Lightroom vs. Aperture: Loupe Views Compared

by Michael Clark

I have long admired the Loupe tool in Aperture. The first time I ever saw Aperture demonstrated the first thing that caught my eye was the Loupe tool and I was practically drooling when I saw it. As you can see in the image below, it magnifies whatever part of an image you mouse over. And now in the latest version of Aperture (1.5.2) you can use it in "Centered Loupe" mode. This allows one to place the loupe off to the side out of the way and anything you mouse over shows up in the loupe. It's super cool and you can even use it with the images aligned in a grid pattern (browser mode) to loupe thumbnail images.


When I first starting using it I was disappointed to see that it would slow down after about 5 or 6 images (while louping thumbnails) and I'd have to wait for the image to load into the loupe at 100%. That was a drag.

Before Lightroom the biggest slow down in my workflow was checking images at a 100% for critical sharpness. Now, before you start critiquing my camera holding skills remember I shoot adventure sports - and a lot of the time I am hanging off a 2,000-foot cliff or shooting mountain bikers whizzing by at 40 mph. So it isn't a guarantee that every image will be critically sharp - most are, but I like to cull out those that aren't so they never make it to my clients.

With Lightroom the loupe isn't really a loupe like it is in Aperture. Loupe view in Lightroom zooms the image to 100% just by clicking on the image. And you can move around the image easily by grabbing it and pulling whichever way you want to go. When I first starting using Lightroom I was wishing for a Loupe tool like Aperture, but since I've found Lightroom's Loupe view to be much more useful than the loupe in Aperture.

I found that a key step to using the loupe view in Lightroom was to make sure you render the 1:1 previews - this speeds up the loupe function. Now to check critical sharpness I can just start with the first image in a shoot, go to the 1:1 loupe view and use the arrow keys to cruise through the images. On my G5 tower with 4 GB of RAM I can crank through hundreds of images and check their sharpness in a matter of minutes. Every once in a while Lightroom pauses to take a breath but I am very impressed with how fast it can load the 1:1 previews. And I like the fact that Lightroom shows me a lot more of the image because I can maximize the browser space by clicking off some or all of the panels as I scroll through the images as in the image below.


In reality the Loupe view in Lightroom is more equivalent to the Zoom view in Aperture with one small difference - in Lightroom when you grab the image to maneuver around it works very well - in Aperture it seems to jump all over the place and in my experience it is very hard to center it exactly where you want. Aperture has a little navigator window you can use in zoom view as well but that is even more difficult to use.

So while I still think the Loupe in Aperture is one of the coolest tools in any RAW processing or image editing software applications, for my workflow the Lightroom loupe view works extremely well.

That's it for now. Feel free to comment and I'll reply if I get a chance....

Adios, Michael


2007-02-24 00:54:57
While I prefer LR in general, I adore Aperture's Loupe. You can also fix it on a key image area (look at the ~ and shift ~ shortcuts) and then change HUD values, so you have both a 100-1600% magnification in the Loupe and a full screen overview. You can also display RGB numbers in the Loupe, not hidden at the bottom of the LR screen. Apple got this tool very right.

Jim Govett
2007-02-24 08:23:05
"in Aperture... is very hard to center it (zoom) exactly where you want."

If you place the cursor where you want to zoom and then press the "Z" key, Aperture will zoom centred over your cursor. It is very quick and easy to zoom 100% to anywhere on your image.

Michael Clark
2007-02-24 08:28:43
Jim -

Thanks for the note - I did realize that method after a few goes but even so if I have to zoom in and out several times just to look at different areas of the image that is royal pain. I should be able to just grab the image and move like Lightroom without Aperture getting all hurky jerky - that would make sense.

And I do realize that is where the Loupe comes in handy in is just sometimes I want to see more of the image than the loupe can show me.

Eduardo Mueses
2007-02-24 14:44:36
Michael, have you seen the loupe in the CS3 version of Bridge? It's almost a replica of the one in Aperture... Signs of things to come in Lightroom? Perhaps...
John H
2007-02-25 06:48:16
Hi Michael
IF you have a mighty mouse, the scroll wheel will allow you to scroll all over (vert. as well as horz.) your 1:1 image in zoom mode. Try setting the scroll and tracking bars in system preferences if you don't like how it follows your finger.
2007-02-25 14:28:41
Hi Michael,

I've found a shortcut in Aperture to navigate within images in zoom view: just hold the space bar and clic on your image to drag it on your screen. It's much more usable that the scroll weel or the miniuature, and reconciliated myself with the zoom view!

2007-02-27 22:58:29
Awesome shortcut for the "Spacebar/mouse" tip there, Jeff. Awesome. And kudos for the mighty mouse scroll wheel tip, too. I prefer the loupe myself, but it's nice to know these little things; just in case.
2007-02-28 14:28:36
Another note on the Aperture Loupe, and something I use alot, the loupe can be applied to any image displayed anywhere in the app, not just the one selected. So if you have a few very similar shots and you're looking for critical focus, you can just pass the loupe over the thumbnails in the browser, or whatever. Even in the pop-up "film strip"-like thing (I forget what it's called) in full screen mode. Basically the loupe will magnify any pixels in any image you can see on your screen.
Michael Clark
2007-02-28 14:40:58
Jeremy -

Yes, that is a very sweet feature of Aperture. The only issue I have had with that is that it often takes a few seconds for Aperture to pull up the preview in the loupe - at least on my laptop. I'm sure on a screaming fast computer it is a little faster but I find I have to wait around for all of these 100% previews. And if I want to edit 400 images and see which ones aare sharp then waiting for every image to load into the loupe becomes very tedious.

Just my teo cents...

2007-02-28 14:49:07

It's a bit slower than I'd like too, but I'm on a Mac Pro and it's still very usable. I'm usually comparing less than 10 images at one time (portraits mostly), so it's very convenient for that. If I'm going through all the images from a shoot, full screen mode is a better way to go. I tend to use the loupe after I've done an initial edit.

David Medina
2007-03-04 15:29:30
The Aperture loupe is a awesome tool. But my biggest gripe about Aperture is its speed. Unless you have a $3k computer, Aperture works rather slow.