Aperture vs Lightroom (Non-Biased, Non "Flammatory")

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by MBX, Aug 30, 2008.

  1. MBX macrumors 68000

    Sep 14, 2006
    I'm looking for a quick answer on which of the two is better. Even though i might be considered as an Apple fanboy i somehow think that Lightroom2 is sexier and has more powerful functions than Aperture.

    Especially it seems that LR is tighter integrated into Adobe's other products like photoshop.

    Any pros out-there who used both in professional photography and can give some insight in their experiences and which one they think is better?

    Thank you very much
  2. swiftaw macrumors 603


    Jan 31, 2005
    Omaha, NE, USA
    Neither is better, they are just different. You'll find support for both on these forums. There have been many threads comparing the two, try searching.

    Also, both offer 30 day free trials, so why not try both and choose the one that suits your way of working better.
  3. LaJaca macrumors regular


    Nov 23, 2007
    Near Seattle
    Couldn't agree more - I think it's tough to answer. Canon or Nikon? Both great, just depends what you like.

    I'm a LR person myself, but to be fair, I never gave Aperture a chance. Why? Only for seamless integration w/CS3.

    Best of luck.
  4. Edge100 macrumors 68000

    May 14, 2002
    Where am I???
    Both are great. I use LR2, but have spent some time w/ Aperture 2 as well. Both will get the job done.

    What is important is how you feel with each app. I didn't like the Aperture 2 interface; found it sluggish (though vastly improved vs. Aperture 1.5), and a bit unintuitive for me. LR2 has everything where I think it should be, and it suits me perfectly.

    Luckily, both have free 30 day trials; go and see which one suits you.
  5. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    Aperture's raw conversion (in version 2) is far better thab Adobe's- at least for Nikon files, though it appears to add a similar behind-the-scenes-can't-turn-it-off per-camera exposure adjustment. Other than that, they're mostly different interfaces into the same process. If you're satisfied with Adobe's raw conversion, or just shooting JPEG then it's a toss up.

    The conversion differences are only really visible side-by-side, so it's best to compare several images that are typical of your style in a trial of each to see if it makes enough of a difference to be important to you.

    LIke all comparisons, prints are the real way to see how much actual difference there is- the screen won't do it real justice, though it's visible there.
  6. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    Pretty much, thread can be stopped now.

    Seriously though Compuwar hit the nail where the nail should be hit. Other than what he's said, if you're not going to be doing any serious output it will be up to personal preference, or what other aspects of the Mac you will be using.

    I don't do any serious output except for the web and newspapers, but I do use iWeb for my personal site, FCS2 and iWork extensively, so Aperture suited me better.

    I do however, still use Lightroom every once in a while since I did use that first.
  7. RainCityMacFan macrumors 6502a

    Jun 10, 2007
    I really don't want to start a war here but I heard otherwise... That LR2 RAW conversion is more accurate and with CameraProfiles it gets better.
    Honestly, it's not something that should be a major deciding factor (unless you're into printing and publishing) but you should choose by your working style.

    LR2 is a little static, as in you have around 5(?) tabs that allows you to do their specific tasks. Like the first tab is called Library where you tag your pictures, then you move onto the next called Develop where you play with your sliders. etc. etc.

    As for Aperture 2, I don't really use it but I'm trying to get into it...
  8. PkennethV macrumors 6502a

    Aug 16, 2006
    Without going into technicals (because it's bound to change every few months), Lightroom is (at this point anyways) snappier than Aperture. Lightroom's work flow is designed so that "you first go here, then do this, and finally adjust that." Aperture lets you do do things in any order you want (yes, you can do that in Lightroom too, but the interface isn't designed that way). Lightroom has better integration with CS products. Personally, I find Aperture's flexibility more important than the extra snapyness of Lightroom because I think any speed gain in LR would be lost from me moving through the "Develop" tabs and such. Oh and one more thing that may be important to some people: Lightroom has a built in Curves adjustment. Often times with Aperture I would have to open it up in Photoshop just to make a Curves adjustment. It's all up to your preference and work flow.
  9. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    Adobe uses the same Adobe Camera Raw code in all its conversions- like any software company, they reuse as much code as possible. The ACR conversions are *easy* to test head-to-head, so don't go on what you "heard," go on what you can *see.*

    My own testing of ACR has held up that the only raw converter which was worse was the 1.x version of Aperture[1]. My original test set included ACR, Bibble Pro, Aperture, NC, and dcraw. I now test against ACR, Bibble Pro, Aperture 2, Capture NX, dcraw and Raw Photo Processor.

    With all due respect, "I heard" is never anywhere near as credible as "my tests indicate.[2]" I'd encourage you to do some tests yourself rather than parroting opinion. Try several images, high and low contrast, as well as with small details and gradual tonal variations. It's not a quick thing, but if you're concerned about getting the best out of your images, the time will be well-spent. IMO, two or three conversions with Adobe's converter and pretty-much anything else will be sufficient to have enough base data to see which you prefer. I've never had anyone who's done it prefer the Adobe conversion- but my sample set is less than a dozen.

    In terms of image quality, Adobe's raw converter is the worst of the current crop for Nikon raw files based upon my moderate testing[3]. I don't have a Canon camera, and I haven't gone back to redo any Fuji raw files yet (it's on my project list.) However, given the base adjustments and my test results, I urge anyone who actually does care to test head-to-head, then after some pixel peeping, print some images and see if the microdetail differences are worth it for your own images.

    I'll say that the first person I asked to try a new raw converter (neither Aperture, nor ACR) could see a fair amount of detail differences in a head-to-head comparison- enough in my opinion that their first conversion missed enough microdetail in the ACR conversion to make it completely not worth using for a print.

    The initial profiling Adobe does includes adding or subtracting additional exposure to the image, and you can't control these base exposure adjustments. This is well documented on the Internet, and easy to validate if you have multiple converters to test with. Besides, profiling isn't about the base image data, it's about contrast, exposure and color- my tests show me differences in detail and actual pixels in each converter (funnily enough, no two converters seem to convert the same pixels edge-to-edge!)

    As to if it should be a major deciding factor, that's up to the photographer, there are lots and lots of photographers who've gone through a lot more in terms of printing papers, developers, films and enlarging lenses to get the "perfect print" than it takes to choose a raw converter and tweak the settings for an image.

    As I said, if you're happy with Adobe's conversion, then the choice is a toss-up. Lots of people were perfectly happy with prints from almost any film through almost any mini-lab printed on almost any paper by almost any processor with the default settings. For that class of photographer, where the print's content is important, but the print itself isn't, there's no wrong choice.

    I would however suggest you do some minimal side-by-side testing with LR and your camera manufacturer's own raw converter before deciding that Adobe's doing (a) accurate conversion or (b) the best conversion. My testing says no way for (a) and not so much for (b.) That doesn't mean I don't use it- but I almost never use Adobe's conversion for anything critical.


    [1] Never should have been released in that state IMO.
    [2] Unless the tester is a complete bozo!
    [3] I expect to do more complete and comprehensive testing over the next few months, just in case there are certain image attributes that make a specific converter a better choice.
  10. anubis macrumors 6502a

    Feb 7, 2003
    1. You can download each one and do the free trial to decide which one you like best. Don't pick Aperture just because you're an "Apple Fanboy". Pick which one you think works the best.
    2. Maybe it will come down to whether you want better iPhoto/MacOSX integration or Photoshop integration.
  11. Westside guy macrumors 603

    Westside guy

    Oct 15, 2003
    The soggy side of the Pacific NW
    It is hard for anyone to truly answer in a non-biased fashion, because what's important to one person isn't as important to another person. If you really want a non-biased answer, you should arrive at it yourself by trying each program for 30 days (not overlapping - dedicate 30 days to Aperture, then 30 days to Lightroom).

    If you're an impatient person, and already familiar with Photoshop - go with Lightroom. Its workflow and tools are very much like Photoshop's. Aperture's tools are somewhat different, and require some time to learn how to really get the most out of them. I think a lot of people reject Aperture just because they aren't willing to invest the time to get used to the tools. Everyone can get up to speed quickly with Lightroom because everyone already knows how to use Photoshop, right?

    I was an Aperture 1.5 user, and right now am using the Lightroom 2 trial since Aperture doesn't support the D700 natively. Thing is, even after getting used to it for the past few weeks, I'm not a huge Lightroom fan. I really don't like the way it forces you into its modular workflow - it keeps getting in my way. For me, Aperture's "we'll try to stay out of your way and let you work however you want" is a much better model - but I still may end up going with Lightroom 2 just because I'm not convinced Apple is willing to put the resources into Aperture that it needs to. Aperture 1.x lagged when it came to supporting new cameras, plain and simple. When they (Apple) released Aperture 2, they changed how they handle RAW support and said "this will allow us to respond much faster when adding RAW support for new cameras". So far, I'm not seeing this - Lightroom 2 already has provisional support for my camera (added almost immediately after the camera's release date), while Aperture still doesn't support it without hacking a .plist and converting my RAW files to DNG first (plus this is a workaround found by a user, not offered by Apple).

    So if you're still reading after all that... try each one, and force yourself to use each one exclusively for 30 days. Then decide what's best for yourself.

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