Which is Better: Aperture vs Lightroom? The Test Results

by Derrick Story

It's been an incredible two weeks of field testing in beautiful locations. So, which is better: Aperture or Lightroom? Micah Walter says in his sumation, Aperture vs Lightroom - An O'Reilly "Inside Aperture" Field Test, "I really like Aperture, on a number of different levels. I think it's a well-rounded program that's much further along in its development than Lightroom is at the moment. Aperture gives me an environment I can really enjoy working in, and one that makes perfect sense to the non-linear way my brain likes to work."


The Lightroom interface with the Develop module open

Michael Clark sees it differently in his wrap-up, Lightroom vs Aperture - The Results, "A big part of why I chose Lightroom in the first place, and why I will continue to use it for my workflow, is because I came from using Adobe Camera Raw, so I'm comfortable with the sliders. I prefer Lightroom's simplicity of design and its user interface."

So which one is for you? I think you'll have a pretty good idea after reading these two excellent field reports.


2007-03-07 11:36:31
so, as i expected, there are no "definitive" answers...as is probably should be. i suppose one needs to understand how one likes to work and what one needs to do most often when editing files and then base one's decision on that. it's a good thing we can try these apps and test them for ourselves...
2007-03-07 16:52:56
the HUD's the books, it's true full screen, interface customizability, I can put elements where I want them
fayyaz B
2007-03-07 23:54:27
I have not used either of them in depth. Correct me if I am wrong when I say that I am not able to work on many of the RAW file format on Aperture. Lightroom was very flexible in tha sense. Believe me I am a MAC Fan but Aperture lost weight when I used Lightroom last week?

Awaiting more feedback from others so I can decide which one to purchase.

2007-03-08 05:55:42
Fayyaz B,

What RAW formats are you having trouble with? I use a Canon Rebel XT and Aperture has no problem whatsoever. I also imported some Adobe converted digital negative format images and Aperture accepted them as well.

I can't speak about which is better. I haven't tried Lightroom. But I like Aperture. I'm still learning it and I've got a long ways to go, but I like what I've been using. It could use better performance, but thats a problem that we'll always have. Nothing is ever fast enough. And I'm sure a quad Core 2 duo would help take care of that.

2007-03-08 09:10:22
About those Raw formats... I would say that one of the advantages of Lightroom is that it supports more Raw formats than Aperture. This isn't an issue if you shoot Canon, Nikon, etc., but for some of the more niche products, it is important.
Derrick Story
2007-03-08 09:13:24
User Interface... I think this is the real difference between the apps. Some folks like Lightroom's workflow approach, walking you from module to module. Others like the flexibility that Aperture provides, letting you work in any way you want. It's not a right or wrong thing. And I like that we have two distinct options (more really with other apps) for photographers.
Randy Smith
2007-03-08 10:39:41
I think for amateurs who want a little more power and maybe even semi-pros Lightroom might be the go to choice. I think the main reason for this is that Lightroom will run on many more Macs than Aperture. Aperture has some steep hardware requirements for even decent performance. For just this one reason I think Lightroom will be more popular for all but pro photographers who can afford a Mac that can run Aperture well.
Caspar Fairhall
2007-03-11 20:34:31
Aperture is interesting, but doesn't support the RAW files from my Pentax *ist DS. While I can convert them, it's definitely a nuisance I can do without. Lightroom works very well, is very easy to use, it's astonishingly fast, has nice integration with Photoshop proper, and loves my Pentax. Aperture gets the silver medal, but not my silver.
2007-03-15 13:32:45
Download the latest OSX update. This will add Aperture RAW support for the Pentax istDS. The update even provides RAW support in iPhoto. I believe it is 10.4.9

For Mac Intel Machines http://www.apple.com/support/downloads/macosx1049updateintel.html

2007-03-27 19:25:50
Aperture Caveats!

A few really annoying things:

1- Aperture will not load a library (or archive to) a network drive! HORRIBLE! Worse yet, it does not even tell you the problem when trying to open from a networked drive - just poops out.

2- Aperture works on a G5 - MAYBE! NOT on G5 1.6 single proc. Why not - I would like to know. Hey, if it does not like the video card, at least let me upgrade the card. Apple is becoming more and more like Microsoft all the time - marginalizing lower end models. But here there is no excuse. If it will run on a G4 laptop, it ought to run on any G5.

3- SLOW I have found it to be horrendously slow loading on my First generation Intel 15" MacBook Pro, even tho I am maxed on RAM.

--- I do LOVE the loupe! --

I am going to check out Lightroom and probably switch. I feel really suckered by #1 and #2 and I am a longtime Mac fan - like from the 512k days.

2007-04-12 21:52:42
I just bought & installed Lightroom on my first generation MacBook Pro w/2G RAM. Before I buy PSE4, I would like to know if it will work well with Lightroom and if there will be too much unnecessary overlap with Lightroom and iPhoto.
2007-08-19 03:46:43
I have used both, and i think that Aperture is far better than Lightroom. It is much easier to use, the layout is much simpler and the cataloguing of files makes sense. LR seems to be over designed, the whole point of these Aps is to make the this part of the workflow quicker and simpler.