Adobe has shipped Lightroom 3. After many months in BETA the program is locked into gold and available from Adobe at http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshoplightroom/.
There are lots of new features in both programs. Lightroom 3 has new improved noise reduction, support for tethered shooting, importing, super cool lens and perspective correction, limited DSLR video support, and more flexible print packages.
After playing with the beta my initial reaction is that Lightroom 3 is certainly faster, less clunky and less bulky than earlier versions. It seems to have come of age, as has Aperture.
Both programs are vastly improved and photographers can’t really go wrong picking either one. If you’re a Windows person the choice is easy. You have no choice. You get to use Lightroom 3. Aperture 3 is not available to you. Mac folks can use either program.
To figure out which program is best, most photographers on a Mac should simply download both programs (they are available from their manufacturers for free trial. Aperture is available at http://www.apple.com/aperture.)
Here are some of the big differences
1. Aperture 3 is $100 cheaper than Lightroom 3.
2. Lightroom 3 has much better native noise reduction and sharpening than Aperture 3.
3. While both programs now support video from DSLRs, Aperture 3 allows more video interaction, including the opportunity to edit and playback video inside the application.
4. Both Aperture 3 and Lightroom 3 have seen significant speed and performance upgrades, but Lightroom 3 seems to work better on underpowered machines than Aperture.
5. Aperture 3 has the advantage when it comes to face recognition and geo-tagging. Lightroom 3 doesn’t support either. Aperture 3’s implementation of FACES needs work, but at least it’s available. Places (the geo-tagging portion of Aperture 3) has stabilized in recent maintenance updates to Aperture 3.
6. Aperture 3 has the advantage when it comes to printing photo books right from the application.
7. Both programs allow you to use referenced libraries, i.e., you can keep your images anywhere and link them to the program. But only Aperture allows you to use managed libraries where the images are actually stored inside Aperture. This leads to the flexibility of using Aperture’s onboard backup system called the Vault.
I am very impressed with both programs. I think Lightroom 3 stole some of Aperture’s thunder due to the extra long product improvement cycle at Apple, and Apple’s odd marketing and PR strategies when it comes to products under development. But now that both programs are out and in the wild, my own personal nod is to Aperture 3. It seems to offer the features that are most important to me personally. Your mileage may vary. I do strongly suggest that you try both programs before committing to either one. That way you can decide for yourself which is best for your needs.
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