Adobe Lightroom vs Aperture

For about a decade, Adobe Lightroom and Apple Aperture waged an epic battle to determine which would be the best professional photography application. Although the ceasing of Aperture’s development seemed to be a win for Lightroom, that is not necessarily the case.

Comparing the various features between Adobe Lightroom and Aperture can help you determine if the older Apple product still has the chops to make it in today’s competitive environment.

1. Image Keywords

Both Adobe Lightroom and Aperture allow users to assign keywords to their images.

Lightroom assembles images into a single catalog file. It would be a fair comparison to iPhoto in the way that the photographs are stored.

Aperture stores images in its own library and maintains a database of data regarding each photo that is added to the system.

Keyword adjustments are available on both systems, though Lightroom tends to use the keywords more as a “classification” system, while Aperture tends to use it more as “reference” system.

2. Interface

Lightroom follows the same type of modular UX that other Adobe programs, such as Photoshop, tend to employ. This makes the data visible immediately when working on a photograph, but tends to require a hierarchal approach to the different mods that may be necessary for the project.


The before-and-after comparisons are a definite advantage.

Aperture has shared the same minimalist interface that other programs and apps, such as iMovie, have offered to users. The system is based on a cascading series of menus and commands, allowing you to have your work presented in a main window. Tabbed panels allow you to initiate specific commands. You can also have a strip of photos on the bottom of the screen to work on multiple projects at once.

3. Photo Management

Adobe Lightroom and Aperture allow users to store virtual copies of their work. This makes it possible to save multiple results for comparative purposes without killing your storage space. It preserves the core image in an easily accessible way at the same time.

Lightroom has a small advantage here in that it offers named markers for the historical changes of a user, making it a lot faster to return to a previous work or save point.

Aperture has an advantage for those who work on portrait photos as it scans for faces and familiar places to quickly identify photos. Although the facial information interface is somewhat clunky, it does a good job of close-up identification for easy photo management and sorting.

4. Storage and Exports

Adobe Lightroom and Aperture provide the capability of storing multiple catalogs or libraries on your operating system.

Lightroom tends to depend on a single catalog when working on a project. Users will typically need to close their application and then load it again using a different catalog to switch between projects in different locations. Catalog files are backed up by Lightroom when exiting the application, but edited items must be saved separately. Archival folders are available for emergency storage.

Aperture allows users to quickly switch between projects in different catalogs without a restart. It is more dynamic and exports albums or projects as independent libraries if needed. Aperture also accesses the Vault so that a secured copy of the file can be restored should something happen to the original.

5. Image Processing

RAW images can be processed by both platforms. The user experience is about equal when comparing the two when processing images like this.

The one advantage that Lightroom developed over Aperture was the lens correction panel. Instead of manually correcting lens issues like Aperture required, Lightroom gives users the chance to automatically reset their aspect ratios and perspective settings. Cropping, reducing errors, and even adding graduated filters to highlight specific portions of a photograph are part of the package as well.

Once finished, both options allow for social media integration so sharing the new images is a simple process, including sharing that happens in the Cloud.

Adobe Lightroom vs Aperture: Which Is Better?

If you’re looking for a new photo management solution, Adobe Lightroom is your only option. Apple no longer makes Aperture available for download.

For those who are using an older Apple product, however, there are still certain advantages that can be found in Aperture. Much of it depends on personal preference, however, and there is also the fact that continued development on the platform has ceased.

There are new Apple photo management tools that are available today, but for consistency, Adobe Lightroom is a product that should be considered.

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