Best Photo enhancement software for aspiring photographer?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by Mad Mac Maniac, Jan 3, 2011.

  1. Mad Mac Maniac, Jan 3, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2011

    Mad Mac Maniac macrumors 601

    Mad Mac Maniac

    Oct 4, 2007
    A little bit of here and a little bit of there.
    My wife has recently taken it upon herself to become a professional photographer(specifically for weddings). Unfortunately we have zero experience using any professional photography editing software.

    I have been looking into Aperture 3, Photoshop CS5, and Adobe Lightroom. For anyone that is a big photography buff and has used any or all of these programs, your help and insight would be greatly appreciated. Which one do you think is the best, and what, if any, different purposes does each serve?

    If there is an excellent program that I have left out please feel free to let me know! Thanks in advance for all your help! :)

    Oh and the software could also be for a PC if you know of a superior program that is PC only!
  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    For Photo editing, there is nothing better then Photoshop. As for Aperture and Lightroom, they're not editing programs but rather DAM, Digital Asset Management apps. They have some editing, and depending on your needs, the editing features may be sufficient. Their power comes in managing images, categorizing, keywording, organizing, etc.
  3. eezing macrumors 6502


    Oct 29, 2008
    Photoshop is the only photo editing program IMO.
  4. Vantage Point macrumors 65816

    Mar 1, 2010
    New Jersey
    The best of the best is and has been Photoshop along with various third plugins. I've been using it for many years. The down side is there is nothing intuitive about it so you can't go out and buy it and expect to do good work that day. Learning Photoshop takes time and is an ongoing learning experience. Site like NAPP (National Association for Photoshop Professionals) have helpful video and lots of discounts including a 6% discount for Apple.

    You can get Aperture which is much easier to learn and is fairly powerful. Most Pros that use Aperture also use Photoshop. Lightroom is not worth it by itself, it must be paired with Photoshop to be a true powerhouse. So many pros have Photoshop with Aperture or LR

    I also love the power of layers for selective editing so I am a die hard Photoshop person. I could use Lightroom or Aperture to sort my files but instead I use Bridge which is included with Photoshop and I can find anything - and my photo library is a whooping 700 Gb.

    Photoshop also has a light version, Elements, which is inexpensive and a great way to start out. I began with Elements 1, 2, and 3 then graduated to CS2, CS3, CS4 and now 64-bit CS5
  5. ssdeg7 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 15, 2010
    Photoshop should work great, but you have to know how to use it.
  6. Mad Mac Maniac thread starter macrumors 601

    Mad Mac Maniac

    Oct 4, 2007
    A little bit of here and a little bit of there.
    A few questions.

    Do aperture and lightroom both work seamlessly with photoshop or does lightroom integrate better because they are both adobe products?

    Why do you say lightroom can't be used standalone? But aperture can? Don't lightroom and aperture serve the same function? It would be expensive to buy photoshop AND another program..

    Speaking of prices..
    Aperture- $199
    Lightroom- $299
    Photoshop- $699

    With this in mind would photoshop be a necessity to create professional looking photographs? The purpose wouldn't really be to change pictures so much as refining them. Would lightroom or aperture be sufficient in doing this? I'm wondering if photoshop may be overkill for what we need... I mean buying aperture for $200 makes a lot more sense than spending $1,000 on both lightroom and photoshop, especially if they yield virtually the same output for our needs. Especially because my wife will be a beginner.
  7. Mad Mac Maniac thread starter macrumors 601

    Mad Mac Maniac

    Oct 4, 2007
    A little bit of here and a little bit of there.
    As I continue my search I've noticed some talk about photographers using photoshop camera RAW plug-in.
    I don't mean to sound ignorant, but is this something that comes automatically in CS5? Or something that needs to be downloaded online (free or paid)? Or is in some seperate suite of CS5?

    I know photoshop CS5 is the most powerful of the 3 programs I listed, but are there things that Lightroom and aperture can do that CS5 absolutely can't do?

    What are the benefits of aperature or lightroom alone... what are the benefits of CS5 alone... and what are the benefits of combining CS5 with one of the others?? Please discuss with respect to enhancement of photos as would be done in wedding photographs for example.

    Thanks again for all your help!!
  8. geoffm33 macrumors 6502


    Dec 27, 2010
    I would start with Aperture and add Photoshop on later if the enhancement tools are insufficient. Aperture will be great for importing, choosing the best shots from the shoot and keeping shoots organized. And the enhancement tools are very very good.

    I've read on other forums that some photographers who's work I find impressive, use only the camera and Aperture.

    And if your wife is a beginner, Photoshop may be overkill.
  9. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    Both Aperture and Lightroom have sufficient editing controls for most users. I would suggest she try them both (they both have 30 day free trials) and pick whichever is most comfortable. Photoshop is useful for heavy editing which she is unlikely to need. And Bridge (which comes with Photoshop) is pretty cumbersome as an asset manager.
  10. Vantage Point macrumors 65816

    Mar 1, 2010
    New Jersey
    Without answering all your questions but getting to the gist of what you are after, I would recommend you start out with with Aperture. You can download a free trial. Aperture is the most cost effective solution to getting professional looking photos and cataloging them without the steep learning curve of photoshop. It is integrate well with your mac and can work with a number of useful plugins - like Topaz Labs which I use.

    LR vs Aperture are two different ways to do essentially the same thing, like Windows 7 vs Snow Leopard. Both will do the same job and you need only one. I actually have neither since I just do everything with Photoshop and Bridge.

    Camera Raw is included (free) with Photoshop. It is the RAW converter and is the same one as is in LR. Aperture has its own RAW converter. Apple might be a bit slower to get their converter to work with the latest camera model but if you are not the first kid on the block with the latest model you will be okay.

    This site specializes in having great tutorials to get up to speed on most anything
  11. Bending Pixels macrumors 65816

    Jul 22, 2010
    I shoot freelance, and recently switched to Aperture 3 as my primary photo editing and DAM (digital asset management) program. Aperture actually has some excellent photo editing features. Aperture 3 also includes support for RAW (as does PS Lightroom and PS CS5).

    My workflow is to do 90%+ of any image processing (including retouching) in Aperture 3, and then finish up as necessary in PS CS5.

    There are a number of video's on Apple's website on how to use Aperture, along with a couple of really good courses on Kelby Training. There, you'll also find some good courses on shooting and editing for weddings.
  12. Mad Mac Maniac thread starter macrumors 601

    Mad Mac Maniac

    Oct 4, 2007
    A little bit of here and a little bit of there.
    so if we were to get aperture now, later after she becomes proficient we could always add photoshop right?

    are there any benefits to the lightroom/photoshop combo compared to aperture/photoshop?
  13. Edvardsen, Jan 4, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2011

    Edvardsen macrumors newbie

    Jan 3, 2011
    If you decide on the Aperture option I would definitely consider some of the plug-in’s from Nik Software. Viveza and Silver Efex Pro will make all the difference to Aperture.
    I haven’t actually had much use for Photoshop after I started using the Nik Suite with Aperture.
  14. nippyjun macrumors 65816

    Jul 26, 2007
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_2_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8C148 Safari/6533.18.5)

    If your wife is completely new to all of this why not get Photoshop elements for $50 and see if that does enough for her.
  15. Vantage Point macrumors 65816

    Mar 1, 2010
    New Jersey

    Windows people don't have this choice but Mac users do. They are competing products designed to do essentially the same thing but in their own way. One is not vastly superior than the other, just different. If you google 'Aperture vs Lightroom' you will find defenders of each. If you shoot a lot of people then the 'Faces' option in Aperture can be great.

    The only negative about Aperture is the unpredictability of it. Adobe updates are predictable while Apple updates are always a mystery. No one saw Aperture 3 coming even though it was well overdue.

    Both have free 30 days trials. Aperture costs less and is built around the Macs. One thing to keep in mind is that your edits on RAW files are invisible to a different converter. So if you edit a RAW file in Aperture and then open that file in Lightroom or Photoshop whatever you did will not be there, and vice versa. That is the nature of all RAW converters and Yes there are others DXO, Bibble... So once you pick your camp it is useful to stick with it. Again, I think it best to try both and see which one you feel most comfortable with or can learn fastest. My guess is Aperture might be slightly better, and is slightly cheaper and yes you can always add Photoshop and export your image to it for further edits.
  16. SatyMahajan macrumors regular

    Apr 26, 2009
    Cambridge, MA
    Speaking in terms of strictly photography, I use Aperture 3 almost 95% of the time. But having Photoshop CS5 does help in certain instances:

    1.) Compositing additional elements (text, other graphics, etc.)
    2.) Doing really tough edits (like using content-aware fill to remove something that would take forever using clone-stamp or retouch in Aperture)

    Photoshop can be used for so many more things than just photo editing though. I use it daily to create UI assets, game assets, website layouts/mockups, sketches, as a digital whiteboard for brainstorming, etc.

    Aperture 3 and Lightroom 3 are both excellent programs. Both have advantages and disadvantages.

    Aperture 3

    Advantages: Tight integration with OS X, iLife, iWork, iTunes, etc. Stunning book layouts and print options, Excellent workflow, Good integration with Photoshop, Face recognition, good integration with social media (MobileMe, facebook, flickr, etc.), Places (useful for some), Good enough for Chase Jarvis (

    Disadvantages: Unpredictable updates (~ every 2 years), Delayed addition of new Cameras for RAW conversion, Performance can be sluggish (for some)

    Lightroom 3

    Advantages: Responsive, Excellent noise-reduction, Cross-platform, Excellent workflow, Good integration with Photoshop, regular update cycle (every 18-24 months)
    Disadvantages: No book printing options, UI can be more confusing (for some), No face recognition, No Places feature

    Both Aperture 3 or Lightroom 3 will solve most photography needs. If you need to 1.) composite additional elements or 2.) you can't accomplish the fine edits in a reasonable amount of time, add in a copy of Photoshop CS5 to solve those needs.
  17. Razeus macrumors 603

    Jul 11, 2008
    So.....a "professional" photographer who doesn't know how to use Photoshop? That's a different subject.

    If cost is an issue, get Pixelmator. It's $59 on their website. Even less on Amazon.

    If cost is a major issue, get GIMP.
  18. Mad Mac Maniac thread starter macrumors 601

    Mad Mac Maniac

    Oct 4, 2007
    A little bit of here and a little bit of there.
    I don't see how that is relevant. I explained she is an aspiring photographer. Everybody has to start somewhere. Plus if 95% of a photographers work were only in aperture or lightroom it doesn't really seem like photoshop skills are quite as necessary is you make them out to be.

    Well we still want professeional type software, not something for hobbyists.

    Plus I just found out that we would be able to get a student discount at a university bookstore, so this lowers the prices quite a bit. It makes the plunge certainly more managable.
    Lightroom - $90
    Photoshop CS5 extended - $200 (It doesn't look like they have the standalone CS5)
    Aperture - $155 (found with an online search, the bookstore doesn't have aperture)
  19. mchalebk macrumors 6502a

    Feb 4, 2008
    This would be my suggestion as well. Photoshop Elements is very powerful, yet much cheaper than the full version. It might be a good way to get used to working with Photoshop without making a big investment.

    I think it usually costs a bit more than $50, but it's very affordable:
  20. maccompaq macrumors 65816


    Mar 6, 2007
    For a beginning professional photographer, I strongly recommend Photoshop Elements 9. I bought mine for $69, and there was an Adobe rebate of $20 which I am waiting for.

    I have every version of Photoshop from 1.0 through CS(version 8). My needs are fullfilled with Photoshop Elements on my Core i7 Mac. If I need more powerful tools, I can go to my Core2Duo Mac to use Photoshop CS.

    Both programs have a learning curve. For your wife, Elements 9 would serve her well for a long time. If needed in the future, a transition to Photoshop CS 5 or higher would not be too difficult.
  21. Mad Mac Maniac thread starter macrumors 601

    Mad Mac Maniac

    Oct 4, 2007
    A little bit of here and a little bit of there.
    Are you saying that Elements could serve as her only photograph enhancement companion? Yielding professional looking photographs that people would see as quality enough to pay for wedding pictures?

    Or are you suggesting that she use Elements for a while while she overcomes the learning curve and builds a portfolio and a foundation for her business and THEN switch photoshop once the time comes. Assuming she stays motivated and her business looks promising.

    OR are you suggesting that we could use Elements as a replacement for CS5, but a suppliment to lightroom or aperture? Because it seems like those two raw picture enhancement programs (aperture and lightroom) provide nearly everything that we need. So we could use those for all the enhancement and then finish up the product in Elements. Because there's no sense using all the power of CS5 if there only is a small touchup, formatting, styling, or whatever need CS5 serves which can't be done in aperture or lightroom. (I am still yet to hear explained exactly what photoshop provides (for my purposes) that can't be done in aperture or lightroom)
  22. maccompaq macrumors 65816


    Mar 6, 2007
    I am quite sure that Photoshop Elements 9 would do everything she needs for her business without the need for any other programs. Image quality will be the same whether using Photoshop CS 5 or Photoshop Elements 9. This latest version, Elements 9 also processes raw images. You cannot go wrong on the price.
  23. veediot, Jan 4, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2011

    veediot macrumors newbie

    Jul 24, 2006
    Why bother with Photoshop?

    I shoot events on a regular basis, and I have never had a need for anything other than Aperture. 95% of my post-processing consists of just tweaking exposure, white balance, and the occasional desaturate. The other 5% might be the occasional skin smoothing or teeth whitening, all of which Aperture does just fine, and I can soft-proof right inside of Aperture (something that can't be done with LightRoom). True, Aperture 3 was a resource hog when it was first released, but it seems to work fine now. What is it that many of you are dependent on Photoshop for? The less post-processing I have to do, the better.

    Also, I'd be more concerned with gear and experience covering events than with the post-processing software, especially if you are a beginner. Shooting events is hard work, and without the right gear, it can be a downright miserable experience.
  24. sigamy macrumors 65816

    Mar 7, 2003
    NJ USA
    Many great replies in this thread...One of the best I've read in a while.

    +1 to starting out with Aperture and seeing how far it takes you. If the editing capabilites fit your requirements then great, you're done. For events, the cataloging, tagging and rating are very important that that is what Aperture or LR will give you.

    +1 to Photoshop Elements before Photoshop. As others have said, your wife will probably be able to accomplish 90% of her needs with Elements and Apeture.

    Some more advice...please make sure that your wife works on creating a repeatable and trusted workflow that includes multiple backups of these photos. Read about the 3-2-1 Backup Rule at

    These photos are from a very important day to the families involved. The last thing you want is to lose shots due to your error.

    Good luck!
  25. MacSignal macrumors regular

    May 8, 2010
    Elements may be all you need, although I agree the Aperture will offer some additional organizational features that could be useful for a wedding photography business. Both programs are downloadable as free trials, along with LR, PS, Pixelmator, and Acorn. And then there is The GIMP which is simply free and a lot more capable than you might expect.

    Google will help you find tutorials on the trial(s) of your choice, but I also second the recommendation to investigate for Adobe and Apple software.

    Photoshop CS5 is the industry standard, fully featured, complicated, powerful and expensive. In my opinion, it is more than you will need or want for entry level wedding photography.

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