Weekly Poll: Aperture or Lightroom?

This debate has raged on for years in the photography community. Lightroom and Aperture are aimed at very similar audiences and they share very similar workflows that allow you to quickly browse, sort and edit your photos without the pain of opening and saving each file individually like you would with Photoshop.

Adobe fans stick to their guns that Lightroom is the most powerful solution for the professional photographer’s workflow, but others have found exactly what they’re looking for in Aperture’s awesome organizational features such as automatic face recognition.

When it boils down to it, if you were forced to pick one and only one, which would it be? Would you side with Adobe or Apple? Vote in the poll and then leave a comment below defending your answer.


  • http://papermail.me Jacob Penderworth

    I actually just use Photoshop right now.

  • http://www.financialexecutives.org Greg

    I know a lot of people who prefer Aperture. I am still an Adobe fan, probably because I am very used to it. Familiarity is an ally, especially when you are trying to accomplish a lot in a short period of time. I guess I just don’t want to take a few minutes to familiarize myself with Aperture.

  • http://kevinyank.com/ Kevin Yank

    Right now I’m convinced that Lightroom is a more powerful and refined product, worthy of the higher price tag. But as an Aperture user, I’m waiting to see what the next (seemingly overdue) major version from Apple brings before jumping ship.

    • http://www.christophergrant.net Christopher Grant

      +1

    • http://digitalformula.net Chris

      +1

      (to the Lightroom part)

    • Miguel Guerra

      +1

    • Mike

      +1

  • http://www.manuelino.com Manuel Lino

    Right now I’m studying a transition from Aperture to Lightroom. Because Aperture is slower, and the RAW processing is not so good as using Adobe techniques.

  • Jeremy

    Opening Lightroom lags my iMac more than processing/importing many RAW files on Aperture. Lightroom just feels bloated and slow to me. Aperture, on the other hand, moves right along on my 2009 iMac.

  • http://www.zxworkshop.com Jack

    I was surprised to see the result after I click Lightroom. My first mac was bought because of Aperture. However, i give up after convince myself over Aperture2 and lightroom2, till now Aperture 3 and LR3.

    for those who had chosen A3 in the poll, i was wondering if you are really a photographer, or just an Apple fans.

    • Richard

      I didn’t know that one has to pass some certification to see himself as photographer. So what’s the next requirement ? 1D mk IV with 80-200/2.8L ? Or Hasselblad with Planar 85mm F1.4 ?

      • Chad

        Don’t take offense to what Jack said. He has a good point. Just because you can hold a camera (no matter what kind) doesn’t make you a photographer. You need to have the skill and knowledge. And there are people that stick with brands because they like them so much. So if that is the case and the person isn’t really a truly skilled photographer, then that throws off the poll. It’s kinda like someone that dabbles with graphics, downloads a trial of Photoshop, can’t figure it out and then votes on a poll that it sucks. That throws everything off. P.S. You can be an excellent photographer with a point and shoot, it just won’t look at good as if it came from the cameras you mentioned.

      • Jack

        Don’t forget Photography doesn’t stop at the moment you press that shutter button. It’s the editing of that image develop your style and make who you are.

        Check my website zxworkshop.com i believe i could be considered as a photographer.

        To Chad, Its nothing wrong if you love A. I also hope A is more powerful than LR more than you do, bc it was the reason why i bought mac a few years back. But slowly, you will find A is far more lack than LR. I have been install and reinstall those programs and moving catalog to here and there and try to convince myself that there must be a reason to love A. but sorry, i can’t.

        Yeah, you can call yourself a photographer and no body will say no.

      • Jack

        Ops, sorry in the above post, i mean to Richard, not Chad…..

      • foljs

        I didn’t know that one has to pass some certification to see himself as photographer. So what’s the next requirement ? 1D mk IV with 80-200/2.8L ? Or Hasselblad with Planar 85mm F1.4 ?

        It is a profession you know. And Aperture/Lightroom as supposed to be professional tools, not “I take some snaps with my compact/DSLR at weekends” tools…

    • Matt

      You seem to backtrack in your post below, but the fact remains that you are basically questioning the skills or “status” of the people who choose to use Aperture. I know many pros who use Aperture. It’s a tool. If the tool works well for people, then they will use it.

      Choosing Aperture does not make them any less of a “pro.”

      And lastly, your entire website is in flash and it automatically starts playing music. It’s ridiculous and is everything that is wrong with photography websites. I also don’t see the need of posting your site to “prove” you are a photographer. This isn’t a pi$$ing contest – it’s a matter of opinion.

  • http://yovko.net yovko

    After many years with Aperture I switched to Lightroom because of my new camera system Fujifilm X-Pro1. The guys at Apple are VERY slow with RAW support. Indeed Aperture is better solution for me. There is no management in Lightroom like in Aperture. Lightroom just plays with referenced images. Backups are also a nightmare…

  • http://kobak.org kobak

    Aperture

  • http://asmodiel.de Asmodiel

    To be honest, I have tried both and I liked neither. I hated Aperture for using a proprietary folder structure (why should I open up an app just for looking for a picture from two weeks ago which I’d like to share with a friend?) and it was pretty slow on my 2008 Macbook Pro. I didn’t like Lightroom because I couldn’t really get the hang of sorting everything into folders.

    I use Picasa and Photoshop and both fit my needs pretty well – Picasa has Face recognition, Google syncing (I have an android phone, so that comes in handy), doesn’t touch the folder structure (which is synced with Skydrive), can show you all the needed EXIF/GPS data and photoshop… well I don’t need to tell you why photoshop is amazing :D

    • moot

      Neither Aperture nor Lightroom will touch your file structure either if you tell it not to. Just saying, that’s not a valid concern any more.

  • http://www.mothsoftware.com Beatrix Willius

    Unfortunately, Aperture doesn’t have a trial version anymore.

  • Alessandro

    I use aperture, but never tried seriously lightroom so I can’t really compare the two. what I like about aperture is the overall simplicity of use (no contact sheet, develop, and other confusing stuff). It is like an iPhoto on steroids. Another thing is the integration with the OS, I can browse my aperture photos in the upload browser of any site (Flickr,Facebook etc)..not the same for Lightroom I think!

  • Romboy

    Aperture never really cut it for me, it felt more like an amateur application or iPhoto Pro. It was a tossup between Capture One and Lightroom, and in the end I chose Lightroom because of the quality of conversion and color neutrality. Capture One is equally good but needs a bit more work to achieve the same results Lightroom gives me.

    • Jack

      +1

      totally agree.

    • Matt

      Quality of conversion and color neutrality? Sounds like pixel peeping gone too far. And a lot of bs.

      I guarantee you cannot look at an image and tell me that it was edited with Lightroom or Aperture due to colour neutrality or conversion quality.

      I honestly don’t care which software people use, but when you lean so far towards one and bash another, it gets ridiculous. I see lots of pros using Aperture. And Bridge+Photoshop. And Lightroom. And CaptureOne. They are all professional pieces of software and have their merits.

  • moot

    Aperture. I’ve used Lightroom, but I just don’t like the forced workflow.

    I also prefer the image editing of Aperture better because it more closely resembles darkroom thinking (not really, but closer). Lightroom’s image editing is Photoshop’s, which I’ve never liked.

    Someone once made a plug-in for Photoshop that mimicked darkroom processing (paper grades, paper types, film types), and I wish that was still around. However, I get that +97% of people who now use these tools have never set foot inside a darkroom and wouldn’t understand those frames of reference. *sigh*

  • mostlyfiction

    I have many years of experience in a real darkroom and have been using ‘Lightroom 3′ until recently, finally deciding to give ‘Aperture 3′ a fair go. So far I noticed pros & cons to both. Each has its ‘fanboys’, and I’m sure for me it will come down to which has the easiest workflow ( i.e. most productive ). So far I’m finding ‘Aperture 3′ to be the quickest at translating my photographic vision into usable digital files though I would like to see more in the next update.

    • Matt

      I love that phrase “the quickest at translating my photographic vision into usable digital files,” because that’s the biggest thing for me. I want something that I can use to quickly get to where I want my photos to be. The fact that Aperture has really great preset capability is awesome.

      And the organizational features are a huge cherry on top. They blow Lightroom out of the water and make my life a lot easier!

  • Jason

    It took me over 6 months to decide which one I was going to use and I chose Aperture. I just like the interface much better than Lightroom. Lightroom seems good but it’s just too much work and it’s full of gimmicky filters. People say Aperture is like iPhoto on steroids, which may be true, but Lightroom seems like Instagram on steroids. As soon as I see any filter that can make my photos look like drawings, it turns me right off. If I want a drawing, I’ll get out my charcoals and paper thank you very much. I don’t like gimmicks.

  • Tõnu

    If I could I’d choose Aperture 3. I tried Lightroom for a few months as well but somehow it is a lot easier to organize and manage a lot of photos in aperture. I also +1 to the somewhat forced workflow of LR.

    The downside is that I’m currently running my whole digital photo + scan archive from a Synology NAS and that puts a rather severe speed cap to the browsing experience. Launching the ~700GB aperture library usually around 30sec to launch, which is somewhat stupid if I just needed to quickly grab one photo. I tried using Aperture with referred originals in a folder-structure and keeping the main library on my work laptop’s SSD but with 8+ years of intensive photography the aperture library is still around 40GB just with the metadata and previews and some modified raw files. 40GB hogs a big chunk out of my already filled up SSD. Don’y see this working after a year or two.

    Also moving out from this single-file archive (everything contained in one aperture library file) is rather painful.

    At the moment I’ve reverted back to just Bride, a good folder structure and Photoshop. But I do miss the thumbnail scrollthrough of a month / year / tag / person.

    Also! A mild warning about Picasa. It totally f__ked up about a years worth of data before I figured out what was happening

    http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/picasa/picasa-for-mac/NVzXm1L8Mfc for example

    • Matt Corkum

      Though it’s a pain, I would definitely export different projects as Libraries. Just a few here and there while you’re working and eventually you’ll be able to cut your massive library down.

      I have three libraries for each year – my real estate shoots, my portrait, fashion and family shoots, and my wedding shoots. And then my main library – landscapes/views/things, friends, family, personal photography.

      They all load very quickly and it’s very easy for me to find things.

  • noko

    Lr. Aperture is an amateur’s tool

    • Matt

      This is a silly comment. And in typical fashion, there is no support argument or evidence.

      Both are fantastic tools used by professionals.

      • noko

        Nope. Aperture is used by pseudo profesional macfags, Lr is used by actual profesionals

      • Matt

        Wow, really selling yourself well with the use of “macfags.” Really mature there, noko.

        If you think it takes a certain piece of software to be a pro, then I feel sorry for you. You’re making fun of “macfags,” but you’re being a gear head – ask any *real* photographer and they will tell you it’s not about the gear.

  • http://www.pobox.com/~meta/ mathew

    AfterShot Pro.

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  • http://www.kodilane.com kodilane

    I started juggeling back and forth between lightroom and aperture but both had features i Enjoyed. after the recent update of lightroom 4.1 I just found the whole organization to become increasingly slower. Im trying to organize files and move things into folders, and I have to wait minutes just to move a few jpgs to a new folder. Lightrooms file organization never did it for me. Aperture was always so much more streamlined, and just doing things right, and nothing less. I enjoyed Lightrooms crop feature, and some other of the “design” elements, but for organization which is all I really need because photoshop does all my image editing anyway, Im switching back to lightroom and this time for good.

  • Rob

    I want to like LR but its interface feels gaudy to me, its backup capabilities are not adequate and a lot of its features seem to revolve around gimmicks. I do like LR’s roundtrip editing in PS and wish I could do the same with Aperture.

    Having gone from a photography student > programmer > graphic designer > UI/UX developer over the last 18 years and now back to budding photographer my sensibilities seem in tune with Aperture mainly because its interface is clean, its editing tools respond quickly, its method of organizing photos is intuitive (to me) and it seems to run bit quicker on my 2009 iMac. Although I have a few gripes with Aperture (as I do with most software), I find it best meets my needs. For the tasks Aperture cannot do for me I use Photoshop CS6 and then import back into Aperture.

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