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5 Reasons To Stay with Lightroom (and not switch to Aperture)

Obviously there’s been a lot of buzz around lately about Apple’s Aperture 3. I read an article yesterday titled “Five Reasons For Switching from Lightroom 2 to Aperture 3” by a gentleman named Marco. So I figured I’d take a stab at my own rendition of the “5 things” article (no offense to Marco) and write about 5 reasons to stay with Lightroom.

Let me just get one thing out from the start though. Will this article seem Lightroom biased? You betcha! Because I am Lightroom biased (you’re at a blog called Lightroom Killer Tips if you haven’t noticed). I’ve been using it for over 4 years. I know it like the back of my hand. However, as an expert in the industry I can’t just go around saying “my program is better than yours” without testing the other one. I had a copy of Aperture 3 installed the day after it was announced and have been kicking the tires since then. Here’s what I’ve come up with.

Reason #1: Enjoying the Digital Darkroom (this was reason #1 from Marco’s article)
I’ll go head-to-head with this one because I think Lightroom is better here. One big reason is that in Lightroom (the LR3 beta) we have Collections in the Develop module which keeps me from bouncing back and forth (something I found myself doing a lot in Aperture). And when it comes down to it, the only difference is tabs in Aperture compared to modules in LR. Aside from wishing the Develop module had Folders and Collections in it (like I said, LR3 beta has Collections now), I don’t find myself cursing the modules in Lightroom. If its not a module I need to use then I simply just don’t click on it. And the reason why LR has more modules than A3 has tabs, is because Adobe has located two key areas (slideshow and web) there instead of a menu up at the top.

Reason #2: Camera Calibration, Effects, Collections, History panel, tighter Photoshop Integration, Vignettes and other stuff
Remember when Camera Calibration profiles came out for Lightroom? You should because everyone absolutely loved them. It’s one of my favorite panels in Lightroom. But it’s not in Aperture. Lightroom has tighter integration with Photsoshop and the Graduated filter. Lightroom 2/3 beta has better effects when it comes to adding grain and vignetting. The History aspect of Lightroom is way better. And in the article referenced above, he dings Lightroom for not having “Books, Loupe, Light Table and Full Screen Mode”. Books definitely go into the win column for Aperture (see #3 below). But Lightroom does have a Loupe view. Even though its different, it still does the same job. Light Table…. eh, its cool but is it worth switching for? And of course we do have Full Screen mode in Lightroom. Just press the F key.

Reason #3: Printing
This is one of those areas where you can argue either way but I think Lightroom makes a stronger case. Lightroom has custom print templates (in LR 3 beta) and an entire Print module, that you have to admit, is one of the most robust in the industry. Aperture has books but that’s about it. They’re both important. Some portrait and wedding pros swear by Lightroom’s Print module and some folks swear by the great looking books in Aperture. Which is more important? That’s up to you. Personally, I’ll take the Print module in Lightroom. I can still print books elsewhere, but I can’t get Lightroom’s Print module anywhere else. Do I wish Lightroom had both? Yep. But it doesn’t so I have to make a choice.

Reason #4: Noise Reduction
This one definitely goes in the win column for Lightroom. If you look at Aperture 3’s feature list, it doesn’t even mention the word noise and as you know, noise removal is BIG. I ran quite a few images through the noise removal settings in both programs. Aperture doesn’t even come close in my opinion. Two things I noticed when comparing them: 1) The noise removal (luminance and color) is noticeably better and the edges seem more crisp as opposed to blurred in Aperture and, 2) Lightroom photos retained more of their color even after cranking up the Color Noise removal setting pretty high.

Basically, when it comes down to reading the raw data and doing something useful with it (demosaicing, sharpening, and noise removal), my money goes to Adobe. You’ve gotta realize that being the best at raw processing has to rank up pretty high in Adobe’s priority list. I’m not so sure where it would rank with Apple.

Reason #5: This isn’t an “I’m in the mood for…” game
I’m going to directly disagree with #5 from his list (supporting competition) and say ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY, NO WAY! As a consumer, your (and my) job is not to support competition. It’s to support the best product out there and to reward that product by opening your wallet. Your job is to pick the best tool for your job regardless of whether there’s 10 companies that do the same thing or none. Here’s something to chew on. This isn’t a game. Your photography workflow shouldn’t be “sure, I’ll use Lightroom today but maybe Aperture tomorrow”. There’s always going to be features in one program that you like better than another. It happens in every aspect of our lives. Ever buy a car one year only to find out the next year’s model (or a competing model you looked at previously) has something really cool you wish you had? Do you go out and trade your car in for a huge loss and get the new model? Some of you do I’m sure. But it’s surely not economical to do so, and it takes a lot of your time, energy, and money to play that game. The rest of us, are happy enough with our existing car and we work with it. Your goal is to pick the program that works best for you at the time you’re looking for one, and then stick with it. Whether you’re a working pro or an avid hobbyist, nobody has the time to play the “switcharoo” every 18 months.

Reason #5.5 (this is just a joke): Did Aperture Really have to copy the Cyanotype preset from Lightroom?
I mean, of all the presets to copy from Lightroom, they picked Cyanotype? Does anyone even use that preset? I can think of no better reason to just stick with Lightroom, because at least they were the first to use that horrible effect as a preset 🙂

Final Thoughts
If you’re a current Lightroom user, you’re among the group of the most used photo management/processing software in the world. There’s a reason why when you do a search for buzz, news, tutorials, presets, etc… on Lightroom vs. the same for Aperture, you find much more about Lightroom. It’s an awesome program and like anything out there, will just get better with time. Be happy with it. If your curiosity just has to get the best of you then by all means, download the free trial of Aperture and give it a try yourself. Maybe you’ll switch. If that’s the right thing for you then go for it. Just don’t do it because it’s new and different. As always, leave a comment. I welcome your thoughts on the topic (just be nice) 🙂