Neal Sheeran

Rants, Raves, and Geekery

Adobe Lightroom 2


A few months ago, I posted an article comparing Lightroom 1.3 and Aperture 2.0. I ended up switching to Aperture as my main photo management app (for most of the reasons discussed) and then before I wrote anything about it, Adobe released their own version 2.0…and I switched back.

Interesting enough, one of the driving reasons for switching to Aperture, better image management tools, ended up being why I went back to Lightroom. While Aperture 2.0 had much better organizational capability and options (projects, folders, smart albums, regular albums and everything else together on the left side), the whole “projects” concept didn’t fit with how I want to organize my pictures. I am not a pro photographer, I just take random family pictures: going to the zoo, park, whatever. I liked how I could tell LR to import by date and how they appeared in the Library (Year/Month/Day) is how they appear on my hard drive. When I import photos from the camera in Aperture, I have to do this manually. Aperture also seemed to exhibit somewhat arbitrary rules about albums (smart or otherwise) depending on what project they lived in. I was able to look past most of this solely for the existence of Aperture’s Smart albums. I was a serious drag that I had to manually update my various “Picks” collections in Lightroom.

And then Lightroom 2.0 brought us Smart Collections, essentially the same as Smart Albums, but quicker, easier and more intuitive. I appreciate now that Lightroom’s Folder section of the Library acts just like a finder window and I can use/abuse Smart Collections to refine my library. Spending time with Lightroom 2 reminded me of what I liked in the first place and some of the newer capabilities are nice as well:

  1. I missed LR’s color labels in Aperture. I use these to identify images that require different types of post-processing.
  2. The Library filter in LR is much easier to use than Aperture’s equivalent.
  3. Keywording is easier. Aperture’s Lift/Stamp is kind of clunky
  4. Ditto for syncing Adjustments
  5. Jeffrey Friedl’s export plugin for Flickr is better than what I was using for Aperture. I really like that Jeffrey’s adds metadata to images that have been uploaded to Flickr. Now I have a Smart Collection that tells me all the images I have uploaded.
  6. With LR 2.0, I can selectively edit the RAW image itself. With AP 2.0, I have to export a TIFF or JPEG to a separate, but internal engine. I might as well just export to Photoshop.
  7. Piling on a lot of Aperture adjustments (Highlights and Shadows specifically) can bring the previews and the Loupe to a near halt.
  8. LR’s interactive histogram rules
  9. Develop Presets in Lightroom.
  10. And a full-up history of all Develop changes works better than turning adjustment bricks on/off. And snapshots too.

There are still a few things I like in Aperture: seamless integration to put photos on my iPod and Apple TV, customized metadata view (Jeffrey Friedel has a tool to do this in LR 1.3, not sure if it works for 2.0), photo-books, better stacks and the Loupe. While I’m pretty much set on using Lightroom 2 as my primary photo management tool, I won’t be dumping Aperture just yet. I will use LR for all of my organization and the majority of my editing. I can then export select groups of keepers to Aperture to leverage it’s capabilities: the aforementioned photo-books and there are some impressive third party editing plug-ins for Aperture. Sending certain groups of images to Aperture may lend itself to the “project” concept better then trying to manage my entire library that way.

At least until Aperture 3.0 comes out and I go through this all again.