data to an external HDD immediately.

    B) Run OS X Disk Utility to evaluate the boot HDD. If it is flawed replace the HDD.

    C) Trial Disk Warrior to further evaluate the hard drive. If DW identifies flaws replace the HDD.

    D) Move data from the the boot HDD until it is less than 50% full and see if performance is still slow. If it is, assume the drive is slowly failing (which is an oxymoron really because all drives are slowly failing ).

    E) Make sure Software Update is current.


    There is a fair amount of logic in proceeding in the exact order shown above.


    Good luck!

  • SierraDragon Level 4 Level 4 (2,665 points)
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    Apr 24, 2012 1:15 PM (in response to viklall)

    viklall wrote:

    Would the Mac Book Air's qualify as a faster mac for image work?



    Yes the top 2011-2012 Sandy Bridge MBAs with 4 GB RAM would qualify as faster for images work.


    However personally I do not recommend MBAs as a new purchase to be a primary Aperture box due to the very limiting integrated graphics and the max of 4 GB RAM. Many folks use MBAs for Aperture; one cool thing is that if RAM does page out it is paging to SSD which makes inadequate 2 GB RAM slow but functional.


    New laptops are almost a sure thing before summer, so evaluating any new purchase should first wait to see what Apple drops in the next 6 weeks.






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