Alternatives to Apple Aperture photo management and image processing

Aperture Alternetive Lightroom

After Apple presented the new "Photos" app at WWDC, it became known almost at the same time that the further development of iPhoto and Aperture would be discontinued. While amateur photographers who have built on iPhoto will certainly not have any problems with the switch to "Photos", it should be a switch for professional photographers if they have to use another software alternative to Aperture in the future. Of course you can continue to use Aperture, because it will also run under [Mac OS X Yosemite-> mac-os-x-yosemite], but the software is already so outdated that we can only recommend a change.

Aperture Alternetive Lightroom

Free and paid Aperture alternatives

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

For most, moving to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom software will be a good alternative. This tool not only offers excellent photo management with geo-data, tagging and the like, but also offers extensive options for editing photos. It is not for nothing that many professional photographers have been working with this sophisticated software from Adobe for a long time.

You can buy Adobe Photoshop Lightroom either as a purchase version (currently Lightroom 5) for just under 110 EUR on Amazon as a download for Mac and Windows or just download the monthly subscription model from Adobe set, which offers a bundle of Photoshop and Lightroom for just under 12 EUR a month. The advantage of the subscription model is that all future updates are included in the subscription. You also get access to the "Creative Cloud", which among other things enables the photos to be synced into the Adobe Cloud and then edited with Lightroom mobile on the iPad.

If you can't make friends with Adobe products, you also have a few other options for managing your photos. I would like to present some alternatives here. Most of them stick to a brief description as I haven't tried the software.

Corel AfterShot Pro 2

Corel AfterShot Pro 2AfterShot Pro software may still be known to some as "Bibble". The new version of Corel enables a complete RAW workflow, supports 64-bit and offers non-destructive image processing. The software is also incredibly fast. A trial version can be found on the Website load. You can buy the software for just under 70 EUR on Amazon as a PC & Mac bundle.

Iridient Developer

rawdevelopericongcThe Iridient Developer software is particularly good at developing RAW data. At the Manufacturer's website But you can already see that the company doesn't necessarily value a pretty UI. With a price of 75 USD, the range of functions is a bit small in my opinion. Photo organization is not included, but you can use batch processing to process a whole bunch of RAWs in an emergency.


The open source software Darktable is certainly not one of my top favorites that I would use as an alternative to Aperture or Lightroom, but for people who don't want to spend money, Darktable may still be a test object. The software is a bit slow, but it can also edit RAW files and edit photos non-destructively. You can also collect and manage your photos and even organize them better with filters and collections. Darktable is available in German and also for Mac OS X. In terms of performance, however, you shouldn't make a comparison with competitors like Adobe Lightroom ... that would certainly be a bit unfair with open source software.

Darktable screenshot

On the screenshot you can see that the free open source solution Darktable enables both the editing and the management of photos.

Silkypix Developer Studio Pro

With a purchase price of almost 200 EUR, the photo software Silkxypix Developer Studio Pro 6 is certainly not only aimed at amateur photographers. A trial version is unfortunately only available for version 5. But you can download it load on the manufacturer's page. There is a Windows and a Mac version of the program. I couldn't find a special feature, but there is not only photo editing but also a photo organization option.

Silkypix Developer Studio Pro

Silkypix Developer Studio Pro can also organize and edit photos on the Mac.

The features that one on the website, are basically the same as some of Lightroom's features, but with the exception of things like brush corrections. In my opinion, the high price speaks against this software, which at EUR 200 is almost twice as expensive as Adobe Lightroom.

DXO Optics Pro

With DXO Optics Pro 9, you get a tool that runs under OS X and Windows and is committed to the automatic image optimization of RAW and JPEG files. The standard version costs at Amazon around 95 EUR and is suitable for all digital cameras that do not have full-frame sensors. For full frame cameras this is Elite version for about 70 EUR surcharge necessary. The software offers presets and a lot of automatic corrections that get amazing things out of the photos. The customer ratings on Amazon also press very many 5 star reviews real enthusiasm.

DXO Optics Pro Interface

The interface of DXO Optics Pro is very similar to that of Lightroom. If you still don't want to do without Lightroom, you can let DXO do the optimizations and manage the photos again in Lightroom.

Photo management is also included in DXO Optics Pro. But if you prefer to manage your photos in Lightroom, DXO Optics Pro offers the option of integrating it into Lightroom so that you can manage your photos with Lightroom, but optimize them with DXO Optics Pro. On the DXO website you can find some before-and-after photos and notes on Lightroom integration.

Nikon Capture NX-D

With the tool Nikon Capture NX-D, Nikon only introduced its image processing software and its RAW converter at the beginning of 2014. For a few days the software has also emerged from the beta stage and available in version 1.0.0. The software can be downloaded free of charge and is also available for the Mac. The focus here is probably on photo editing, because the organization of photos is only addressed rudimentarily. But there is probably the possibility to filter the photo collection by tags, camera names and the like.

Canon DPP 4.0

With DPP 4.0, Canon also offers a RAW converter, which also enables "easy" image management with ratings and folders. With DPP, users of a few Canon cameras will be particularly happy, because only a few Canon DSLRs are mentioned in terms of compatibility: "EOS-1D X, EOS-1D C, EOS 5D Mark III, EOS 6D". You can do the software from Canon's support site for free, but you need a serial number of a supported Canon camera to download. This software cannot be counted as an alternative to Apple Aperture or Adobe Lightroom.

Canon DPP 4.0

The DPP 4.0 image processing from Canon is unfortunately only compatible with a few Canon cameras.

Photo Mechanic

Photo Mechanic V5Some people are excited about the software Photo Mechanic from camera bits. The look takes getting used to, as you can see straight away that it is not a native Mac app. The user interface is not very nice, to put it diplomatically. The software is extremely fast, but not that intuitive. Before you shop for the full version for 150 USD, you should try the trial version. ;-)


The free software Lightzone is also available for the Mac. The Programmer's website I would classify as "unreasonable". When I work with photos, I honestly expect an appealing interface design, which I would definitely miss here. For the sake of completeness, I still wanted to list the software in the collection here.

Capture One Pro

The software is not cheap Capture One Pro 7 from Phase One. On the website, the company advertises nothing less than "the world's best RAW converter". You can find the full version (MAC / PC) for over 200 EUR on Amazon, but can also download a test version from the manufacturer's website. The main focus of the tool is on RAW development, but since the new 7 version there is also an integrated image management that has integrated star ratings, folders and filters. If you only want to click the RAW development as a Mac app, you will find the slimmed-down version "Capture One Pro 69 Express" for 7 EUR.

Conclusion from my point of view

I am still an avid [Adobe Photoshop Lightroom-> adobe-lightroom-download] user. The tool is very extensive in terms of functions, but can also be operated intuitively without special knowledge. I'm certainly not a professional user, but I often have a lot of photos to sort and use Lightroom's filter options, ratings and collections. Editing the photos is also extremely easy. With just a few movements of the sliders, you can achieve enormous improvements to the photos and achieve your goal much faster than using Photoshop, for example.

Then there are the many options for outputting the photos. You can order prints and photo books directly from Lightroom, create web galleries including HTML code and of course share your photos on social media or on photo services such as Flickr.

I haven't gotten into the subscription model yet, but the one mentioned above Lightroom 5 single user license for a little more than 100 EUR is more than sufficient for me and also my recommendation.






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  1. Christian Gut says:

    Nice set-up, looks very complete - thanks for that.

    What is missing in all the comparisons from my point of view is the migration of the existing data:
    If you go with minimal requirements, then you can export the original (RAW) + final result and at least keep folder structures and maybe also keywords. There's a way from Aperture to Lightroom.

    What is apparently completely impossible, however, is the recipe, i.e. the changes that have been made, to be adopted for further use at a later date. For example, if I want to re-optimize a three-year-old photo for a special print, I can copy the old edits manually and hope that I get as close as possible to the old edits. There is still room for improvement!

    • Sir Apfelot says:

      Hi Christian! Yes, I can actually only assess a direct process for export and import for Aperture to Lightroom (how the export and import works, I have here in the blog post explained). With the other programs, I lack insight. But even with Aperture, where even XMP data can be output, only very simple edits such as cropping or rotating are carried out. There is no 100% takeover. I googled there for a long time. One could hope that with the latest update, which is still to come, Apple might also enable an improved data export, but I don't really want to believe in it.
      In the event that the photos are later exported, I would export all working copies as high-resolution TIFF files to be on the safe side. Then you can no longer turn the controls, but at least you could export a photo again for the customer that looks 1: 1 like this. In the event of changes, all that remains is to tinker with the Aperture working copy in Lightroom.

  2. Christian Gut says:

    Oh thank you. There is still a little more going on than I thought. I take a look at myself.

  3. Thank you very much for this overview. Not only saved me several hours of Google time, but also helped to focus the search for new workflow settings (my currently favorite plan B: LR mainly for photo management, DXO for image processing). You advocate - for a good reason that is understandable for me - for LR as an alternative. As for the functionality and stability of the software, as a previous Aperture user, I cannot possibly disagree. And the little Windows look and feel that LR brings to the screen will certainly not kill me either.
    But (yes, the very German but): It does not seem to require much prophetic gifts in order not to fear that with LR 6 or at the latest its successor, the unlimited acquisition of a user license will no longer be possible.

    You also seem to be somewhat shy about Adobe's "rental model". This is exactly where my fears come into play: With the choice of Aperture, I have once again backed a horse that got off to a good start after a botched start (oh man, you had to suffer at the beginning) and now (well not suddenly) long before The finish line is eliminated because the racing stable wants to see completely different horses run. My mission: Around 50000 pictures in a library that might climb the Halfdome of Mac's Yosemite, but will probably no longer receive any appreciation from its successor.
    And now I'm supposed to "marry" a second time. In order to find out after a short time that from now on I can only rent my bride? And that she will send the devil to me if I don't want to continue renting her? This so-called "rent" is a farce. In every rented apartment, I can pack my furniture and transport it to a new domicile if I want to move. But I don't have any furniture in Aperture or LR. I have a database - in a proprietary format - even if the actual image data is only referenced in wonderful Finder folders that I move like moving boxes where I want them. It is this evil addiction that worries me.

    Everyone who develops software should be rewarded for their performance. No question. As a journalist, I also live from the fact that other people reward my service and not "take over" free of charge via C&P. But then it also has to be good. I cannot expect my clients to commit themselves to me beyond the ordered meal in such a way that every time they change the service provider, they incapacitate a massive intestinal upset.

    From my point of view, it's not just about surviving the migration from Aperture to LR with the least possible collateral damage to the metadata. The even more exciting question is: How can I make my very own property (my image data), including all the additional information that I have "tacked" to the image files automatically, semi-automatically and manually, in the sweat of my brow, with such integrity that I can workflow at all times / Software can re-determine if the previous process no longer satisfies me - be it because Apple is apparently wildly determined to say goodbye to business customers, at least on the software side, or because over time I find another bride more attractive than the one I said yes by buying a software license.

    So, dear Sir Apfelot, do you have a suggestion on how we can regain this power of disposal over our intellectual / digital property (image data)? This is what I brainstorm as soon as I no longer have the "operational" downsides of migration from A to B in mind. We'll manage it somehow.

    My impression: In my opinion, Aperture was convincing, despite all its well-known weaknesses, with a continuous workflow: Pure RAW images, developed according to standard or individually adjustable parameters, photo organization (keying, georeferencing, evaluation, folder structure, etc.) done, image processing at the the required image motifs matched to the purpose, output (print, web, photo book, god knows what).
    But it is precisely this "one-stop shopping center" that is now proving to be a trap. Consistency does not seem possible without proprietary software code. And you're stuck in a manufacturer's mousetrap.

    Do we gain more freedom if the entire process is again distributed across different software? And where should the interfaces be in order to still get the smoothest possible workflow?

    • Sir Apfelot says:

      Hello Rolf Andreas!
      Yes, we are of one opinion on most points. :) In addition to moving to Lightroom, there may be an option to wait for Apple's new "Photos" app in Yosemite. I think it will certainly do a lot better than iPhoto, but whether it can (or will) compete with Lightroom and Aperture in terms of the Pro features is up to you. But the move from Aperture to "Photos" will certainly work out relatively well if Apple doesn't screw something up.
      I'm more into the "one-stop shopping center" you mentioned ... and Lightroom can do that pretty well. There is also export to photo printing and photo book services.

      Oh, well: And in the meantime, Adobe has also released PDF instructions in English, in which they explain how to get your aperture photos into Lightroom as elegantly as possible. This one Download link to the PDF. You might want to wait a little longer, because Adobe reports that they are working on a program that automates the workflow for the change. With 50.000 photos that would be a nicer alternative than clicking through the photo jungle by hand. :)

      Otherwise, I will keep my fingers crossed that you will soon have your photo masses successfully under a new roof. :)

      Greetings from Northern Hesse!

    • Henry says:

      Hello Rolf Andreas,

      may I find out how you solved the problem? Where do you live now with your 50.000+ pictures?
      LG, Henry

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