I wrote recently about my experiences running Lightroom on my M1 MacBook Air. Overall it was more performant than my 2016 MacBook Pro, but I often encountered slowdowns with brush edits and had to close most other applications to make my 8 GB RAM usable. Adobe released an M1-native update to Lightroom in June and my experience has significantly improved.
I was excited for a native update as I expected more consistent performance without code translation and perhaps a tiny bit of memory relief, but I didn’t expect perfection. I still have less than the 12 GB RAM that Adobe recommends for acceptable performance and there isn’t anything I can do to change that. To my surprise, the recent update addressed all of my major issues, even ones that I thought were memory related.
Navigating my library and applying folder labels, which was already far faster than my MacBook Pro, is now almost instant. Opening develop mode is much faster. Editing more than a few photos with brushes is significantly improved. It used to slow down noticeably after a few photos and I found that I had to close apps like Safari, NetNewsWire, and Mail to free up memory to make it useable. Now I can keep my apps open and do my edits at the same time.
The only issue that hasn’t been resolved is performance when plugged into an external display, which is still noticeably delayed. I think pushing the extra pixels stresses out the 8 GB RAM shared between apps and the GPU beyond what M1-nativeness can address. Dropping the resolution improves it somewhat but it doesn’t really matter as I usually edit photos away from my desk anyway.
Overall I’m super happy. It’s taken me a few months to post this because I haven’t been taking and editing enough photos lately to evaluate the difference. Now that I’ve had some time I can say that the difference is huge.