Lightroom PM Tom Hogarty has posted some info about how Lightroom & Aperture compare in terms of enabling image editing via add-on code. Being addicted to bulleted lists, here’s my summary of where things stand:
- Pound for pound & click for click, "external editor presets" in Lightroom 2 and "plug-ins" in Aperture are the same thing. In both cases you pick the external engine that you want to use on your image; jump into that editing environment to make adjustments; and return to your LR/Aperture library with an edited bitmap image that sits alongside your original raw file. You get the same results with the same number of clicks.
- Unlike Aperture, LR doesn’t require developers to rewrite code to work as a plug-in. Instead, it simply lets external apps open/save image data as they normally would. Less work for developers should translate into more options, sooner, for photographers
- Perhaps ironically, if you’re using external code like Nik’s Viveza plug-in (available as both a Photoshop & an Aperture plug-in), you’ll retain more editability by bouncing your image to Photoshop and doing the edit there. Photoshop CS3 adds support for Smart Filters, meaning you can go back and tweak your Viveza (or noise reduction, or lens correction, etc.) settings even after sending the results back to your library.
- If what you’re after is local image editing (e.g. dodging and burning), Lightroom already offers that as a native part of its development pipeline–no rasterization or external edit required.
- If what you’re after is Photoshop integration, the Lightroom-Photoshop story is unmatched:
- The jump is faster and doesn’t require creation of an intermediate TIFF/PSD just to open a file in PS. (Instead the raw file goes through the Camera Raw pipeline, preserving your LR edits.)
- You can open your raw file as a Smart Object and apply filters to it, preserving the editability of your raw settings and of the filters.
- You can pass multiple files to Photoshop at once to create panoramas, HDR merges, or multi-layer PSDs. This works especially well with virtual copies of the same image, making it possible to composite together multiple raw renderings. Lightroom + Photoshop is the ultimate 1-2 punch.