Adobe Photoshop Lightroom vs Apple Aperture Compared

First published on: Wednesday, 18 March 2009

This post lists comparisons of the pros and cons of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Aperture from Apple, with annotated links to related user discussions, owner opinions, reviews, samples and tests.

Full attribution is given by linking to the source, and where applicable, the contributor’s photo gallery of website.

Quick previews

Aperture has a Quick Preview mode that is accessed by hitting the p key on your keyboard.

Once this is turned on larger images are rendered instantaneously by utilizing the generated preview image for that particular photo.

This is a huge time saver, not to mention the fact that your eyes don’t get taxed by the continuous rendering and re-rendering of thumbnails that you’ll experience in Lightroom.

When you zoom in 100% on an image in Quick Preview mode, you’ll notice that you aren’t seeing the pixels at the original resolution. No problems, just hit p again, and you’ll get the original pixels.

The p button toggles the Quick Preview on or off no matter what size of image you’re currently viewing — very handy indeed.

I always make sure to turn Quick Preview on in Aperture whenever I zip through hundreds, if not thousands of images for the purpose of culling, applying keywords, rotating or stacking.

Depending on which view mode you’re in, you will know that Quick Preview is switched on by the yellow box that surrounds thumbnails in the browser, and the phrase “Quick Preview” just underneath the preview image. Click the image below to see a larger version in a new browser window.

Aperture's Quick Preview mode

When Quick Preview is active, Aperture lets you know that image adjustments are disabled in the Adjustments HUD. Adjustment sliders are also disabled. To start making adjustments to the current image, just hit the p key.

Adjustments are disabled in Aperture's Quick Preview mode

20seven.org’s article, “Aperture 2.0 and Why I Didn’t Switch to Lightroom” has this to say about Quick Preview:

Quick preview makes Aperture blazing fast when moving through hundreds or thousands of images. When activated, the button becomes yellow alerting you that you cannot make edits but it allows you to navigate without having to wait for RAW images to update. Searching your image library is much faster in Aperture 2.0 compared to 1.x. On my machine, these two features have moved Aperture above Lightroom in the speed category

AUN has this to say about Quick Preview:

This is the beauty of Quick Preview mode. By hitting the “P” key, Aperture toggles to working only with the JPEG previews of the images. Scrolling through images is lighting-fast, it’s possible to do a first edit in a fraction of the time that it used to take. Even better (for those PhotoMechanic die hards) it’s easy to leave Quick Preview mode and work with the full resolution versions of the files, without having to leave the program. Simply press the “P” key and you’re back to Aperture’s full (now much optimized) raw workflow engine.

Advantage: Aperture

CA (chromatic aberration) correction

Lightroom has dedicated sliders for red / cyan and blue / yellow lens CA correction.

Aperture requires a workaround that involves using the Moire and Radius sliders, see Najinky’s demo.

Additionally, Aperture’s Moire and Radius sliders only work with RAW and DNG images (for instance NEF files from Nikon, CR2 from Canon, DNG from Pentax and Ricoh), while the CA correction in Lightroom can be used on JPEG / JPG photos or any other image format.

Advantage: Lightroom

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