As popular as programs like Aperture 3 and Lightroom have gotten, Photoshop is THE defacto standard in image editing today. Photoshop has penetrated popular culture to the point where it’s actually become a verb.
And if you’re reading this article, you’re probably wondering, “what should I go for? Photoshop or Aperture?”
Well, let’s break it down.
Photoshop and Aperture are two very different programs.
Photoshop is meant for very detailed photo editing, and editing only. Aperture (and Lightroom) is both an organizational tool that helps you keep your photos in a neat library, and an image editing program that helps you make your pictures look their best. Photoshop is hands-down the best for editing, and while Aperture’s tools will satisfy most people’s needs, they’re not quite up to Photoshop’s level.
So which one should you buy?
The thing with Photoshop is, if you have to ask if you need it, then you probably don’t need it.
If you want to take your editing to the next level, it’s far better to start off with Aperture or Lightroom (<–click to find out which one will work for you). Both cost less than a third what Photoshop CS5 costs and you will benefit greatly from their superior organizational capabilities and operational speed.
Then, if you find that you need more sophisticated editing capabilities, you can pick up CS5.
And if you simply want to start learning Photoshop now without putting out a ton of money, get the dirt-cheap but VERY powerful Photoshop Elements.
Remember, you can use Photoshop as an external editor within Aperture, and that’s how I’ve set up Photoshop Elements in my workflow. So if you do end up splurging on Photoshop, it will fit right into your existing Aperture or Lightroom-based system.
So again, the real question you should be asking is, do I want Aperture or Lightroom?