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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.
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.
UPDATE 2: Photoshop CS5 vs. Aperture 3