Aperture 3 vs Lightroom 3 (beta 2) – Feature Comparison Review


Common Features

  • Metadata changes & image adjustments written to a database file (library vs catalog).
  • Non-destructive workflow.
  • Support for third-party plugins.
  • Brush tools for adjustments.
  • Synchronize adjustments between images.

Develop Summary
There are simply too many adjustments to do a feature-by-feature breakdown now, so I’ll be writing adjustment specific articles continued here on the blog. Both programs allow for quite a bit of editing, and the nuances of each will favor different users. Note that “Definition” in Aperture equals “Clarity” in Lightroom. Aperture has “RAW Fine Tuning” while Lightroom uses “Camera Calibration”.

Comments – Once again, I prefer the Lightroom UI. I do like the ability to float panels and place them wherever I want in Aperture. I would like to see that ability in Lightroom. However, Lightroom’s adjustments were ready-to-go no matter which image I selected. Aperture required me to turn on adjustments, even if I just used them.

An example of better UI implementation is the White Balance Adjustment. In Lightroom, users can cycle through their camera white balance settings via pulldown, or custom adjust with sliders or eyedropper. In Aperture, the sliders & eyedropper are readily available, but the camera settings are located in a separate Presets dropdown. Lightroom also implements various screen overlays which make adjustments within an image easier to view & apply. I find these particularly useful for exposure & edge sharpening controls.

Syncing adjustments? You can use the Lift/Stamp tool to copy & past adjustments (be sure to uncheck all the metadata setting first) in Aperture. Lightroom allows you to auto-sync adjustments so there’s no copy & paste.

At this point, Lightroom beats Aperture in terms of Noise Reduction. No contest.
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  • Chris Ward April 26, 2010   Reply →

    Hey A.J., nice comparison. I wrote my own not to long ago too http://www.cyberward.net/blog/2010/04/aperture-3-vs-lightroom-3-beta-2/ Looks like we came to similar conclusions.

  • Glyn Dewis April 27, 2010   Reply →

    Hey A.J.,

    Thanks for the post.
    A short while back I came close, and I mean real close to moving over to Aperture for my Photography Workflow but finally resisted and have decided to stick with Lightroom. Why, well quite simply Lightroom to me seemed to run slow in comparison and I was beginning to dislike the way that LR organised images.

    It wasn’t until I had a re-think about my workflow, prompted by spending time with the OneLight Guy Zack Arias that I had a ‘turn around’. Clearly if I’m honest, the problem wasn’t Lightroom, it was the person using it as now LR runs like a rocket since I’ve ‘cleaned up’ my images and now import images differently. I’m now using Photo Mechanic is conjunction with LR and it seems like a match made in heaven!

    The new LR 3.0 Beta I’m totally hooked on; just can’t wait to get hold of the final release version because looking at history, Adobe being Adobe there’s bound to be a few surprises.

    All the best to you,

  • Brent April 30, 2010   Reply →

    Its the $199 vs. $299 that has me stumped? Why the price difference? Is LR $100 better or is AP $100 worse? Hmm…

    • A.J. Wood April 30, 2010   Reply →

      Truth be told the prices flipped-flopped. LR was originally $199, Aperture $299. Apple dropped their price, Adobe raised theirs.

      If we then factor in supply & demand…

  • P.H.Wayne May 30, 2010   Reply →

    I witnessed a one hour Aperture 3.0 demo this weekend presented by Apple. I like using Lightroom, but Aperture seems to have an edge. There were two major items that i saw as an advantage to Lightroom 2.x (I don’t have 3.x yet):
    1) Slide show – as you said, this is where they diverge. Aperture has true multimedia capability allowing still and video images, plus audio, effects, and transition choices.
    2) Brush feature with edge detection: This was far more advanced than Lightroom “adjustment brush”. full controls for bush characteristics, more options for adjustment AND very smart edge detection. (Does Lightroom 3.x have any improvements?)

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