Seeking help on applications to improve storage, editing and workflow

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by DrivinWest, Mar 2, 2013.

  1. DrivinWest macrumors regular

    Jun 17, 2007
    Republic of Texas
    I've just purchased my first DSLR (a Canon 6D) and am starting to learn to take better shots and edit/improve the best of them. Up until now I've just used iPhoto to manage my library and occasionally used its enhancement features to make minor improvements to my photos.

    I'm now in need of some big boy software to manage my photos. I have Photoshop Elements 11 and the Elements Organizer. I have imported my entire iPhoto library to Elements Organizer but not sure if this is the route I want to take.

    I want to be able to import my photos into a management program of some kind, then go in an edit the ones I want and have it keep everything in the same place. I'd like to keep the originals. My editing goes a bit further than the iPhoto basics as I've been using Elements to remove skin blemishes, etc.

    Aperture? Lightroom? Are these worth considering for use in conjunction with Photoshop Elements? Is the feature set of Lightroom redundant given I already have Elements Organizer? If I decide to go to Lightroom in the future, will the work I've put into categorizing/organizing in Elements Organizer port over or will I have to start over again?

    Related question: Over the years I've imported lots of old photos into iPhoto. Unable to differentiate events, it simply dumped most of the photos into its black box and I had to pull them out and put them into albums.

    Is there a smarted way to do this? It looks like I'll have to repeat the process with Elements Organizer.

    Any direction is much appreciated!
  2. VirtualRain macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    You'll likely get a variety of recommendations to either stick with Elements or switch to Aperture or Lightroom. While this advice will probably be good, the best thing you can probably do is take the time to download an evaluation of both Aperture and Lightroom and run some of your fav photos through all three solutions and evaluate them based on what feels right to you, what requires the least effort, and what photo organization model seems to work best for you.

    All of these programs offer great photo management and adjustment tools. They are probably more similar than different, but there are enough subtle differences that may delight you or frustrate you when working with dozens of shots... and only an evaluation is going to tell you which one is best for your workflow.
  3. Mike in Kansas macrumors 6502a

    Mike in Kansas

    Sep 2, 2008
    Metro Kansas City
    Photoshop Elements is primarily a pixel level editor. Aperture and Lightroom are both workflow manager /DAM coupled with editing capability. They are not necessarily replacements for each other.

    I have gravitated to using Aperture as my DAM and Pixelmator (pixel editor similar to Photoshop Elements) for those very few times I need to edit at the pixel level. Both Aperture and Lightroom offer "round tripping" in that they export the image out to another program, you make your edits, and then it brings it back in, keeping both the original and new version. Aperture and Lightroom also offer "non-destructive" editing, in that your original remains untouched and your edits exist as instruction sets and only become "pictures" when they are exported out of the DAM.

    I believe that the Photoshop Browser interacts with the file system and all of your images and edits exist in folders. You can get to your images right from the browser. In Aperture and Lightroom the file system exists "behind the scenes" and your images are in a Library; you get to your images by interacting with the Library and exporting them when you need them. This is a major paradigm shift that some folks can't get over, so make sure you are comfortable with this before deciding on a system.

    One last thing - Aperture and iPhoto now have a unified library system. You can open your Aperture library in iPhoto and your iPhoto library in Aperture. I still use both - I have my Photostream sync with iPhoto, and I also use iPhoto for web snaps and other images I didn't shoot on my cameras. iPhoto also offer some nice creative tools and templates that Aperture doesn't, so I keep both around.
  4. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    VirtualRain makes a very good recommendation above, and I endorse their approach. I would also add that there are some complete threads in this section of MR (digital photography) and I would suggest you search and read some of them to get a sense of how Lightroom/Aperture edit differently than Elements/Pixelmator/Photoshop/etc It is a really important distinction - destructive vs non-destructive editing.

    Finally, I would also point out that there is 3rd option, Capture One v7. It is the probably the most expensive of the bunch, but my personal belief is that the editing tools are the most powerful of the 3 while the organizing tools are the weakest. It has a trial version, I believe. But check the price first... it may eliminate itself from consideration just on that.
  5. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Aperture works well. What you do is specify a "default editor" in preferences. This can by "Elements" then from within Aperture you double click to get that mage in Elements then when you save from Elements the edited image goes back in to the Aperture library. It is pretty much seamless.

    Yu are still thinking like a MS Windows user, that photos must be in some kind of containers like a folder. Don't bother with that. What you do is tag the photos with tags, cations and keywords and dates. In other words you add meta-data. Then you can make "smart folders" in Aperture that contan all the phots of "Mary" or all the ones taken in San Francisco. Then as you tage more phots with "Mary" that will automatically apear in the correct smart folders. Also, and this is the KEY REASON to do this, a photo can exist in MANY smart folders at the same time but exists physically on the disk only once.

    Libraries have been using this system for books for a long time. They have one book but each book has multiple catalog cards for subject, author and title. Maybe several of each card. Apertures (and Photo) call the collection a "library" for a reason.
  6. DrivinWest thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 17, 2007
    Republic of Texas
    Many thanks to all for the replies. This food for thought has been quite helpful!

    One thing I didn't ask is about cloud backup. I've been using SugarSync which has been great for document files. It will backup the iPhoto library container file, but it spouts some warning about issues with restoring the library. I suspect Lightroom's more traditional folder structure won't pose such a problem?

    I spent some time with Lightroom this morning and it seems to fit the bill quite well. I'll still need to get my head around a few things but I thought it was a fairly easy system to use. I imported my iPhoto library which resulted in two photo libraries - clearly not enexpected, but a challenge nonetheless. Simply using a unified Aperture/iPhoto library would be nice.

    Alas, I tried to download Aperture but it seems that Apple has discontinued the 30-day trial which is extremely disappointing. That is probably a dealbreaker right there.

    I live a mere two blocks from the Houston Center for Photography, a non-profit that promotes the art. In their list of classes they have courses on Lightroom which may be worth a shot. No such equivalent for Aperture (but perhaps at my local Apple store?).

    Between the lack of an Aperture trial and the opportunity to take local classes with Lightroom, I think my decision is made. Now I just need to find the best way to import my iPhoto library.

    Thanks again!
  7. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Sounds like you are well on the way to making a decision. I will just comment on the backup thing. I use a cheap USB2 external HDD to back up to. Actually several, but only one is connected at a time. I use SuperDuper! to make a nightly cloned backup. There are other products (like Carbon Copy Cloner) that do the same thing. Because it happens at 3am, I don't need speed. I have several HDDs, one of which is in a safety deposit box. That one is my "house burned down" backup. The other ones that aren't connected are just in case - for travel - etc.

    If I ever need to use my backup photos I am willing to wait for a USB2 connect to recover, but I'm not willing to wait for the internet speed to recover my photos. YMMV, of course... but after a year of monthly subscription payments you are well on the way to buying local backup storage if your space needs are small. Mine are way beyond the "starting at" prices quoted.
  8. Photoshopper macrumors regular


    Mar 24, 2010
    People on this forum seem to favor Aperture, but I can definitely recommend Lightroom, esp. the latest version. Besides all the file management, import/export pluses, the image editing is excellent-- I find myself using PS less and less with each new LR release.
  9. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    I agree.... but I would also add that people on this forum seem to prefer Aperture for it's interface and GUI, and those who express an opinion for Lightroom seem to prefer the image quality they can get with Lightroom.

    For the record I'm in the Lightroom 4 camp, though I'm trying to learn Capture One v7.
  10. macrumors newbie

    Dec 23, 2005
    Another Votefor Aperture

    While to the uninitiated Lightroom appears to have a more "traditional" folder stack based asset management system, you can run the same sort of " referenced" file management in Aperture if you choose to. It is too big a subject to get into deep detail here, but Aperture has much more powerful image management tools than Lightroom (Projects that contain individual shoots, folders to gather Projects or Albums at any level, Albums and Smart Albums that also can resided "inside" Projects or folders. Books, and Sludeshows treated as Albums). Aperture integrates other Apple application in iLife and iWork. It shares Libraries with iPhoto. You can switch between Libraries instantly without having to quit and restart the program. While there are a couple of specific tools in LR that aren't yet in Aperture, you can accomplish 99% of everything you need, and Aperture supports plugins for anything else you need, and it "round trips" to third party "pixel" editors such as Elements, Photoshop, Pixelmato, etc. moreover, it has a tremendously powerful "Book" creation module, and a Slideshow editor that allows creation of true multimedia with both video and stills, with iPhoto style Ken Burns effects and transitions, and a multi layer sound track. While it does not have a "trial" version anymore, it only costs $79 through the Apple store. And if you buy the book "Aperure 3" by Dion Scappettuolo, and work through the exercises in the first seven chapters, you will be up to speed very quickly. Oh, I forgot my favorite feature. The non-modal interface, and the "real" full screen editor!
  11. r.harris1 macrumors 6502a


    Feb 20, 2012
    Denver, Colorado, USA
    I'm in the camp that believes you can get outstanding image quality from both Lightroom and Aperture (or Capture or DXO or...). I think many folks prefer a particular workflow over another (i.e. what you can do "out-of-the-box" in the various applications) or maybe one DAM style over another and would drive a decision...but image quality wise, the tools today are sophisticated enough that one should be able to obtain stellar image quality from virtually any of the major players. How you get there from a given tool is another story :).

    I'm working a lot more with Capture One v7 myself - love it so far!
  12. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Is it possible you are thinking about older versions of Lightroom? I can create a Collection Set (Lightroom's 'Collections' being Aperture's 'Albums'). In Collection Set I can drag Collections, Smart Collections, Saved Prints, Slideshows, etc. I can also drag a Collection Set into another Collection Set.

    In my case I have Collections Sets for my My Projects and one for Clients (among others.) Inside each of these Collection Sets I have other Collection Sets for each Project and each Client. Inside of these Collection Sets I may have the full range of 'things' that Lightroom can create.... Collections, Smart Collections, Slideshows, Saved Prints. I haven't yet created a Saved Web Gallery, but I'm betting I could save it into a Collection Set.

    I don't use Aperture enough to compare the two meaningfully for organizing images, but I know I can do everything in Lightroom that was in the list above.
    Yes, that is true. Something to point out (for others reading this) is that iPhoto and Aperture have very nice built in template system for building and ordering photo books. It is worth noting that iPhoto and Aperture have different book templates. At least that was true about a year ago. My mine use now for Aperture and iPhoto is to access the book templates.
    Lightroom as well.
    Not trying to pick an argument... just trying to clarify some perhaps outdated info so that other people reading this in the future get more up to date feature comparison.

    Fair enough, and for the most part I agree. I was just pointing out what the general trend of comments on MR in this regard. And I should point out that this is a personal observation.
    Absolutely! And I believe that while a particular package may have 'better' tools, if someone doesn't like using them because of the interface then they are likely not getting the full benefit regardless. The interface can play as important role in the final image quality as the tools themselves.
  13. twitch31 macrumors regular

    Feb 12, 2013
    There is no “trial version” of Aperture anymore, not since it was moved to the App Store. There is a trial version of Lightroom though.

    For many reasons I find LR to be better than Aperture having switched to LR after using Aperture for years. I wish I'd gone with it earlier.

    My advice is to trial Lightroom and buy it if you like it. Only if you really don’t like LR then buy Aperture and go with it. You can keep using PSE as your pixel editor, however LR really does an outstanding job of developing photos.
  14. dmax35 macrumors 6502

    Jun 21, 2012
    I agree 100% Lightroom is a great product and has worked great for my HDR learnings.

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