Aperture 3 vs. Lightroom 3 Review - again

I was going to try to use Apple Aperture 3 for portrait shoots and use Lightroom 3 for large engagements like weddings and events.  You can beat Lightroom 3 for speed and workflow.  But Aperture 3 has some real nice brushes for skin smoothing, retouching, and blurring that would allow me to aleviate the need to go to Photoshop.  I can do some level of smooting and retouching in Lightroom 3, but it isn't as powerful as Aperture 3. 

So I did an executive photography shoot in my studio and decided give Aperture 3 the business.  I did an in camera white balance with my WhiBal card.  I brought the photos into Aperture and did my photo editing.  I had about a dozen photos so the the speed and workflow concerns aren't a big deal. 

The photos looked pretty good, but there were a few things that I just didn't like.  So for comparison purposes I imported the photos into Lightroom.  To my surprise the skin tones were more natural with Lightroom.  The Aperture skin tones were a little red and the vignette control just didn't give me a dark enough vignette and I wasn't able to control the shape and tone of the vignette as well as Lightroom.

These two pictures don't really show the differences that well. On my screen the differences were more pronounced.  The photograph on the left is from Lightroom and the photograph on the right is from Aperture.

I will still use Aperture for my home photographs and video management.  I was hoping the Lightroom 3 when it went into production would have better video support.  I can't wait for Adobe anymore so I bought Aperture 3 and love the video support and the slideshow feature which allows me to produce great movies that combine stills, video, and music.

The KILLER feature of Lightroom 3 is the Lens Correction feature.  I hand hold a lot of group portraits at weddings.  I try to get my lines straight in camera, but they always seemed to need to be tweaked in Photoshop.  This feature allows me to get nice straight lines and remove all lens distortion, saving me from a lot of round trips to Photoshop.  The noise reduction is much better and the overal image quality is much improved over Lightroom 2.

Aperture 3 Performance and Usability Review

I figured out how to get Apple's Aperture 3 to perform in a similar manner as Lightroom.  I upgraded my Mac Pro's graphics card from the nVidia GeForce 7300 GT to the ATI Radeon HD 4870 Graphics Card.  Aperture 3 takes advantage of all the processing power of the 4870 graphics card and really improves the performance when doing things like retouching,  skin smoothing, or even just changing global parameters like exposure and brightness. 

IMOP - anyone who is considering running Aperture 3 needs to make sure that their graphics card can handle it.  Apple does not specify any minimum configuration for Aperture other than it be a Mac computer with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor.  I have a Mac Book and Aperture 3 runs like a dog on it, it really isn't usable.

I have been using Aperture 3 for about six weeks now and there are still a few things that bug me.

They implemented most of the brushes perfectly.  I can modify a brushes' intensity after I have applied it and I can have multiple adjustments in case I want to control them independently. But for some reason when it comes to the retouch brush I can't modify the opacity after I have applied it (I can only modify just before I apply it and if I get it wrong I have to go back and delete it and re-do it), and I can't have multiple retouch adjustments.   Since I use the retouch a lot this would be a great enhancement.  The spot and retouch tool works in the same manner.

I still prefer how Lightroom allows me to sync adjustments from image to image, and I like how when I draw a mask using Lightroom's adjustment brush that I can change multiple parameters, like exposure, saturation, clarity, etc..


- Add retouch brush like Aperture and be able to change each brush independently.

- Add video and slideshow support like Aperture. 


- Give me independent brushes for retouching and spot removal so I can modify them at a later time.

- Allow me to sync changes as easily as Lightroom (I really love Lightroom's Previous button)

Lightroom 3 Beta 2 Review

What has changed since Lightroom 3 Beta 1?


  • IMAGE QUALITY with the new noise reduction is much better.  You have to play around with the Luminance, Detail, and Contrast sliders in conjunction with the Sharpening amounts to get a look that you like.  I was trying some different settings with the Luminance slider and you can get some very strange looking texture in your images if you tune these things wrong.  The sample on the left is from LR 2 and the one on the right is from LR 3 Beta 2.  LR 3 is definitely cleaner, but you lose a little detail.  The settings were the same for both photographs. It would be nice if you could brush in noise reduction like in Aperture 3 rather than applying noise reduction to the entire photograph.

  • TETHER SUPPORT - this worked with my Nikon D700 for a few frames and then I couldn't get it to work again.  I am sure they will work the bugs out of this before it is released.  The implemenation is clean and simple and will be a great new addition.  Aperture 3 Tether left a copy of the images on my CF card as well as downloading them to my laptop, Lightroom 3 does not.  
  • VIDEO SUPPORT - this is definitely a reaction to Aperture 3 video support and it shows.  All Adobe did was allow you to import the video file into your Lightroom catalogue ... that is it.  What a joke.  You can't edit it, you can't include it in a slideshow. If you click on the thumbnail it will play in your default video player.  I hope a lot more is coming in the final release.
  • IMPORT - Adobe broke the import function in Lightroom 3 Beta 1 by adding to much functionality and slowing it down from Lightroom 2.  Lightroom 2 import was clean,  simple and fast.  LR3B2 import seemed quicker, but I still like the LR 2 interface better.
  • PERFORMANCE - Beta 3 does seem to be a little quicker overall than Beta 1 or even Lightroom 2.  This is where Lightroom just punishes Aperture 3. When you make a change in this new release, the image is changed immediatley. 

Compeition is good.  Adobe is definitely reacting to Apple's Aperture video and tether support.  They have a long way to go to catch up to the Aperture 3 video support.   Aperture also has book designing, faces recognition, location (GPS) support, and a slideshow feature with video support that puts Lightroom to shame.  

Aperture 3 Review Update

I have been using Aperture 3 for the past couple of weeks trying to become more comfortable with the interface. I updated to 3.0.1. It seems a bit more stable and a bit faster, but still not fast enough. I did a test with five images from a wedding that I photographed last year. I edited the images with Lightroom and then did the same adjustments in Aperture. It took 12 minutes in Lightroom and 15 minutes in Aperture ... 25% more time. Some of that has to do with me being more comfortable with Lightroom, though I did practice in Aperture quite a bit to minimize that. I made videos of the two tests, you can click here to see them:
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Aperture 3 vs. Lightroom Review


I have used Lightroom for a few years since its first release.  I tried Aperture 1 and Aperture 2 and never found them compelling enough to switch from Lightroom.  Unless Lightroom 3 has video support (like Aperture 3) when it is released,  I  will be buying  a copy of Aperture 3.


My biggest headache before I used Lightroom  was getting through the editing process for weddings.   I was using Photo Mechanic for file management, Capture One for RAW processing,  and Photoshop to do any special effects or cleanup.  It would take me days to edit the 400 to 500 images from each wedding.  Lightroom cut that time in half.  The RAW processing wasn't as good as Capture One but the productivity gains far out weighed the image quality difference.  In my opinion, for smaller jobs where you have less than a couple dozen photos that you edit,  the editing workflow / products you use isn't going to make that much difference in your productivity. For bigger jobs, products like Lightroom can save your marriage.

The other headache that I have had was managing my photos and videos for my personal/home photography.  I see myself adding video to my professional work in the near future, so this fusion thing is important to me.  I tried IPhoto with IMovie but I found them kludgy and I just never liked how Apple would try to make the programs simple for the novice user and take away the ability to really manage your files (if you wanted to).   I also tried to use Lightroom and IMovie but that was not very elegant either. Aperture 3 allows me to manage my home photos and videos in the same program, store files where I want them, and produce great sideshows that integrate still photos, video, music, text and transitions in a very elegant manner.  


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