Aperture 3 vs. Photoshop Elements

by admin on February 19, 2010

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I see a lot of Aperture vs. Lightroom, and Aperture vs. Photoshop CS4 threads on the web, but let’s look at another comparison:

Aperture 3 vs. Photoshop Elements

Adobe’s Photoshop Elements is an absolute bargain at less than $100, and a great way to get your feet wet with Photoshop.

If you don’t know for sure that you need the $700 Photoshop CS5, then you’re better off seeing if Photoshop Elements fulfills your photo-editing needs at less than a 10th the price of CS5.

However, if I had to choose between Aperture 3 and any edition of Photoshop, including Elements, I’d take Aperture 3 any day of the week.

Here’s why:

Aperture Help You Keep Your Stuff Organized

One of the biggest problems photographers have is keeping our image libraries organized. Before Aperture, my library consisted of folders and subfolders and more subfolders of original image files and various edited versions, and I could never find anything.

With Aperture, I can play with an image all I want, and then start over again by hitting the M key to get back to the master file. I don’t need to dig around to start with the original file again, which of course I may have accidentally saved over. And when I need to find a picture in a hurry¬† – I just enter a keyword or two, and it pops up. Aperture flies when it comes to finding stuff – unlike my own brain when I was screwing around in my messy folder system.

Yes, Photoshop is incredibly powerful, but it does nothing for you from an organizational standpoint.

Aperture 3’s Editing Tools Are Awesome

I thought Aperture 2’s editing tools were pretty darn good. It had all the basic things I needed – levels adjustments, white-balance tweaking, B&W conversion, sharpening, noise reduction, stuff like that.

But Aperture 3’s editing suite is even better. Apple listened to customer demand and put in a curves feature, and the new non-destructive and edge-detecting brushes are amazing – particularly the skin-smoothing tool which will improve your portraits dramatically in seconds. Aperture 3 also adds adjustment presets which can be shared over the web, or even applied to images upon import. There are tons of others – halo reduction, chromatic aberration filter, etc.

In other words, Aperture 3’s post-processing tools will more than likely do everything you could possibly think of. Let’s just hope Apple eventually gets around to adding a lens distortion correction filter like that in Photoshop, Lightroom, DxO, or Capture One.

For most people, the choice between Aperture 3 and Photoshop Elements 10 is easy. Aperture is a bit more expensive, but its ease-of-use and ability to keep your photo library in order is worth far more than the $100 price difference.

Click here for the best deals on Aperture 3. or read my complete Aperture 3 review.


UPDATE 2: Photoshop CS5 vs. Aperture 3

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Artgirl October 22, 2010 at 6:52 pm


I have to take photos of my art, and the number-one feature I need is the ability to correct the inevitable lens distortion. Without that, Aperture’s other features are no use to me.

anonymous December 20, 2010 at 12:00 am

Aperture is not good if you want to crop, it has only preset crop sizes, I had to export the photo back to iPhoto to have the crop size I wanted, since then, I only used iPhoto.

Mike December 20, 2010 at 11:50 am

You can customize crop ratios and sizes in Aperture. Just hit the C button and you’ll see.

Farbfotos January 23, 2011 at 7:32 pm

Actually I’ve been using a camera for as long as I can remember and more often than not have one with me. I still can’t claim I’ve got the hang of all the small details that make a cool picture. Regardless I am actually confindent I can handle almost everything, even an ET.

It’s the after effects that is killing me. I just can’t understand the software part. It always seems fake in my opinion. Relatives think the work is perfect but I can’t decide whether it’s true or simply a compliment. The people I work with have never complained to be honest but that is normal. Selecting the needed stuff is simply theoretical knowledge mentioned in technical literature. Occasionally despite the fact that I am trying my best I end up with kind of smeared exposure, unadjusted brightness or contrast. I confuse the levels adjusting the colors sometimes. It can be really stressing however rant ends at this point.

Tyler March 1, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Haven’t you ever heard of Adobe’s Bridge? Photoshop was not meant to be an image organizer, it was meant to edit photos, and it does that much better then aperture, if your serious about your layers and edibility, take PS. If you want to take the quick easy, yet still effective, just less so, way, take Aperture. I’ve tried both, and PS CS5 merged with Bridge is way better then Aperture. Not everyone can afford the Creative Suite from Adobe but if you can, do it. (My two cents lol)

ADM April 16, 2011 at 5:32 am

Tyler is right, photoshop was never meant to organize your photos, it’s just an editing tool and the best in my opinion. For organizing your work adobe offers Adobe bridge which supports all work done on all Adobe applications, I’d go for photoshop and bridge rather than Aperture anytime.

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