When I posted my three-way RAW converter comparison yesterday, I pitted Lightroom 5 against DxO Optics Pro 9 and Capture One Pro 7. A few people have pointed out to me since then that I didn’t include Aperture. I thought at the time that three was enough, but now I wish I’d squeezed Aperture in too!

So I’m doing a follow-up Aperture vs Lightroom post today . I’m not going to do all four RAW converters side by side, I’m just going to compare it with its chief rival, Lightroom. I’m using the same format for the tests and the results, so you can still make comparisons with yesterday’s images. Don’t forget to click on the images to see full-size versions.

Just to clarify, I’m not comparing all the editing tools in these programs. I simply want to know which gives the best results straight from the box with the software’s default profile for that camera. DxO Optics Pro and Capture One Pro are powerful but specialised tools (though Capture One Pro now does image cataloguing), and I see Aperture and Lightroom as the main rivals in the all-in-one image cataloguing and editing market.

01 Colour rendition

Aperture vs Lightroom

I found yesterday that Lightroom’s rendition of blue skies was slightly more cyan than the rest, and it’s the same this time when it’s compared to Aperture. Otherwise, the colour rendition is very similar.

02 Highlight recovery

Aperture vs Lightroom

I was disappointed by Lightroom’s performance in my previous test, and it doesn’t compare that well with Aperture here. Aperture has recovered subtle detail in the brightest parts of the clouds in this overexposed image, but Lightroom has been unable to do the same. I was careful to recover as much detail as possible, but this was as far as I could go before the highlights became off-white and the transition to ‘blown’ areas became even more obvious. It was a tall order anyway, and Lightroom has, I’d estimate, recovered about 1EV of highlight detail, but Aperture has done slightly better.

03 Detail rendition 1

Aperture vs Lightroom

On the other hand, Lightroom has produced sharper fine detail. Aperture’s default sharpening level seems quite low, and although Lightroom didn’t do too well agains the other two in yesterday’s post, it comes out the winner here. The number on the boat’s cabin is much more clearly defined.