Lightroom 3

Adjusting my brain into Aperture mode

We are now having increasing amount of light. Actually lots of light. Why I am talking about light in this Aperture posting? Well, obviously light is the most important factor in photography. But that is not the reason in this post. The reason is noise. More light – lower ISO settings – less noise. And that is especially indoors. In the winter time I was forced to use ISO 1600-3200 (even 6400) for indoor shots. I want to use available light, so, not many other possibilities in that department. In the spring and summer ISOs indoors are between 100 and 800 usually. That means that the noise levels are totally acceptable levels with my 5D Mark II and even with my E-P1. So now I can forget Aperture’s poor noise handling and try to learn more Aperture using the shots where the noise is not irritating me.

What I find very cool with Aperture 3 is the possibility to use multiple curves adjustments for a single shot. And especially the possibility to brush them in. You can do this for other adjustment bricks too but I think curves will solve many problems. When you use multiple curves and brush them in, it is like using layers in PS (at least sort of). I have to look these adjustment possibilities more carefully and learn Aperture 3 more in the spring and summer. Nathan Smith has done a nice tutorial about multiple curves and how to brush them in.

Another thing I am starting to like more and more in Aperture when I am using it is its user interface. I have been saying to myself all the time that LRs UI is good enough for me but I have to admit that Aperture’s UI is so much better and more intuitive. I am still needing more time to process a shot in Aperture than in LR but that’s mainly because I have been using LR much longer time. I think when I develop a Aperture workflow which suits my needs, I will be faster with Aperture.

This spring and the coming  summer will be quite decisive for me if I am finally going to choose Aperture 3 over LR 3. During that time I also have to solve the noise thing for the coming autumn when the sun is not so high anymore and the days will be much shorter.

I’m back using Lightroom 3

I have now tested quite a lot Aperture 3 to see if I would start to use instead of LR3. I have been using LR for years now, and now and then tried to solve out if Aperture may replace LR in my workflow. The main reason for not using Aperture has been the fact it is quite slow in my rig as compared to LR. There are also many other reasons which hindered the use of Aperture:

– I like keywording much more in LR. It is a smooth process and does not require much time. I do keywording about in half time in LR in comparison to Aperture.

– Adjustment brushes and graduated filter. You can make multiple adjustments in one brushing with LR. That is not possible in Aperture (and there is no graduated filter at all). This speeds up working so much. If you are using these tools a lot LR is a clear winner.

– Lens correction tool. Just wonderful in LR and missing from Aperture. No more arguments needed.

– Noise reduction. Lightroom has a very effective NR built in. In Aperture there is a need for a plug-in if you shoot high-ISO shots.

– Lightroom is very much faster almost in every area. Aperture is faster only in importing the photos. And my LR library is many times bigger than my Aperture library. There may be even bigger speed difference with same sized libraries.

– Some plug-ins I am using regularly, like Viveza 2 and Silver Efex Pro, work much smoother and faster with LR. E.g. to open these plug-ins may take very long time in Aperture (even tens of seconds).

Those are the main things why I am still choosing Lightroom for my RAW converter. I like Aprture’s UI more but I am very used to cycle LR’s Library and Develop modules by using keyboard shortcuts so that’s not a big deal for me.

Distant house and barn

Distant house and barn, originally uploaded by Jonne Naarala.

Here I used Lightroom’s graduated filter to darken the sky area and to lighten the grain field. I think it really is a great tool to give extra punch and drama to your shots.

LR’s graduated filter is much faster to use as Aperture’s brushes are. I can achieve same kind of a result by using Aperture’s brushes but it is so much slower process. With LR those adjustments took only few seconds to make and what is a big plus is that you can make multiple adjustments at once with LR’s graduted filter or brushes. With Aperture you have to select a new brush for every single adjustment.

From spinning balls to a total crash

Yesterday evening I was happily using Aperture to process few shots and got one processed nicely. The second one caused big problems though. I had done basic adjustments for the shot in Aperture and after that I would have wanted to use Nik’s plug-ins just to test Viveza 2 and Silver Efex Pro. When I started Viveza 2 from Aperture I got the normal info that Aperture is processing the file for Viveza. But this processing lasted and lasted. After few minutes of processing I got a black info area on my screen saying that I have to shut down my MacBook by using the power switch. That has never happened to me earlier. Well, I did that and opened Aperture again and tried to open Viveza – no luck unfortunately. Then I had to force the Aperture to shut down. I opened Aperture again and tested Silver Efex Pro. The situation was the same – Aperture froze down.

In Lightroom 3 I had no problems with these plug-ins when I tested them yesterday.

Bye, bye Aperture. I’ll give up.

I really love Aperture’s Definition slider!

Summer scene, originally uploaded by Jonne Naarala.

In the above photo I used the Definition slider (by brushing the effect in) of Aperture 3 to enhance the wooden wall of the barn, and I think the result is really wonderful. Textures pop up nicely and give extra punch for the barn. I found the Definition adjustment very good and much better than Clarity adjustment in LR3 (not totally sure though if they adjust exactly the same thing).

This Aperture vs. Lightroom pondering is really taking some time from the main thing – photographing. I want to have a decision soon.

Can I stand spinning balls?

I have tested Aperture 3 quite a lot this weekend. I really like the program and how it renders my photos. There are still many buts:

– Lots of spinning balls around. So it is painfully slow sometimes. In example, if I use the definition slider, I have to wait 30-60 sec before the adjustment is ready. And this happens with many other adjustments too. And I have to say that this never happens with LR3.

– Poor noise reduction. I have to use third-party plug-in for NR. No problem with that in result-wise but they always generate huge TIFF  files (e.g. for 5D Mk II RAWs the TIFF is something like 120 Mb). Then I’ll have 25 Mb RAW and 120 Mb TIFF for the same file. With LR3 I am able to do NR for RAW file.

– No adjustment history. LR3 has this nice feature. In Aperture 3 I have to make snapshots for every significant adjustment if I want to compare their effects afterwards. I am too lazy to do so.

– Keywording is not so easy as in LR3. I especially like the “keyword suggestion” feature in LR3.

So, rants, rants, rants. And I like Aperture 3! Apple should thank me for trying and trying. I’d like to use Aperture 3 but I realize that I should have a much more powerful computer than my MacBook is. With LR3 I have no problems with my MacBook, it is very smooth all time.

And I like Aperture 3. Sigh.

Tested Aperture 3 again!

Some of Kaapo’s games, originally uploaded by Jonne Naarala.

I have been using LR3 extensively now but yesterday I decided to test Aperture 3 again after that long pause. Actually it felt quite nice to process a shot with it. This newest version (3.1.1) was actually quite a bit faster than the previous version in my MacBook.

Now, the biggest obstacle for using Aperture 3 is the noise reduction capabilities as compared to LR3. I shoot a lot indoor shots in quite poor lighting and am using ISO 1600-3200 (sometimes even 6400) a lot. So, I will need a good noise reduction plug-in for Aperture 3. I want to do all my processing in one program and not to go e.g. to PS to do the noise reduction. I’ve tested Nik’s Dfine which was quite okay but is somehow expensive. Then I found out from Aperture users group in Flickr that many people use Neat Image plug-in for dealing with noise.

Neat Image may be a very good candidate. I’ve now looked through many example pics and the plug-in seems to be great. I have to test it by myself and if it is a good one I may start to use Aperture 3 again.

The star of the bunch

The star of the bunch, originally uploaded by Jonne Naarala.

As the title implies I have found a star. And it is now the Aperture 3 for my workflow. I know, I know. Have switched between Lightroom 3 and Aperture 3 many times lately but sometimes pondering and testing is really needed.

I am now using Aperture 3 with my MacBook. Yes, that’s right. A small computer people say not good with Aperture. Well, for me it is coping very well. Actually better than my iMac (the white iMac, not the lates version; see computer specs in the post somewhere below, I do not put them here again). I think the better graphics card in the MacBook really enhances the functionality of Aperture 3. And yes, it only has a 13″ screen. So what, I can manage with it for now. Maybe I’ll buy a 15″ (or even 17″) MacBook Pro some day (well, that day is not in the near future).

I also started to use managed image filing system with Aperture (i.e. the images are imported into the Aperture library). Before this I always used referenced file system. So, let’s see how I will manage with the managed system. The Aperture library is place in 1 Tb HD and the vault (backup library) is in another 1 Tb HD.

After this Lightroom vs. Aperture debate I have to only debate about my future computer choices. And I think it is going to be an easier decision than the one about the software.