Photoshop Elements vs iPhoto. Should I consider Aperture or Lightroom??

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by new-to-mac, Aug 15, 2012.

  1. new-to-mac macrumors regular

    Jun 15, 2012

    as I am new to the Mac world wanted to ask what might be a basic question. In the past I've used Photoshop Elements for PC which I think is great for me as I am an amateur and do this more as a hobby. I haven't played around a lot with iPhoto but does it do the same as Photoshop Elements?

    I know Mac has Aperture and I could also get Lightroom but those seem overkill for what is really a hobby.

    What I really like about PE is the Layers functions which according to this site iPhoto 11 does not support (

    Is there an equivalent feature in iPhoto that I haven't seen yet?

    Is my understanding that iPhoto is more about organizing photos and PE / Aperture / Lightroom are more about photo editing?

    PE seems to be selling for 99.99
    Aperture for 79.99
    Lightroom for 149.99

    so as a hobby, and not knowing the difference between Aperture and Lightroom (lots of mixed opinions :)) it might make more sense to go for Aperture and learn how to use this but this also doesn't seem to do layers (again there might be an equivalent) http://photo-graphics-software.find...2-21/iPhoto-vs-Aperture-vs-Photoshop-Elements I am also assuming from an integration point of view with other apps things are easier with Aperture....

    Thanks for reading. Any or should I say All insight and comments are welcome
  2. mic j macrumors 68030

    Mar 15, 2012
    I have used iPhoto, Aperture and Photoshop Elements (both on the Mac and PC side). What is best for you really depends on personal needs, so it's hard to give firm guidance...however, if you are a casual user, iPhoto is great. If you take a lot of pictures, Aperture is an excellent library manager with a lot of "enhancement" capabilities (like curves, clone, etc). If you want to do image modification, like panoramas, merging elements from different pictures, altering specific objects in pictures, etc, you will benefit from having an image editing program like PSE.

    Personally, I use Aperture in combination with PSE for Mac. Aperture exports directly to PSE when those occasional modifications that Aperture can't do (nor is it meant to be a full photo editor). Aperture takes care of 99% of my needs but once in a while, PSE is necessary. Hope that helps a little.
  3. cmdrmac macrumors regular

    Jun 24, 2012
    IA, USA
    Here's a very brief summary:

    iPhoto, Aperture, & Lightroom are all about photo management, minor re-touches and edits, and are non-destructive to the original file. The original image is not edited in anyway. Rather, all the edits you do are saved in a database and the software automatically applies those changes on top of the original. You an easily delete all the modifications and you'll end up with the original file.

    Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Pixlemator (an alternative to Photoshop) are image editors that directly allow you to edit the image (destructive editing as the original file is edited). You could definitely make a copy of the original file and then edit the copy, but you cannot revert to the original version of the copy (in a manner of speaking).

    With that said, here's my workflow:

    After going to an event or shooting a bunch of images, I then load them into aperture so that they are in my 'photo library'. At this point, I can see all of my photos, rate them, delete the ones I don't like, and slightly edit the ones I do like. If I need to do major touch-ups (requiring layers), then I fire up Pixelmator (an alternative to Photoshop) and make the necessary edits.

    My guess is that you may want to start with iPhoto for photo management and minor touch-ups. If you want to edit your photos, consider Pixelmator - as it is a very cost effective alternative to Photoshop. Once you are familiar with iPhoto and your workflow, you can then move up to Aperture or Lightroom. Pixelmator is quite adept at what it can do and for most photographers, it is more than capable of delivering excellent results.
  4. mic j macrumors 68030

    Mar 15, 2012
    Nice job on your summary! I agree with you 100%.
  5. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    In addition to the excellent description of the function of the applications, consider a few other things.

    First, if you do use iPhoto to organize your photos, consider the option where the photos are stored where you put them, but indexed by iPhoto. I believe it's still the case that the default with iPhoto is to "copy" imported photos into the iPhoto database. This will leave your original photos in a folder structure that you set up. Any edited photos will still be in iPhoto. I don't do any editing in iPhoto, but I do import (and by that I mean point to, as just explained) because so many other Mac applications then can access that iPhoto library.

    Second, Aperture and iPhotos libraries can now be shared. So if you do go with Aperture you've not gonna lose some of the indexing info you put in iPhoto.

    Third, I dunno if you use tagging and/or keywords, but the different applications handle those slightly differently. And the keywords aren't shared between the Adobe/Apple worlds. Sigh. But they do share within Adobe applications. Apple keywords work with iPhoto/Aperture, but not much else. And sadly not most tagging applications.

    Fourth, the cost. Aperture is relatively cheap, but since you're likely to commit for a long time, the cost over time is important. Unfortunately, we don't know how much it would cost to have Aperture over say 6 years. With Lightroom, you can see about how often Adobe upgrades, what they cost, and guesstimate it. With Apple we don't even know if Aperture 4 will be free, or $79. I expect they'll average out the same over the years, as they have in the past, but I'd sure hate to get Aperture 3 and then have the upgrade cost that much in just a few months.

    Fifth, iPhoto can share libraries, but kinda lags if you use two computers. Aperture allows you to export chunks of your library and then remerge, so that you can take part of your library with you, edit it on your laptop, then put it back when you get home. I assume LR has similar features.

    Sixth, plugins. There are some really cool ones (Nik Software's for example) that work with some applications but not all. Might be a consideration.

    Finally, someone mentioned workflow. It's nice to get one going, to have a system, even if you are an amateur. And I dunno whether you shoot RAW, or add certain metadata to photos, or have a system for naming, but either LR or Aperture allows you to automate or at least standardize on settings for all that when you import.
  6. new-to-mac thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 15, 2012
    Thanks guys - excelent tips! Much more to think about but i like starting with Aperture and seeing where that takes me. I will also look into pixelmator buti must say in the PC world i tried paint shop pro ans photoshop elements and found photoshop so easy. The fact there are also a ton of guides on the internet also helps.

    I'm loving my first mac and also this forum
  7. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    I pitted the free demos of Elements vs. Pixelmator recently while working at home and, I have to say, Elements won. To be fair, (a) I've been using Photoshop (full, at work) and Elements on and off for years so I'm more familiar and (b) I was preparing thumbnail images of documents for the web rather than photo retouching/compositing or creative artwork. What sold PE over Pixelmator for me is that it has more versatility when it comes to importing, exporting, converting and resampling images. E.g. Pixelmator will import a PDF, convert it to a bitmap, export it as PNG... but PE will import a PDF, render it at a size and PPI you specify, resample it using one of half a dozen algorithms and export it as a PNG with a 256 colour optimised palette using an 'export for web' tool that lets you preview the result and the resulting filesize...

    Having said that, Pixelmator is currently on the App Store for about £10/$15 (vs. £54 for Photoshop Elements) which makes it a bit of a no brainer. I've bought a copy to give it a second chance (hopefully it will continue to evolve), but unless I find hidden depths I'll probably buy PE the next time I need to get some work done.
  8. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    You have some good advice here. My recommendation (as a hobbyist/enthusiast):

    Pick a Digital Asset Manager (DAM) first. As mentioned above, that is iPhoto, Aperture, or Lightroom. Personally, I would not consider iPhoto... as you will quickly outgrow it. A3 and LR are both great programs, and there are good arguments for both. Feature wise, they tend to leapfrog each other... and quite frankly, both probably offer more than you need. Workflow wise... I think A3 wins. Likewise... it is fully integrated with iLife, iWork, Apple TV, etc. Lens correction and digital noise reduction... LR wins. However, if you try to play the "features" game... you will likely find it is like watching a tennis match.

    I have purchased both A3 and LR4, and my favorite is Aperture 3. I would choose A3 even if the price for the two products was reversed. Others feel equally strong about LR. If you are undecided, flip a coin.

    Once you have used a DAM for a while... you will probably find that you almost never need to do any editing beyond what your DAM will provide. If you want to further... buying plug-ins (ex Nik Software) is a great way to take your photography a major step forward. Personally... I think plug-ins are the next best photo software investment. Nik plug-ins are available for A3/LR for about $250.

    Finally, you also might find that you want an editor for that sub 1% of your best photos. There are inexpensive editors such Pixelmator or PSE that can fill that need or desire.

  9. mindquest macrumors regular

    Oct 25, 2009
    Would love to know if anyone's opinions will change once they try the updated Aperture out yesterday? Hopefully less buggy!

    Any thoughts are appreciated!
  10. MCAsan macrumors 601


    Jul 9, 2012
    For the lowest initial cost, get Aperture. You can also get plugins from Nik, OnOne...etc. to use with it at a later time.

    If in the future you decide to go LR instead, you will not be out any serious amount of money and you will know how to use LR from using Aperture.

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