After spending a week comparing Aperture and Lightroom I realized something; I need to get my archive organized. Ever since I started using Aperture, about a year ago, I have been paying special attention to how I organize my work. However, everything leading up to that point is still largely unorganized. As I have mentioned in previous posts, before Aperture came along I was mostly using a combination of PhotoMechanic, and iView Media Pro to edit and archive my work. Well, let me clarify a few things here. I was basically only scratching the surface of digital asset management back then. I used PhotoMechanic to import, caption, and edit all my images after a shoot, sending selects to Photoshop CS2 for image adjustments, and I was using iView later on (sometimes much later) to keep track of where I stored all my files. Well, that is where my organization ended.
I rarely added my own keywords, unless a client requested it, and I lost most of my tagged images (a PhotoMechanic way of filtering your selects) during the import to iView. So, needless to say, finding images from long ago is always a challenge. I mostly have to rely on my memory and figure out “when” I shot something in order to find it.
With Aperture those days are over. Not only am I adding keywords and star ratings to images as I edit them, but I am also keeping similar images together in stacks, as well as all of my various versions of the same master. Life is good.
So, I have decided to investigate a little further and try and make some more comparisons regarding Aperture and Lightroom. To do this, I plan to create side by side image libraries of my entire archive. This archive consists of about 80,000 original and edited images. The images span the years 2002 through the present and were shot on a variety of digital cameras in both Jpeg and RAW formats. The end result will hopefully be a pretty neatly organized and useful library of my work in both Aperture and Lightroom. So in a nutshell, this is going to be a close examination of the Library portion of both applications.
To start things off I will once again disclose some key information. Number one, this isn’t going to be a benchmark type of testing scenario. I may time things here and there, but I make no claims that anything I do here will be very scientific. The equipment is the same as before, my 15″ MacBook Pro CoreDuo, with 2Gig Ram, a 7200RPM 100Gig drive, and the upgraded video card.
I am storing all the image files as referenced masters on a USB LaCie 500Gig external drive, but Aperture’s and Lightroom’s library files will reside on the laptop’s hard drive. Hopefully I won’t run out of disk space!
To be fair, I am going to start things off by simply importing all the master image files into both applications. Since I have been using Aperture for the last year or so, I will be ignoring all the versions, and metadtata that I have accumulated up until now. At the end of this little experiment, I will try and merge the old Aperture library with this new one, bringing all that Aperture data along in the process.
In my archive of master image files the only added metadata that exists is any IPTC information that I wrote using PhotoMechanic. I have never used XMP sidecar files, so they won’t be an issue. I think there may be a small set of PSD files in the heap, as well as a shoot I once did in the DNG format.
The images on my LaCie hard drive are filed into folders according to their EXIF date. In fact this is the normal way I store my master images, with the folder structure built by Aperture. For your information, I use the Year–>Month–>Day folder structure to organize the pictures. These all sit under a top level folder I named PhotoWork.
To get things going, this past weekend I spent some time importing my archive with Lightroom. Because Lightroom takes a pretty simple approach to referencing images, telling it to import 80,000 images, which live on an external drive was a snap. I just pointed to the top level folder and about seven hours later, the job was done. In Lightroom’s Folder panel I am now able to see the folder hierarchy and can easily find my way down to a days shoot.
During the seven hour import, I tried to do a few things in Lightroom. As my images began to appear in Lightroom’s workspace, I tried to scroll through thumbnails and open images in Loupe View. In Lightroom importing images takes place in the background, so I am free to peruse the new files. On my MacBook Pro, I was able to browse the thumbnails with ease, although on occasion the program had to pause to catch up. Displaying files in Loupe View was another story. While importing, Lightroom had a hard time displaying images full size. I wasn’t too shocked here. The application is doing quite a bit of work during import. Things seemed to get a little worse a few hours into the import, and I eventually gave up, allowing Lightroom to complete the task at hand.
The only other applications I had running during the import were Safari, iChat, Skype and Mail, so I will try and keep this the standard from now on.
At the end of the import (somewhere around 12:30am on a Saturday night!) Lightroom reported a list of images that could not be imported. I know for a fact that there is a good number of images in that archive which are corrupt due to a hard drive crash I experienced about a year ago, but I will be interested to see how Aperture handles these non-importable files.
In the end, Lightroom successfully imported 72,566 photos. The Lightroom folder (which includes Lightroom’s databse file and separate preview file) on my laptop is currently weighing in at a modest 3.10Gig, and I will continue to monitor this number as time goes on.
The next step will be to use Lightroom’s Collections to start organizing all of my shoots. I plan to use the Collections to sort of mimic Aperture’s system of Folders, Projects and Albums.
Next week I will talk about my experiences in importing the same archive into a fresh Aperture library. Hopefully by the time of my next posting I will have both applications essentially running neck and neck.