As promised in the previous post, this week we’re going to take a look at five Aperture features that are better than Lightroom. I got a lot of feedback in comments, e-mail and on Twitter about the last post, so don’t hold back on this one. Let’s get to it.
1: Digital Asset Management
A number of people commented that Lightroom is better at photo development, but Aperture is better at digital asset management. I agree. Here are a few reasons why Aperture takes the lead in this category.
- A choice of managed or referenced libraries
- The ability to create Vaults – archive backups of your photos and metadata if you use Managed imports
- More file types – Aperture provides asset management for audio files
- Create Stacks anywhere – Lightroom can’t create Stacks in Collections (still!)
- Changing Libraries is easy – Lightroom makes you re-launch the app when you change the Catalog
- Faster importing
- Faster image browsing using Quick Preview
- No modes. You don’t have to stop what you’re doing and switch to another mode in order to see what’s in your Library and use it
One of the features I truly love about Aperture’s library management is the ability to import and export Libraries. For example, I can create a Library on my MacBook Pro while traveling an do some work. When I get home, I copy that Library file from my MacBook Pro to my iMac. Then I open Aperture with my Travel Library and import the new Library as a project. That’s it.
Technically, Lightroom has the ability to import and export a catalog. What it lacks is the ability to keep the photos associated with that catalog and move them just as easily. It’s a bit more complicated, there are more options to consider, and it isn’t as fast or fluid as the same operation in Aperture.
Lightroom has slideshows. Aperture has slideshows you can control. You can manipulate timing, transitions, frames or use some of the included themes. Aperture provides better use of color and type for your slideshows. You can change the aspect ratio of your slides to fit a standard TV, HD TV, your computer or iPhone.
You can import your music from the included royalty-free files, your iTunes playlists, Garage Band or files you included in Aperture itself.
Aperture simply gives your far more controls to present your slides in a creative and entertaining manner than Lightroom.
I’m going to give Aperture the edge here because of its interface and usability. I’ve had some notable problems with usability of Lightroom maps and the display of embedded GPS information. The good news is that it works. The bad news is that Adobe doesn’t make it easy for you.
Apple gets usability, and it shows. Aperture returns real-time results as you type a location in the search field, Lightroom doesn’t. The fields on Aperture’s display are a bit easier to notice and navigate than on Lightroom.
Lightroom still uses Google Maps and probably will for the foreseeable future. Aperture now uses Apple Maps. Despite having quite a débâcle when introduced, they’ve become much more usable. I find the quality of satellite imagery depends upon the location you’re viewing. When looking at satellite images of Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, the clarity in Lightroom is better than Aperture. When I searched for sites in Cuba, I got better results from Aperture.
Both have good quality maps, but the part that tips Aperture over the top for me is the ability to use maps for organization and searching.
4: Facial Recognition
Aperture has it, Lightroom doesn’t. This feature started out as a rather resource-intensive feature that I originally thought of as a marketing gimmick. Now it’s actually a useful tool, particularly for managing my portraits and events. I don’t have to go tag names on every photo of a person before I can do a search. Now I can tag one photo and Aperture will update to find the rest. No worries about missing a shot of the model I want to find in a Library filled with tens of thousands of images.
I think this is one of the under-utilized stars of Aperture and I’m surprised that Adobe hasn’t created something similar for Lightroom.
5: Mac OS Integration
Just as Photoshop integration was a “gimme” for Lightroom in the previous post, Mac OS integration should be a “gimme” for Apple. Yet, it’s incredibly useful and I think even more so than the Lightroom/Photoshop connection.
You can access your digital assets in Aperture libraries from pretty much any application that uses Apple’s standard Finder tools. Where you have to launch Lightroom to get at its resources, Mac OS understands how to communicate with Aperture Libraries and lets you withdraw photos and other resources without opening Aperture as a parent application. It’s that same integration that works for pulling iTunes media into slideshows, mentioned above.
iPhoto and Aperture now share the same library format. If you want to graduate from iPhoto to Aperture, there’s no need to go through an import process. Just open the Library file in Aperture and you’re in business.
Want to share a photo in Twitter? Hit the Camera button and select Media. You’ll see your Aperture and iPhoto libraries right there. Again, no need to launch the program just to get at your images. The integration works easily in any application that can use photos.
Which is more important to you, an edge in photo development tools or an edge in digital asset management? For those of us who have an use Photoshop, I tend to recommend Aperture as a digital asset management tool. It’s development features are pretty capable, but that’s offset by the ability to use Adobe Camera RAW with your Photoshop software. Photoshop can’t help you with better asset management, though.
If you’re the kind of person who only uses one app for everything, Lightroom may be your choice. It can manage your files (unless you want audio) and process your images. The slideshows aren’t as good, there isn’t a light table, and it’s slower. Everything is a compromise, though. If you want an all-in-one tool, it’s likely not going to be best of breed at everything – from Adobe or Apple.
Do you agree with my thoughts, or do you think I missed something? Let me know in the comments.