Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, Digital Photography Workflow

Lightroom vs. Aperture… again

Since Apple released Aperture 3 a few weeks ago lots of folks are debating the pros and cons of Lightroom vs. Aperture. It’s natural for folks to want to take sides, and pick one program over the other. It’s equally unlikley that most people will be able to effectively use both products, which supports the need to choose one.

I’ve casually used and kept up with Aperture updates since it was first released. After all, I’m a huge Mac fan. For twenty years I have passionately preferred all things Mac to anything Windows.

When Aperture 1 came out, it was a time of dramatic change in photography, when digital cameras were starting to become more popular than film. Clearly, new software was needed to support the new digital photo workflow. Though other software had been produced in attempts to deal with this (Adobe Camera Raw and Bridge, Capture One, iView Media Pro etc.) Aperture really represented a significant improvement in the photographer’s workflow. (And this was before Lightroom came out.)

I still love most Apple products and always stay current with what they are up to. In several ways, Apple is well poised to change computing as we know it – as they have done several times in the past. So I never count Apple out – even in the case of Lightroom vs. Aperture.

When it comes to the important and difficult choice, then, of what software to use to process our digital photographs, when clients, students and people in the general public ask me why I prefer Lightroom over Aperture, here’s what I say:

1. Platform independence: true, I believe OS X is a superior operating system to all flavors of Windows (even 7, which doesn’t suck). That said, I think it’s a big mistake to limit your work to using Macs only… and Aperture currently will only run on a Mac (and a new, fast one at that). I myself use both Mac and Windows every day in my work, and being able to use Lightroom on both platforms is a huge advantage. Maybe someday, the majority of people will be using Macs (we can only hope) but until that day, platform independence is essential.

2. Company focus: Adobe is the undisputed champion in digital imaging software. I trust their products completely and they have led the way for two decades. Though there will always be little things that we wish Adobe would add or improve, there is no doubt that the people working for Adobe are the best and brightest in the business. Conversely, Apple contunues to show it is really a hardware company. That happens to have some really kick-ass operating systems, oh, and the industry leading video editing program ;-)

3. Workflow: there are some really crazy, frustrating things about working with Aperture. One example is the Image Vault concept. This is very much like the approach taken by the horrible iPhoto, and serves no purpose other than to ensure it will be difficult to migrate away from Aperture in the future. I myself have helped a number of people through the extremely painful and nervewracking process of moving from Aperture to Lightroom. On the other hand, Lightroom’s handling of files is simple and unobtrusive. You could safely use Lightroom for all your photos for the next few years, then switch to something else, essentially without a hitch. Not so with Aperture.

These three points illustrate the main reasons why I believe Lightroom is still the way to go. The list could go on and on; other folks have already talked about Lightroom’s superior noise reduction, processing algorithms etc.

One way that I agree Aperture outshines Lightroom is the interface itself. Lightroom is designed to let you easily get the interface “out of the way” while you’re working; there are lots of cool tools to work directly on your photo, with only the photo showing on the screen. However, Aperture’s interface is clean, elegant and beautiful, providing the kind of experience where you might not want to get the interface out of the way.

Unfortunately, for me (and I believe the vast majority of photographers) the interface itself is not a good enough reason to choose one product over another.

I hope this article helps you understand why Lightroom is the better choice. I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments and questions on this topic.

Thanks for reading!

44 Comments

  1. I’m just finishing your Lightroom 2 Book. I switched from Aperture to Lightroom for some of the reasons you mentioned above, plus some. It’s frustrating because I use Macs and Apple products and want Aperture to be it for me. It would all integrate so nicely with my, iPhone, iMovie, etc. But Apple has been a letdown lately. Updates are so slow to arrive, cameras not supported in a timely manner, the demands on the machines are overwhelming making Aperture run sluggishly, and as you said, I don’t like depending on Apple’s OS to keep me going. The software needs to be independent from the OS. I also strongly agree that Adobe has people working on this stuff that really know what they’re doing. Thanks for your post.

  2. Jerry, thanks for your comment. And thanks for buying my book!! I hope it’s been a great help.

    I have to admit that choosing specific software (and hardware!) for my imaging has been difficult… nothing is perfect. And some products are definitely sexier than others.

    I usually end up going with whatever presents the most flexibility. Fortunately or unfortunately, that usually means some amount of compromise.

    I think Adobe understands this. Apple certainly is not about flexibility, or compromise in any way. Both approaches have served each company well and I support them both wholeheartedly. But the fact that I use Lightroom as my primary workflow tool is entirely practical, not emotional.

    And emotion is something that has always been essential for Apple ;-)

  3. Hello,

    I fully agree here,

    i have been using Lightroom for a long time and have several books up on the subject including yours , lately i have (fooled myself) also installed Aperture 3 and i was amazed what happened to the catalog file ? It went almost as big as the real size in my LR folders ? 300G !
    So i had to delete that catalog before it was finished to prevent accidents to happen.
    due to the fact of just a 500G HDD on my MBP that is for 75% used !

    This already made me feel real good that i was so used to Lightroom and the way it works with in folder arrangement , i really like to be in control of where what is or needs to go to.

    And that is a Big issue in Aperture , and we where just started not a good beginning.

    After browsing many forums on that topic i could reduce the size from Aperture’s catalog to about 15gyg on my HDD and for just the same this only is 80Meg for LightRoom

    After all, i had fooled myself so i needed to make the best of a bad situation.

    Now that that was dun i was a little more happy and then only because i could use some of
    my LR edit tools and plugins direct in Aperture thats the main reason why i have took that step.

    Aperture uses also way more cpu and ram for just the same editing tool , has apple lost there
    software/hardware integrated Touch ? I really don’t know?
    LR is still for me the best way to go , and sometimes you use assistance from a third party ;)
    And if they surprise me in a positive and creative way,
    i can always reconsider what to use

    Koen

  4. I just installed windows 7 64 bit, we are having trouble with getting LR Version to Work any help?
    Rhonda

  5. Hi Rhonda-
    Lightroom has separate installers for 32 and 64 bit Windows. Make sure you’ve got the right one. I haven’t heard any other problems with Windows 7 and Lightroom, but I am using a 32 bit machine. Please let me know if you don’t get it worked out, or if you do, what solutions were involved. Thanks!

  6. Great post. I’m trying to decide between Aperture 3 or migrating my Aperture 2 over to LR. Any advice on the transition?

  7. @Eric Martin
    I’ve worked with several clients migrating from Aperture to Lightroom. Depending on how you’ve handled file management in Aperture, the migration can either be super-simple or an absolute nightmare.

    If you’ve imported your photos into the Aperture vault, you should export them out again in order for Lightroom to efficiently work with them. (That being said, you can import photos contained within the vault — or an iPhoto collection — into Lightroom.) It’s just that Aperture’s automatic folder organizing is usually not ideal.

    At this point in time, file organization is still an important part of working with photos on your computer. (But, through metadata, I do expect in the near future that our dependency on the file system will become obsolete.)

    For now, I recommend storing all your photos in a well organized set of folders on an external hard drive. With this method, you could confidently use either Lightroom or Aperture without problems.

    However, Aperture’s processing settings will not carry over to Lightroom, so for any photos you don’t want to rework in LR, you’ll need to export TIFs or another rendered format to preserve your final Aperture results.

    Hope this helps; good luck! Let us know what you end up doing.

  8. @Rhonda Thompson
    Hi again Rhonda – are you still having trouble? If so, please provide some more detail and I’ll see what I can to do help. Thanks!

  9. Wow, Someone that writes books on Adobe products prefers Lightroom over Aperture. Not exactly a revelation. I discovered your site while looking for information to help with making a decision on whether to consider moving to LR. I found nothing but
    1. Platform independence
    2. Adobe’s wonderful
    3. I hate the vault/Library concept.

    Not exactly fresh information and none are compelling reasons to switch, at least for me, as I – 1. Use only Macs
    2. I think Adobe products have become far too complicated, bloated and expensive for simple touchup work which is what most of us are doing.
    3. The vault concept, whether it is in Aperture, iTunes, or iPhoto simply allows me to concentrate on my photo’s rather than the files and file system. If I do need to find the original master, it is there safely in the library and easily found.

    I also noted the cheap shot at the “horrible” iPhoto. iPhoto is certainly not a pro tool, but it brings the world of digital photography to people that would never attempt it with such an accessible tool. I have family that never did more with their cameras that take the card to the store and print the pics that love taking pictures and sharing them since I converted them to Macs and they have iPhoto.

    All that said, I am still going to download and try LR3, as I am very interested in seeing what it has to offer. I would prefer not to have to resort to going to PS or Capture NX for things that can be handled non destructively in the workflow program.

    Please don’t take this critique the wrong was, I have been through your site and appreciate your efforts, I was just disappointed that this particular article/commentary was pretty shallow.

    • Chuck – thanks for your comment. It’s always great to have some fresh perspective. I can understand why you’d think my post on Aperture vs. Lightroom might be shallow, but I think the rationale is so simple that it doesn’t take a lot of discussion or debate. Put simply, for my work, Lightroom is better than Aperture. I understand that for other people, Aperture might be a better choice.

      For one, Aperture takes all the initiative for the user. If you don’t know or don’t care where your files are, or what’s happening to them, that might be the way to go…. just like iPhoto (which as I stand by my claim simply sucks).

      Lightroom, while requiring the user to have a bit more “hands-on” approach, provides all the control we need for effectively managing large photo libraries.

      I, along with many others, foresee the day when file systems and folder-based organization won’t matter. Maybe unfortunately, that’s not today. We need to know where our files are, what they’re called, etc. and within a database, we need to see their relationships clearly.

      I’m also a big Mac fan, and as usual, Apple’s forward-thinking is profound, but I don’t think the day is here where we should give up control to the system as for how our files are managed… especially as photographers, for whom our files are our very lifeblood.

      I have also tested and confirmed that Lightroom’s rendering of raw capture data is superior to all others. Again, this might not be important to some folks. But I want to get the best possible quality from my digital pictures, and currently, Lightroom is where it’s at.

      If you have other comments I’d be happy to continue this debate; I think it’s healthy and helpful. I’ve been around the block a few times and I realize that has made me jaded in a few areas. I always appreciate hearing the perspective of other people, especially those that don’t agree with me.

      Thanks for your participation; please keep it coming!

  10. Hi. Im a 20 year old college kid who has been fortunate enough to get into photography as a serious hobby. I have been shooting now for about 4 years and have gradually been upgrading my gear. This fall my intent is to buy an imac for photography (and achedemic) purposes. Seeing that I have been getting into some photo-editing, I assumed that I would go ahead and buy Aperture at the same time as the computer. After doing some research, I have come to the conclusion that Aperature may not be my best option. After reading multiple reviews, such as this one, I have decided to go ahead and buy Adobe Lightroom.

  11. Thank you for the valuable observations on LightRoom vs. Aperture. I have been using Aperture since version 2, then upgraded to Aperture 3. Initially I stored files in “current location” option, but for some reason, I was persuaded to switch to the file vault option. Now I have a mess, some files in folders on my hard drive and others in the vault. I have also experienced the slow performance with Aperture. So now that my hard drives are full, I’m ready to switch. Your comments gave me the final push.

  12. D Bullick – I’m glad to hear you found this post useful. I don’t envy your situation; migrating from Aperture to Lightroom can be tricky. My advice is to make a detailed plan, take it slow, and double check everything as you go. Unfortunately, your Aperture adjustments won’t survive the transition, so for any pictures you’ve invested significant amounts of time developing, you should export full resolution TIFs. Best of luck, and let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.

  13. Nat, appreciate your perspectives on photo editing software. I am a photographer of sorts and a long time Windows user. I have used and enjoyed MS Photoshop and MS Digital Image Pro…both of which are no longer available or supported by MS. What I specifically liked about these programs is my ability to expand beyond simple photo editing into a pseudo desktop publishing mode without the complexity of PS. I have found Photoshop too complicated for my head. Having that background, I recently switched to an iMac and am in transition. I went into it with a fervor and purchased Aperture 3 thinking I would have what I needed to replicate my work on the Mac. Not so! Before I take another leap and the associated learning curve, will LR 3 give me the ability to do simple edits and beyond without the complexity of Photoshop or is there a better path to follow?

    Also, because of what I described above, I still use both computers rather than fully migrating to the Mac. If I were to purchase LR3 could I just use the PC as an emergency backup?

    Thanks for your views and for taking the time.

  14. Oops, MS Photodraw

  15. I have been using aperture 2 for the past few years and I very much like the application, but I am at a crossroads where a decision has to be made. I am tired of my imac and the inability to upgrade something as simple as putting in a larger hard drive. Currently my library in aperture is close to if not over 20,000 images so making a change at this point may be next to impossible. I thought about going the hackintosh way of building a new computer, but for the same pricing I could have a fully capable PC. What does it take to make the move from aperture to lightroom while trying to avoid loss of all of my time with edits to raw photos?

  16. I am a professional digital photographer. I have used iPhoto as my means of organizing my photos, but I edit exclusively in PhotoShop (CS3, now CS5). I recently replaced my fairly satisfactory iPhoto ’09 with the 2011 version and was stunned to find that it can no longer handle the simple organizing process. I won’t go on about the bugs or problems, but it seems to be time to move on. Aperture 3 was recommended, but after reading these comments (and other web sites), I’m thinking that LightRoom is the way to go (I bought Light Room 3 at the PS convention in Las Vegas, so I already own that). My questions is whether I can easily transfer all my existing iPhoto libraries to LightRoom? Does Light Room interface with iLife (I need iTunes, Garage Band, iMovie, etc)? Does LightRoom handle the need for photo organization (keywords, dates, ratings, etc)? In short, is it a good choice for use as my main organizing application? Thanks. Al

  17. @Al Tucci
    Hi Al – thanks for reading and commenting on my blog. It sounds like Lightroom might be a good fit for your needs. You can simply import your Pictures folder into a Lightroom catalog and go from there. However, Lightroom will not recognize any adjutments you’ve made in iPhoto if you haven’t saved out those photos as new files (though it sounds like most of that would have been done from Photoshop anyway.) Lightroom can handle all you organizational needs; that’s one of the strongest compelling factors for using Lightroom. Lightroom offers limited integration with iLife, though you can specify outside programs as “External Editors” from within Lightroom.

  18. @Eric
    Hi Eric – Thanks for your comment. I fully empathize with you; migrating between computers and operating systems is never fun. As I mentioned in my orginal post, that’s one of the reasons I went with Lightroom over Aperture – you can use the same images and the same catalogs on both Windows and Mac.

    Unfortunately, migrating from Aperture to Lightroom contains a few caveats. For one, any settings you’ve used when processing photos in Aperture will NOT be maintained when those photos are brought into Lightroom. In other words, Aperture adjustments are different from Lightroom’s and neither application recognizes or respects the other’s settings.

    In a practical sense, what this means is that if you’ve finished processing photos in Aperture you need to export/save those files out as final rendered images. Whether your original captures are raw, jpg, tif or some other properietary format, in all case your best bet os to export full resolution, 16-bit, ProPhoto TIFs. Those new TIF files will have all your adjustments baked into the files, but of course, that’s not the same as having a raw file with your adjustments retained.

    I’d recommend that if you have certain files you want to keep in raw that you plan to reprocess them in Lightroom after you make the move.

    Please let me know if you have any questions.

  19. @Ron Roesler
    @Ron Roesler
    Hi Ron – thanks for your comment. In my work I’ve found that I can do almost everythign I want to fonosh processing a photo in Lightroom. I hardly ever need to use Photoshop any more. You can use Lightroom on both Mac and Windows. Please let me know if you have nay other questions.

  20. Hi Nat, We have just purchased a Mac …. I am currently using Lightroom on the PC – all my pics are located on a ex hard drive – is it just a matter of upgrading to the Mac version of Lightroom and all will work fine or is it trickier than that.

  21. @Bron
    Hi Bron – all will work perfectly as long as the format of the external drive is one that the Mac can recognize. Lightroom catalogs transfer seamlessly between platforms. Thanks for your comment!

  22. Just want to clear up some inaccuracies in this article.

    >>3. Workflow: there are some really crazy, frustrating things about working with Aperture. One example is the Image Vault concept. This is very much like the approach taken by the horrible iPhoto, and serves no purpose other than to ensure it will be difficult to migrate away from Aperture in the future. <>I myself have helped a number of people through the extremely painful and nervewracking process of moving from Aperture to Lightroom. On the other hand, Lightroom’s handling of files is simple and unobtrusive. You could safely use Lightroom for all your photos for the next few years, then switch to something else, essentially without a hitch. Not so with Aperture.<<

    How exactly is that? You can't take the adjustments with you to another program, so really all you're doing is taking images that are saved in folders and re-importing them to some other application, losing all of your work.

    Aperture can import files with Lightroom's XMP sidecar files.

  23. David – thanks for your comments. Looking at my statements I can see how they could be easily misunderstood.

    I was specifically referring to the handling of original files, not the transfer of adjustments.
    What I meant was that, by default, Lightroom doesn’t change the location or folder structure of imported files like Aperture does when images are copied into the Aperture Library.

    However, I neglected to mention one key point – if you import files into Aperture by Reference (instead of copying them into the Library) Aperture handles the files on disk the same way Lightroom does.

    With regard to adjustments, as far as I know neither program will respect the other’s proprietary image adjustment metadata. XMP metadata attached to imported images will certaintly transfer both ways, but the image adjustment settings will be ignored.

    And As you pointed out, this would require re-processing to replicate those adjustments in the other program.

    (I haven’t looked around lately, but a developer could have a huge hit on their hands with a tool to translate Aperture adjustments to Lightroom and vice versa!)

    Thanks again for your comments!

  24. This discussion is very helpful. I’m going from a PC to an iMac and was looking all over for a clear explanation about filing issues before I commit to Aperture or Lightroom. Would I be able to preserve my folder system and file names. (The files are named using the following format: YYYYMMDD “Event Name” pic####.) The library on my PC has about 10k files.

    1. Is it correct that even though Aperture appears to allow the user to set up folders and subfolders, the picture files are all stored in the vault using a different technique? And that you can’t easily preserve this organization when you decide to move in 5 years to a new platform. (Let’s assume that losing edits is not a big issue at the moment.)

    2. Do you know if I import my files to Aperture in one big dump, would the file names be preserved. This is more important to me than the folder in which they reside.

    In the end, I’ll likely choose Lightroom for the same reasons you have laid out above, but wanted to clarify my understanding nonetheless.

    Thanks!

  25. Pinakin – as far as I know, if you import photos into Aperture by reference (not copying them into the Aperture Library) all your folder structures and file names are preserved and not modified. In any way. It’s only if you import files by copying into the Library that Aperture will re-organize them. It’s been a while since I used Aperture, though, maybe an Aperture user can confirm this?

  26. I recently bought the new 17″ macbook pro which of course comes with iphoto, and i ordered the current Aperture pre-installed on it. I also just got a Leica Dlux 5 which comes with one free download of Lightroom. Previously I had been using Adobe Elements 3 which came with the dlux2 on a Dell laptop. So my entire library of digital images is now in Elements and I need to decide which program to use and that’s how I ran across your site. I was thinking of using all 3 new programs, each for a different reason: iphoto for quick pics (visual design notes, i call them) that i take with my iphone. Lightroom for all family pics (jpeg) that i take with the leica and Aperture for all fine art pics, (raw) that I also take now with the leica or with a canon dslr that i’m planning to buy. The reasoning for me was that I wanted to use mac for ease of use as much as possible, but also wanted to be familiar with adobe products since I think down the road I will have a real desire and need for most of the creative suite programs. But from what I’m reading here, it looks like I should just stick with the Adobe product and not complicate myself with the 2 mac programs. Is this still the current thinking–is there any additional light that you can shed on my dilemma?

    • Hi Teo – thanks for your comment. My thinking is that you should use as few applications as possible. Although I love Macs and Apple software in general, Adobe is the clear leader in photo/imaging software. Based on your description I wouldn’t bother with Aperture, and over time you’ll find that you don’t need Elements either. For most photographers, and most kinds of photographs, Lightroom provides everything you need to organize, process and share your pictures.

  27. Also I wanted to add: will any of the mentioned programs allow you to put a line or two of text on the picture? I don’t want to buy full fledged Photoshop just to do that. Also will all three programs currently handle jpeg, gif, raw formats? Some of the online comparisons may be for different versions and seem to be contradictory. Thanks again.

    • Yes, you can easily do this with Lightroom watermarks.

  28. Thanks for the suggestions Nat. I no longer use Elements. I just transferred all those image files to Lightroom which I just installed on the new mac. I started using it and it’s great so far. Will be looking to buy your book soon and get up the learning curve quicker. I am syncing my iphone photos to iphoto just because it’s quick and dirty and the images i take with the phone are only little visual memo reminders and nothing else. Now, one other question–I got Aperture preinstalled on the mac when I ordered it but did not open it up yet and register it and I’m now erasing it from the hard drive. I also received the disc original which is still sealed. I can just sell that as a virgin program, right? When they preinstalled, they would not register the number to me, I don’t think. I just don’t want the buyer to have problems installing it.
    Thanks

    • Hi Teo – thanks for your comments. as far as I know you can legally sell your sealed copy of Aperture and the buyer can register it as their own copy. Most software is allowed to be legally resold BUT you typically are supposed to submit a Letter of Software Destruction to state you didn’t keep a copy for yourself. However, you should read the EULA and/or ask Apple just to be sure; I wouldn’t want to steer you wrong.

  29. I use a mac, have Aperture2, have 25K images between iPhoto and Aperture, which I store in a 2 TB exHD. Wife & I have traveled the world extensively taking photos and I enjoy making slide shows (w/music, etc.), which I did with real slides (for 50+ years). I show them gratis to Senior citizen, Photo, Women’s clubs and as fundraisers. Went digital 5 years ago (only SLR) and bought first computer, a mac
    (absolute novice), started with photoshop elements, but ‘adjustments’ took too long, denigrated images as does iPhoto, (solution; work on copies). Went to Aperture, basically because I believed I would be ‘supported’ by Apple …. as I had to also learn the computer. Aperture2, image adjustment incredibly fast ….. the best aspect of program, most important to me … consider using 300 slides for show … every minute spent on a slide for whatever operation, selection through music … means 5 hours. Advantages in upgrading to 3 … Lightroom or Aperture ??? With Aperture can use Ken Burns’ effect, accessible to iMovie, iDVD for slide shows … Does Lightroom have similar features ?? Shortcomings of Aperture2 supposedly corrected in 3 …. To this point have been using images taken digitally …. wish to download 50 years slides (use dedicated copier) to make additional slide shows …. my wife says ” I don’t have enough time time left in my life” ,…. but I also want to make positive framed pictures (‘adjusted’ of course) of many images I have. … need to use Photoshop?? or adjusted Lightroom, Aperture suffice? Your thinking, recommendations??

  30. I was given LR as a birthday present. Loaded 5400 images and a bunch of tags, then everything got “lost”. Can’t figure out how to restore it. Also read many comments on “missing photos”. Doesn’t seem like a stable platform, if “missing” happens easily

    John

  31. John – congratulations on your gift of Lightroom and thanks for your comment.

    The main thing to keep in mind is that Lightroom is a database program. When you import pictures, Lightroom creates records with information for all the images, including their location on disk.

    THE ACTUAL IMAGE FILES ARE NOT STORED IN THE LIGHTROOM CATALOG.

    After importing pictures to Lightroom, if they get moved, deleted or renamed from oustide Lightroom (in your file system, such as Mac Finder or Windows Explorer) then Lightroom can’t find them.

    LIGHTROOM ALWAYS NEEDS TO HAVE THE CORRECT LOCATION OF THE FILES IN ORDER TO WORK WITH THEM.

    Files can also show as missing if they were located on a hard drive that is no longer connected.

    For new users, the Import process and the database concept are always the most challenging to master. It’s all covered in my books, and I also teach classes and offer private, one-on-one instruction.

    Feel free to post questions or comments here, and good luck!

  32. @ben corin
    Hi Ben –
    Thanks for commenting. From what you describe I suggest you’d be best sticking with Aperture, at least for the time being. With that many images in your library, and the way you’re processing and presenting them with slideshows, switching to Lightroom would require a lot of time and energy that could better be spent working on your photos. That said, I strongly recommend that whichever software you choose that you always use the most recent version. Staying with old versions of software to avoid the minor costs or learning curve is a severe hindrance. Get Aperture up to date and keep going with what sounds like the excellent work you’ve been producing. You can use Aperture to work with all your scanned slides too. Good luck and feel free to keep in touch!

  33. I keep coming back to this question to get opinions on both programs. I’ve been using them both since they were first released and have gone through all the releases. My work machine was a windows when I was working as a staff photographer and my personal machine is a Mac. There are things that I like about both programs and for me it’s still a toss up with no clear winner. But there are things I like and dislike about both programs. You are right though, it’s really complicated to try to work with both programs.

  34. Here is my take on the subject, I am a photographers assistant with 21 years experience and I’ve learned from a friend of mind, who has been doing digital work since its inception, is that to stop relying on what you see or read everyone else is using and try what works best for yourself and your needs. In other words, stop being like sheep and following what everyone else does and be your own person. We processed the same RAW file into a TIFF using Canon Digital Photo Professional, Aperature, Capture One, Iphoto, and Prieview, (yes I said Preview) and guess which one looked the best in 3 different peoples opinion….Aperature and the Preview Tiff looked better than the others. Also, when printing photos with Aperature vs. Photoshop, the printed images looked much better printing through Aperature over Photoshop. So stop being sheep and test things out for yourself. Don’t have the monkey see monkey do mind set.

  35. Your advice is great if one steals software, rendering the cost of buying the product irrelevant. For Honest people, it comes down to relatively short trial periods or the actual purchase of a non-refundable item. Additionally, some people don’t have the luxury of unlimited free time to try all of the available editing programs out there to any significant extent. Reading professional reviews by people who do have the time and knowledge can steer one in the right direction much more quickly and cost effectively. Finding ways to save time is important for amateurs and hobbyists who have a family and a real job. Your post actually steered me closer to Lightroom due to your tone. Thanks for helping me decide!

  36. Thank you for your article which I have just read. Although brief, your replies to previous comments have filled it out a good deal and has helped me, more than a lot I have read, in trying to decide how I should proceed.

    I am about to purchase a new iMac to replace an older iMac that does not appear capable of handling the demands of video editing. I have also purchased a Sony a55V camera and it seems that the software to handle Sony RAW files is not supported by my existing machine, whereas the new machine will.

    I have been using PS Elements 3 for many years and been very happy with it, and intended to purchase the current version for the new computer. I abandoned iPhoto after about a year of adding photos and finding it took longer and longer to open. I started loading photos to a documents file I opened expressly for that purpose and over time, I moved all my iPhoto files into that file. It would appear that I will have no difficulty using Lightroom to manage and edit those files.

    It had been my intention to purchase Aperture 3 with the new computer, but the more I read about it, the less I am inclined to do so. At the same time, the more I read about Lightroom 3, the more inclined I am to go with it.

    Visiting Adobe’s web site, I see they refer to it as Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3. Does that mean that Photoshop forms part of the Lightroom package? If so, to what extent?

    I have become quite used to using some of PSE’s tools such as Clone, Image Skew, Perspective, Rotate as well as its bank of filters. None of the demonstration videos touches on any of those sort of adjustments and I wondered if they are available with Lightroom, or do I have to have Photoshop as an external editor if I want those tools?

  37. Nat,

    I am an iMac user but I gave up on iPhoto after about 18 months as I watched it get slower and slower to open as the library grew. I opened a new folder in Documents for my photos and have uploaded all new photos there sine then. I also moved all my photos out of iPhoto in that same folder. I have dozens of files and realize that I need some software to help me manage the photos and make it easier to find them

    I will be moving to a new iMac shortly and it was my intention to purchase Aperture with the new machine. As I read reviews and user comments, I have become less inclined to do that. I have also started investigating Lightroom 3 and found your blog and the ensuing comments of great interest.

    I notice that Adobe refers to this product (If I am looking at the same product you are discussing here.) as Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3. Does that mean that Photoshop is part of Lightroom and if so, to what extent?

    I have been using Photoshop Elements 3 for years and been very happy. I have become very used to tools such as Clone, Healing Brush, Dodge and Burn along with Image Rotate, Skew and perspective, not to mention the selection of filters. None of the videos or reviews on Lightroom I have seen mentions anything about these sorts of adjustment tools. Are they included in Lightroom or do I need to get PSE and use it as an external editor to supplement Lightroom?

    • Bob,
      Lightroom is a parametric editor, which means it performs image adjustments using text-based (metadata) instructions. Photoshop and Elements are pixel editors; they perform numeric adjustments directly to pixel values. Lightroom excels in image management and organization as well as applying “develop” adjustments to enhance/optimize the majority of your photos. You can fix image distortion, apply dodging and burning, and do basic retouching in Lightroom. However, there may be times when you need something that Lightroom can’t do. FOr example, ths use of layers and masks is still specific to Photoshop. For this reason, I recommend also having some version of Photoshop available… and in fact, the combination of Lightroom and Elements is very powerful and may just give you all the tools you’ll need to perfect all your photos. Don’t let Lightroom’s full name mislead you, though… Adobe Photoshop Lightroom does not come with Photoshop or vice versa; they are completely separate programs.

  38. Nat,

    thanks for this post!
    You’re absolutely right about iPhoto. I’ve been using it for some years now. My library has grown up to 14k images. Now my MBP is out of storage and I need a new solution. LR3 seems like to be the preferred solution around the web, but what really still puzzles me is how the pictures are actually viewed in LR3. What i loved about iPhoto is the simplicity in which you can see your pictures. With the events, albums and so on. it is just really nice to get a short view of nearly all your pictures. How does this work in LR3? For example when I am looking for a picture I don’t exactly remember when I shot it. Do I need to browse through all my folders (which would be a bit of a pain) or is it similar to iPhoto where I can work my way through the albums really quickly….
    thanks for your answer!

  39. raphy – thanks for your comments. In Lightroom, you Import the pictures to view them (same as iPhoto) and when viewing them you’re actually seeing previews rendered by Lightroom. The original files on the hard drive are read “by reference”; the pixel data are never modified. Lightroom has loads of features that make finding and sorting your photos incredibly easy. You can use any and all photo metadata to filter and sort photos in Lightroom. Finally, Lightroom Collections allow you to group your photos any way you want, regardless of how the files are actually organized on the hard drive. I’m sure you’ll love Lightroom… good luck!

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