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


Common Features

  • Export video sizes ranging from iPhone to HDTV.
  • Add music track to slideshows.
  • Fit slideshow to audio track.
  • Slideshow titling.

Slideshow Summary
Aperture wins in this category. Different people will find this a make or break feature. Lightroom’s slideshow is a vast improvement over previous versions, but I really like the ability to edit slide transitions, utilize the Ken Burns effect, and incorporate video clips within my slideshows. The ability to make PDF slideshows direct from Lightroom is convenient, but there are other options for Aperture users if required.


Common Features

  • Contact Sheets.
  • Print Packages.
  • Customizable Presets.

Print Summary
If you print your own images you’ll find the Aperture & Lightroom fairly even in this regard. Aperture has the edge with its ability to order prints & create books within the program. Yes, you can order books & prints via third party apps or websites, but the convenience of creation from Aperture shouldn’t be understated. Lightroom has the upper-hand in terms of flexible print layouts. While both programs allow for contact sheets or print packages, you are free to place your photos however you want on a printed page in Lightroom. If you’re still hung up on the book thing, see how I use InDesign with Lightroom/Photoshop to create book layouts.

Comments – Regarding Aperture, I’d like to see more options for books & ordered prints. The convenience is great, but the pricing through Apple is expensive when compared to third party vendors.


Common Features

  • Image Gallery Creation.
  • Included Templates.

Web Summary
If you don’t mind using non-editable templates, exporting to your hard drive THEN uploading to your website, or you wish to publish to MobileMe then Aperture will work for you. Lightroom also comes with web templates, but has a few more options in terms of customization. You can also publish to YOUR website directly from Lightroom, no “export to desktop” as a required step.

Closing Thoughts

If you’ve read this entire post, then chances are you wanted to get some insight as to which program will be a good fit for your workflow. As I mentioned, I’m biased towards Lightroom, and although there are plenty of things I like about Aperture it’s not enough to make me switch today.

As I’ve stated before you should try out both products and see which one works best for you. Lightroom’s UI makes sense to me, you might prefer Aperture’s tab layout. For every argument I give you that Lightroom is the best choice, an Aperture enthusiast will counter with some cool feature they like.

In the end, remember it’s not the tool you choose, but how you choose to use those tools.

There are some features I did not have a chance to review this time, e.g., Facebook/Flickr social media exports, but expect that coverage in future posts.

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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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