07 Detail rendition 3

Aperture vs Lightroom

This shot was taken at ISO 1600 on a Nikon 1 compact system camera. This has a 1-inch sensor, so the noise levels are medium-high. The Aperture version (left) controls the noise well, but the fine detail isn’t particularly sharp. The Lightroom version (right) is sharper, but the noise is actually quite bad. I’ve felt for a while that Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw (they’re the same thing) is quite noisy, and this bears it out. On balance, I think the Aperture version holds up best.

08 Corrections

Aperture vs Lightroom

I didn’t want to get drawn into any comparisons between image-enhancement tools, but distortion correction is now a basic feature of many RAW converters, including Lightroom, Capture One Pro and DxO Optics Pro 9 – but not Aperture. For architectural shots like this, Lightroom has a clear advantage, correcting barrel and pincushion distortion and perspective issues like converging verticals. You can see the difference between the uncorrected Aperture version (left) and the corrected Lightroom image (right). Aperture depends on external editors for this kind of correction, whereas Lightroom has it built in.

09 Detail rendition 4

Aperture vs Lightroom

The fine detail comparison delivers the same results as the previous images. The Aperture rendition is less noisy but also less sharp; Lightroom delivers slightly greater sharpness but a lot more noise.

10 Conclusions

I prefer the overall colour and tonal rendition of Aperture RAW conversions. I think its images look punchier and more natural. Up close, though, it’s apparent that Lightroom’s conversions are a little sharper – though its noise levels are surprisingly high, and you’ll often see noise in low ISO shots taken with large-sensor cameras. Its in-built optical corrections do give it a significant advantage over Aperture for some types of photography, though.

To be honest, though, I think neither can really match up to DxO Optics Pro and Capture One for ultimate quality.

See also

DxO Optics Pro vs Lightroom vs Capture One Pro