Lightroom or Aperture? 3 Factors to Consider - Digital Photography School

Lightroom or Aperture? 3 Factors to Consider

Over on my blog, I entertain reader questions weekly. Today I got a question so great I wanted to share the answer with you fine people!

Q. “I have tried both Aperture and Lightroom and I can’t make up my mind. So which one should I get?”

A. At first, one might give this reader the stock answer of “read reviews, try them both and see which one you like better.” Unless you devote yourself wholly to soaking in every last drop of software goodness, I don’t think that the standard 30 day trial is enough time to really get to know a program. Aside from reading reviews, there are two other things to consider when choosing a program.

{Support} In this case, the reader is torn between Lightroom and Aperture. I would suggest that he check out the support out there for the two programs to see how he will be supported in his (hopefully) long love affair with whatever program he chooses. I’m a LR gal myself. And my favourite website about LR is Lightroom Killer Tips. Upon Googling for a similar site for Aperture, I came up with The Aperture Blog. So do a little searching around and see how much there is out there to help you. Oh, and check out your current favourite photograbloggers and see what they’re writing about. For example, does DPS have more information about one program over the other?

{Add-ons} Choosing a program is kind of like buying a new printer. Yeah, it’s flashy and surprisingly cheap. But do the cartridges cost double another brand’s? Check out the different add-ons and plug-ins for a program. Are there more presets for LR than there are for Aperture? How much do they cost? Are there free ones available for the program you’re looking at?

Obviously, there are lots of factors to consider when choosing anything. Other than software, I generally lean towards favouring Apple products because their after sale support is so excellent. So, yes, inquire about support, read reviews and trial the product. But also consider the other two factors above when making the decision to settle on a program. Because you’ll be married to that software for many years to come if you want to get the most out of it.

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Elizabeth Halford is a Hampshire Photographer and keeps a rockin'photography blog where she writes about photography and business in "real.plain.english". She's addicted to Facebook and can be found answering photography and business questions every day here on her page

  • http://www.summitactionsports.com/ Daniel Dunn

    Aperture Expert is another great site for learning about Aperture. Joseph is a super expert, and a super guy, always helpful.

  • http://www.ericboneskephotography.com Eric

    This was a question I wrestled with. I started with Aperture 2 b/c, well, everything Apple does works so seamlessly with each other. It was a great program, with some really large limitations. Limitations that I worked around by using photoshop. Once A3 came out, I upgraded only to find that it took FOREVER to process the images, and seemed to crash, often. After a few months of digging in my heels and trying to make it work, I had to switch. I made the switch to LR3 and havent looked back. Once you get used to the different commands and set up its really quite nice.. especially for those who already have a working knowledge of PS. Many of the shortcuts are the same. I wanted to like A3, I really did, but when the rubber met the road, I had to go LR.

  • http://www.arizonatreks.org Michael Morris

    Since version 1 of Aperture, I had used it. It fit my preferred workflow and had some features missing in LR that I felt were important. Apple has begun changing Aperture into iPhoto. It has “cutsie” features that provide limited value while ignoring core functionality. LR is still focused on improving the core functionality and I like the direction it is going. A few months ago I began the transition to LR 3 and am happy with the choice. I do not want “faces and places” with cute graphics found in a consumer level application. I far prefer lens correction capabilities and tight integration with PS.

  • http://www.quicoto.com quicoto

    Lightroom for the win :)

  • Randy

    I started with Lightroom, but switched over to Aperture when A3 came out this past spring. Brushes are done MUCH better in Aperture in my opinion. I also love that I can export a library to my laptop, do all my editing in my recliner, then merge the edited library back into my master library without creating any duplicates or problems. I also appreciated Aperture’s ability to export images with custom watermarks. I haven’t had the delays/crashing that others have experienced. I suspect some of that was caused by the “faces” feature, which should be immediately turned off since it hogs the processor upon importing new photos.

    The one thing that is definitely done better in Lightroom is the vignette. I’m always disappointed with the level of control I have in Aperture when it comes to vignettes.

    Noise reduction in both programs is very weak. I can’t figure out why they can’t do a better job with that. I wish Apple would just buy Noise Ninja and incorporate it right into Aperture. You can do that now with Noise Ninja’s plugin.

  • Dan

    I’ve found that Aperture 3.1, released earlier this week, fixed a lot of the performance bugs that made Aperture 3 such a pain to work with. Aperture 3.1 is everything that Aperture 3 should have been upon release.

  • http://chanraymond.net Raymond

    I personally use Lightroom as well. Haven’t tried Aperture, but Lightroom IMO is a photographer’s best friend ;)

  • Mouring

    It really is a preference in workflow. I was using the Lightroom 1 Betas when Aperture 1 was released and I tried both, and there were features of Aperture I liked, but over all Aperture felt like it fought against me for post-processing. Sow hen Lightroom was released I bought it (back when it was the obscenely dirty cheap price), and I’ve upgraded ever since.

    I’ve been very happy with lightroom. Wish they’d add in some of the facial recon and some of the other more low level tagging assistance toys that Aperture and iPhoto have.

  • http://www.jm-cohen.com Jonathan

    I was a dedicated user of Aperture 2 and was looking forward to Aperture 3. I got the trial and had many of the same issues described above, slow processing and crashing. Luckily I was already using referenced images in Aperture so moving my library was a relatively smooth process.

    I have been using LR exclusively for about 6 months now and while I do miss some of the in-program editing that Aperture had, the integration with PS is fantastic. I am very glad that I made the switch.

  • Charles

    How about Capture One ? I’ve been using it for a while and i find it much better than Lightroom, but I havn’t seen any thing on it here.

    Did anyone ever try it ?

  • http://vincejamesphotography.com Vince James

    I’ve played around with both, and I really prefer Lightroom for the following reasons;

    1. Plays nice with both Mac and PC (I prefer Mac, but I enjoy the flexibility)

    2. Better plug-ins (check out Nik)

    3. Familiarity, as a long-time Photoshop user I immediately felt comfortable with the editing tools

    Based on conversations with other photogs, Lightroom enjoys higher market share and therefore better documentation (check out youtube for excellent walk-throughs).

    Aperture is an excellent tool and has some unique features (I hear the GPS support is amazing) but for my money, Lightroom all the way.

  • Mark

    Both programs (currently Lightroom 3.2 & Aperture 3.1) are excellent and have nearly identical features. If you are skilled in both programs, you can import the same RAW file and export identical looking JPG files.

    The original response is correct. 30 days is just not long enough to evaluate them. I say this because basic functions are so similar, that the right choice for you will come from the fine points.

    You can export to Photoshop with both. LR is only better if you need to export directly as a smart object or panorama, otherwise, they are exactly the same. If you frequently apply noise reduction, LR may be better for you. If you always touch up with a clone brush, Aperture is he better choice. LR has a larger user community. Aperture plug-ins (sharpen, NR, HDR, etc) work within Aperture; LR plugins launch external programs. It’s the small things like this that make the biggest difference.

    Personally, I started with LR and eventually moved to Aperture. I think is is more streamlined and more powerful, but a little harder to use. Potential users should also consider that each program’s RAW engine could give better results depending on camera model. I may be able to get better pictures from a Nikon D200 in LR, but better pictures from a Canon 5D in Aperture.

  • Stacy

    Capture One Pro wins over both of them. Also, I am surprised that plugins are listed as a serious consideration at all.

    If Lightroom and Aperture were the only two choices I wouldn’t be able to recommend one over the other to this day, they both have advantages and disadvantages but, for the most important functionality, offer essentially the same tools.

  • Gary

    Hmm….as a lightroom user this is tough but Aperture is better for multimedia if that is your bag

  • Arti

    I’m going to have to pick Lightroom too. I initially used Aperture, and then just because I’d been hearing these great things about Lightroom, I decided to download the trial. The trial has since expired and I’ve been trying to adjust with Aperture, but I just miss Lightroom too much. Better presets, better help books, integration with PhotoShop, doesn’t want to take over and organize all your photos for you, but the negative is that it doesn’t integrate with Mac as well as Aperture does (changing desktop backgrounds, contacts, mail and the like), but that is to be expected.

  • http://www.sweetlighting.com Chen

    I’ve tried LR 2 and A2 when I was getting into the field. They both are similar programs, and photographers should definitely have one of the two. But between the two I picked LR. One of the main reasons was that I could access the photos outside LR after importing the photos. With Aperture, I couldn’t. Somehow Aperture converted the photos into a file format that only Aperture could open. I wasn’t able to access the photos outside of Aperture. That made me nervous: what if I need to change program in the future and don’t want to use Aperture anymore? That was one of the main reason I chose LR. I have not tried A3, so I am not sure if you can access the photos outside of the program after importing them, but I have been very happy with LR3 and plan to switch to Aperture as long as Adobe keeps producing LR4, 5, 6…

    -Chen-
    [url]sweetlighting.com[/url]

  • Kevin

    Platform independence is the feature you never knew you wanted till you need it. It’s best to avoid painting yourself into a corner, and that’s why I’d choose Lightroom over Aperture. Lightroom runs on Mac and Windows.

  • Robert

    Yeah, that’s a tough one. There is still no one perfect workflow program.

    I own both and initially switched from Aperture to Lightroom due to slow performance. Lightroom is certainly much more peppy out of the box. So if you have only limited system resources available or want to work cross platform on Mac and PC it’s really a no brainer – Lightroom is your only choice.

    If however you have a powerhouse Mac system and don’t care about PC compatibility, Aperture is a great program that can be peppy – once you set it up right.

    I personally prefer Aperture for it’s more Mac-like user interface, native connectedness to MobileMe galleries, and what I feel are much more intuitive controls overall. That said, I find managing masters and versions much easier in Aperture but at the same time much prefer Lightroom’s multi-monitor support, organizational tools and filters.

    So there is no easy answer, they are both good and both bad in their own ways. For the time being, I use both for different things, taking the best and leaving the rest. If I had to pick only one though, I’d probably go with Lightroom solely for it’s speed and organization and use photoshop for editing.

  • http://williambeem.com William Beem

    It’s disappointing to read many of these comments because it shows that people will promote a product or criticize another without really knowing the details of how they work, which plugins work with them, etc. Both are fine products. If you’re a Windows user, Aperture isn’t even a consideration for you.

    Each has similar features, but also capabilities that the other lacks. That alone may sway your decision if you need a specific feature. Also, the workflow is quite different. Lightroom uses a modular workflow that guides you, but isn’t as flexible as Aperture’s ability to let you perform functions on an image no matter where you are. For example. I could lay out photos in Aperture’s Light Table or one of the Print areas and decide that one of the images would look better as a Black & White. With Aperture, I have the tools to adjust the image without leaving the layout. In Lightroom, you have to switch to another module. Which workflow works better for you?

    Aperture doesn’t force you to load your images in a proprietary database, but that is an option. If you choose to use that database (Managed photos), you also get additional features to help you backup to Vaults. If not, you can choose a Referenced approach similar to Lightroom’s catalogs, allowing you to keep your photos in any structure you like. The difference is that you have to maintain the structure, rather than let Aperture do it for you. At any time, you can export your Masters out of the Managed database.

    Another suggestion for an Aperture blog is http://aperture.maccreate.com/.

  • Chris Long

    I’ve been using Aperture 2, and now 3 for a while, and I must say, I’m switching to LR3. I’ve enjoyed Aperture, especially after spending a month setting up to my liking, but it’s a HUGE RAM hog, and takes forever to do anything. I’m running 4G of DDR3, and it uses about a gig almost the entire time. :/

  • http://blog.trushots.com Trudy

    I never used Lightroom or Aperture with the exception of the trial versions when they first came out years ago. I started using Aperture 3 in Feb of this year and it’s been great. I use it most of the time now and Photoshop only for more in depth edits. I am sure Lightroom is awesome as I hear but I like my methods now. Simple.

    I don’t think people should make this a Nikon v. Canon kinda thing. Really you have to use them heavily for the 30 day trial and make a decision.

  • Ted

    a very timely post. i have been into the photography/post-processing hobby for only a few months. i immediately went to A3 because i got the program for free (yes, legitimately) and i was already very familiar with iPhoto. A3 has a great feel and look to it, it’s definitely intuitive, especially if you’re already a mac-head. but it’s definitely not the fastest editor. even on my macbook pro w/8g ram, it often takes a few seconds to load a raw file and even longer to do a complicated adjustment.

    i just got photoshop and LR3, but i am loathe to learn another program so soon after just learning A3. that being said, i will dig into photoshop first, as i feel i can use photoshop to do all the “heavy lifting”, but i can still use A3 for the majority of my work, especially at my current skill level.

    that being said … i will … without question … be digging into LR 3 sooner or later so i can finally make up my mind.

  • http://www.momshots.com Jessica

    I think that there is a big difference between LR2 and A2. LR2 has so much more plugin and editing capabilities but A3 has made the jump and caught up with LR3, in my opinion. I had fun playing with LR2 but after it crashed I have been having nothing but troubles with it for the past few months. A2 never crashed or ever gave me any issues. I need that reliability. I am planning on upgrading to A3 as soon as possible. It integrates with PS exactly how I need it to. In my own little logic, A3 is the winner.

  • david

    I haven’t used Aperture but did try Lightroom Beta and also Nikon Capture NX. Neither trial was long enough for my schedules to really to get to know either very well though I quite like the Capture NX and the layout of Light room would have suited a modern wide view screen (mine isn’t wide view). I found Lightroom complex bt ess so than Photoshop Elements.

    Frankly I am over post processing, if my D90 doesn’t get it right and it often doesn’t its another reason for borrowing the wifes stupid little Lumix TZ10 and using that – somehow that always delights and doesn’t need much if any post processing – I mostly sue Picassa 3 or in Linux Digi kam now, Digi Kam mainly for special effect filters.

    One thing that seems to be hot and I have given it a try and thought it OK but felt it was a little pricey vs free stuff such as Picassa or Digi Kam was Optics Pro 6.5…now they are extending the lenses covered and offering other built-in plugs its looking more interesting but I’d rather the camera converted more accurately in the first place, its what they claim they can do!!!

  • wotan_odyn

    Lightroom or Aperture? Get ACDSee Pro 3. Much cheaper and extremely efficient!

  • http://brianhurseyphotography.com Brian

    Well I have used both on windows and mac and full screen editing and the way the library is managed with Aperture won it for me. I have been using it since Aperture 2. Yes there were some bugs with Aperture 3 at the beginning and I experienced them but they have been fixed.

    I wrote a review on aperture 3 and the features that impressed me you can see it here. http://brianhurseyphotography.com/blog/?p=103

  • http://shannonhuntphotography.com/blog/ Shannon

    Light room all the way!!!! It’s speed up my work flow tons. Haven’t actually tried the others.

  • Johnny Lightspeed

    I use Lightroom because i found it easier to learn than Aperture- and the fact that i use Adobe products.

    Btw, the article is misleading because it doesn’t actually explain anything about which app to use- I can summarize the entire article into one sentence- “If you aren’t sure which program is right for you, research with Google”.

    The responses have been way more effective in helping than what the author wrote. (Sorry!)

  • http://alastairmoore.com Alastair Moore

    I really wanted to Aperture to be my software of choice, mainly due to the price (it’s half the price of Lightroom here in New Zealand) but I’ve struggled to get along with it. What I find is a bit of an issue is it assumes that every shoot you do is a project whereas sometimes, as a non-pro, I’m just out taking photos on a day out and I only really need to catalog them as such. I do keep diving back to it to see if I can make it work in my workflow but so far, no joy. I’m going to give it one more try! Lightroom 3 so far seems to be the perfect tool for me.

  • http://www.fkfoto.com Florian Knorn

    The big pros for LightRoom for me personally are: Camera profiles (or more specifically: The DNG profile generator with which I can profile all my lenses and bodies myself) as well as the Lens Profiles (and the Lens Profile Creator, with which I’m again in charge…).

  • Mark Benedict

    I have been trying out the 30 day free trial with both products. I was leaning towards LR3 because of its lens correction profiles which are insanely convenient to do on import, but I just cant seem to get as good final results as I can with Aperture. I know all the knobs and sliders are there, but at the end of the day, my work just looks better with Aperture.

    Just got back from Vegas trying out the new EOS 60D. Mainly used the 24-105L, and got about 20 keepers. Took about 4 hours processing them in both apps and Aperture came out as a clear winner. Even the few shots with the 10-22mm EF-S were barrel distortion can be pretty noticeable, I found LR 3 to fall short and the lens correction to need manual fine tuning anyway.

  • Terry Byford

    I have both. But being a long-time user of LR it is more natural for me to prefer this over AP.

    In my opinion, LR is the more professional product of the two, its workflow design is certainly superior, but this may not be a prime concern of the enquirer who may see value in the price advantage that AP has over LR, or favours the Apple inclusion of “noddy” processes to simplify certain functions.

    The big long-term question is support. Adobe has consistently supported LR with updates, but prior to Apple releasing the current AP, there had been no updates from Apple for 18 months or so for the earlier version, to the point where I understand many were hazarding a guess that Apple were going to quietly drop it.

  • http://www.triggerfish.com.au Nick

    Aperture 2 is for me, I use it with the NIK package and it works a treat. The catalog, rating structure and smart albums are great tools when working with large volume shoots.

    I find that the sharpen tool is not that great, but thats where NIK comes in handy.

    Aperture also has an add on tool “publish for approval” which allows you to provide a link to clients to proof and accept their own images, this is then linked directly to you project file smart album showing only the images they have chosen (this is great for remote clients).

    I have to say that Im not familiar with LR, but have heard good things about it (as well as from this blog). And as many have said already, it comes down to preference. So far, im very happy with Aperture.

  • Oliver

    Both programs do an outstanding job at what they are designed for, and in my opinion it comes down to what fits better in your workflow, and also which features are more important to you.
    I love the UI of Aperture and it’s integration with everything Mac, but unfortunately it’s performance drives me to LR3.
    I tried everything to speed Aperture 3 up, but to no avail.
    I’m running both on my iMac 3.06 core2duo, 8 GB DDR3 RAM, 512 MB Graphics Card, and any changes in Aperture cause the “Processing” delay, whereas LR3 just does it, no waiting, no delay.
    If it weren’t for that, Aperture 3 would be my choice, but this is just my personal preference.

  • http://brianhurseyphotography.com Brian

    Oliver,

    What version of Apreture 3 were you using. I am now on 3.1 and not experiencing that on a 2009 Mac Mini 2.0 ghz core duo with 2 gigs of DDR3 ram with an integrated video card.

  • Oliver

    @ Brian I’m running 3.1. Defragged my HDD, deleted all caches, rebuild library, but no matter what, LR3 is faster at processing images.

  • Andrew

    I too am in the process of reviewing editing programs and have been trying a few out for three weeks. Hours and hours on the internet. Looking at opinions from others pretty much gave me the same as above. Opinions are split on what commenters are used to. No help at all in the end. You need to recognize that both are very close and as a beginner you will not see much benefit of either as you work through the basics. You need to allow lots of time for you to evolve to the point you can make your own decision based on what you are doing with the programs. Best advice I can give as one starter to another….go with what your friends use. If you don’t have contacts you can call upon then look to the internet to see what lessons or websites you are most comfortable with. The reason for this is that for the next year or so there will be a steep learning curve. You’ll need someone to answer all your elementary questions and support you as you grow. In time, you’ll understand enough to make your own decisions on which is better and for your own reasons. Pick one and go for it. Good luck. By the way, after all my looking I found that for me, for what I want to do at the beginner level I’m at, my best route is Elements. 6 – 12 months from now,,,who knows?

  • http://www.relocationtoatlantainfo.com/ Rob in Atlanta

    I tried Aperature and never really synced with it. Gave it about six months and it still felt cludgy and foreign.

    Like an idiot, I’m still using Photoshop!

  • Terry Byford

    Rob, an idiot because you use Photoshop? I don’t think so. The adage is if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

  • http://www.wildkatphoto.com Rob

    I bought A2 and never managed to get comfortable with it so went back to iPhoto. When Faces came out my workflow ground to a halt as iPhoto tried to find faces in hundreds of flowers. Out of desperation I ownloaded the LR3 beta and I have been a dedicated user ever since. LR3 makes RAW conversion transparent and seemless. I love the presets and the ability to creat my own has allowed me to apply my “style” to images in a snap.

    I dont understand the comment about noise reduction in LR3. It is so good I rarely use Nik Dfine anymore. On that note, if you have not tried Viveza 2 you are missing out. It took me about 2 hours to get the hang of it but once you do it is amazing.

    I am sure A3 works better with my Mac and mobile Me but what I need to do is proess hundreds of pictures a day effeciently. LR3 does that. I need to be about to make minor adjustments quickly and switch to PS, Vivesa or Imagenomic Portraiture for heavy lifting. Check again. I need to do it on an ancient MBP with 2GB of RAM. Check. And I want to do all of that without Faces, Places or any other “cute” stuff. LR3 fits the bill.

  • http://richterpolilli.com RICHARD

    aperture 3 hands down. for support check out lynda.com…Derric Story is the best

  • Scott

    I’m not sure why someone would have experienced a slow down from Aperture 2 to Aperture 3. I found it to be much faster both rendering individual images and previews for import. And I mean MUCH faster. I use Aperture because it has a much better ability to organize my images and libraries as either referenced (like LR) or as a managed library where all the images are loaded into the library itself. Much easier to keep track of my files.

Some older comments

  • Scott

    June 28, 2013 05:36 am

    I'm not sure why someone would have experienced a slow down from Aperture 2 to Aperture 3. I found it to be much faster both rendering individual images and previews for import. And I mean MUCH faster. I use Aperture because it has a much better ability to organize my images and libraries as either referenced (like LR) or as a managed library where all the images are loaded into the library itself. Much easier to keep track of my files.

  • RICHARD

    December 28, 2010 08:36 am

    aperture 3 hands down. for support check out lynda.com...Derric Story is the best

  • Rob

    November 10, 2010 12:03 pm

    I bought A2 and never managed to get comfortable with it so went back to iPhoto. When Faces came out my workflow ground to a halt as iPhoto tried to find faces in hundreds of flowers. Out of desperation I ownloaded the LR3 beta and I have been a dedicated user ever since. LR3 makes RAW conversion transparent and seemless. I love the presets and the ability to creat my own has allowed me to apply my "style" to images in a snap.

    I dont understand the comment about noise reduction in LR3. It is so good I rarely use Nik Dfine anymore. On that note, if you have not tried Viveza 2 you are missing out. It took me about 2 hours to get the hang of it but once you do it is amazing.

    I am sure A3 works better with my Mac and mobile Me but what I need to do is proess hundreds of pictures a day effeciently. LR3 does that. I need to be about to make minor adjustments quickly and switch to PS, Vivesa or Imagenomic Portraiture for heavy lifting. Check again. I need to do it on an ancient MBP with 2GB of RAM. Check. And I want to do all of that without Faces, Places or any other "cute" stuff. LR3 fits the bill.

  • Terry Byford

    November 7, 2010 08:14 pm

    Rob, an idiot because you use Photoshop? I don't think so. The adage is if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

  • Rob in Atlanta

    November 7, 2010 02:11 pm

    I tried Aperature and never really synced with it. Gave it about six months and it still felt cludgy and foreign.

    Like an idiot, I'm still using Photoshop!

  • Andrew

    November 6, 2010 07:27 am

    I too am in the process of reviewing editing programs and have been trying a few out for three weeks. Hours and hours on the internet. Looking at opinions from others pretty much gave me the same as above. Opinions are split on what commenters are used to. No help at all in the end. You need to recognize that both are very close and as a beginner you will not see much benefit of either as you work through the basics. You need to allow lots of time for you to evolve to the point you can make your own decision based on what you are doing with the programs. Best advice I can give as one starter to another....go with what your friends use. If you don't have contacts you can call upon then look to the internet to see what lessons or websites you are most comfortable with. The reason for this is that for the next year or so there will be a steep learning curve. You'll need someone to answer all your elementary questions and support you as you grow. In time, you'll understand enough to make your own decisions on which is better and for your own reasons. Pick one and go for it. Good luck. By the way, after all my looking I found that for me, for what I want to do at the beginner level I'm at, my best route is Elements. 6 - 12 months from now,,,who knows?

  • Oliver

    October 30, 2010 03:29 am

    @ Brian I'm running 3.1. Defragged my HDD, deleted all caches, rebuild library, but no matter what, LR3 is faster at processing images.

  • Brian

    October 30, 2010 02:38 am

    Oliver,

    What version of Apreture 3 were you using. I am now on 3.1 and not experiencing that on a 2009 Mac Mini 2.0 ghz core duo with 2 gigs of DDR3 ram with an integrated video card.

  • Oliver

    October 30, 2010 02:08 am

    Both programs do an outstanding job at what they are designed for, and in my opinion it comes down to what fits better in your workflow, and also which features are more important to you.
    I love the UI of Aperture and it's integration with everything Mac, but unfortunately it's performance drives me to LR3.
    I tried everything to speed Aperture 3 up, but to no avail.
    I'm running both on my iMac 3.06 core2duo, 8 GB DDR3 RAM, 512 MB Graphics Card, and any changes in Aperture cause the "Processing" delay, whereas LR3 just does it, no waiting, no delay.
    If it weren't for that, Aperture 3 would be my choice, but this is just my personal preference.

  • Nick

    October 29, 2010 12:11 pm

    Aperture 2 is for me, I use it with the NIK package and it works a treat. The catalog, rating structure and smart albums are great tools when working with large volume shoots.

    I find that the sharpen tool is not that great, but thats where NIK comes in handy.

    Aperture also has an add on tool "publish for approval" which allows you to provide a link to clients to proof and accept their own images, this is then linked directly to you project file smart album showing only the images they have chosen (this is great for remote clients).

    I have to say that Im not familiar with LR, but have heard good things about it (as well as from this blog). And as many have said already, it comes down to preference. So far, im very happy with Aperture.

  • Terry Byford

    October 29, 2010 01:39 am

    I have both. But being a long-time user of LR it is more natural for me to prefer this over AP.

    In my opinion, LR is the more professional product of the two, its workflow design is certainly superior, but this may not be a prime concern of the enquirer who may see value in the price advantage that AP has over LR, or favours the Apple inclusion of "noddy" processes to simplify certain functions.

    The big long-term question is support. Adobe has consistently supported LR with updates, but prior to Apple releasing the current AP, there had been no updates from Apple for 18 months or so for the earlier version, to the point where I understand many were hazarding a guess that Apple were going to quietly drop it.

  • Mark Benedict

    October 26, 2010 11:29 pm

    I have been trying out the 30 day free trial with both products. I was leaning towards LR3 because of its lens correction profiles which are insanely convenient to do on import, but I just cant seem to get as good final results as I can with Aperture. I know all the knobs and sliders are there, but at the end of the day, my work just looks better with Aperture.

    Just got back from Vegas trying out the new EOS 60D. Mainly used the 24-105L, and got about 20 keepers. Took about 4 hours processing them in both apps and Aperture came out as a clear winner. Even the few shots with the 10-22mm EF-S were barrel distortion can be pretty noticeable, I found LR 3 to fall short and the lens correction to need manual fine tuning anyway.

  • Florian Knorn

    October 26, 2010 08:37 pm

    The big pros for LightRoom for me personally are: Camera profiles (or more specifically: The DNG profile generator with which I can profile all my lenses and bodies myself) as well as the Lens Profiles (and the Lens Profile Creator, with which I'm again in charge...).

  • Alastair Moore

    October 26, 2010 08:36 am

    I really wanted to Aperture to be my software of choice, mainly due to the price (it's half the price of Lightroom here in New Zealand) but I've struggled to get along with it. What I find is a bit of an issue is it assumes that every shoot you do is a project whereas sometimes, as a non-pro, I'm just out taking photos on a day out and I only really need to catalog them as such. I do keep diving back to it to see if I can make it work in my workflow but so far, no joy. I'm going to give it one more try! Lightroom 3 so far seems to be the perfect tool for me.

  • Johnny Lightspeed

    October 25, 2010 11:17 pm

    I use Lightroom because i found it easier to learn than Aperture- and the fact that i use Adobe products.

    Btw, the article is misleading because it doesn't actually explain anything about which app to use- I can summarize the entire article into one sentence- "If you aren't sure which program is right for you, research with Google".

    The responses have been way more effective in helping than what the author wrote. (Sorry!)

  • Shannon

    October 25, 2010 02:35 pm

    Light room all the way!!!! It's speed up my work flow tons. Haven't actually tried the others.

  • Brian

    October 25, 2010 10:44 am

    Well I have used both on windows and mac and full screen editing and the way the library is managed with Aperture won it for me. I have been using it since Aperture 2. Yes there were some bugs with Aperture 3 at the beginning and I experienced them but they have been fixed.

    I wrote a review on aperture 3 and the features that impressed me you can see it here. http://brianhurseyphotography.com/blog/?p=103

  • wotan_odyn

    October 25, 2010 01:30 am

    Lightroom or Aperture? Get ACDSee Pro 3. Much cheaper and extremely efficient!

  • david

    October 23, 2010 09:15 pm

    I haven't used Aperture but did try Lightroom Beta and also Nikon Capture NX. Neither trial was long enough for my schedules to really to get to know either very well though I quite like the Capture NX and the layout of Light room would have suited a modern wide view screen (mine isn't wide view). I found Lightroom complex bt ess so than Photoshop Elements.

    Frankly I am over post processing, if my D90 doesn't get it right and it often doesn't its another reason for borrowing the wifes stupid little Lumix TZ10 and using that - somehow that always delights and doesn't need much if any post processing - I mostly sue Picassa 3 or in Linux Digi kam now, Digi Kam mainly for special effect filters.

    One thing that seems to be hot and I have given it a try and thought it OK but felt it was a little pricey vs free stuff such as Picassa or Digi Kam was Optics Pro 6.5...now they are extending the lenses covered and offering other built-in plugs its looking more interesting but I'd rather the camera converted more accurately in the first place, its what they claim they can do!!!

  • Jessica

    October 23, 2010 05:15 pm

    I think that there is a big difference between LR2 and A2. LR2 has so much more plugin and editing capabilities but A3 has made the jump and caught up with LR3, in my opinion. I had fun playing with LR2 but after it crashed I have been having nothing but troubles with it for the past few months. A2 never crashed or ever gave me any issues. I need that reliability. I am planning on upgrading to A3 as soon as possible. It integrates with PS exactly how I need it to. In my own little logic, A3 is the winner.

  • Ted

    October 23, 2010 04:37 pm

    a very timely post. i have been into the photography/post-processing hobby for only a few months. i immediately went to A3 because i got the program for free (yes, legitimately) and i was already very familiar with iPhoto. A3 has a great feel and look to it, it's definitely intuitive, especially if you're already a mac-head. but it's definitely not the fastest editor. even on my macbook pro w/8g ram, it often takes a few seconds to load a raw file and even longer to do a complicated adjustment.

    i just got photoshop and LR3, but i am loathe to learn another program so soon after just learning A3. that being said, i will dig into photoshop first, as i feel i can use photoshop to do all the "heavy lifting", but i can still use A3 for the majority of my work, especially at my current skill level.

    that being said ... i will ... without question ... be digging into LR 3 sooner or later so i can finally make up my mind.

  • Trudy

    October 23, 2010 04:18 pm

    I never used Lightroom or Aperture with the exception of the trial versions when they first came out years ago. I started using Aperture 3 in Feb of this year and it's been great. I use it most of the time now and Photoshop only for more in depth edits. I am sure Lightroom is awesome as I hear but I like my methods now. Simple.

    I don't think people should make this a Nikon v. Canon kinda thing. Really you have to use them heavily for the 30 day trial and make a decision.

  • Chris Long

    October 23, 2010 03:32 pm

    I've been using Aperture 2, and now 3 for a while, and I must say, I'm switching to LR3. I've enjoyed Aperture, especially after spending a month setting up to my liking, but it's a HUGE RAM hog, and takes forever to do anything. I'm running 4G of DDR3, and it uses about a gig almost the entire time. :/

  • William Beem

    October 23, 2010 01:56 pm

    It's disappointing to read many of these comments because it shows that people will promote a product or criticize another without really knowing the details of how they work, which plugins work with them, etc. Both are fine products. If you're a Windows user, Aperture isn't even a consideration for you.

    Each has similar features, but also capabilities that the other lacks. That alone may sway your decision if you need a specific feature. Also, the workflow is quite different. Lightroom uses a modular workflow that guides you, but isn't as flexible as Aperture's ability to let you perform functions on an image no matter where you are. For example. I could lay out photos in Aperture's Light Table or one of the Print areas and decide that one of the images would look better as a Black & White. With Aperture, I have the tools to adjust the image without leaving the layout. In Lightroom, you have to switch to another module. Which workflow works better for you?

    Aperture doesn't force you to load your images in a proprietary database, but that is an option. If you choose to use that database (Managed photos), you also get additional features to help you backup to Vaults. If not, you can choose a Referenced approach similar to Lightroom's catalogs, allowing you to keep your photos in any structure you like. The difference is that you have to maintain the structure, rather than let Aperture do it for you. At any time, you can export your Masters out of the Managed database.

    Another suggestion for an Aperture blog is http://aperture.maccreate.com/.

  • Robert

    October 23, 2010 11:47 am

    Yeah, that's a tough one. There is still no one perfect workflow program.

    I own both and initially switched from Aperture to Lightroom due to slow performance. Lightroom is certainly much more peppy out of the box. So if you have only limited system resources available or want to work cross platform on Mac and PC it's really a no brainer - Lightroom is your only choice.

    If however you have a powerhouse Mac system and don't care about PC compatibility, Aperture is a great program that can be peppy - once you set it up right.

    I personally prefer Aperture for it's more Mac-like user interface, native connectedness to MobileMe galleries, and what I feel are much more intuitive controls overall. That said, I find managing masters and versions much easier in Aperture but at the same time much prefer Lightroom's multi-monitor support, organizational tools and filters.

    So there is no easy answer, they are both good and both bad in their own ways. For the time being, I use both for different things, taking the best and leaving the rest. If I had to pick only one though, I'd probably go with Lightroom solely for it's speed and organization and use photoshop for editing.

  • Kevin

    October 23, 2010 09:56 am

    Platform independence is the feature you never knew you wanted till you need it. It's best to avoid painting yourself into a corner, and that's why I'd choose Lightroom over Aperture. Lightroom runs on Mac and Windows.

  • Chen

    October 23, 2010 08:50 am

    I’ve tried LR 2 and A2 when I was getting into the field. They both are similar programs, and photographers should definitely have one of the two. But between the two I picked LR. One of the main reasons was that I could access the photos outside LR after importing the photos. With Aperture, I couldn’t. Somehow Aperture converted the photos into a file format that only Aperture could open. I wasn’t able to access the photos outside of Aperture. That made me nervous: what if I need to change program in the future and don’t want to use Aperture anymore? That was one of the main reason I chose LR. I have not tried A3, so I am not sure if you can access the photos outside of the program after importing them, but I have been very happy with LR3 and plan to switch to Aperture as long as Adobe keeps producing LR4, 5, 6…

    -Chen-
    [url]sweetlighting.com[/url]

  • Arti

    October 23, 2010 06:51 am

    I'm going to have to pick Lightroom too. I initially used Aperture, and then just because I'd been hearing these great things about Lightroom, I decided to download the trial. The trial has since expired and I've been trying to adjust with Aperture, but I just miss Lightroom too much. Better presets, better help books, integration with PhotoShop, doesn't want to take over and organize all your photos for you, but the negative is that it doesn't integrate with Mac as well as Aperture does (changing desktop backgrounds, contacts, mail and the like), but that is to be expected.

  • Gary

    October 23, 2010 06:08 am

    Hmm....as a lightroom user this is tough but Aperture is better for multimedia if that is your bag

  • Stacy

    October 23, 2010 04:19 am

    Capture One Pro wins over both of them. Also, I am surprised that plugins are listed as a serious consideration at all.

    If Lightroom and Aperture were the only two choices I wouldn't be able to recommend one over the other to this day, they both have advantages and disadvantages but, for the most important functionality, offer essentially the same tools.

  • Mark

    October 23, 2010 03:52 am

    Both programs (currently Lightroom 3.2 & Aperture 3.1) are excellent and have nearly identical features. If you are skilled in both programs, you can import the same RAW file and export identical looking JPG files.

    The original response is correct. 30 days is just not long enough to evaluate them. I say this because basic functions are so similar, that the right choice for you will come from the fine points.

    You can export to Photoshop with both. LR is only better if you need to export directly as a smart object or panorama, otherwise, they are exactly the same. If you frequently apply noise reduction, LR may be better for you. If you always touch up with a clone brush, Aperture is he better choice. LR has a larger user community. Aperture plug-ins (sharpen, NR, HDR, etc) work within Aperture; LR plugins launch external programs. It's the small things like this that make the biggest difference.

    Personally, I started with LR and eventually moved to Aperture. I think is is more streamlined and more powerful, but a little harder to use. Potential users should also consider that each program's RAW engine could give better results depending on camera model. I may be able to get better pictures from a Nikon D200 in LR, but better pictures from a Canon 5D in Aperture.

  • Vince James

    October 23, 2010 03:12 am

    I've played around with both, and I really prefer Lightroom for the following reasons;

    1. Plays nice with both Mac and PC (I prefer Mac, but I enjoy the flexibility)

    2. Better plug-ins (check out Nik)

    3. Familiarity, as a long-time Photoshop user I immediately felt comfortable with the editing tools

    Based on conversations with other photogs, Lightroom enjoys higher market share and therefore better documentation (check out youtube for excellent walk-throughs).

    Aperture is an excellent tool and has some unique features (I hear the GPS support is amazing) but for my money, Lightroom all the way.

  • Charles

    October 23, 2010 02:54 am

    How about Capture One ? I've been using it for a while and i find it much better than Lightroom, but I havn't seen any thing on it here.

    Did anyone ever try it ?

  • Jonathan

    October 23, 2010 02:50 am

    I was a dedicated user of Aperture 2 and was looking forward to Aperture 3. I got the trial and had many of the same issues described above, slow processing and crashing. Luckily I was already using referenced images in Aperture so moving my library was a relatively smooth process.

    I have been using LR exclusively for about 6 months now and while I do miss some of the in-program editing that Aperture had, the integration with PS is fantastic. I am very glad that I made the switch.

  • Mouring

    October 23, 2010 02:07 am

    It really is a preference in workflow. I was using the Lightroom 1 Betas when Aperture 1 was released and I tried both, and there were features of Aperture I liked, but over all Aperture felt like it fought against me for post-processing. Sow hen Lightroom was released I bought it (back when it was the obscenely dirty cheap price), and I've upgraded ever since.

    I've been very happy with lightroom. Wish they'd add in some of the facial recon and some of the other more low level tagging assistance toys that Aperture and iPhoto have.

  • Raymond

    October 23, 2010 02:06 am

    I personally use Lightroom as well. Haven't tried Aperture, but Lightroom IMO is a photographer's best friend ;)

  • Dan

    October 23, 2010 01:52 am

    I've found that Aperture 3.1, released earlier this week, fixed a lot of the performance bugs that made Aperture 3 such a pain to work with. Aperture 3.1 is everything that Aperture 3 should have been upon release.

  • Randy

    October 23, 2010 12:26 am

    I started with Lightroom, but switched over to Aperture when A3 came out this past spring. Brushes are done MUCH better in Aperture in my opinion. I also love that I can export a library to my laptop, do all my editing in my recliner, then merge the edited library back into my master library without creating any duplicates or problems. I also appreciated Aperture's ability to export images with custom watermarks. I haven't had the delays/crashing that others have experienced. I suspect some of that was caused by the "faces" feature, which should be immediately turned off since it hogs the processor upon importing new photos.

    The one thing that is definitely done better in Lightroom is the vignette. I'm always disappointed with the level of control I have in Aperture when it comes to vignettes.

    Noise reduction in both programs is very weak. I can't figure out why they can't do a better job with that. I wish Apple would just buy Noise Ninja and incorporate it right into Aperture. You can do that now with Noise Ninja's plugin.

  • quicoto

    October 23, 2010 12:11 am

    Lightroom for the win :)

  • Michael Morris

    October 23, 2010 12:07 am

    Since version 1 of Aperture, I had used it. It fit my preferred workflow and had some features missing in LR that I felt were important. Apple has begun changing Aperture into iPhoto. It has "cutsie" features that provide limited value while ignoring core functionality. LR is still focused on improving the core functionality and I like the direction it is going. A few months ago I began the transition to LR 3 and am happy with the choice. I do not want "faces and places" with cute graphics found in a consumer level application. I far prefer lens correction capabilities and tight integration with PS.

  • Eric

    October 22, 2010 11:59 pm

    This was a question I wrestled with. I started with Aperture 2 b/c, well, everything Apple does works so seamlessly with each other. It was a great program, with some really large limitations. Limitations that I worked around by using photoshop. Once A3 came out, I upgraded only to find that it took FOREVER to process the images, and seemed to crash, often. After a few months of digging in my heels and trying to make it work, I had to switch. I made the switch to LR3 and havent looked back. Once you get used to the different commands and set up its really quite nice.. especially for those who already have a working knowledge of PS. Many of the shortcuts are the same. I wanted to like A3, I really did, but when the rubber met the road, I had to go LR.

  • Daniel Dunn

    October 22, 2010 11:42 pm

    Aperture Expert is another great site for learning about Aperture. Joseph is a super expert, and a super guy, always helpful.

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