Aperture albums vs Lightroom collections

Aperture users: 3 ways Lightroom could drive you mad!

Madness trigger #02: Albums versus Collections

In Aperture, projects are ‘exclusive’, like folders. A photo can only be in one project or another – it can’t be in two places at once. That’s why you you need albums, which I’ll call ‘inclusive’. You can add the same picture to as many different albums as you like.

Now here’s the key thing about Aperture – you can create albums within projects. Let’s say you come back from a full-day’s shooting or a vacation with hundreds of images of different subjects. What could be more natural than creating an album within the project for each subject?

Or maybe you decide some would look good in black and white, or some need a ‘toy camera’ effect? You might want to split those off into separate albums too.

Aperture albums vs Lightroom collections
Aperture can create albums within projects, but Lightroom insists on separating folders and collections completely.

Lightroom can’t do this. It can create albums (called ‘collections’ in Lightroom), but they’re managed in a completely separate way to folders, in a completely separate panel. You can’t add an album to a folder.

I’d like to know how Lightroom users cope with this. I’ve been using Lightroom ever since it was launched, so I’m no novice – and yet I’ve never been satisfied with this separation between folders and collections. I can’t find a way to organise my images that doesn’t mean working with two separate but parallel filing systems.

My instinct is to work with folders, but I’m more or less forced into using collections because the Folders panel is visible only within the Library module – everywhere else, only the Collections panel is visible.

Even this wouldn’t be so bad if only Lightroom’s stacking system was consistent…

4 thoughts on “Aperture users: 3 ways Lightroom could drive you mad!

  1. In your opinion, how do some of the other applications stack up against Aperture or LR 5 with file management? Specifically, I have been looking at Capture One’s management scheme.

    1. I haven’t spent enough time with Capture One’s yet, but I’ll let you know! At first glance it looks a lot like Lightroom’s, with folders and albums kept separate.

  2. Hi Rod:

    In the above article, and in some prior articles, you have indicated one of Aperture’s weaknesses is the editing arena. Certainly, the specific features you list at the beginning of this article are not currently present in Aperture 3. That said, I personally feel both programs have editing strengths and weaknesses. You have listed several Lightroom tools that are not present in Aperture, but there are many Aperture editing strengths and by not addressing these strengths, you may give the reader a sense that the limitations are great. Here are a few examples of Aperture editing strengths I personally find compelling:

    The ability to brush in/out most adjustments, including the ability to select the effective range, e.g. highlights, mid-tones, etc.
    The Color adjustment is very useful, relatively easy to use and powerful.
    Aperture has an outstanding curves adjustment that is arguably the best out there, or at least the equal of any other software.
    The ability to create multiple adjustment bricks.

    In some cases a perceived advantage of Lightroom may be a lack of experience or training. I have heard it oft repeated that Lightroom has better sharpening capabilities vs. Aperture. Perhaps it does, but I do not feel limited by Aperture in this area. The edge sharpen adjustment is fairly sophisticated, can be brushed in and out, etc., but perhaps most importantly I can use multiple edge sharpen bricks, to finely control sharpening throughout an image.

    I think the best approach, when deciding between these and other asset management/post-processing programs is to try them out. Each program will have its strengths and weaknesses. Each will have its own particular paradigm that may or may not resonate with the user. The users photographic interests may also push the decision in a particular direction, e.g. you have to have a specific integrated adjustment that you use regularly.

    I feel Aperture’s two most significant weaknesses are perception and education. Perception, because Apple is secretive and releases fewer major, paid upgrades vs. Adobe, giving the impression that the product is languishing. I have a somewhat different view and will happily see 3.6, 3.7… arrive as no cost upgrades. Education, because there are limited resources for the Aperture user, compared to Lightroom. There are a few books and a number of excellent blogs (yours included). Classes are extremely limited. For example, n my city, I believe I have taught the only Aperture class in the last several years, yet there are several organizations that teach regular Lightroom classes.

  3. I liken the entire Lightroom Catalog to a single Aperture Project. From there you can use Collections and Collection Sets to reflect Aperture Folders and Albums. When you view it this way and stop looking at the Physical Folders that Lightroom exposes through the GUI, then you begin to separate their “virtual organization” from the physical disk organization.

    Imagine Lightroom didn’t expose the physical disk storage in the GUI, and you only had Collection and Collection Set for organization. That would be comparable to an Aperture Library that only had a single Project, and you used Folders and Albums for all your organization.

    I’m an Aperture convert who knows both Lightroom and Aperture well. I’m not criticizing either. I’m just describing how I conceptualize the differences in their organization capabilities.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.