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Why shouldn't I switch to Lightroom? #1
Judy Hancock's picture
by Judy Hancock
December 21, 2013 - 11:53am

Well, I’m sick of waiting for Aperture 4. I do love Aperture, but it’s looking pretty dog-eared next to Lightroom. Before I make the switch, I’m wondering if there are good reasons that you folks would suggest that I NOT switch??

- Judy

Richard Harrison's picture
by Richard Harrison
December 21, 2013 - 1:52pm

If your workflow includes PS, the answer might be there is no reason. They are highly integrated and thus play well together. But like Aperture neither are independently or collectively the Holy Grail. If that were the case the good folk at DxO Optics, Nik, Topaz, Photomatix and onOne would have no constituency - and obviously they do. Since you’ll be faced with a learning curve anyway you might want to try one or all of these as Aperture plug-ins - they can all be had on trials for evaluation. And they all also can be used as plug-ins, stand-alones or both.

And consider: Photoshop is probably the most widely used and broadly capable of all the software available in today’s market and shows little sign of losing that status anytime soon despite the best efforts of the Adobe marketing gurus. And yet with the exception of DxO Optics (a real work of art) I believe all these programs began their journey as PS plugins; that is, extending its capabilities!

I used to spend time doing the LR/Aperture Waltz until it finally dawned on me that quite a few superb photographs had been made long before any of these programs existed. Even though I more than willingly take advantage of the features inherent in digital imaging to improve my work in post, I think I need to focus most of my effort on getting it right in camera. I think I’ll become a better photographer that way and that’s my goal. Else I’ll become a better editor, but that isn’t my goal.

I realize that choice of a post software suite is more frequently than not for enthusiasts driven by the economics of the situation. It was for me. I started way back with Aperture because I am a Mac Fanboy. I added DxO because I worked with a commercial photog who was sponsored by them and I got a free copy. I added Photomatix to give HDR a try but for the most do not care for the process. onOne’s Photo Effects got connected to my workflow because I really love some of the presets and because it provided layering without the necessity of using PS (which I couldn’t afford). I’ve toyed with Nik Silver Efex but haven’t incorporated it in my workflow. And a couple of weeks ago I signed on to Adobe CC for the “photographers” PS/LR package ($9.99/mo). Why? Well, I spent some time recently with Tony Corbell (Google him) and he made a passing comment that if you want to achieve what your heroes in this business do, then it helps to do what they do. Makes sense. The real value in all this to me has been that I’ve tried most of what’s available and it’s been a great learning experience. Now I take for me what is the best from all of them and simply leave the rest. My time behind the lens is more valuable to me than my time hovering over a Wacom. Happy Holidays!


- Loving Life On The Edge Of The Milky Way

gfsymon's picture
by gfsymon
December 22, 2013 - 12:48pm

Exceptional post Richard.  Eloquent, informed, considered, interesting. Reminds me of the old days of the internet. :)

“if you want to achieve what your heroes in this business do, then it helps to do what they do.”

I’m guessing this is a bit ‘throw away’ but, if you want to ‘emulate’ your heroes, okay, but if what you really want is to achieve what they have … then you need to do it differently.  That means, do ‘what you feel in your heart’, no matter what anyone else thinks.  This is the only road to greatness.  Ironically, it is the same road that leads to obscurity.

Stuart's picture
by Stuart
December 21, 2013 - 3:20pm


Richard provided some good information. I myself have been going back and forth between Lightroom and Aperture. I have been using Lightroom since version one.  In fact my first copy of Lightroom was free since I had purchased a life time agreement with Rawshooter by Pixmantec. They where acquired by Adobe in June 2006. Have had every version since then.

When I switched from a PC to a Mac about 5.5 years ago I decided to give Aperture a try. I think the price for version one at that time was around 499.00 but I was able to get it for 299.00. So it was a huge investment. Now it sells for under $80.00.

I like Richard jumped on to the $9.99 per month deal for Adobe Lightroom/Photoshop CC. In fact I had the full Cloud package that cost $49.99 but changed when they came out with this offer. To me that was a no brainer. You get two powerful programs with continuing updates with no extra charge. As long as it stays at $9.99 I plan to keep it.

But I still have and use Aperture and plan to keep it going at least until I see what Apple plans are with Aperture. It would be really nice if Apple would make some sort of statement on the further of Aperture. It sure would make life a lot easier.

Just so you know I run Aperture Library on an external Drobo 5D via Thunderbolt connection on a Macbook Pro Retina Display June 2012. I run it as a reference library so am able to use the same images for both Aperture and Lightroom. Have also started doing more with OnOne since the latest version 8 was released in November 2013. That plug-in has come a long ways over the last couple years.

Overall both programs are good and both do have there pros and cons. I do feel Apple is starting to fall behind. If they don’t do something soon with a major upgrade with Aperture   I really feel more photographers may start to jump ship.


Best and Happy Holidays

Judy Hancock's picture
by Judy Hancock
December 21, 2013 - 6:11pm

I love OnOne’s Perfect PhotoSuite 7 and now 8, and use it quite a bit. I like Aperture for its organization and making books. I’m a definite Apple Fangirl and have been since 1981. I hate the idea of renting software and am reluctant to support Adobe as long as they are moving in that direction, even though Lightroom is still available to own (for now). And I think if Aperture is upgraded, it may well leap-frog Lightroom in terms of features.

I’m using a brand new 27” iMac with Fusion Drive and 3 Tb of storage, as well as a 3 year old MacBook Pro. I love the iMac’s big screen for photo editing.

Just trying to decide whether the learning curve is worth switching. I’m one of Apple’s biggest fans but am getting fed up with the secrecy around Aperture. Are they going to upgrade it to 4.0 or not??

- Judy

Charles Putnam's picture
by Charles Putnam
December 21, 2013 - 6:14pm

I like a lot of others jumped on Adobe’s Photoshop Photography Program.  Since I got back into photography in 2000, Photoshop has been my main editor.

Lr’s strongest feature is the develop module, and the variety of available presets.  But, IMHO, Aperture’s project based management, better slideshow and book module (five total available printers vs. one for Lr, and Blurb’s quality is all over the place), 

On 70-80% of my images, I can basically get the same develop results in either Aperture or Lr - I finally reached the point where Aperture is my primary DAM (I’m also heavily invested in the Mac ecosystem).

I’m more than peeved that Apple hasn’t updated Aperture (heck, even the Aperture Features in Depth page still references iOS5).  Do I think Apple will eventually do a major update?  Personally - yes.  They’re aware of what’s written on their discussion boards, here and elsewhere.

It’d just be nice of Apple would own up as to what their plans are.

Bob Rockefeller's picture
by Bob Rockefeller
December 22, 2013 - 7:55am

Whether Aperture or Lightroom is a better choice for you depends so much are what you do with your photography. They are both powerful tools. Which features in any software package are key to your work and workflow?

Some advantages I see in Aperture vs. Lightroom:

  • More Mac-like interface
  • Better organizational tools (particularly Aperture’s concept of a folder)
  • Integration with Apple’s ecosystem
  • Arbitrary metadata fields (create your own)
  • Customizable display of metadata
  • Simple backup (vaults)
  • Better dual-screen functionality
  • No modules - you can do most anything most any time

I own and use them both. My start, as many here, was with Aperture back when it was expensive - and the only non-destructive RAW workflow tool around. But Lightroom’s development tools and printing flexibility keep pulling me back towards it. Right now, I’m an Aperture user who owns and understands Lightroom. That may be reversing.

Bob Rockefeller
Midway, GA

Florian Cortese's picture
by Florian Cortese
December 22, 2013 - 9:18am

For me, it’s all about file management.  I switched from PCs to Mac about 6 years or so ago and started getting into photography seriously about 5 years ago.  Since I was now a Mac user (I’m on my second MBP and will plan on leaping to a retina display when the new 2014s get released), I went with Aperture.  Since then I’ve added NIK and then Ps (I do some teaching at the local college and qualify for the educational discount) then Photomatix. I, too, recently took the $9.99 offer of Adobe for Lr and PsCC and began looking in depth at Lr’s organizational structure.  I found it really inferior to Aperture’s for my tastes and workflow. Aperture’s folder/project/album set up seems more intuitive and easier to use.  I am a follower of Joseph’s y-m-d naming and organizing system.  I do 90% of my post-porcessing in Aperture and find the adjustments available to me through Aperture to work just fine for a majority of the time.  When I feel I need to do more and/or get a certain look to the photo, I reach for NIK first and use Ps mainly for content aware work or on occasion merging elements from two different exposures of the same image. So I guess, it all comes down to what works for you and which program you feel meets your needs.  Like others here, I am disappointed not to hear something about Aperture with the release of the Mac Pro line. I hope Apple is listening to all of us frustrated and up to now faithful users.

Happy Holidays to all.

Florian Cortese

Gray Fox's picture
by Gray Fox
December 23, 2013 - 9:26am

Aperture or Lightroom - one of the perinneal questions discussed in this forum.  Exactly one year ago, I reached my frustration point with the lack of new features and improvements being added to Aperture, so I made the switch to Lightroom. Here we are a year later and still waiting for the upgrade! 

As a 1-year user of Lightroom, I find that it too has its faults.

1) I find the file management (or lack thereof) to be be very confusing. There are still times when I can’t find the files that I just imported. And, even though I duplicate all files and catalogs, I do not how I will re-build all of the edits should my primary photo-drive crash.

2) The lack of flexibility caused by the Module organization is frustrating. I can not crop an image, for example, unless I am in the Develop Module.

3) Creating Slideshows is not as cool as Aperture.

4) Importing is much slower than Aperture

5) And this a biggie for me - Aperture is great for sharing photos with others in (and out of) the Apple ecosystem. I still have not figured out how to do that in Lightroom.

Even with all of those negatives (and a few more) I use Lightroom for 80% of my image editing tasks because the image editing engine is far superior to Aperture’s.  I really like such tools as gradients and Radial Filters, good sharpening and noise reduction and powerful, multi-function brushes. 

In conclusion, Photos that will shared go in my Aperture Library and all of my ‘serious’ photos go into Lightroom.

Walter Rowe's picture
by Walter Rowe
December 23, 2013 - 10:29am

Multi-function brushes really are powerful. For those who have never used Lightroom, imagine being able to brush in the effects of multiple adjustments bricks at one time with one brush. There are plusses to having them separate as Aperture does it in terms of testing each one to know exactly what you want done. However, there are times when you know you want a little color temperature, a little exposure, a little mid-tone contrast all at once. Aperture is much more limited in supporting brushing in different white balances (color temperature). Lightroom is enormously versatile in that regard. I love Aperture’s user interface and it Aperture has far superior book and slideshow tools. I prefer Aperture’s DAM (digital asset management) as well. I also like Aperture’s database repair and rebuild features that Lightroom is missing altogether. Lightroom has multi-function brushes, far better noise reduction, and lens correction & perspective control.

gfsymon's picture
by gfsymon
December 24, 2013 - 1:23am

Multi-function brushes are very nice.

I’d be happy with the one feature I’ve really wanted in Aperture since day-1.  Copying brush masks between bricks/layers.  The mask isn’t brushed in everywhere and on all bricks at the same time, but it amounts to the same thing and really, gives more control.  This is the way I’ve been working for over 15 years (dragging masks and brush masks between layers) and it’s fast and efficient.  Of course, it begs the aid of another new feature … we need to be able to enter some descriptive text on bricks/layers.

Bob Rockefeller's picture
by Bob Rockefeller
December 24, 2013 - 2:17pm

I’ve tried Lightroom on and off for years and can never fully make the move. I just finished my latest foray and am back. I wrote up some thoughts here:

Bob Rockefeller
Midway, GA

Kenny Poulsen's picture
by Kenny Poulsen
December 29, 2013 - 8:03am

#1 If you don´t know  why you shouldn’t switch to Lightroom, then just make the switch.

Because chance is that you don´t use the major advantage functions of Aperture at all, else you would´t ask.

And you seem to be happy to pay the Adobe premium and to be happy to accept the uncertainty in Adobe´s future price policy.

Walter Rowe's picture
by Walter Rowe
January 4, 2014 - 5:25am

I don’t agree with this at all. A person might not know whether to switch because they are not very familiar with Lightroom. Without know all the strengths of Lightroom it would be difficult for anyone to thoughtfully determine whether the switch is right for them. I recommend anyone to download th free trial of Lightroom and really spend time with it. I have my own reasons for choosing Aperture, but I maintain an excellent knowledge and skill base in Lightroom so that I can speak intelligently about it on where I am Editor/Owner. I also like to follow Lightroom to determine whether I might switch back. I used Adobe products for many years and I maintain a CC subscription for Photoshop and Lightroom.

TattooedMac's picture
by TattooedMac
December 29, 2013 - 2:08am

Going to LR is a learning curve. I have tried it for the Trial period and just couldn’t bring myself to go back to it. I love the File Structuring in Aperture, and the UI, but too am disappointed that Apple has again/still forgetting the Photographers, while ponying up for the Pro Movie Makers. As with Mac OS X, Aperture is simplistic yet still powerful, and my workflow in Aperture is Logical. With LR, i seem to be running over my legs as i go around in circles, trying to accomplish something I thought would be easy enough to do.

All in all, I am still a Apple man, and will happily stay with Aperture, but feel like going to and starting a petition to give to Mr Tim Cook, and tell him to be upfront and transparent with all of us, because, i still see more people moving to LR if he doesn’t give us something to smile about soon.

At the end of the day, the power of Aperture is enough for me, and with the Nik Collection and some other presets, I’m happy playing around, but makes me think more of the images i take. Do what YOU feels right to you, not what I or anybody else is doing. You need to feel that the Software is doing what you want, and if LR is what you want, move on aver and give adobe your $ :)

__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __
Arguing with a zealot is only slightly easier than tunnelling through a mountain with your forehead.
"Can't innovate any more, my ass" Phil Schiller

smb's picture
by smb
December 29, 2013 - 1:40pm

Lightroom has multi-function brushes, far better noise reduction, and lens correction & perspective control.

One would hope Aperture 4 would address these very issues.

How exactly do you see LR improving what you do, over Aperture?

Like many above, the organizational skills of Aperture are what keep me a fan. Just went from an old Mac Pro (3.1) to a 27” iMac with Fusion Drive and a Drobo 5D on the side. Cleaned house and everything is where I need it. So I am in to Aperture for a while longer. I would agree completely with those who work at getting it right in the camera and not rely on post processing. But my love is nature photography and the subject often supplies the art. I shoot RAW, so I do some processing out of necessity, but any of the Editing systems would do. With Libraries and Vaults storing images from 2008 I can find anything quickly. 

In the end you have to think about what kind of shooting  you do, how important a filing system is, how much time you plan on post processing an image and how much “art work” you do in processing. Some people do fine with Elements/iPhoto others max out PS. The key is taking the time to learn the system and how to add to it, instead of jumping all around.


Walter Rowe's picture
by Walter Rowe
January 4, 2014 - 5:26am

I was a long time Adobe user. I moved to Apeture two years ago and anxiously await a major update to Aperture. I do see features in Lightroom that I wish Aperture would include like lens correction, naming adjustment bricks, combining adjustments into a single brush (or copying the brush mask itself to other adjustments), complete support for Adobe DNG file format including exporting it with embedded previews, yada yada yada.

David Edge's picture
by David Edge
January 1, 2014 - 1:40pm

When I was at University in 1980 I used a Texas Instruments scientific calculator. When I went back 20 years later I bought a Casio - it was a bit cheaper. It drove me up the wall! It went in the bin and I bought another Texas. I just couldn’t get the hang of the different layout. (But then I made the PC / Mac transition very quickly. odd, eh?) It’s up to you - you may be more adaptable / younger than me.  

I do lens correction and perspective control using PT Lens and it’s fine for me (but generates a TIFF). I probably only use it on a couple of dozen images a year. For noise see the recent tip about just bunging it up in the raw adjustment brick in Aperture - works well. And loading several adjustments onto a brush sounds useful, but  haven’t missed it - but then my best images that need serious work get sent to Nik.

All down to what you want to use it for / what matters to you plus your adaptability. 


Michael Martin's picture
by Michael Martin
January 3, 2014 - 7:10am

Aperture is better at recovering blown highlights, way better. Try both with the same file and see. In fact, Aperture is better than any RAW processor I have tried.

I have LR and have been using it, but have come home to Aperture. With a little thought, most of the things that seem so good in LR can be done Aperture, then there is PS for the other bits. T

The cloning tool/healing brush in LR sucks in comparison. 

You can’t script easily or use Automator with LR either, which may or may not be important top you.

There are other reasons too, including File Management, but I just prefer the workflow of Aperture.

Butch Miller's picture
by Butch Miller
January 3, 2014 - 7:55am

All I can add to what has already been mentioned is …. I was a staunch Lr user from the very first public beta of v1. I became very disenchanted with Adobe’s progression of improving the Slideshow module and the addition of the Book module. Both features, if they were more productive, would enhance my daily workflow tremendously. In this respect, Aperture flies circles around Lr.

I made my decision to move my entire workflow to Aperture in April 2013 … just weeks before Adobe announced the end of perpetual licensing for CS products … I don’t regret the move and couldn’t be happier with my decision. Mainly because I have more faith that Apple will really impress us with the next iteration … though, I too am becoming very impatient waiting for them to reveal that product.

John Shiever's picture
by John Shiever
January 6, 2014 - 9:49am

It is interesting that in the 5 Day Sale, about half of the presets and other tools are aimed specifically at lightroom users.  As time passes, I am sure that because of the many lightroom users there will be a bias towards Adobe applications.  Another reason to switch?


Butch Miller's picture
by Butch Miller
January 6, 2014 - 10:43am

That … and the fact Lr is dual platform.

KAUFFILMS's picture
January 9, 2014 - 9:46am

In conjuction with the drumbeat business model among the marketeers of competing DAM/digital photo editing enterprises, creating leapfrogging tools and feature sets, generated to appeal to personal preference of workflow modalities, i.e. working smarter. working faster, (working at ALL), I think we all might agree that we’d rather be spending more of our time shooting, than necessary as it is, organizing and processing after the shoot. (wonder why wedding shooters are backlogged on delivery deadlines)
As an independent shooter, I may have the “luxury” of cherry picking which app, suite, plug-in, to get my product delivered in the most efficient time allotted enabling me to maximize profit. If a shooter is working as a staffer, their choices of software are dictated by their organization’s preferred workflow. Personally, I have never seen Aperture listed as a must-be-familiar-with list of apps required to know, in a commercial production environment. Dare have a look at what SF most staff jobs require the candidate to be competent in. I’m 90% comfortable using Aperture, but if the product needs multiple layers and masking, I’m SOL.
Which, brings me to my point; the immutable Moore’s Law. 
I have made a huge investments in software that currently meet all my daily working requirements.
Am using Aperture 3.45 which is OK with. My MAC OS is 10.7. For me, to get the latest iteration of Aperture, I’d have to upgrade to Mountain Lion or, Maverick.
Doing so, would kill (as in kill) the use of my other working apps. necessitating the need to invest even more to replace my current “working” library. I can’t even upgrade to AP 3.5, let alone A.4 if, and when that comes along. Even FCP X works fine under my current system, though I haven’t checked OS compatibility with FCP 10.1. I can’t even find a high cap ext.HD that can run FW800, my present connection. Current Adobe products, including CC, are still available to run on my OS, though we’ll see how long that will last.
To sum up, do I choose to continually invest in an OS that Moore’s Law seems to suggest is inevitable, or choose to stay where I am. I’m not technically crippled right now, but it would be nice to be able invest in newer cameras, faster lenses, higher storage. A newer computer (sigh)? 
Hard enough to get an assignment at a reasonable rate to profit from all the nagging investment and cost of doing business.
Right now, I can choose and live with what is available to me, but in the back of my mind I can hear Satchell Paige paraphrase …  ”Don’t look back. Instagram might be gaining on you.” 

Mr. Murphy, meet Mr. Moore. Mr. Moore, meet Mr. Tim Cook … (boy, I just love networking)

Bonus idea to Mfr’s. … why not build a COS/COB metadata field in IPC? … Time is money .. money is Time.

Just sayin’.



Flipkal's picture
by Flipkal
January 9, 2014 - 2:23pm

I like what Stan said: “In the end you have to think about what kind of shooting  you do, how important a filing system is, how much time you plan on post processing an image and how much “art work” you do in processing. Some people do fine with Elements/iPhoto others max out PS. The key is taking the time to learn the system and how to add to it, instead of jumping all around.”

I started my venture into post-processing with PS Elements and iPhoto 10 years ago. I’ve graduated to Aperture and CS6. I learned PS before Aperture existed. So I value my skills at being able to ‘craft’ an image using layers and tools in PS. I actually want to spend time crafting my images in PS when I know they will be shown or sold to others in print form. 

I can understand some photographer’s need to ‘slam’ process their images since they are under time constraints for a business or clients. However, this is not my mode of working, and I see no advantage to brushing multiple adjustments at once. I carefully apply adjustments and assess the results. Just my style.

As time passes and your library of images increase, file management becomes a necessity. I love Aperture in this regard. I’ve taken the time to learn how best to manage my images with Aperture, and it is time well spent.

The slide show generator in AP is a great tool. So easy to use, and I look forward to enhancements here. Still better than LR. Same for the book publishing module. I also use the light table to organize presentation of images on the wall. Faces comes in very handy when pulling images together for family members and friends. Photostream/iCloud integration is getting better, and LR cannot do this at all. 

I do many architectural photos for websites and brochures. I use PS Adaptive Wide Angle filter to fix converging lines. Here, I think LR has an advantage, but I know the PS tool so well, I use it instead and don’t look back.

My photo group all use Lightroom and I know enough about it to see some of its benefits. But I generally won’t switch because Aperture has some better benefits FOR ME (maybe not for you or others). As Stan said, take the time to learn a system before jumping to something else. 

Phil in Midland

Jeff's picture
by Jeff
February 15, 2014 - 7:06pm

I use Aperture with PS and my external editor.  Best of both worlds IMO.  I can do lens corrections in ACR and even more advanced work with Nik plugins via PS.   I really like the ability to layer different Nik plugin adjustments in PS, so if I want to go back I don’t have to start over completely.  However, many images never need this type of editing and just stay home in Aperture happily organized and ready to be shared.  

Ariel Glaze's picture
by Ariel Glaze
February 16, 2014 - 9:56am

Don’t hold your breath for the new Aperture. Switching depends on what’s most important to you.

In my opinion:
Use Lightroom if you:
• want better image quality
• shoot mostly landscapes
• shoot at ISO 6400 and above most of the time
Why? Lightroom’s Raw engine reproduces better detail and colors after edits are applied. Aperture introduces lots of color artifacts. Also LR has better noise reduction and sharpening.

Use Aperture if you:
• want better file management, and multimedia interaction
• shoot mostly portraits
• shoot at low ISO 1600 and below most of the time
Why? Aperture produces beautiful skin colors. At low ISO, you don’t need much noise reduction. Aperture doesn’t really have a noise reduction tool, it’s more symbolic than anything. And file management and everything else is where Aperture excels at.

People will say they can get good quality out of Aperture, but in my experience Aperture does not handle edits as well as Lightroom in terms of less artifacts, better color rendering, exposure, etc. I mean, the main issue with Aperture is that the RAW engine itself (not the editing tools) needs a huge upgrade to better reproduce the edits the tools make.

If image content is most important to you, as in the message behind the image, you won’t care which of the two you use since they both can deliver whatever you’re trying to express.

JJ's picture
by JJ
February 17, 2014 - 2:51pm

I just picked up both, easing into it before deciding but all these responses are very helpful…

donmontalvo's picture
by donmontalvo
May 25, 2014 - 5:28pm

Adobe doesn’t take advantage of the latest OS X core image technology, yadayada. I’ll stick to Pixelmator, thank you very much:

With that said, if you’re not chained down to Adobe products, Pixelmator+Aperature is quite a potent combination…as many of our photographers are beginning to learn. ;)

Richard's picture
by Richard
May 25, 2014 - 6:27pm

For me I just can’t get my head around Lightroom’s interface, it always gets in my way. Aperture, on the other hand, I kind of forget I’m even in it. Just second nature and the images come first. That may just be time in one over the other, but I have used both for quite some time.

Right now Lightroom isn’t even on my radar. I’m using Aperture & DXO Optics Pro. Hopefully one day either Aperture will get native lens/distortion correction, or DXO will get local adjustments. 

Anna's picture
by Anna
December 19, 2014 - 1:07am

you don´t use the major advantage functions of Aperture at all.

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