/ photography

Lightroom or Aperture

I’m lucky enough to know a number of talented photographers, so recently when I asked around about whether I should opt for Adobe Lightroom or Apple Aperture, I was expecting the responses might present some good arguments for each side.

To my surprise, there was no debate: Lightroom was unanimously the winner, even among the Aperture users.

So in my mind the decision was made, though I will admit to being a little uncomfortable with the idea. I’ve never used an Adobe product that I enjoyed.

I started looking into Lightroom to figure out the details, and made my way to the checkout page on Adobe’s website. There I noticed that Adobe was trying to upsell me to something called Creative Cloud. I didn’t know what this was, but I was certain I didn’t want it. As a precaution I looked into it anyways; this was, after all, my first real step into the Adobe system. I’m glad I took a moment to find out what Creative Cloud is.


Apparently, from what I could tell searching around on Google, Creative Cloud is a perpetual rental scheme for using Adobe apps that the company is currently in the process of switching over to. Instead of buying the software and parting ways with the Adobe, the user pays an eternal monthly subscription fee for access to their creative apps.That’s a red flag. I don’t want to tie anything I make into a platform that disappears if I don’t pay for it monthly.

Currently, a Creative Cloud subscription isn’t required to use Lightroom. So I suppose there might be an argument that I shouldn’t be concerned.


The issue here is about what system I lock my photo library into. If I were to start with Adobe Lightroom 5 today, then my library will be locked into an Adobe proprietary file scheme. (The same is true for Apple’s Aperture, of course.)If future system requirements, say 2 to 5 years from now, require Creative Cloud for Lightroom 6 and beyond, I will be left with a hard choice: subscribe forever to Adobe, or lose all work done in my Lightroom 5 library.

So my purchase of software has as much to do with 5 years from now as does with what the software can do for me today.

The only other option is Apple Aperture, which seems to be updated at a glacial pace and lacks a number of modern features that a few photographers mentioned when advising me on which software to choose.

However, it is a member of the Apple system, which for me is a plus. Moreover, I won’t need to pay for it monthly to avoid losing access to my work in the future.


The answer to this question is not a clear one to me yet. Aperture is rarely updated, apparently somewhat outdated right now, and lacks some features photographers seem to want.

But Adobe wants to force me into a subscription model to maintain access to my work and the tools used to make it.

If I had to choose today, I’d go with Aperture because of the freedom that its non-subscription model offers.

If I’m misunderstanding Creative Cloud, I sure hope someone will set me straight before I make a bad choice. But I don’t see any benefits for the creator in a subscription model for creative software (please note that I wouldn’t consider bleeding edge updates to be a benefit, but rather a hazard).

Lightroom or Aperture
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