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


Common Features

  • Choose location to import files.
  • Import from external devices, e.g., CF/SD cards, mobile phones, USB drives.
  • Add existing images on computer hard drive.
  • Import images AND videos.
  • Rename files on import.
  • Apply metadata presets
  • Apply adjustment presets.
  • Backup files during import.

Aperture Features

  • Photos imported to a “library”.
  • Imported photos can be stored in a single Aperture Library File OR a user-specified folder structure.
  • Applescript Actions can be applied during import.
  • File Type exclude options.

Lightroom Features

  • Photos imported to a “catalog”.
  • Option to convert RAW images to the DNG format.

Import Summary
Importing images is a similar process in Aperture & Lightroom. Import times are not much different–a slight edge to Aperture–and both programs allow users to begin working with files once the import is started. Lightroom users can convert to DNG files with a simple check option during import. Aperture users would use an Automator Action to accomplish the same task. It should be noted that prior to import, you should decide on a folder organizational structure.

Aperture users should pay attention to WHERE/HOW they decide to store images. Images can be stored & managed via the Aperture Library (ala iPhoto) or users can create their own folder structure on the hard drive. Using “Managed Images” via the Aperture Library is appealing if you mainly work within Aperture and do not care to access images directly from the hard drive with other applications. If you want the ability to open Finder, navigate directly to the image folder (without opening a package file) and open it, then “Referenced Images” is the better import choice.

Lightroom users should be aware that “importing” photos into Lightroom DOES NOT mean they are stored within a Lightroom catalog. The catalog file stores metadata information of changes made to the images, but the images themselves are located separately on the computer hard drive. For further information, you can read my article on how Lightroom manages metadata.
You’re presently on Page 2. Please note the page controls below.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5

You may also like


  • 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.

  • 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,

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

    • 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…

  • 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?)

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.