Aperture vs. Lightroom: What do the pros use?

It’s been exactly two years since Apple threw its hat into the professional photography ring with the introduction of Aperture.  Adobe responded shortly thereafter with the introduction of Lightroom.  So, how does the pro photography market look now?
InfoTrends recently surveyed 1,026 professional photographers in North America to determine which software they used for raw file processing.  Here’s what folks reported: 

  • 66.5% using the Photoshop Camera Raw plug-in
  • 23.6% using Lightroom
  • 5.5% using Aperture

To be fair to Aperture, it might be helpful to remove Windows users from the equation for a moment.  Even after doing so, Lightroom’s usage among Mac-based pros is still nearly double that of Aperture (26.6% vs. 14.3%).

It’s also worth pointing out that photographers haven’t started to abandon Photoshop as a result of using tools such as Lightroom.  (Photoshop usage overall remains in the 90% range.)  The vast majority of photographers seem to understand pretty clearly the different nature & roles of the apps, and they continue to view Photoshop as a must-have part of any serious arsenal.

Lightroom is clearly off to a tremendous start, and everyone here is really pleased & grateful to the photography community for such a warm welcome.

0 thoughts on “Aperture vs. Lightroom: What do the pros use?

  1. It should come as no news to anyone actually aware what kind of applications Lightroom and Aperture are. They only slightly overlap and instead complement heavy duty pixel-pushing applications such as Photoshop.
    I’d love a more open library format from Apple and Adobe, so sharing projects and changes between these to applications could be easier.
    [Unlike Aperture, Lightroom has never sucked your images into a single data file. It’s always provided the option to leave files where you’ve put them, or to copy or move them to a specified location. LR can easily write metadata & settings to each file (Cmd/Ctrl-S), and the DNG format enables saving a preview rendering right within the raw file. And, of course, all this stuff is readable between Photoshop and Lightroom, on Mac and on Windows.
    So, I’m not sure how LR could be more open than it’s being, though we’d welcome suggestions. –J.]

  2. To be fair to Aperture, include Windows using pros. They’re no less relevant. Are Fox recruiting?
    [I’m not sure what that last bit is supposed to mean. My goal in listing the Mac stats separtely was to avoid Mac users thinking, “Well, you’re being unfair (not comparing apples to Apples) by including a platform on which Aperture doesn’t compete. Show us the apps going head-to-head on Mac.” Which I then did. –J.]

  3. This is interesting to me for the following reasons.
    I brought Lightroom as soon as it came out after having a great time with the Beta. However I have evaluated both [Aperture] in normal workflow situations including the same images in both libraries. And have settled on the Lightroom for the following reasons (and believe me it is still a tough call I think as to which is best for me at least)
    1. Clearly the performance of Lightroom is far beyond that of Aperture on the same machine, 2gb ram core duo blah blah. For some reason Aperture is slow regardless of library size, even the screen refresh can be testing at times (yes I’ve done my homework and tried all the how to speed up Aperture tweaks).
    2. Lightroom is quicker to get around navigation wise, Aperture has done a good job but Lightroom clearly shows the attention to detail that extensive discussions with photographers and beta testers shows in every day usage.
    3. DNG support (yeah I know that’s a duh! But Aperture claims DNG support and to describe it as painful is an understatement, personally I’ve found it to be totally useless). Now it is fair to say that I can just use my raw cr2 files in Aperture, but given my addiction to using Photoshop for everything DNG support is kinda important to me in my ‘just get it done’ workflow.
    4. The one thing that Aperture appears to have the edge on though is in the area of highlight reclaiming. It may be that I do it wrong in Lightroom, but after extensive trials in both apps I’ve found that Aperture can recapture things like skies much better than Lightroom (which I assume means Camera RAW), it just seems more natural when done in Aperture.
    5. Lightroom’s ability to let me move projects/libraries among machines and suck them back into my master library (1.1 update). I could be really unfair here and say that I have PC’s and Mac’s so that is a huge plus for Lightroom, but for the sake of argument lets assume I’m talking two Mac’s and not a multi platform workflow.
    6. Lightroom’s print module is heaven sent, by far the best way to go about printing that I’ve ever come across. And believe me I’ve used more than a few applications thru out the years 🙂
    More than anything though for me it’s the speed and response of the application, and Aperture is way too heavy in the system usage/resources area compared to other applications that do similar tasks. If Aperture could run as smoothly as Lightroom I would say the choice of application is a lot harder.
    All that said, it will be interesting to see what an Aperture 2.0 might offer, they may learn a lot from seeing Lightroom until then, Adobe totally did their homework and released a ground breaking Photo management/review/editing application.
    [Thanks for the feedback, Peter. –J.]

  4. I second the thanks to all the folks who participated in the development of Lightroom.
    You all made a big difference in what we delivered, and are continuing to influence our direction.
    Hats off to the photographers who made Lightroom a better product!

  5. The system requirements for Aperture are also fairly substantial leaving many folks who don’t have the latest hardware on their desks the only real option of Lightroom.

  6. I’ve used both, but settled on Lightroom. These are different animals, as far as I can tell. Lightroom is a warmed over iphoto, meaning that it is a jpeg workflow with a database to manage raw files while it is my understanding that Aperture has the computer do all of the heavy lifting in real time. Lightroom slows down if you disable previews. I respect Apple’s more elegant solution, but in the end, lightroom is the better choice for me.

  7. I’ve used both (plus Bridge) and am still using iView (I’ve paid for each, so I’m willing to try them over the long run).
    Lightroom is sort of close to making portable “catalog” files (that can be Save As’d to other locations and other people) but right now you can’t open more than one at a time (so no drag and drop, no working on separate projects at the same time).
    Since Microsoft took over iView, I’ll have to make a final decision between LR and Aperture in a year or so. iView still does all that’s needed (for now), and Apple is probably coming out with a v2 of Aperture later this year.
    Even so, Adobe does not have to fear loosing money on LR. I won’t trust my meta-data migrations until I’m really really sure…

  8. I think it’s understandable that Lightroom has more users… it’s cross platform, for one thing, and thus some set of even Mac users are likely to avoid Aperture.
    [Well, being able to share one’s work across platforms & apps can certainly be advantageous. –J.]
    Also, with as much blathering as the NAPP folks do about it (as if no other solution existed), it’s no wonder.
    I like both, but I gotta say that Aperture kicks the pants off Lightroom in several areas, and that’s why I use it. The big differences center primarily around workflow, organization, and customization. Aperture’s plethora of really spot-on workflow options (such as the primary-only mode toggle) work for my disorganized mind. The UI layout is very customizable and adjustable to the task at hand. The loupe is brilliant and works in every context, even on thumbnails. And so on.
    I would encourage Adobe to really dig deep into Aperture and see what makes it tick… IMO Lightroom is Camera Raw on steroids, but fails in the workflow department, and I’d love it if it became competitive there (I’ve used Lightroom quite a bit, but just find it way too constricting for my core workflow).
    [Thanks for the feedback. These apps are young, and I wouldn’t claim that Lightroom is perfect. (Is anything?) The good thing is that photographers have been providing lots of ideas and comments, both big & small. I think we’ve got lots of good guidance as we move forward. –J.]

  9. Hi,
    I think there’s still to much of an overlap between Camera Raw and LR, so I’m waiting for LR2.
    I hope it combines the DAM features of iView, with DxO Optics features which I think are superb!
    Also, a geat plus would be the option to shoot directly & fast, straight from LR, that is to say, getting Camera companies to help make that possible through plug-ins.
    That would make it a great Capture-Process with optical corrections-DAM solution and would make the need for 3-4 softwares for each workflow redundant.
    I applaud LR for cross-platform support, what would make it fantastic would be support for Linux too.

  10. Let’s not get too cocky.
    [To be clear, the goal isn’t at all to get cocky, as I think that’s the last thing that anyone needs or wants from Adobe. As I say, these apps are young entrants into a dynamic part of the market, and to be sure, there’s plenty of room to improve Lightroom. Adobe needs to stay hungry.
    Having said all that, I thought photographers would be interested in getting a snapshot of where the various apps stand in terms of marketplace adoption. –J.]
    I switched from Aperture to Lightroom because Aperture is too slow on my hardware and because I prefer Camera Raw’s raw decoding. That said, I despise Lightroom’s GUI — it’s fugly and modal — and spend as little time in there as possible. Once I’ve made my JPEGs I hightail it to iPhoto where I do all of my organization, cropping and final tweaks. If I could, I’d write some kind of Automator action or AppleScript which would funnel my raws through Lightroom and send the JPEGs into iPhoto automatically, so that I never even had to look at that hideous Lightroom GUI.
    I think Lightroom is doing well (compared to Aperture) because it’s basically riding Camera Raw’s popularity. The specific things that Lightroom brings to the table don’t amount to much, except maybe for its printing module, but then I never make physical prints, so. . . .
    At one time I was content to use Camera Raw in Photoshop, but have since decided that software authorizations are pants and are an inconvenience and an insult to honest customers. I now no longer use any Adobe software except for Lightroom, and if Lightroom in a later release requires authorizing, I’ll opt to upgrade my hardware and switch back to Aperture rather than paying Adobe money to be insulted.
    So there! 😉
    Incidentally, even if you use Aperture’s vaults feature (and I did because I don’t see why the burden of file management should be placed on the user), your images are not really sucked into “a single data file.” Vaults are really just OS X packages, and packages are really just folder hierarchies which you can navigate using the Finder.

  11. I’m not sure how LR could be more open than it’s being, though we’d welcome suggestions. –J
    Prod Apple to hurry up with an SDK for Aperture and then sell a version of Camera Raw as a swap-in raw converter for Aperture. I’d go for that in a heartbeat.

  12. @Jeremey – if by ‘primary-only’ mode, you mean just having the master shots in your grid and no virtuals, there is a switch bottom left of the Lightroom viewport which does just that – good for my disorganised mind too. What I tend to do is identify the shots for a particular purpose, say a mini-slideshow for the client, then make a collection with virtual copies. Then I simply display just that collection. When working with the whole library I have that switch set to Masters-only.

  13. Not going on to far of a tanget, I have a comment to John’s comment:
    LR can easily write metadata & settings to each file (Cmd/Ctrl-S), and the DNG format enables saving a preview rendering right within the raw file.
    When you make the edits, are these edits saved in the DNG file or the catalog? I thought they were saved in the DNG file. If it’s saved in the catalog, is there a global setting for it to save it in the DNG file. It is going to be a PITA doing it over several thousand negatives. That might explain an issue I am having trying to use image magick to script out some of my JPG processing from the DNG’s.
    [By default, settings are stored only in the catalog & are not written out to the files until you choose to synchronize them (via Metadata->Save Metadata to File, or Cmd-/Ctrl-S). This is done for performance reasons: it’s much faster to write numerous settings to a single database than to numerous separate images on disk. I’m pretty sure that there’s a preference for automatically synching settings to files, but I’m short on time at the moment, so I’ll have to try to track it down in a bit. –J.]

  14. “[Unlike Aperture, Lightroom has never sucked your images into a single data file. It’s always provided the option to leave files where you’ve put them, or to copy or move them to a specified location. ]”
    Let’s be clear here, Aperture doesn’t store your images in a “single data file” – they are right there for everyone to see…
    [Has this changed? I remember that in 1.0, imported images went into a single package (one that I don’t remember being able to browse from Photoshop’s Open dialog, for instance), and I don’t remember any options to handle them differently. –J.]
    and i’ve never understood why this is such a “negative” to many people about Aperture… Aperture is about workflow not managing each individual file. I don’t care where the heck Aperture puts them (as long as i can get to them if i need to which is true). I want to visually manage them with a management tool, not play around in the operating systems file management system
    Aperture rocks for management of my images.

  15. Sorry I was a bit sharp there John. But the many Windows-using pros need to be included because this group turn over their hardware often enough that they could switch to Mac if Aperture was compelling enough (hardware sales its main purpose, surely not). So it struck me as a Fox-like gerrymandering to say “to be fair to Aperture, it might be helpful to remove Windows users”. One could equally say “even among Mac users, who might be expected to be prejudiced towards Apple, LR has double the users”. That would be Fox.
    [That’s cool. I just didn’t want to seem to be stacking the deck unfairly. –J.]
    I run both OS’s and have both apps. I like Aperture’s loupe and smart folders – the latter’s absence makes LR1 feel dumbed down and simply unprofessional in a database app. OTOH LR wins for basic speed, background processing, b&w options, handling of XMP metadata (can’t believe Aperture doesn’t since it’s got Portfolio DNA). I’d also question the DAM credentials of a single platform app.

  16. John, do you have a link to this InfoTrends study? I failed to find it with my interweb searching expertise.
    [I’m working now to see what other data I can share, Chris. InfoTrends sells survey info like this to its subscribers, including Adobe. Therefore I’m not free just to post the whole thing here. I’m talking with those folks, however, to figure out the best way to proceed. (The whole process is new to me.) –J.]
    I’m surprised CaptureOne isn’t on there at all, though I guess there’s still a 4.4% remainder to divide up amongst the rest of the photographers. The majority of professional studio photographers I’ve talked to seem to use CaptureOne, which makes me wonder where they got their sample of photographers.
    [Ah–I’m seeing that I should have added additional clarification to the post. The percentages aren’t exclusive of one another (i.e. people could check more than one box), and it doesn’t mean that other raw converters aren’t used. I wanted to focus the blog post on LR vs. Aperture specifically, so I omitted the other software out there (not because it doesn’t matter, but because it’s not relevant to the comparsion I’m making here). –J.]

  17. In response to Mitch and John…. In it’s current version Aperture does not require that images be stored inside it’s database. They can reside anywhere you want them to.
    And Mitch is correct in that if you do opt to have them inside Aperture’s database they are easily accessible. For example dragging the database file into iView will show the contents or you can get to the contents via a right/control click. You can also have Aperture export out the raw files and it’s extremely speedy at doing so.
    John – to mention this, “Unlike Aperture, Lightroom has never sucked your images into a single data file,” is kind of silly. I can just as easily point out some of Lightroom’s flaws when it shipped. For example it had no way to merge databases. So, if you shot with a laptop on location, edited and worked on the files in Lightroom on location, when you got back to the studio there was not a simple way to merge all the work into the Lightroom database on your studio desktop computer. Yet at that point Lightroom was promoted as a “pro” tool. I know this has since been fixed with an update but that’s my point – so has the Aperture issue you cite.
    [Fair points, Jon. For what it’s worth, I mentioned the early (and now fixed, evidently) limitation of Aperture not in order to lay a cheap shot on the product, but to try to address the point about the openness of the data structure. I wanted to make the point that from the very beginning Lightroom has stored files in an easily visible way. I remember photographers expressing considerable concern about Aperture copying their assets into a format that other apps couldn’t read, so it’s good to hear that things are more flexible now. And none of this is to say that Lightroom is or was perfect, or that it & Aperture haven’t made improvements. I hope that adds a little clarity to where I was coming from in making the reference. –J.]
    FWIW, I am a professional photographer and I use Aperture and am extremely happy with it. I prefer it’s conversions over those created by Camera Raw and Lightroom and I prefer it’s workflow and GUI. I have recent Macs, Mac Pro and Macbook Pro, so performance is not an issue. I was a beta-tester for ACR and part of a Lightroom “select feedback” group (don’t know if Adobe called it “beta” or not) and very much enjoyed being able to provide input. Adobe gave me a complimentary copy of Lightroom, which was very generous, but I’ve been using Aperture and the v1 box of Lightroom sits unopened because Lightroom’s database issue in v1 was a dealbreaker for me and my other preferences mentioned above.

  18. @Tim: no, primary-only is a “mode toggle” that determines the behavior when you have multiple images selected. If primary-only is enabled, any changes you make apply only to the primary selection (one image), which you can easily change amongst all the selected images. If it is disabled, changes apply to all selected images.
    This is massively useful for me, because I often select a bunch of images and then realize that I want to change something on one or two, or add keywords, or something, without losing my selection.

  19. John, Aperture currently supports two file management methods, same as Lightroom pretty much… leave them where they are, or copy them into the “library”. Aperture’s “library” is a folder on disk, but it is treated as a single file in the Finder by default (you can open it as a folder, though, but I’m not sure why you would).
    I think that came in 1.5, so 10-11 months ago?
    [Something like that, which is probably why the details have grown foggy for me. Thanks for the clarification. –J.]
    I prefer the “let Aperture manage it” approach, FWIW. File management is what I’m trying to get away from.
    Thanks for the discussion!

  20. hi,
    I have both, and ironically find the loupe in Bridge to be the best and most intuitive.
    I use a MacBook Pro, loaded with max ram, 3Gig, and am surprised to find that Aperture seems faster than either Lightroom or Bridge.
    Because I use the laptop with a 23″ monitor next to it, the best workflow in Aperture is to have my thumbnails on the laptop, and the selected image or images on the 23″ monitor. I am surprised and disappointed that Lightroom can only use one screen. This reason alone has stopped some of my friends from using it. Why haven’t you guys added this ability?

  21. As a photographer who hasn’t found Lightroom or Aperture compelling, it’s nice to see that the largest number of Pros questioned aren’t using either, but are using CameraRaw. I think Lightroom fits some users workflow, but I believe the real fight will be between CameraRaw and competing Raw processors like Capture One. I believe the most important consideration for Pro’s will be the quality of the processing algorithms and controls.

  22. John, Aperture has had the ability to used “referenced files” (that is to say, you can have them anywhere, and generate previews for them so you can view previews while offline) since 1.5 shipped, which was almost 1 1/2 years now. So fairly indicative you haven’t looked at the product in quite a while 😉
    As far as the package format not being browseable — it may be that Photoshop can’t browse them… but in that case you could create a smart folder which showed images that were inside the package (ugly, but workable until 1.5 came along).
    Personally I have used both products, and I prefer Aperture’s organization and workflow, but I prefer Lightroom’s editing (Aperture, PLEASE include a curves-like tool, the quarter-tone sliders I am not comfortable with even after 2 years).
    For LR, I really dislike the modality between the Library and Develop modules… sometimes I WANT to add a keyword when I’m in develop (sorry, charlie!) or I WANT to see a highlight warning when in the Library module (that you can see the histogram and not highlight/shadow warnings is a cruel joke 🙁

  23. I have found Aperture to be clearly better than Lightroom in zipping through my files, comparing them and making the right selections. The keyboard combinations for the process are much easier to execute without having to adjust the positioning of my hands and/or fingers as much as with Lightroom. I just can’t get the hang of going back to a single image after doing compares in LR. Hit a “Done” button? No keyboard combo for it? Insane!
    The biggest failure of Aperture to this point, and why I’ve switched to Lightroom at work, is the handling of XMP metadata, so that I can go between Aperture and Bridge/Photoshop and have the metadata I want embedded properly – and then have it easily import into Extensis Portfolio (for our department) and our Artesia Teams DAM (for the company).
    Metadata should be metadata should be metadata across ALL platforms! So far, between Adobe apps is the best solution. Why can’t there be one standardized set of fields and field names? (Grrrrrrrrrr!!!!!)
    ACR is the other reason. I actually prefer the jpegs that Aperture spits out compared to LR, but I don’t really care about jpegs so much. And with the latest version of ACR having Vibrance and Clarity, there just isn’t another alternative that gives me the control I need to optimize images before I send them into Photoshop (where every photo I send to be published must pass.)
    Generating slide shows and printing prints is irrelevent. I wish I could turn those modules off so I never see them clutter up my UI. I think Lightroom is too modal. I like the HUD in Aperture way better. But Aperture really, really, really needs curves like Lightroom!
    Dang, why couldn’t Apple and Adobe get their heads together and make the perfect app? Apple dsign the UI, Adobe do what it does best with the guts. Now THAT I would buy in a New York minute. (Okay, it’s a silly question, I admit it.)

  24. Eric – you can switch off any modules in Lightroom. Just remove the agmodule files from the application – keep them safe. I wouldn’t bother though – they do no harm.
    I so agree with you about the failure of Aperture to read XMP. It was developed 3-4 years after the XMP standard, and the Product Manager was with Extensis when they implemented it in Portfolio. It’s amazing that Aperture doesn’t read it (if nothing else it would help folk migrate to it) and equally amazing that some users still claim its management features are better than Lightroom. (There are plugins such as Annoture which send Aperture metadata to iView and vice versa).

  25. I’ve used LR through its beta phases and initially I really like it, especially the raw processing. But I’ve become increasingly frustrated with the lack of a clear way to move the files offline to an archive (dvd, external hard-drive etc.) Also I’m finding the modular approach a nuisance – I find myself jumping back and forth when I wish I didn’t have to. Adobe’s logic isn’t my logic. I’ve been studying the videos on Apple’s site and Aperture seems to address these two issues. One, there are simple commands to archive and move files offline and the UI allows you to work in the same window and also a fair degree of customisation. The two major concerns I have with Aperture are the support for DNG and the speed of the program. I have a MacBook Pro so the latter issue might not be a problem. I’m keen to see if Apple address the DNG issue in version 2, which I hope is soon.

  26. I get through on average 8 to 9 thousand Raw files per week on average, processing images for various wedding and function photographers.
    Speed, quality of output and the ability to keep track of projects easily are the reason why I only use Aperture to manage my (referenced) files.
    Of course there are features where Aperture is behind to Lightroom in terms of processing, someone already mentioned curves amongst others but as an image management tool, I can’t fault it.

  27. Does anyone know how to use LR on dual monitors – guess I am spoiled with CS3.
    I have not found the switch – just hoping there is one.

  28. My main interest is seeing Lightroom with books, the way aperture does. But I still like CS3 and not likely to change, for I’m much more into the artistic end of photography and have so much more control with CS3.
    Can’t photoshop add books??? JonL

  29. I only wish we could mix & match. For me, Aperture has a far, far better GUI. Its non-modal approach seems to gel far better with the non-linear mindset that most artists (hence photographers ?) have, rather than the very disciplined, ordered approach that Lightroom pretty much imposes. Aperture puts the photo at the centre, Lightroom puts the tools.
    However, in terms of image quality and adjustment tools (especially the awesome targetted adjustments), LR is way ahead. And that’s the knock out punch to me. I think that trying to match, or beat, the depth of experience and talent that Adobe can draw upon in the image editing is a very, very tall order, and this is where Aperture fails.

  30. Thanks for the info, John. I’ve contacted InfoTrends about the study. They said that it isn’t complete yet and should be available (for purchase) in a few weeks.

  31. Apple in Russia wanted me to push Aperture when the it came out. We installed the software on my powerbook and immediately found out that neither Leica M8, nor Kodak DCS ProBack 645C were recognized. It was pretty embarrassing 🙂
    Lightroom became my workflow management software of choice when it was still a demo. It was not very impressive at the time, but I saw the potential. 1.2 release convinced me fully that I did not make a mistake.

  32. I used to use iview and cap1. I tried to like LR but chose Aperture for the workflow, UI, and the terrific RAW conversions it gives me, with little or no fuss on my part. As long as I have a choice, I will use the product that works best for me, so far that is Aperture.
    I think someone already made the point about NAPP, and you could also pool the PixelGenius cronies in that group as well. So Adobe has better PR support, that doesn’t make their tools better than any others, just better known and ‘endorsed’.

  33. Although I enjoy LR a lot for my workflow, I have to say that the I chose it because the FREE public beta made the difference. Apple lost a lot of sales by not having a trial version earlier.
    By the time they did, I ahd alresdy settled into my LR transition.

  34. I like the latest incarnation of Adobe Camera Raw, and I like Lightroom. If I’ve just got a couple of images I want to work on, I use ACR, if I want to get through a whole load of images quickly, I use Lightroom.
    I’m a PC user, I have never tried Mac, but had a demo of Aperture on Saturday. It looked quite good and ran quickly on a top of the range Powerbook.
    I think Adobe are serving us well with the features in Photoshop CS3 and Lightroom. The only complaint UK users have is the high premium we pay for the privilege with prices up to 70% higher than than those for US users.

  35. I’m not surprised that Lightroom is well under PS in usage by pros. For me LR simply wouldn’t work.
    The two problems are image identification and then storage. I identify my images by assignment, as in “May 4, 2007 Jones/Smith wedding”. Within that assignment I identify no one because a) I can’t b) if I could it would take forever and c) I’ve never been asked later for images of Mr. X. It’s always “The groom’s dad.”
    99% of my business is like this where the client identifies the subject later.
    Then there’s storage. With the files sizes and multiple formats that I’d want to save (RAW, jpeg and more than a few psd’s) I’d need many many TERRABYTES of storage! A typical wedding of mine exceeds nine gig, and I don’t shoot that much!
    Right now my archived commercial images are burned to disk and are sleeved within the client’s physical file. It seems stupid to have a program like Lightroom say “Look in their file” (if it could), so it’s either on a hard drive or useless.
    Now if I was shooting pictorial images for stock then Lightroom would be a much better choice. I would have to use a key word system of some kind, and I would be keeping only the best images, so that’s likely to be well under 1% of the shots taken would dramatically reduce the storage.
    Still I suspect that there are many more pro’s who shoot and file as I do. I also wonder how many pro’s who bought LR are moving away from it. If LR were just a plug in for Photoshop, in the way that Camera RAW or Bridge are, then there would be some utility in it for me when I get into my pretty picture mode. But LR has little utility for me as an extra, and relatively expensive piece of software within my current business practice.

  36. A few followups to some comments:
    1) Aperture has always stored images that go “inside the Aperture Library” in a package, you could always browse them with Finder. Thus people worried about “loosing” images need not have; they were always there to be extracted as you needed them.
    2) As far as openness goes, both Aperture and Lightroom use the same database which can be read by third party tools. Both use XML sidecar files with proprietary tags to represent edits (look inside your “standard” XMP file sometime and think about how a non-Adobe app is supposed to know what to do with those editing tags). Only Aperture guarantees there will always be an XML sidecar file for every image since you can turn that off in Lightroom (and many advise doing so for performance).
    3) If you think Aperture is missing Curves you have not played around enough with Aperture Levels with quarter-tone controls enabled. Aperture Levels are a different way of thinking about Curves and an approach I think that is easier to understand for someone not used to traditional Photoshop. Also, you can adjust both luminance and color Levels controls in the same image…
    4) Aperture adjustments only LOOK slower. If you are trying to adjust images at a 100% view to examine effects on fine detail, you’ll find that Lightroom quarters the resolution of images to apply the effect quickly, then after some time finishes processing and displays the adjusted full-resolution images. Aperture is always changing images in real time. Also, the recent Leopard/1.6 update helped Aperture speed somewhat.
    5) I found in the overall lifecycle of a project (shooting a number of images, evaluating, and outputting) that Aperture was faster overall.
    6) Only Aperture has true multiple monitor support (and really good support at that with very useful modes).

  37. Well I haven’t used Lightroom yet, but the fact that Apple (stupidly) does not support the RAW format coming from my Lumix DMC-FZ8K certainly has me looking at the alternatives. As it is now, to get any of those RAW photos to work with iPhoto/Aperture I need to convert them to DNG (using Adobe’s app) and then funk around with MOSX System settings. It’s not pretty, and I’d venture to say I’m not alone in looking for an alternative to Aperture because of issues like this one.

  38. So, I’m not sure how LR could be more open than it’s being, though we’d welcome suggestions.
    Support plug-ins! Of critical importance to me are plug-ins for scanning, so I can scan high-bit-depth images straight into Lightroom.
    The other critical one is for lens corrections tools – that correct lens distortions, or remap fisheye images, for example.
    It’s a total pain-in-the-ass to have to go to Photoshop for that stuff. It would be way better if I could simply apply lens corrections to all the images in my LR library that use the same lens.
    Likewise with scanning, it’s a pain to scan in Photoshop, and then import the files into Lightroom.

  39. David Grandy, I’ve not used Lightroom, but Aperture would handle that workflow just fine. It supports rolling libraries/archives, even on disconnected drives. No need to keep every wedding on line. The value it provides is an integrated library for reference (the metadata) and amazing sort facilities.
    LR and Aperture have both failed to explain their products adequately to pros. Its a shame to see internecine war between two similar products that should be fighting the same good fight.
    Also disappointing to see some of the same myths about Aperture propagated here once again, such as the library chestnut.

  40. First off, I just wanted to say how very capable Apple’s Aperture software is for its abilities in editing and organizing digital photos. Apple have done a great job with it, they truly have!
    However I feel that Adobe’s Lightroom
    software (which does exactly the same thing) has 3 major advantages that I know of over Aperture:-
    Firstly, and most importantly Lightroom lets photographers save their original files in a none proprietry format that should be compatable with future versions of Camera Raw and Photoshop, – the DNG Format, I’m not sure if Apple are planning on going that way with Aperture.
    Secondly, LR plays nicer with Photoshop, even Photoshop Elements when it comes to working with the digital photos, because ANY changes that are made are then reflected in either program without fuss, and with a direct link to Phototshop without leaving Lightroom no less.
    Finally, I also feel that this could be another major factor in LR’s popularity – the fact that it actually WILL run on some of Apple’s older machines such as mine, and without a major performance penalty no less! I’ve tried the LR Demo.
    Aperture in stark contrast needs AT LEAST a 1.25GHz G4 Mac with 1GB of Memory installed to run, at all I might add. Even then it can be quite tasking on the poor old G4 processor and graphics card, unless you are running it on a MacIntel or G5 with enough memory.

  41. Sorry, but where in Infotrend does say that? I have look and serach their website but cannot find that information.
    [As I noted above, the InfoTrends study is not yet publicly available. More data from it can be found on the Imaging Resource site. If I can get a green light to share more data from the study, I’ll post it here. –J.]

  42. Wow… Talk about misinformation. This statement about Aperture sucking images is completely absurd and incorrect. How much have you even used the application? I’ve used both.
    Aperture has, as long as I can remember allowed one to leave images where they are or where ever you want them for that fact in what ever custom named folders you want them.
    [That was not, as far as I remember, the case in v1.0, which is where I spent the most time. Customers brought up this concern over and over, which is (AFAIK) why Apple changed the requirement in 1.5. My statement is therefore neither absurd nor incorrect.
    Lightroom, by contrast, has never required you to move your images, and it’s never packed them into a container (which is not browsable by other tools).
    I hope I’m just being paranoid in sensing a trend towards efforts to question my integrity/credibility as a way of questioning the findings of an independent third party. That would be really, really unfortunate. –J.]
    You can transfer the entire library to another hard drive or just pull out a project for editing somewhere else on the network.
    The Aperture Library (CUBE with LENS icon) you see is not a “single file” as most people call it. It’s a file package easily openable by “Control Clicking the icon” to “Open Package Contents”. (A commonly used Apple files package format) It contains XML and information regarding projects. It’s easily accessible and easy to back up. Upon importing images you can specify whether you want them in the Library or in it’s own folder named by project, date, serial or custom folder naming conventions as well as a whole host of file naming conventions as well as meta data stamping. Again all in their original or custom folder. ; )
    [Unlike Aperture, Lightroom has never sucked your images into a single data file. It’s always provided the option to leave files where you’ve put them, or to copy or move them to a specified location.]

  43. Love the debate….
    Firstly, I’m not sure how LR can consider itself a professional application when it can only support one screen!!!!!! This MUST be fixed ASAP
    Secondly, I canload my images straight into Aperture and be selling them immediately (I’m a portrait photographer). It is very good for it’s workflow in that respect. I always go to Photoshop to finalise my images however. The adjustments within Aperture range from good to VERY good.
    HOWEVER…. even on a fast machine it is slow (I got 256 VRAM over 2 screens). Apple MUST fix this. This is a big problem.
    Another problem is I’m considering buying a Kodak 645c and am not sure it supports or can even handle that?? (sometimes apps can handle thins but not support them!)
    So do i have to use LR for that workflow and sacrifice one screen???
    That’s stupid.
    Like everything it’s all about compromise. But I’ll go whichever makes me more money.

  44. Like William there, I have enjoyed the discourse, which seems to go like this:“I love Aperture, but LR is my choice because..”
    It will be very interesting to see what Apple and Adobe do for their respective 2.0 offerings. I have decided to hold off buying either until then. The Aperture UI is so much nicer (it’s Apple after all) and if they can nail the performance issue, they’ll get my $300. If not, It’ll be LR.
    Until then however, I have been blown away by iPhoto. Yes iPhoto!
    The ’08 version is outstanding – you have to see the ‘Events’ view.
    I can import, view, cull, tweak and export RAW images without touching PS. I have basic tagging which means I can find a photo right from the Finder. I can send photo emails, I can make an elegant DVD, an Mpeg movie, a web gallery or a slideshow with music so simply it’s ridiculous. And it came included on our iMac, ie. free.
    Still, I really need the power and flexibility of the Pro apps, and as I expect them both to have learned much since their debuts, I have high hopes for what they’ll achieve.

  45. I’m struggling with a similar situation – whether to stick with Aperture or move to Lightroom. I’ve written some thoughts about it here.
    I’ll wait until after MWSF08 before deciding anything.
    @Nigel – I love the iPhoto ‘events’ view; quite nice. Apple has really been pushing the boundaries in UI design with iPhoto & iMovie.
    @Jake – we can go from LR > Aperture (via XMP) easily, but not so much the other way. Aperture seems only to export metadata in text files, not in any useful format. I’m looking into this further, check my blog for any updates.
    @William Hall – I agree, dual-screen is a must. A big oversight IMHO.
    @D. Mantripp:

    However, in terms of image quality and adjustment tools (especially the awesome targetted adjustments), LR is way ahead. And that’s the knock out punch for me. I think that trying to match, or beat, the depth of experience and talent that Adobe can draw upon in the image editing is a very, very tall order, and this is where Aperture fails.

    True, true. Org tools are great, but I want maximum image quality, and I think LR has the edge for now.

  46. I’ve tried both. And because of:
    1) Speed
    2) Layout
    3) Workflow
    4) Rating/Color System
    5) UI
    I choose Lightroom. While I agree that it is a nuisance not being able to separate LR windows, I found a way to stretch the one window until the line between the main photo window and right module panel were at the screen divide. This allowed for a faux two-window workspace. Try it, you’ll be happy to get the extra room, and you’ll find that cutting the film strip panel in half isn’t too disorienting.
    There are some major things that I think LR should advance in their next version.
    1) Fine tune adjustments of the Vignette. That way, when you crop an image, the Vignette shape and edge can match your crop. It would be great to have control of the shape of the Vignette. And it would be great if you could import Photoshop Shapes or Transparency layers as custom Vignettes.
    2) A filters panel that includes custom gradients.
    3) Better organization options. It seems like LR leans on Bridge at times. If you created a new Catalogs Module which allowed the photographer to quickly move photos between catalogs. I like to keep a Best of Catalog, but that is exceedingly difficult with the current setup. So I end up with massive Catalogs that bog down the system.
    Lastly, allow me to back you up on the modular based approach. When I first worked on LR, I did not care for it much. I preferred Aperture’s all-in-one window. But I quickly learned the benefits of the module based system, and enjoyed the step-by-step process it requires. No doubt this also allows you, as programmers, to make sure the system can run faster as it is blocks off the commands in modules. I say, hold to the modules, as it gives LR a clean interface.
    Thanks for coming out with a great product. In the past year Adobe has massively upgraded LR, and I’m excited to see the improvements in v2. I hope you guys will beta test LRv2 with photographers…but I won’t hold my breath.

  47. I’ve recently bought a Canon Eos 400D but I’m having difficulty with the RAW files.
    I need the Raw files to open in Photoshop.
    [What version of Photoshop are you using? I believe Camera Raw 3.x (part of CS2) supported the cam, so make sure your copy of Camera Raw is up to date (choose Help->Updates within Photoshop). If you’re using an older version, you can convert your files to DNGs via the free DNG Converter. –J.]
    I can’t seem to download the image directly into Photoshop so use iPhoto (the image viewing software with my mac). iPhoto retains it as a RAW file but If I drag the raw image out of iphoto to either the desktop or into Photoshop itself for editing, it automatically converts it into a jpeg.
    Does anyone know how I can get Photoshop to open the image as a RAW file?

  48. to person who has trouble downloading RAW to desktop. Any photo’s copied from IPHOTO will be jpegs, even though marked raw. Go to finder,pictures,iphoto and copy file from there avoiding iphoto and you will get a RAW file.
    Adrian Baker

  49. Although I enjoy LR a lot for my workflow, I have to say that the I chose it because the FREE public beta made the difference. Apple lost a lot of sales by not having a trial version earlier.

  50. I am just getting started with LR but after importing 35000 photos found that there is apparently no way to sort by file or image size which seems like a HUGE lack. I have thumbnails, low res and high res photos for every photo and I can’t sort by size to see them in groups?? Seems unbelievable that this is not possible. Perhaps I am missing something but…seriously??

  51. I agree with Raindance. Not being able to sort or filter by image dimension, file size, latitude or any other field is a non-starter. It’s really very unfortunate, as otherwise LR has matured nicely.

  52. I am sooo fed up with Aperture sucking my client’s images into the random “Unsupported Image Format” black hole and with Apple’s apparent disdain for us customers in not bothering to address that and other issues.
    However – I agree wholeheartedly with the posters who said that the LR GUI is Fugly – it is awful and surpassed in awfulness only by the worst GUI in history – Photoshop!!
    I am a professional photographer and am loud and proud about the fact that I do not follow the sheep-like behaviour of owning PS. In the unusual event that I need to fiddle with an image so much that PS is the only option, I outsource it to a professional PS person who gets it done right first time in a fraction of the time it would take me.
    If some wrote a “Migration Assistant” program that simply hoovered up Aperture images complete with adjustments and popped them into LR, I’d swap overnight – and so would about 50% of Aperture users!

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