Speeding up merging HDR photos and panoramas in Lightroom CC


TPF Noob!
Aug 27, 2014
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As an enthusiast travel photographer I do a lot of HDR, panoramas and HDR panoramas. I merge the photos as an HDR dng file in Lightroom and also stitch the panoramas from the Nikon D800 raw files or from the dng files (in case of HDR panoramas) in Lightroom.

The problem currently is that the process takes a lot of time. Of course, the speed depends on how many files I’m merging as an HDR file or stitching as a panorama, but typically we are talking about anything from a couple of minutes to 15 minutes (including both creating the preview and the actual end result).

From what I’ve understood, both HDR merging and stitching panoramas are memory intensive processes. I run Lightroom from my SSD drive, on which I only have about 30Gb free space. Sometimes, when stitching, say, more than 7 images as a panorama, I run out of space on the SSD and Lightroom is unable to complete the final image. From this, I’ve concluded that perhaps the bottle neck currently is the speed of the scratch disk.

What I described above has lead to me to two possible solutions:

1) By increasing the amount of RAM from my current 8Gb to, say, 32Gb I could speed up these processes significantly, assuming that the scratch disk wouldn’t have to be used at all. Does this logic apply?

2) If the operating system (Windows 10) or Lightroom (CC) isn’t for some reason able to benefit from that much of RAM, would a possible workaround be installing a super fast SSD drive, such as the new Samsung 950 Pro M.2 NVMe, so that the by using that as a scratch disk the writing speed would simply be multiple times faster than with my current 4-year-old SSD drive?

Later this year, I’m building a new PC mainly for post-processing, so if something completely else than what I thought above could work, please feel free to suggest other options as well.

Thanks a lot for any help in advance!
Your 8B RAM is your working memory. This is where LR works and puts together the images ,etc.

If it does not have enough RAM to work with it then starts working in piecemeal and using the harddisk (SSD, or whatever) to work on a bit, send it to disk, pull another bit, etc. This takes a very long time.

Just by adding memory you should see an improvement (it also depends upon you processor and what other programs in memory you have such as anti-virus. If I'm going to work on something really big I actually turn off my anti-virus stuff. I also have 32GB ram).

So yes, increasing your RAM will have positive benefits.
Also, if you are low on disk space increasing that would be a good benefit too.
You will need Windows 64bit if you want to use more than 3GB of RAM.
Windows 10 is 64 bit
I have 32GB of system memory -- LR never uses more than like 4GB.

You need a better processor if anything.

LR panorama stitching is pretty basic and not very good. the only thing you net is still being able to post-process the images. I HIGHLY suggest you use Microsoft Image Composite Editor for creating Panos.
Hi, thanks everyone!

If Lightroom only uses up to 4Gb of RAM, why is it that it has to use the significantly slower scratch disk, as it does in my case when stitching panoramas? Are there some limitations built into the software?

Also, Braineack, why would you reccomend Microsoft Image Composite Editor over Lightroom? I'm currently using Lightroom exactly for the reason you mentioned. I think it's tremendously helpful to be able to do the editing only after I see the whole panorama and not having to edit the single images it consists of.
Windows 10 is 64 bit
Well here in Europe if you upgraded your windows 7 32 bit to windows 10, it will be the 32 bit version. It might be different on your side of the pond though.

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