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Software Graphics

Lightroom Vs. Aperture 192

Nonu writes "Adobe has officially released its Aperture killer, Lightroom, and the reviews are starting to come in. Ars looks at Lightroom and concludes that it's a better choice for those without bleeding-edge hardware. 'Aperture's main drawback is still performance as it was designed for bleeding-edge machines. On a quad Core 2 Duo Xeon, it is very usable but Lightroom just feels faster for everything regardless of hardware. Since Aperture relies on Core Image and a fast video card to do its adjustments (RAW decoding is done by the CPU), it's limited to what the single 3-D card can do. Lightroom does everything with the CPU and so it is likely to gain more speed as multicore systems get faster.'"
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Lightroom Vs. Aperture

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  • by User 956 ( 568564 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @06:35AM (#18094048) Homepage
    'Aperture's main drawback is still performance as it was designed for bleeding-edge machines.

    Bleeding edge, literally. As in, they require removal of an arm and a leg.
    • Lightroom and Aperture are both $300 (Lightroom is on a discount until the end of April).

      However Aperture has quite a few more features than Lightroom today, including an export API actively being developed for and real multiple monitor support with a number of options for making use of a second display.

      Lightroom also suffers the problem of extension. Neither Lightroom nor Aperture are really meant to be standalone entities, you still need some editor like Photoshop from time to time. But Photoshop CS3 Br
      • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) *

        I think he meant the machine costs were bleeding edge. Not the software. I could be wrong. :)

      • How is Aperture doing with all the problems that have plagued it? I know most reviews I read of Aperture were "hrm, good ideas, but goddamn the implementation sucks!". Bugs, crashes, and so on, and so forth. Weren't Apple even considering (temporarily) shelving it at one point to deal with the issues? I'm curious, haven't heard much on this front since then.
        • Actually, Aperture never had problems with crashing really - the broad complaints were:

          1) Bad RAW conversion

          2) Poor performance

          3) Master images had to be kept in library.

          The first one was fixed within a few months, in version 1.1 of Aperture. The RAW conversion is on par with other RAW conversion engines like C1 and Bible and ACR, and some have said the Aperture colors are even a little better generally. You can also fine-tune the RAW adjustment parameters, which lets you really have a good conversion. It
  • Hardware woes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zeropointburn ( 975618 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @06:39AM (#18094064) Journal
    This is something useful... Real photographers often don't have the cash to shell out for a top-of-the-line graphics processing server. Something like this should make it easier for smaller photography businesses to get into digital tech. Less actual film, less darkroom time/space/supplies, faster turnaround... all good for the little guy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by gaspyy ( 514539 )
      Not only that, but I usually take my laptop for on-location shots and start processing the RAWs right away. No matter how you put it, you just can't expect a 15" laptop to pack all the power of a server.

      My laptop is a HP Turion with 1Gb RAM and LR works fine on it.
      • My workflow consists, where possible, of my laptop (a Sony Vaio Core Duo, 2GB/120GB), a 15' USB cable (I might spring for a wireless transmitter at some point), my EOS 5D, and Capture One for tethered shooting. Is great to not even have to upload a memory card to see how things are coming out. Then when I get home, it's all dumped onto a server with 1.2TB in RAIDed space, and cataloged with iViewMedia Pro.
      • Aperture works OK on either a Macbook or a Mackbook Pro. For simple edits Aperture is fine, the need for a better video card comes only when you start adding more complex editing like shadows/highlights or a lot of spot/patch repairs.

        For quick on-site editing, Aperture works well even on lower end hardware.
    • I am using an older Powermac G5 1.8 DP. Aperture runs fine on this setup, with a somewhat older GPU (ATI Radeon 9800).

      There actually is not that great a difference between Lightroom and Aperture performance on most hardware, I have found - the real difference is perception. Lightroom does, as noted elsewhere, respond instantly to what you are doing - you make an adjustment and right away you see it is doing something. However, it can take as long as or longer than Aperture to actually finish what it is d
  • Video card limited (Score:2, Interesting)

    by XaXXon ( 202882 )
    I haven't used either program, but I read most of the review, especially the part about performance.. but their test hardware was a macbook pro and a g5. Neither one of those can have a particularly stellar video card. They don't specify the g5's video card, but I'm guessing it's as out of date as the machine. and the x1600 in the macbook pro isn't a screamer.

    I'd be interested to see what a system with a 7950 or (if/when they're supported) an 8800 would do with aperture. All this talk about how fast vid
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Txiasaeia ( 581598 )

      I haven't used either program, but I read most of the review, especially the part about performance.. but their test hardware was a macbook pro and a g5. Neither one of those can have a particularly stellar video card. They don't specify the g5's video card, but I'm guessing it's as out of date as the machine. and the x1600 in the macbook pro isn't a screamer.

      Isn't that the point? Not all of us have screaming fast computers or even top-of-the-line video cards, but I, for one, have a C2D iMac with a x160

      • by Alligator427 ( 1054168 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @11:05AM (#18095814)
        While I don't doubt that there are many great photographers on slashdot, I'd be surprised if there was a single regular poster (or lurker) here who depends upon photography on a professional level, as his/her only source of income.

        As someone who has spent much time working with pro photographers in my past life as an art director, I guarantee you that any *PRO* photographer will not think twice about plunking down some serious dough for a the latest and greatest mac, chock full of ram and sporting the best video card it will support. Computer hardware is among the *least* expensive financial commitment that a pro photographer will make:

        Take a look at how much some decent digital backs for a hasselblaad will run you.
        Add to that the many lenses that you need to have on hand as a pro. (Hint: this is the expensive part).
        Add a bunch of fast, high-capacity memory cards.
        Add a nice DSLR (or more likely, a few) and lenses for that/those camera(s) as well.
        Add lighting equipment of various types to that.
        Add a large studio space to that, in addition to mobile facilities.
        Add makeup artists and assistants.

        The costs involved in professional photography are high. A fast mac, chock full of ram with an excellent video card and a 30" cinema display costs *peanuts* in the grand scheme of things when it comes to the operating costs of a professional photographer. Aperture is a pro app, and that's why it makes the assumptions that it does about hardware. Lightroom is more accomodating for tinkerers and semi-professionals, the two occupy different segments of the market.
        • As my only source of income? No. As a "significant" source of my income? Most definitely. I work in IT by day, shoot weddings by weekend. Latest additions to my home processing setup: 24" LCD, ColorSync calibrator, and this baby: Epson Stylus Pro 4800 Portrait Edition [] - $2195 for an inkjet printer, yummy.

          It is not a little to my wife's bemusement that my camera gear (which is actually fairly modest) is worth more than her car. And it pains my wallet, regularly. Multiple SanDisk Extreme cards, multiple L le

          • I was wondering what you think of the software with that edition of the printer, is it really worth paying that much more than the Amazon price [] for?

            I don't mind spending money either on good photographic equipment and software, but I was suspicious of that package really being worth the extra you'd pay beyond just the printer cost alone.

            I have an Epson R800 (very little brother in that it uses roughly the same inkset) currently and love the quality, but I have to send larger stuff all out for printing and I
            • I actually haven't looked at it any more than a cursory glance. No printing as yet, I've done all of mine so far from Photoshop. Been too distracted. It did seem alright, some neat features - a lot of it you could replicate/purchase elsewhere to give you the same functionality.
        • Perhaps, but computers need to be replaced every 2 years because software and operating systems get bigger and more resource-demanding. That Canon 85L lens is expensive, but only needs to be purchased once, and next year's model will not be any different (with very few exceptions). Also, lenses barely dip in value, whereas the computer drops like a rock the second you buy it.
      • I use Aperture on my Macbook Pro for real work, and it is fine performance wise. It's not going to be quite as fast as a desktop but it's pretty good, even with an external monitor attached for spanning.

        In a pinch I have even run Aperture on a Mac mini (only runs on the intel ones). It was actually pretty good on that platform, the only thing is that it starts slowing down if you have more complex adjustments added, like multiple spot/patch fixes and shadows/highlights correction applied. But if you were
    • The point really here is that Apple know in the future their products will ship with better video cards. Apple like selling new hardware, and often price down software to do so.

      Adobe on the other hand, like selling software and they do that on many platforms.. There is no hardware bundling incentive and they have to make a good portion of their code portable to the array of windows machines out there. This means it's CPU dependent software. We all know the future trend in computing is the "GPU", particularl

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by jedrek ( 79264 )
        a real "pro" (i.e the camera is already $15k+)

        except that if the real pro is shooting sports, then the best camera + system for them would be the 1D MkII N - that's only $3k. and to really have to go $15k+, you need to move into MF camera + digital back territory. the truth is that most of the $15k+ camera pros don't do their own post processing, but work with a specialist, and those specialists know about video cards and raw processing and so on.

        and i can pretty much guarantee that the number of pros worki
        • by drgonzo59 ( 747139 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @09:41AM (#18094960)
          1D MkII N - that's only $3k

          You have obviously never bought lenses, my friend.

          • Absolutely. A good ratio for lenses to cameras bodies would be 3X to 5X the cost of your collected bodies, and I'm talking basic lenses. I mention bodies because the parent apparently doesn't actually shoot pro. He mentions sports. I've never known a pro sports photographer that didn't have at least three cameras physically on him. The reason? Often times each has a different lense. Sports photographers tend to spend a lot on glass. Almost any photographer will have a back up camera on him. Most if they are
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          I would agree with most of what you are saying. However, I am seeing more and more pro-photographers doing the post processing themselves. Several that I work with have bought Aperture, a newer high-end Mac (MacBook Pros, mostly) and easily paid for it by not having to hire a tech to do the grunt work (grunt work which costs a lot of money). Those who do fashion/"on location" stuff have really shaved a lot off of their budget. Hiring a good tech was costing them thousands per day on the shoot. Now, the
          • What are you shooting that pays $5000/day? I want in on that gig. With that kind of bill rate I could buy really, really big lenses [] to compensate for my ...err... standard issue 18-70.
            • by godawful ( 84526 )
              not saying this is the case for the original poster. but i've worked with a lot of unit photographers for motion pictures, they're usually aorund the 5K to 7K a day rate, even on the crappier films they're easily 3K a day.
            • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

              IMHO, the key to making money at photography is to find jobs in which you can afford to charge the people contracting you either nothing or a very small amount, then make money by selling the resulting work to a large number of people. For example:

              • A photo shoot for a large dance recital program. If you do both the photography and the video production, you can net $5k in a day. 200 tapes or DVDs at $30 apiece is $6k, minus materials brings it down to about $3-4k. Photo sets at $30 a package * 100 kids
        • Shooting sports. Only $3k down? Haha. Come on, let's be a bit more realistic. The Mk II N is nice, in terms of shutter speed, and the 1.3 crop factor helps get closer, but let's add in some more useful things that aren't optional: 400mm f/2.8L IS USM: average street price, $6400. Or a 300 2.8 IS, only $3300. Or for stuff like skiing, a 600 f/4 IS, again, another $6k.

          If you're a "real pro", though, and shooting those events, you have access to Canon Professional Services, and can get hold of your lenses for

      • I have the sneaking suspicion that the number of professionals - by which I mean people making their primary or only income on their photographic work - using cameras in the less than $5,000 range outnumber professionals using cameras that cost anything like $15,000 by a hefty margin. I'd guess at 10:1 or higher.

        Medium format digital backs just aren't all that common compared to the number of people who need the portability of 35mm bodies.

        Now, you may be factoring the lenses into that $15,000, but that's no
    • Well I do use Aperture on a 15 months-old dualcore PowerMac G5 (2.3 Ghz) with 2.5 GB RAM and a 7800 GTX (512 MB) and it's still quite slow. This is not cutting edge anymore, but I wouldn't call it "out of date" either. It probably packs more power than the current Apple lineup except for MacPros with X1900 or better video options.

      Note that the OpenGL drivers under OSX/PPC are known to be quite bad performance-wise.

      Despite my config, I'm looking into Lightroom because of this performance issue.
    • And I have to wonder if at some point it might be cheaper for photographers to buy a relatively slow machine with a pair of screaming-fast video cards.
  • by tcdk ( 173945 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @06:51AM (#18094106) Homepage Journal
    I've been using LightRoom since the beta's and 1.0 since it came out (link to my walk-through in the sig).

    It's a really nice program. As a developer, the structure of the program it self, gives me a warm fussy feeling. More programs should be written like this - it's clear that Adobe has given a lot of though to responsiveness and threading. They haven't perfected it, but most of the time, the program responds very quickly, by starting on something that shows you that it's working on what you wanted it to do - like you can see the details in your thumbs-images get better and better and suddenly it's there. But the important thing is - the interface is still responsive, if you can click on a thumb and have that image load, even if the thumb is only halfway loaded (note: some people do have issue with LR performance, but it seems to be a specific issue for them).

    As a photographer - well. As a work-flow program it does everything I want. As a "darkroom" it does most of what it should, but there's still some most have functions that are just not good enough (Noise Reduction/Sharpen/Clone).

    Oh, and I badly miss dual monitor support!
    • by Speare ( 84249 )

      As a developer, the structure of the program it self, gives me a warm fussy feeling.

      You must be a MacOS developer. :)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cmcguffin ( 156798 )
      I also beta-tested lightroom. When operating on collections of local photos, it's a total pleasure.
      I'd buy it in a second if I stored my photos on my PC/Mac.

      However, woe unto you if your photos reside on an external server. For whatever reason, Lightroom
      chokes (i.e., consumes huge amounts of RAM and swaps like mad, eventually bringing
      the machine to its knees) when "reference-in-place" importing photos from non-local storage.
      If you you can manage to import a small number of non-local photos, operating on t
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @06:56AM (#18094118)
    Apple obviously noticed that graphics card performance increases like CPU performance does, or even better. Aperture will have better performance in the long run since it uses both the CPU and video card. In my MacBook Pro Core 2 Duo with 2GB RAM, Aperture runs well. I've only got 128MB video card RAM too.
    • In one sense, you are right, it seems as if a new major generation of video chips are released every year. In another sense, it's expensive to get a good video chip in a Mac, and expensive to get a machine that can get one. Lightroom would probably work far better on a regular MacBook than Aperture can.
  • by Bazman ( 4849 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @07:07AM (#18094154) Journal
    Any chance slashdot editors could actually do some editing? So that summaries aren't just the spiel of the poster but also tell us *what* Lightbox and Aperture are? There's no mention. I had to guess it was something to do with graphics and maybe something to do with pictures....

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Any chance slashdot editors could actually do some editing?
      You bought that low UID on eBay, right?
  • by beelsebob ( 529313 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @07:21AM (#18094218)
    The article mentions that Aperture uses the graphics card rather than the CPU -- in fact, CoreImage choses the fastest code path it can, so if you're graphics card is going to do something slower than the CPU, it will use the CPU. Secondly, they mention that it doesn't have a plug in architecture -- with Aperture the plug in architecture is much lower level, you can write plugins for CoreImage, making them available system wide, rather than just in Aperture.
    • by _|()|\| ( 159991 )
      CoreImage choses the fastest code path it can, so if you're graphics card is going to do something slower than the CPU, it will use the CPU.

      I don't think it works exactly like that. My understanding is that Core Image uses the video card if it supports pixel shaders (i.e., the ARB_fragment_program extension). For the specific case of the GeForce FX 5200 it defaults to the CPU [], but I don't think that it would otherwise detect that using the video card is suboptimal.

    • by Lars T. ( 470328 )
      Exactly: []

      Parallel Execution While it is easy to think of the per-pixel operations that an Image Unit performs as happening one-by-one in a linear fashion, Core Image executes these operations, whenever possible, using either the Velocity Engine in the PowerPC G4 or G5 CPUs or the high performance GPUs on the latest video cards. These SIMD (Single Instruction, Multiple Data) hardware solutions allow the same code to be executed on multiple data sets in parall

    • First, yeah, Dave Girard knows and uses Aperture []. Second, the algorithm CoreImage uses to choose its rendering path might be suboptimal. Or perhaps the non-CoreImage parts of Aperture are just badly written. Whatever the reason, by all accounts Aperture is a pretty slow piece of software.
  • Do... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cosmocain ( 1060326 )
    ...Apple and Adobe have some kind of contract with the camera manufacturers, so that ist's sure that Aperture and Lightroom will support the next-gen, encrypted and proprietary RAW-format? othewrwise the software could be rendered useless when buying a new cam...
    • [Do] Apple and Adobe have some kind of contract with the camera manufacturers, so that ist's sure that Aperture and Lightroom will support the next-gen, encrypted and proprietary RAW-format? othewrwise the software could be rendered useless when buying a new cam...

      You're new to the wacky RAW world, aren't you? RAW formats are pretty much always closed. The SDKs come with NDAs the size of Roseanne.

      Of course, companies like Adobe or Apple have some kind of leverage and the resources (==legal teams) to get

  • by ksdd ( 634242 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @07:49AM (#18094324)

    Can we please stop assigning the "killer" label to abso-freaking-lutely EVERYTHING? iPod killer, Flash killer, Aperture killer, ad nauseam. Have any of these so-called "killers" actually killed the product they were supposedly released to kill?

    I guess the word "competitor" doesn't make for sensational copy.

  • have there been any killers that killed yet? i take it with all the seriousness that comes on a 3rd grade playground.

    bleeding-edge... you know, i bet i have an easier time reading english from the 1700s than people 100 years from now will have reading our interesting version here.

    yeah yeah, guilty, i do it too. i guess when i read something that's as horrible sounding as something i wrote myself, i cringe.
  • by AdrianZ ( 29135 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @09:09AM (#18094718) Homepage
    I really can't believe it wasn't mentioned as a serious Con for Lightroom with so many video cards (especially those of photographers as well as Mac owners) being dual headed. Thumbnails and controls on one monitor and large full-screen views on the second for adjustments is a wonderful way to work. Viewing the Lightroom forums makes it clear that it is important to users.

    I love Lightroom's "develop" controls but the productivity aspect is much more important. Simply allowing the Manage and Develop tabs to used as separate windows would have done the trick (not well, but "good enough").
  • I prefer Aperture (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tji ( 74570 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @09:44AM (#18094996)
    After recently picking up a Digital SLR camera, I started looking around at the photo processing/management options. I tried both Aperture and Lightroom on my MacBook Pro (Core2 Duo, 2.13GHz, 2GB RAM). Everybody says the performance of Aperture is bad, but I found it to be fine on my machine. Maybe I'm not pushing as much data around as a professional photographer, but it handled my 10 MegaPixel RAW files fine. Of course, the app could be whittled down a bit, it has a huge memory footprint, and obviously doesn't fare well on older hardware.

    But, probably the main thing that I like about Aperture is the full-screen editing/viewing mode. iPhoto 6 also has this, and when you're working in the smaller real estate of a 15" laptop display, it makes a huge difference. Maybe if I had a 20-30" external display it wouldn't be such a big deal. But, for laptop users, full screen mode is a must-have.

    Also, iPhoto 6 doesn't have all the capabilities for workflow stuff. But, it's a pretty good alternative for non=professionals.
    • "Also, iPhoto 6 doesn't have all the capabilities for workflow stuff. But, it's a pretty good alternative for non=professionals."

      That's true, considering that iPhoto6 is free, but even non-professionals can have tens of gigabytes of pictures (I do) and iPhoto crawls when it has even a few thousand pictures. The scrolling gets jerky, thumbnails do not update fast enough and the worst part is that it doesn't have the simple feature of being able to monitor folders. That is inexcusable since I'm sure there a
  • What is a quad Core 2 Duo Xeon? :P
  • by DrDitto ( 962751 ) on Wednesday February 21, 2007 @09:54AM (#18095082)
    After spending all day in front of the computer, I just love going into my darkroom to make some real silver halide prints instead of staring at Photoshop. With today's bargain prices for analog photography, I encourage people to jump in! I got an enlarger for $75 at a garage sale. With 4x5" negatives from my large-format camera, the prints are stunning. (a 4x5" negative gives about 200+ megapixels of resolution).
    • I'm studying Photography at the moment and I walked into the course with 2 digital cameras. I've since sold the better one and kept the other for research purposes. I now have 3 film cameras (so I have gone back in effect to film) and its great, I agree with what you said, it is better than sitting in front of a computer all day.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Providing that your film-holders are all in spec, putting the sheet at the same plane as your ground-glass, that the guides are holding it flat, and that you aren't one of those wierdo's who's stashed a freezer full of Super-XX from the 70s(nice tones, but hardly sharp) or shooting Efke 25 (for any LF stopped down for depth of field, exposures long enough that rocks get bored and start to fidget) You might actually get sharper pictures from a decent medium-format, just due to film-flatness issues. Calume
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I've been a camera bug since I was a teenager back in the late 1960s and I still love to work with my film cameras. And yes, it's really great that since so many folks are trading in their film equipment for digital you can get some very fine deals. I bought the Hasselblad I've always wanted a couple years ago...second hand, but in cherry condition. I have almost all the great lenses for my Canon F-1s now that I just couldn't afford back when I was a kid. I love it.

      But my darkroom is only for developing
      • Your last point really sums it up. In the 35mm space, I can't see any objective* reason to use chemical darkroom techniques for color printing - or, frankly, for developing. Having done both, I've switched entirely to digital for all my color photography (I am, at best, a 'prosumer'; I haven't made the jump into medium- or large-format photography, where digital still can't keep up). The advantages of digital - varying film speeds from shot to shot; no worries over screwing up the film in the tank; the esse
        • B&W film printed on B&W paper just can't be touched by any digital B&W process I've seen (much less been able to replicate). I'm not even certain where the difference is (though my guess is that it's a contrast issue having to do with the color masks sitting over the sensor in the camera), but it's an obvious one when looking at final prints.

          I'm no expert but I suspect the difference is that film grain isn't laid out on a grid. The grains face every which way and are randomly arranged. This pro

  • I played with Aperture 1.1 but its performance was horrible. Aperture 1.5's performance is much better. I haven't messed with Lightroom so I can't say much about it. But I'm very happy with Aperture. It runs pretty well on my Dual G5 2.0ghz PowerMac. And thats only got an ATI 9600 card in it. I'd love to try it out on a new MacPro.
  • I've used both applications, and found that Aperture does the job without getting in my way. It's typical Apple - really powerful yet deceptively simple user interface. As of version 1.5 Aperture really rocks.

    For those who don't know, both of these applications are RAW-image-based, non-destructive photo editing and workflow tools. They are targeted at both pro and serious amateur digital photographers. They are not meant to replace Photoshop (although for digital photo management and editing parts of my job
  • I have a month old 15in Macbook PRO with all the bells and whistles, and Aperture 1.5 runs at a snails pace. I tried a Lightroom 1.0 demo yesterday and the performance level ran circles around Aperture. Aperture brings my whole system to its knees, even when doing relatively minor tasks, like getting a print dialog.

    I'm quite surprised Apple would release such a poorly implemented software product, especially considering its price and the 1.5 version number. After playing around with both products, I will

  • There needs to be a version of Godwin's Law for referring to anything that competes with an Apple product as an "insert product name here" killer. This is getting stupid. A few days ago we had an "iPhone killer" when the iPhone hasn't even come out on the market yet, and now we have an "Aperture killer" when Aperture, being a Mac-only program, is decidedly _not_ the dominant software in its market niche.

    Hence, I propose Bastian's Law to fill the gap:

    Anyone who refers to a product as an Apple product kille

If graphics hackers are so smart, why can't they get the bugs out of fresh paint?