Aperture Vs. Lightroom: Day 4 - The World in Black and White

by Micah Walter

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One of my favorite added benefits of shooting in RAW format is the ability to set my camera to Black and White and still have the color information preserved. To do this, all I do (on my Canon 20D) is pick the B/W Parameter setting. As long as I am working in RAW format, all I am really doing is "viewing" the picture in B/W on the LCD screen. I'm actually still shooting in color.

This really helps me to visualize what the image would look like if I were shooting in B/W. It helps me to see the differences in tone, and allows me to "think" in black and white. Later, if I decide I really needed a color image, I still have the RAW file and all is well.

Both Aperture and Lightroom (and I suspect a number of other applications) handle the B/W images from my 20D in essentially the same way. When I begin to import the images I see the thumbnails in B/W. Then after a bit of processing time goes by, they all turn to color. I don't know exactly what is happening here, because, well, I never cared to ask. But, I presume the RAW file's built in thumbnail is coming up first in B/W, and then Aperture and Lightroom are processing their own thumbnails and ignoring the B/W setting.

To be honest, I'm totally fine with this behavior. If I really did want B/W, all I would need to do would be to change them back to B/W in Aperture or Lightroom. This is where things begin to differ a little in the two apps.

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In Aperture, I can convert an image to B/W in a number of ways. There is no obvious "Turn me to B/W" button that I know of, but I know from my experiences a number of easy ways to go grayscale. I can either turn my saturation down to zero, or I can select the Monochrome Mixer option (found in the + menu at the top of the Adjustments Inspector), or I could pick one of the B/W presets such as Sepia Tone. Once I have my first image set to B/W, I can use the Lift and Stamp tools to easily apply the setting to the whole shoot.

In Lightroom getting to this same point is a little more obvious. Select an image, click the Develop Module, and under Treatment, select Grayscale. Then, to apply this setting to the rest of the shoot, just hit Command-A to select the entire set, and hit Sync... at the bottom of the right hand Panel.

I'm going to stop here to make two observations. First, in Lightroom, when I click Grayscale, I get something very close to what I was looking at on the back of my camera. In Aperture, if I hit Monochrome Mixer, I get a pretty flat B/W image. Second, Aperture takes its good sweet time rendering the thumbnails back to B/W on my MacBook Pro. I'm not really sure why this is such an intensive process for Aperture, but it does take some time. What I notice in Lightroom is that there is a good deal of processing going on there as well, but LR seems to be just a little more graceful about it. When I scroll down in Grid View in LR, the color thumbs on the screen quickly convert back to B/W, whereas in Aperture it seems to be converting images with some unknown agenda. At first I thought it was going from the bottom up, but then it seemed to be processing them at random. I'm still not sure what is going on with that.

I told myself I wasn't going to be doing any speed comparisons here, but I can't help myself. LR is just faster in this regard, and for those of you who are wondering, I began the week with empty libraries for both Aperture and Lightroom and have added the same number of images to both libraries.

Okay, enough about speed. Lets move on to B/W processing. First I should say, I am not a real pro at making B/W conversions. I have been shown a thing or two by colleagues, and I have made a few B/W prints from digital files, but that's about it. Color has pretty much dominated my work for the past few years. That said, I do love B/W and have been having a ball today, rediscovering how much fun it is.

So I began by importing an image set that I shot of a small party in my neighborhood into Lightroom. I shot the party with the B/W setting on my 20D (mostly for the fun of showing the pics on the LCD to the guests) and after the color versions showed up in LR I followed the steps to convert them back to B/W that I mentioned above. I also imported the same images into Aperture and applied the Monochrome Mixer to the set using the Lift and Stamp tools.

My goal here was to pick an image I liked and see what I could do with the various controls in B/W. Just like yesterday's post, I am mostly interested in which program's controls are more intuitive, and which seem to lead me down the path towards a nice image.

Lets begin with Aperture. First off, the picture I selected turned out to not be from the party at all, but instead a picture of our new puppy on our porch that I shot just before leaving for the party. What is interesting about this picture is that it was shot at ISO 800 for a half second. I just set the camera on the ground and hoped the puppy wouldn't move too much. The second reason I thought this might make an interesting example is due to the fact that the lighting was all coming from a couple of overhead fluorescent tubes that had been covered in a green gel. So for all practical purposes, the light was already monochromatic. I don't expect you will find yourselves in a similar situation anytime soon, but, one of the things I really like to work with is odd lighting, and I really enjoy trying to make the best out of a less than ideal circumstance. In fact it was the green lights that got me thinking in black and white to begin with.

In Aperture I have no trouble getting the image to a point where I am happy. I take advantage of the exposure, levels, and highlight and shadow sliders to make the image pop a little more than the original RAW shot. I also added some sharpness, and played around with the Monochrome Mixer. Because the lights were all green, the only slider that had any effect here was the green channel slider. So I bumped it up a little and it seemed to add a little brightness. I tried playing with the noise reduction sliders but I didn't see too much of a difference, so I left them unchecked. I then cropped the picture a little and I was done.

In Lightroom I had a very similar experience. However, I did have some fun playing with the Curves tool. Also, I saw a fairly positive effect from the Noise reduction sliders.

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Top image processed in Aperture, bottom in Lightroom.

After reviewing both shots I see that for whatever reason, I got a slightly (in my opinion) better result from Lightroom. Maybe it had to do with my working in full screen mode with nearly no surround vs. Lightoom where I had a gray surround and a couple of Panels open. I'm really not sure, but I do like the Lightroom version better. Could I replicate the Lightroom version in Aperture? I would think it would be no problem at all.

After I finished playing with the puppy picture I tried converting a color image of a horse to B/W (see the shot at the top of this post). I wanted to try out some of the color mixing capabilities. My results were good, but inconclusive. Both Lightroom and Aperture, in their own unique ways seemed to do the job. I was able to exaggerate the tones in the sky to mimic a red filter simply by adjusting the Blue channel in the color mixers. It seemed to work in both Aperture and Lightroom equally well.

So, that's about it for tonight. It's getting pretty late here in the Caribbean, so please excuse any grammar issues this time! Tomorrow, I am doing this restaurant shoot in the afternoon. It will probably involve some lighting setups for food shots, a few basic interior shots, and maybe some environmental portraits. I am just hoping they let me eat the food I shoot, and drink a couple of beers on the house.


2007-02-22 20:19:16
PS I forgot to mention, I spent a good portion of the morning drooling over the new Canon 1D Mark III that was announced today. All I have to say is... Whoa!
David Medina
2007-02-22 20:29:47
Hope you are enjoying your time in the Caribbean. At least for this week you are my neighbor (I am in Puerto Rico). Thanks for confirming what I need to hear. Both tools do their conversion job well. It comes down to what tools fits in ones workflow and style of working. For me it is Aperture for shure.

The clincher for me are (1) library part of Aperture (smart albums, projects, vault, light table, the pick and choose system, exporting projects, two screens, Adjust. HUD, stacks and versions) and (2) the fact that I can do anything I want no matter what "module" of Aperture I am at the time. Those are thing that make my workflow better and more efficient. Things that unfortunately are lacking in LR at this time and keep it from being the right tool for me.

Aperture is indeed a solid tool that can only get better!

Looking forward to tomorrow.

2007-02-22 21:35:09
I noticed that in both test shots, the cocktail and the puppy, your lightroom version is a little brighter than your aperture version. Lighter exposure, or maybe more shadow detail on the subject, or maybe a touch overexposed in the background, depending on whether you like it or not.

Now, 2 out of 2 is hardly statistical proof, but it's interesting. Do you think it's the influence of the palettes? screen size? something making you focus more on background or foreground? lightroom sliders making more of a change than apertures? or just random chance, two coin flips coming up heads?

thanks for the comparison.

Daniel Mendez
2007-02-22 21:46:49
You can easily do the conversion to BW in Aperture by pressing ctrl-m.

Just for fun, I tried getting the same results of the lightroom image for the Aperture image and I was able get very close with a quick exposure, levels and shadow adjustments. My final image had a bit more contrast, but could be because I was working with a JPG image to begin.

After my conversion, the Aperture image still showed more detail in the highlights on the floor by the puppy..

Cute puppy by the way :)

Daniel Mendez
2007-02-22 21:56:01
== I had the same observation as Roger regarding the brightness (before his post showed up) and that led me to the test I posted below, where you can do some minor tweaks to get the images look almost identical (and perhaps better shadow detail in Aperture?).

Roger, in the cocktail image, the Aperture image had better shadow reproduction and seemed brighter (see the table). I think the Aperture image was on the right...
Micah, are you doing the conversions at the same time (i.e. one after the other) or is there some time in between? Is the lighting the same?

2007-02-22 22:05:09
As someone already pointed out, Ctrl-M is the "obvious" Aperture way of selecting greyscale. The menus let you pick a few filter presets (the default is sort of film-like in its R:G:B mix). As for speed: when I change a single image to b&w in aperture, it's pretty dast. I do get the impression, though, that lift-and-stamp is a bit slow. (Maybe due to the way the database is organized? Or the code just isn't optimized? Dunno.)

I think that in Lightroom, you may not want to use Sync (from one b&w image) to turn all images to b&w. As I understand it, when you select Greyscale in Lightroom, it figures out a mix of the colors that gives "best" tonal separation for the image in question. That may not be the best mix for other images. Even in Aperture, I tend to do each b&w separately, at least trying out the look of the different pre-defined filters.

One thing I love about Lightroom is b&w conversion coupled with the targeted adjustments. No need to remember what color a certain area was in order to change the tonal balance: just click the tool in the area (the affected color slider(s) will light up in the panel) and drag. Simple concept, but wow! Makes things a lot more intuitive,a t least for me. That's something I'd love for Apple to copy. That and split toning (which right now I have to do in Photoshop...)

And I very strongly agree with you: for me, digital has finally made me enjoy b&w (in my own work, that is -- I've always envied good b&w photographers). I never had the knack for selecting the "right" filter for b&w film up-front. With digital, shooting color and then converting to b&w at my leisure is just a joy, and even an inexperienced person like me has a chance of producing good b&w.

2007-02-22 22:57:38
whoops, sorry Daniel, you're right.
Jan Steinman
2007-02-22 23:06:39
In both the comparisons I've seen so far, I prefer the Aperture version -- even before reading which is which. It seems to me Lightroom is blowing out highlight detail.

I haven't used Lightroom, but I must say I really love the control Aperture gives me in B&W conversion. I'm Photo/Illustration Editor for a magazine that is B&W (except for the cover), and the Monochrome Mixer allows me to optimize the contrast in the image. Two people who are wearing clothing that has the same luminance, but different colors, can have contrast this way. I *do not* want "push-button B&W" in my work!

Yet another way to get even finer control is to use the Color palette. Set all the "S" values all the way to the left, and all the "R" values all the way to the right. Now you can go adjust the "L" for each color to change relative luminance of those colors -- ultimate control!

I even have a bunch of presets that emulate different B&W films, based on their published spectral response. Thanks to someone in Apple's Aperture fora for those!

One thing I dislike is Aperture's lack of press output options. When you export a monochrome image, it still has three channels. Those of us who are going to press still need to go into Photoshop for each image to make it an 8-bit greyscale (single channel) image, and to set the proper dot gain. Perhaps with Adobe's traditional emphasis on supporting print, Lightroom does a better job here, dunno.

Erik J. Barzeski
2007-02-23 00:45:26
I too prefer the Aperture version of the image above. The floor, as others mentioned, is "gone" in the LR version.

If Aperture was faster and had the "click and drag" tool for adjusting luminance, saturation, etc., it'd almost be a no-brainer. As it is, I like Aperture's library, so I'll likely stick with it.

2007-02-23 01:01:34
Generally I prefer the contrast in the LR version, but it's gone a bit far in the foreground - that's operator error, Micah, or maybe the lighting, like someone said. LR's TAT is gorgeously artistic. One neat trick is to drag vignette to the left - which burns in the corners - and makes up for these programs' lack of selective adjustment (such as in LightZone and Capture NX). But while the controls are better in LR, what you can actually achieve in each program is close enough not be be a tipping point.

The big difference is when you are working with volume. Getting to b&w for an entire shoot of images is much faster in LR thanks to the Auto Sync feature - you then fine tune individual ones, either winners or the odd shots with different lighting or subject material. With the program's greater speed, you save a lot of time, and while that lot is being exported as jpegs or whatever (I provide clients with b&w alternatives for every shot) LR doesn't lock up, so you can get on with the next task. Again, more time saved. We tried to do tests on a real 300-shot job (after selects, identical Macs), but I'm smarter than my Aperture-loyal partner so LR got to the winning line (viewing colour, b&w, and sepia galleries) first and we went for a pint.

Where Aperture scores is, as usual, on the management side. You can use smart albums to track down b&w versions of a shoot. With LR you absolutely must remember to save brand new virtual copies as a collection.


2007-02-23 05:00:07
I'm finishing a 4 months trip in Australia, N-Z and Japan. I used aperture, Macbook pro and ma canon 350D. All photos have benn shooted RAW.
For me the prob with aperture is the speed ! Straightening a pic in full screen is a real nightmare!
Based on this blog a download LR and it is faster, metadata are clear (metering, lens, ...) BUT I hate the library module and miss the full screen edit mode. Nothing is perfect .. or aperture 1.6 perhaps ;)
2007-02-23 05:14:00
Wow, it's pretty cool to wake up and see all this discussion going on! For those of you who commented about the comparison of the two puppy pics there are two things going on here. One, I'm on a Mac, and my monitor is set to gamma 1.8, so if you are viewing on a PC, or have your Mac set to a higher gama, the highlight region will probably look pretty blown out. Sorry about this, its hard to please everyone!

Second, I was just looking at the two pics and I'm starting to like the Aperture version a little better. But, I think that this is all subjective stuff. I was going for a very light high key image, trying to draw attention to the nose of the pup... anyway, just a personal preference.

Also, thanks for the tip on Ctrl-M (Aperture). This is the keyboard shortcut to the Monochrome Mixer, so it will give you the same result. My available brainspace for keyboard shortcuts is pretty limited, so I tend to use the menus.

2007-02-23 05:56:11
As much as you don't want to make comparsions on speed,... I am with you, I can't help it! LR just runs way faster, renders thumbs way faster. Wish I knew as well. I WAS a die hard Aperture fan, but since I loaded the LR trial to follwo along with your reviews, my faith has been shaken.

B&W conversion has been and I think always will be a sly art. Before either program there were, what, 8 different ways to make B&W's in photoshop? Both programs speed up the process.

2007-02-23 06:29:29
A great post. But I like the results from Lightroom much more so than from Aperture. Also, remember, you have more experience with Aperture, yet got the better results from Lightroom with little experience! Think of what you can do once you have as much experience with Lightroom in the future. This, to me, is a great sign. :)
David Medina
2007-02-23 07:35:38
While LR has a lot going for it on the Develop module, Don't forget that is based on ACR which ships with PS CS3, so Aperture with PS CS3 is a winning combination, and still get the best of what LR has to offer.

I would say, wait until PMA... I suspect Apple may still blow us away (again) with Aperture 2.0 or something in that line.

Aperture has gotten faster and I asume it will only get faster. I am running Aperture on a G4 PowerMac Tower (According to Apple is not suppose to run) and it runs decently, so I can only imagine how it will run on a MAC PRO.

2007-02-23 08:57:52
I'm really enjoying this series. Being a recent Mac convert my first reaction was to go with Aperture. But there were a few things that just didn't seem intuitive to me coming from a Photoshop background -- namely the organization of Aperture took a while to get used to. In the end, I can live with either system.

What I find particularly interesting is that you initial reaction was that the Lightroom conversion was better. While quality is subjective in any art form, I can't help but wonder if you found it better at the time because of the workflow or the actual RAW conversion. I'm pretty convinced that with enough work comparable results can be obtained from either tool. What I want is the ability to get pleasing results in the least possible amount of time and effort.

I'm curious to keep reading your thoughts!

2007-02-23 09:02:12
"I would say, wait until PMA... I suspect Apple may still blow us away (again) with Aperture 2.0 or something in that line."

And don't you think Adobe might expect that? And won't Apple expect Adobe might expect that? And won't...? This sort of jam tomorrow belief in Apple - alone - is Rumsfeldian logic. You compare released products, not measure one against the other's vapourware.


David Medina
2007-02-23 09:59:34

I think you missed the point. I think we all benefit with the competition from this two companies. By looking at LR new features, it is obvious that Adobe has benefited from Aperture early realease. Now, I am sure, that Apple will react in order to keep his users happy. That is what I was driving at. Actually, I am betting that both companies will react to what each other is doing.

You are obviously a LR fan. and That is ok. I am neither. It seems that in every forum Adobe fans have something to prove, like they have to demonstrate that Adobe still undisputed champion of the World. There is need for that, unless someone has stock in either companies.

I just want a tool that work well for me. And I have been tossed between both awaiting LR final offering while refraining to compare betas with Aperture. I definitively like both, just Aperture works best for my style and workflow.

Now, if you or anyone can demonstrate that a well done RAW conversions in LR are consistently better that in Aperture, or that I cannot accomplish the same kind of image quality in Aperture, I would be the first one to switch. For me, image is king! This is what I have been asking in every forum I participate, but instead of getting objective, useful comments, I just get a very defensive reaction from LR fans. That is not helping me.

That is why I like what Micah and others are doing with this series. They have demonsrtated that they want to help others discover which tool is best for them without any fanaticism.

Kudos for Micah and Oreilly media for daring to be real!

Allan W.
2007-02-23 10:31:41
I much prefer LR's image controls, although in this area Aperture's 1.5 update seemed to improve things a bit. I just think that Adobe's imaging experience shows here, with the smoothness and control one gets for adjusting tonalities in images. An example here.

I wish I could have the best of both, really. I like Aperture's robust organizational & backup tools, and LR's Develop module (again: we need a vignette control!!). I'll probably stick with Photoshop + Aperture for the time being.

2007-02-23 11:05:16

So far as competition is concerned, we're in full agreement - let's hope Microsoft join in too. But the jam tomorrow argument is a fanboy (not you, my partner's one) argument and only ever gets used in Apple's defence. Let's agree I misrepresented what you were driving at.

I am not an Adobe fan, couldn't care less, and nor do I regard Apple as anything more than a brand. Like you I go round saying for me the image is king, I just want the best tools for the job etc. Aren't those just truisms?

With these programs, one-off quality is a sidetrack. We're not judging darkroom one offs - we're comparing machine prints from the lab. That's where LR has a big lead - you can get large numbers of quality b&ws out of the door much faster.


2007-02-23 12:18:27
I'm currently undecided about which product to purchase, currently evaluating both on my G5 dual 1.8 Mac.

Like others, I'm torn by some of the benefits of Apeture's organizational abilities and processing items (edge sharpening and NR). I like LR's slightly more intuitive adjustment panels (histo adjust and levels adjust right in the pic). Plus, I have a Pentax K10D which Apple does not support RAW at this time.

Although I use PS Elements, I'm looking streamline to one product if possible as part of the workflow. The vast majority of my edits are colors/lighting, spot touchups, NR and sharpening. I'm leaning slightly toward LR for the speed, compatibility, and intuitiveness, but I'm thinking that Apeture may have the edge with some of those extended items (sharpening/NR) because would Adobe want to steal market from PS? Then again, there is the potential for SDK/3rd party implementation within LR.

Micah, this has been an awesome project so far, and I'm getting a lot out of it. Could you touch a bit upon your insights with the sharpening/NR items between the two products?

Daveed V.
2007-02-23 14:41:27
Micah: I think it would be worthwhile talking about the "target adjustment tool" combined with the "Grayscale" mode -- I think it's a pretty revolutionary approach to processing in general, and especially effective to B/W conversion. I don't think Aperture has anything that matches that.

I think the idea that whatever is missing from Aperture but present in Lightroom could instead be gotten from ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) isn't a strong one. First, although the two share the same engine, the controls are different. Second, you've given up a good chunk of reversibility/nondestructiveness at that point. And finally, I think it's a recipe to kill productivity.

I've used Aperture and Lightroom a fair bit, and my view is that for the "adjustment tools" Lightroom is quite a bit ahead. Some things were Aperture premieres (like the healing touch up) but Lightroom just executed better (e.g., the healing tool). Another plus for Lightroom: All tools work at all zoom levels (I needed to make a careful spot removal operation a few weeks ago, and wanted a 400% view to do it in Aperture, but couldn't figure out how to do it -- suggestions welcome BTW -- I tried it out of curiosity with LR 1.0, and it was straightforward).

David Medina
2007-02-23 19:28:31
Gio, I fully agree.

I, like many other, am torn. I do love the LR develop module. It is well design with very useful tool, but Aperture is not far behind. I think is just a matter of style than substance.

I love Aperture Organizational skill but I could live with LR less developed Organizational skill if I could conclude that I would be loosing image quality with Aperture. So far, every test I have tried with both software comes even. I have even taken Lynda.com tutorial on both programs so I could make sure that I am given a fair try.

Sorry, I probably sound like a broken record. But, it is a bit frustrating because both are excellent tools and it almost wish I could use them both.

This is what I like from LR that I wish I could see in Aperture...
1. The functionality of the navigator on the develop module, specially while adjusting white balance.
2. The selective curve and color scroll thing. I can do them in Aperture but is more convenient in LR.
3. Presets.

As you can see, they are just things that are helpful but not earth shaking for me because I can get the same result with Aperture.

2007-02-24 04:00:35
This is starting to get really interesting! Unbiased, factual, head to head comparisons by actual working photographers are sorely lacking on this subject and I'm truly benefiting from this discussion.

I'm starting to notice a trend though. It seems that while there are certain strengths and weakness to both products, thus far, I've failed to see a clear winner. Image editing / organization being relatively equal between the two programs, perhaps we should also look to other factors.

  1. Cost - LR is going for US $100 less than Aperture right now. Perhaps not a huge deal to a pro, but for us home users who still want quality tools, that's a lot.

  2. Platform Flexibility - I've recently switched to a Macbook from using Linux and Windows for 10 years. I love it, but I can't predict the future. The LR license allows me to install LR on both my Macbook and my workhouse PC / Server.

  3. User Interface - I'm still undecided here. Both do things differently but both do them well.

  4. Longevity - This is one of Apples first cuts at image editing software. Adobe has been doing it for a long time.

  5. Release Cycle - Too early to tell. I'd hope both update relatively frequently, but will LR upgrades follow the Adobe cycle of costing a great deal and coming quite slowly?

Just some more factors to think about. I've tried Aperture and am just beginning to play around with LR. Still too early to tell which I like better...
Jim N.
2007-02-24 05:44:27
Daveed V.,

Re: 400% and editing, I don't know how LR does, but the way I did it in AA is a little clunky, yet functional. I turned on the Loupe and set it to 'stationary' (Shft + Cmnd + `). Then I cranked it to 400% and had the focus be on the cursor. This allowed me to see at 400% the spot correction I was making.

2007-02-24 08:28:39
Mark, Aperture is full of presets in the adjustment panel! You can have one for EACH adjustment. You can even lift and stamp those adjustments (including crop and straighten) to other images. Does LR do that? I tried a beta version about six months ago, so I dont recall. I am loving APerture and wont give LR a second glance. The b/w images above are so close that it seems it comes down to personal preference. Without knowing which app did the work, I still prefer the pup on the top pic which happens to be Aperture. Go figure. Either way, its users choice here - they are both incredible tools and you'll find one is better because it fits the work that you do, not what I do.
2007-02-25 09:07:54
Beatrice, with LR you're not slowed down by having to go through lifting and stamping. You just apply adjustments to all images simultaneously - it's called Auto Sync. Why l&s anyway - you can download LR in the time it takes Aperture to complete its stamping.
Daveed V.
2007-02-27 18:42:49
Jim N.: Thanks for the tip!

That "works". Had I figured it out myself before trying out Lightroom 1.0, I'd have pat myself on the back and perhaps even smiled at Aperture. Now that I've tasted the Lightroom way (for this particular issue), I'm just shaking my head with sadness/disappointment (I'm being slightly dramatic ;-).

James E.
2007-03-06 14:25:19
This has all been very helpful for me. I finally bit the bullet and jumped into digital a few months ago. At the time, LR was only available in beta, so I went with Aperture. I have two main questions right now:

1) As far as I can tell, once my RAW files are absorbed into Aperture, they are Aperture files forever. I cannot discern whether or not I can take the original native RAW files and transfer them to another program (such as LR). Is this a proprietary issue? If so, am I "trapped" into using Aperture for all of my work to date?

2) I have heard from a few friends that LR allows you to adjust split tones in B&W. Is this true? Being a B&W junkie, this is a really big deal to me, and I am curious as to whether any of you have played around with it. Results? Any thoughts as to whether Apple will eventually add that feature to Aperture?

2007-03-06 14:43:00
Welcome to digital! - If you are using Aperture's Managed Library, the files are stored within Aperture's Library Package, but they are still there in their original form, and you can get at them easily. The whole concept behind Aperture and Lightroom is to never touch your original Master files, treating them with the same care as you would a negative.

As for Split Tones, I will have to do a little research to answer your question better, but for now, I will say, that Aperture has a very nice BW Cahnnel Mixer which can give you great results for BW conversions.