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Aperture vs. Lightroom: 2013

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by Biro, Jan 1, 2013.

  1. Biro

    Biro Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    May 8, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    My iMac is about a year old: 21.5-inch screen, i7 chip, 8 gigs of RAM and a one TB hard drive. I had Aperture 2 on my older iMac and, frankly, I've been getting by reasonably well with iPhoto on the new computer so far. But I'm now weighing Aperture vs. Lightroom 4. Does anyone have any thoughts on the latest versions of each?
  2. dixeyk

    dixeyk Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 9, 2010
    I am a long time Mac user and do not particularly like the latest offerings from Adobe and yet I am running LR4 for better RAW conversion and the built-in noise reduction in LR. for the most part I think Aperture has a better UI and functionally they are pretty similar. LR has historically tended to have a performance edge but considering you're running an i7 iMac that wouldn't be an issue for you.
  3. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    I absolutely agree with this. I used Aperture for a couple of years but switched to Lightroom about six months ago. I like Aperture's organization and catalog interface more, but Lightroom is just a much better processor and editor IMHO. NR and highlight/shadow recovery are far better and that's most of what I use either of these programs for, then exporting to Silver Efex Pro and Color Efex Pro for more processing. I'd expect a future upgrade of Aperture to at least match LR, but I've been expecting that for a year or more already.

  4. WT21

    WT21 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    As a Mac user, One of the reasons I use LR is because I want the option of going cross-platform. You never know what the future will bring, and I think Adobe is more committed to this application type and, of course, more committed to other OS systems.
  5. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    Personally, I haven't seen a significant difference between an Aperture processed image and a LR processed image.
  6. Biro

    Biro Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    May 8, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    Thanks for all of the feedback so far. Very helpful. Any other input is welcome.
  7. loko12345

    loko12345 Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 8, 2012
  8. dav1dz

    dav1dz Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 6, 2012
    I am of the opinion that cross platform is the future and the only apps that surivive as industry standards are the ones that do not shy away from just one. Therefore I have stuck with Lightroom since version 2.

    Though the loupe in Aperture is genius. I sometimes don't understand why Apple is so good at user experience.
  9. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    I second most of what Ray said, apart from the fact that I now do everything in LR and I don't use Silver Efex Pro or Color Efex Pro. I also gave up waiting on an upgrade to Aperture.

    Back in the middle of 2012 while I was waiting for my E-M5 and still using Aperture, I did some test shots related to learning how some of the metering modes worked and how much highlight latitude I had with my E-P3. I took a shot of a sheet of white paper in sunlight, metering the paper using spot meter mode and dialling in various amounts of exposure compensation. I had the highlight warning set to trigger at a value of 245 based on Pekka Potka's recommendations.

    I took a shot with the highlight indication just showing on the paper and processed it in Aperture. The standard Aperture processing showed that the highlights on the paper were blown but I could recover them easily.

    Some time later after swapping to Lightroom I went back and looked at that shot in Lightroom. Not only did Lightroom's default processing not result in the highlights on the paper being blown but the luminance value for the paper in the area Aperture reported as blown was consistent with a luminance value of 245 or so, where I had the warning set to trigger. That confirmed my gut feeling that Lightroom was handling highlights a bit better than Aperture, and also giving me a bit more dynamic range.

    Would anyone see a difference in that image if I processed it in both Aperture and in Lightroom? Almost certainly no, I could achieve a similar result in both, but I would achieve that result with less effort in Lightroom because, for a start, I would not have had to bother with recovering blown highlights.

    On the other hand, I work with my files differently in Lightroom to the way I worked with them in Aperture and it took some time to get used to the way in which Lightroom did things. I've come to prefer Lightroom's processing approach but it took me some months to reach that point and I can easily understand others preferring Aperture's approach. Like Ray, I prefer Aperture's file management features to Lightroom's, but I've also finally learnt to manage file management in Lightroom. A big part of my problem there was simply the fact that I was more interested in the processing side for quite a while than I was in the file management side so I ignored that and had problems as a result.

    There are areas where I think Lightroom is clearly superior. It gives you +/- 5 stops exposure adjustment whereas Aperture only provides +/- 3 stops but I wonder how useful that extra range really is in practice. Correcting chromatic aberration and fringing in Lightroom is decidedly easier than in Aperture, at least for me, and I find adjusting luminance values for parts of an image easier in LR than I do in Aperture. Still, I only had around 9 months experience with Aperture at the stage I made the swap and there were things I was still learning about Aperture. I'm quite willing to admit that I was probably still finding some things in Aperture harder than they needed to be because I was still learning.

    Aperture has not has a major upgrade in some years now and I think LR currently has the edge on it in some areas, but that doesn't mean that Aperture can't deliver great results. I think it's probably easier to achieve some things in LR than it is in Aperture but I doubt there's all that much that you can do in Lightroom that you can't do in Aperture. There are, however, differences in both how the applications work and in their respective user interfaces and if you're familiar with one there's going to be a learning curve with the other plus I believe that some people will prefer one application's interface and approach to the other and not everyone will prefer the same application.

    For me LR offered some clear advantages. It made it easier for me to do some things and I hadn't been using Aperture long enough to be really wedded to it's way of doing things which probably made the swap a little easier for me. I also didn't have a particularly large photo database to swap over and that's another factor which needs to be considered since, while you can import your RAW files into Lightroom, you can't import Aperture's processing unless you export images as JPEGs or TIFFS or some other processed format from Aperture. That means that if you aren't going to be prepared to reprocess your old RAW files in LR, you're going to have to keep Aperture on your computer as well in order to access your processing on those old images and the same applies in reverse if you want to swap from Lightroom to Aperture. I

    f you're just starting out with a processing application you won't go wrong with either but you may well prefer one over the other. If you're swapping from one to another, there's a lot more issues involved and it won't be as simple since you've got to deal with not only the differences in how they work and change your working habits, you've also got the problem of how to deal with your existing files that have been processed in the former application.
  10. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    Apple's major selling point is their good user interface design department :) 

    I use Lightroom and DxO Optics. Mostly the latter; don't really feel the need for a cataloguing system so far, prefer to use nested folders (year, month, event) instead.
  11. WT21

    WT21 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    I also use nested folders by date, making cataloging seem silly, but the ability to apply keywords and then create smart folder driven off the keywords (or other metadata like camera or lens type, aperture, shutter speed, etc.) is really useful. I also created my first photo book using the Adobe module. The cataloging approach helps with that, too. Just an alternate view.
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