Lightroom Vs. Aperture: Day 6 - Exporting Images

by Micah Walter


Well, it has been a really nice weekend here in Dominica. Yesterday I spent some time volunteering at the Portsmouth library where I did my best to tutor some kids in math. Math was never my strongest subject, but I guess after taking so many classes, multiple times, the basics eventually sank in. We practiced multiplying decimals, and when I got home I used my renewed skills to calculate what my 17-35mm lens would equate to on the new Canon EOS 1D Mark III.

I have also been working with Lightroom and Aperture quite a bit this weekend. I am still trying to figure out some key concepts in Lightroom, and I have even learned a few new tricks in Aperture.

Today I spent some time playing with the Export functions of both programs. I know this might seem like a pretty lame topic, but there are some differences that I thought stood out to me. A couple are items that are just plain missing (or at least I have yet to find them) and I also have a few gripes here and there about intuitiveness, a topic I keep coming back to.


First and foremost, I cannot for the life of me figure out how to export a Master in Lightroom. Am I missing something here? All I want to do is select a bunch of images and send their Master files to a folder on my desktop. Now, I know I can easily click Show in Finder, but that only works for one file at a time. I also know that I can use the Folder menu in the left hand side panel to move images around, but then we are taking about the original copies, which I want to keep in place.

I looked in the Export dialog box and the best I could come up with was to export in the DNG format. I even searched through the help file and came up empty handed. So, please, if any of you Lightroom aficionados out there know how to do this, please let me know. It seems like it should be a pretty obvious thing, but I can't find it.

One smaller detail I noticed is that Lightroom is shipped with three Export presets. Now, I know I am going to have a pretty easy time creating all of the custom presets I can think of in Lightroom, but it would have been nice to have a few of the basics set up for me right out of the box.
In Aperture I really like the fact that I can set Black Point Compensation, and add a Gamma Adjustment on export. These two features are especially useful when dealing with clients, as you really never know what a clients workstation will consist of. I also noticed these options were missing in the Print module, where they might be even more important. It's true, a good color management system should be able to make these settings obsolete, but in the real world, (regardless of how many times you calibrate your setup) sometimes a print just needs a little more contrast than what we are seeing on screen.

On the topic of user intuition, I really like the way Aperture presents its Size To settings in the Export Presets dialog box. It's one of those things that just makes perfect sense to me. In Aperture you simply select Original Size, one of three Fit Within options, or Percent of Original. With the Fit Within setting you essentially pick the size of the box you want your image to fit within, and Aperture takes care of the rest.

Of course you can do a Fit Within with Lightroom as well, it just doesn't really say so. In Lightoom you click Constrain Maximum Size and then you just fill in the width and height. All they need to do here is reword the dialog and I would be happy. Once I realized what they were trying to say, I was all set, but it would have been nice if it was more clear. I mean, I'm talking about real world user friendliness, and this stuff may seem obvious to everyone else, but the less I have to think about a setting, the less I have to worry if I pushed the wrong button or not. In the end, all these little details add up.

I do like Lightroom's implementation of the After Export function. I can see how this could come in handy but I have yet to really try it. From what I can tell, I can essentially invoke a script such as an Automator Workflow, or ActionScript with this functionality. But, this brings me to another point. Where are the Automator Actions? Well, I am sure Adobe will ship a few actions in the near future, but I haven't heard of any available at the moment.

So, tonight, I hope I am not complaining too much about the minor details. The truth is, it is these little minutia that can make or break a piece of software for me. As they say, the devil is in the details!

Tomorrow morning I am waking up bright and early for a day long trip out to the Atlantic side of the island, where I will be hiking up to the Sari Sari falls. Once I get back I will hopefully have enough time to work up some of the shoot into a gallery you all can look at, before beginning to write up my synopsis of this series. Over all, I have had a great time exploring both of these really amazing programs, and I feel like I have only scratched the surface. So, I wanted to give a big thanks to all of you who have followed along and left your comments. We aren't finished yet!


2007-02-25 23:48:57
I don't think you can do that export of the masters, could be wrong.

The After Export allows you to specify other programs. Stick shortcuts or aliases in there - that can include all sorts of programs eg specialist noise reduction programs, ftp clients, another asset manager, even Aperture. It can also include droplets.

Something you've not mentioned is how LR handles exports concurrently while Aperture locks up. So you can launch one export preset after another, and leave them processing in the background. We might have hundreds of pics and need 5*7 prints, 10*7, 2 sizes of jpegs for our (custom solution) galleries - we start one preset after another, then get on with other LR work. On our Aperture installation, we have to wait (a longer) time for each process to finish.


2007-02-26 03:17:52
Gio, You raise a good point about background processing. I will probably touch on that subject in my summary article coming up this week.
2007-02-26 04:09:35
In LR you can drag and drop (on desktop if you want) the masters. LR export a copy of masters.

Personally I love LR speed, but I can't buy it because Adobe store don't allow me. It seems Adobe Store don't understand French Guiana (As Martinique or Guadeloupe) it's FRANCE. By the way, after unsucceful tries, I bought a copy of Aperture.

2007-02-26 04:16:20
Interesting point you make regarding the Aperture "Size To" dialog vs. the LR "Constrain Maximum Size". While I figured both out, I really found that "Size To" was awkward for me. It sounds like I'm sending something to somewhere but how can one send a size? Perhaps this is more an issue for former Windows users where the "Send To" dialog was particularly useful. Human interface standards would dictate that neither is really that great of an option. The LR label is simply too long to be easy to read quickly and the Aperture label implies an export or moving of files itself. As you say, the devil is in the details!

Truly loving the different perspectives here. You have brought out some very small, yet extremely significant points regarding both pieces of software -- things which often get overlooked. It's helping me to critically consider a lot of other software I simply take for granted (Microsoft Office jumps out here...). Thanks and keep up the good work!
2007-02-26 05:03:20
You can "export" the original (unedited) images by a simple drag'n'drop from the library mode. I'm afraid there is no menu for this.
2007-02-26 05:07:47
I knew I should have reloaded the page before posting my comment :-/

2007-02-26 10:12:56
17-35mm or 16-35mm?
Pat Gilmour
2007-02-26 10:17:20
As you're near the end of the series, could you remind us what type of Mac you're running and whether you've noticed any performance differences between the two app's. My experience is that LR is significantly faster, but I'm not on a high-end machine.
thanks for some great articles! Pat
Frank Gregorek
2007-02-26 10:47:06
Pat: On the Lightroom forums there are a number of people reporting Lightroom slowdowns as their Lightroom Library is filled with images. If you haven't looked at that forum yet, it's full of useful info.
2007-02-26 11:30:05
Hey all,
I just returned from a nice trip to a couple of amazing waterfalls here in Dominica. I will be posting pictures and a blog post pertaining to some of your speed questions later on today. To quickly answer a few questions from below, I am running an early MacBook Pro 15" with 2 Gig Ram and the 2GHz Intel Core Duo. It has the 100 gig drive (the faster one I think) and the better video card/ram I beleive...

I also have a MacBook with basically the same specs, but it has a 160 Gig drive. More on this in the next post.

And yes, I have an older Canon 17-35 f/2.8 EF lens. Not the newer 16-35, or the brand new 16-35 II (why did they have to go and make the filter size bigger???!!)

As for other equipment, I have a 20D with battery grip, an EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5, and a 70-200 with IS. I also have an old 550EX strobe, a smaller 220 strobe, and the Infrared TTL transmitter (ST-E2). I have with me here a small umbrella and stand for the 550, and some other odds and ends.

David Medina
2007-02-26 12:00:04
Let's talk about unique features... These are my favorite of each program...

(1) I think the coolest feature in Lightroom is the before and after comparision feature. While I can do the before-after in Aperture it cannot be done side by side or ina split screen like in LR.
(2) Another cool feature is that you are able to see the white balance adjustment in the preview window before commiting.
(3) the scroll gitzmo on the curve and color adjustments.
(4) the Vibrance adjustment
(5) Presets.

(1) One of the coolest feature in Aperture is the loupe tool in Aperture 1.5. While I can zoom in LR to see 1:1 (Aperture can do too) the loupe in Ap is very versatile. You cann increase and decrease magnification in the fly, you can check pixel by pixel, you can display rgb and luminance. you can park the loupe to the side and have it follow your cursor. you can use it while working with sharpness, noise reduction, also with highligt and shadow recovery wall teh while looking at the changes exclusively in the loupe without affecting the rest of the image.
(2) its versatility 1: the projects, smart albums, Light table.
(3) its versatility 2: The ability to adjust the image anywhere in the program you are working.
(4) its versatility 3: dual display.
(5) its versatility 4: The vault and exporting of project.

Frank Gregorek
2007-02-26 12:42:40
David: As to LR "before/after", couldn't you achieve this in Aperture by bringing up an untouched version to compare against your re-touched version in Aperture's compare mode?
This would leave LR's ability to drag a single image between untouched and re-touched versions.

To your LR list, I would add the "Fill" feature and Targeted Area tool.

David Medina
2007-02-26 13:42:42
"To your LR list, I would add the "Fill" feature and Targeted Area tool."

For a lack of proper name I called the "targeted area tool" The scroll gitzmo... (item number 3).

Frank, what do you mean by the "Fill" feature?

Your solution for the "before/after" would work and accomplish basically the same thing as LR, but I think LR approach is clever and cool.

Frank Gregorek
2007-02-26 14:21:33
David: "Fill" is in the Develop module. My understanding is that it creates the equivalent of an "on the fly" quick mask that allows a particular area to be brightened as if a fill card had been used in taking the shot.
2007-02-26 20:57:58
One of the things that I hope is fixed in LR 1.0 for concurrent export is multiple crops (though I suspect this is managed now by multiple versions?). In the beta, you could only have one crop at a time, so if you wanted to export a 5x7 and an 8x10 crop, you had to do one, then wait for it to complete before starting the other. Otherwise you ended up having 8x10 ratio images exported at a 5x7 constrained size.


Daveed V.
2007-02-27 10:20:42
The term "Export" means different things to Aperture and Lightroom.

In Aperture, "Export" started out meaning "export out of the database", wince originally Aperture could not manage photos "by reference". Aperture 1.5 added the "by reference" capability, but the "Export" feature's meaning is still tied to the original paradigm.

In Lightroom, "Export" means "export results to a specific image file format". Moving/copying around files doesn't fall under that: You can just drag and drop your thumbnails instead (that's especially intuitive in LR1.0 where the file system's folder structure is reflected; unlike the betas).

Kendall Gelner
2007-03-01 15:53:46
In aperture you can do before and after comparisons in a few ways:

1) M key to toggle between viewing master or not.
2) turn on/off individual adjustments with a fixed loupe
3) duplice version from master, or before editing, to have a reference you can compare side-by-side with the edited version using all the standard comparison tools (like simultaneous zoom). I agree it would be handy not to have to create a new version for such comparison though...

2007-03-10 09:55:25
You can easily export masters in LR simply dragging out the photo to the desktop or to a folder
2007-06-07 10:31:24
The real letdown with exporting from Aperture is that it generates JPGs that don't comply to the specifications!!

The jpgs coming from Aperture can not be altered with tools like exiv2 or ExifTool!! I want to geotag some photos but it is impossible due to the incompatible files generated! This is totally unacceptable in a $300 piece of software.

Some more info about it here. I hope this bug will be fixed ASAP but since Aperture is already at v1.5.3 it doesn't seem that it is high on their list.

In the meantime corrupt jpgs can spread like wildfire.. :(