Lightroom 6 – Facial Recognition Performance Issues and some tips to work around it.

Earlier this week I was bait and switched by Adobe to upgrade my Lightroom 5.7 (per a notice in Lightroom 5).. and then it took me to Buy Lightroom 6 when is use the ‘download’ link.. I was more than happy to buy Lightroom 6 (as I am not sold yet on being locked out of my photos if I let me subscription lapse) and I immediately dove into their Facial recognition feature with the hopes it would help me clean-up some of my catalog for untagged images.

I encountered some issues described below as well as developed some useful knowledge to share that hopefully will reduce some of the frustration for others at the bottom of this post.

I watched the Lightroom 6 Facial Recognition introduction tutorial which leaves out a lot of the bulk editing and says basically let it loose on your whole catalog.. NOT recommended (see below) It got me started but also put me down a path of frustration.

So after about 30 minutes of watching Lightroom slow down and it becoming less and less usable while also tagging everyone as the same person which look no where a like. (see below)

I can ensure you each of these individuals are not “Courtney” when you let it loose on the entire catalog. Build a small reference library first.

So I started out with a couple small portrait galleries of 50-200 individuals each that identified a couple hundred total people to seed facial recognition so it didn’t suggest everyone is the first person I confirmed (which it will do otherwise). I have also optimized my catalog after having about 300 reference individuals.

Then I started it out on larger directories of 20000 images and this is where it really became annoying and almost unusable.

To note I am using a Dual Xeon CPU 3.2 ghz Mac Pro, Catalog on SSD, Images files on Mirrored Pair, Dedicated GPU (max I can install in my version of Mac Pro) and hardware acceleration enabled in Lightroom.

I have encountered the following serious performance issues and bugs with Facial Recognition.:

  • [PERFORMANCE] Lightroom 6 Facial Recognition goes to a ridiculous crawl after about 2000 “unnamed people” stacks to be confirmed (i.e. 2000-2300 in a couple hours, 800-1200 in the next 12 hours).
  • [PERFORMANCE] Lightroom 6 becomes largely unresponsive after having a fair number of images to be confirmed, even after pausing Address and Facial Recognition. So even selecting 4 rows of images can take 5 minutes with several long pauses.
  • [PERFORMANCE] Once I select and click confirm it takes up to 2 minutes to update the “to be confirmed” list again.
  • [PERFORMANCE/BUG] Usually I can perform a couple operations in between refreshes, other times Lightroom looses them and incorrectly chooses the wrong image (selection vs. what is being displayed).
  • [BUG!!!] Command-Click / Control-Click selection sometimes does not work for individual images.  This could be when trying to select a single image or after you have already selected many and you are trying to add an additional image. The BUG sometimes follows the stack for many refreshes, but sometimes also not. The confirm and reject buttons when done individually work and they can be part of a shift-select group.
  • [BUG!!!] When I click on an individual at the top of the page, pause facial recognition and address lookup it still continues to “Look for similar faces”  even though all I want to do is just confirm some individuals more quickly in bulk with the images already identified.. not continue to look for more as a work around for the painfully slow responsiveness of the module.

The odd part is that with all of the performance issues Lightroom will not use more than 20-30% of my two Xeon CPUs, barely touches my GPU (<10% CPU, 30% memory), my and no more than 35% of my memory. Computer Temps are also barely above startup temperatures and 15-25 degrees cooler than when I run other applications which will consume my entire CPU and memory if I let it. I have explored Lightroom’s settings but seen nothing further I can configure to speed it all up.  I have also attempted the operation on images on the SSD, my drobo (known to be slow), an independent fast disk I have, and a pair of raided disks and have the same issues.

I will also note that all of my other applications seem to continue to operate just fine.. the slowness seems to be contained to the Lightroom 6 application itself.

I have reported the bugs and issues to the Adobe forums.

Here are a few tips that I have figured out to ease the pain of using the new feature and once the issues have been resolve will still be useful in the future for using the Lightroom 6 facial recognition feature.

  • Only work in large groups selections when actually performing an action.
    • Select 10-50 image groups at once
    • Use the control select, not just the shift select.
  • Pause Address detection / lookup; unless you geocoded your images this is a waste of time and also can be done as a separate operation.
  • Pause the Address Verification and Face Detection when you need to do things

  • You can select multiple images at once for more than one person and accept or reject in bulk (as long as the same operation). This took some experimentation and risk to realize it behaved this way.

Example 1:  If I click accept on “Anya” (where the red arrow is) it will not assume everyone is “Anya” but the name suggested for the selected box.

Example 2: If I click reject on “Anya” it will return all selected images to a “?” status and Lightroom 6 or Lightroom will make an alternative suggestion on the next update. (As these are all Melissa C.)

Example 3: Being I know all images in all two rows are Melissa C. , I can select all images and type “Melissa C.” and no additional clicking is required. It will update all images to Melissa C.

  • Wait at least 10-20 seconds between actions to let Lightroom 6 catchup and perform any updates or I have had a few times Lightroom take my subsequent actions occur on a resorted and updated image selection which I did not intend.
  • If you know you have a lot of images of a single image in a Catalog, once ID go into that particular individual by clicking on them and get them out of the way by letting Lightroom focus on finding similar individuals. Once you do tis for a few high frequency individuals it will make a noticeable difference and also greatly decrease false positives for that individual in the future.
  • Don’t waste your time chasing Lightroom while it is cataloging trying to update unless one of two things are occurring.. (Simply, if it IDs them correctly.. leave them alone as it will group them together for confirmation eventually leading to less clicking… it took me a long time before I realized I just needed to wait and check in on occasion. )
    • #1 It is identifying the same individual in a large number of photos and does not have a suggestion.
    • #2 It is incorrectly classifying people and you think you can correct future suggestions on a high frequency individual.
  • Unless you use other programs to edit your images and need the XMP sidecar files to recognize Lightroom changes, you can speed up the process a little bit by disabling writing XMP data in the Catalog settings, even if temporarily. Note though if you do this any facial recognition data will not be written to the sidecar.

Uncheck “Automatically write changes into XMP”


This entry was posted in How To, Sharing Experience and tagged , .


  1. Jon 2015/05/03 at 14:35:15 #

    As it is indexing each picture, switch from grid view to loupe view and let run. Systme resources went from 100% on CPU core 4 to 10% on all cores however RAM use went to 8GB (out of 32GB). Been running now for 16 hours and 50% of 55,000 pictures. Trying to assign names at this causes system to either crash or it takes minutes to do one function. Hopefully this will imporve when its all done indexing in about a day.

  2. Al Kawasaki 2015/05/06 at 11:12:59 #

    Thanks for the tips.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *