Lightroom vs. Aperture

March 8, 2008

When I got my Rebel XT, I took an initial look at both Lightroom and Aperture to help manage and edit my RAW images.  After some testing with both, I settled on Aperture and even made it a POTW awhile back.  I was very excited a couple of weeks ago when Apple released Aperture 2.0.  It didn’t have the HDR stuff I was looking for, but that was OK, they made it faster and seemingly better.  In fact, everything was better with the exception of the pricing they put out.  See, Aperture 1.x was $300 for retail but $150 for individual education pricing, or 50% off for those math gurus out there.  With Aperture 2.0, Apple knocked down the retail price to $200 but RAISED the individual education price to $180, 10% off now.  Because of this, I decided to take a second look at Lightroom, which is priced at $100 for individual education pricing.

Before getting started discussing the two programs features, I should note that both are great programs.  You could use either and be perfectly happy.  That being said, I have decided to make the switch to Lightroom after doing some more indepth testing and having better knowledge of my camera and editing pictures.  The biggest difference between the two programs is workflow.  In Aperture, there is no real workflow.  You can edit pictures, metadata, etc from the same screen.  This was great when I was starting out as I didn’t really know what I wanted to do.  With experience though, I am able to be confined into a workflow chosen for me, especially the one that Lightroom has setup.

When jumping into Lightroom, you start with your Library where you can do things like make collections, add keywords, stack photos, etc.  I should quickly note, adding keywords in Lightroom is MUCH easier than Aperture, which is another reason I switched.  After doing organization stuff, one switches to the Develop section where you can do all your edits.  Aperture 2.0 has caught up to the different editing features, but as one who was using Aperture 1.5, Lightroom has an impressive array of tools that I didn’t have before.  After Developing, you have three ways you can share your pictures, Slideshow, Web Album and Printing.  You can also do a basic export, for example to get things up to Flickr.  Being open to this idea of workflow, I was able to jump into Lightroom and go.  For me it just works easier than Aperture, so I made the switch.  I would be interested to get other thoughts from people who have used either or both applications to see what they think.