Apple has announced the end of development for photo editing software Aperture. What photo organizing software can replace it? I am familiar with Adobe Lightroom.

I need to process raw files and an ideal solution would run on Mac and Linux/Windows(one of these two).


Lightroom is pretty much the defacto standard for photo management. It has the backing of Adobe and this gives it more chance to last than the competition. This is a double-edged swords as some people are concerned that Adobe will abuse its power and force users to buy into a subscription model with little to escape since the majority of data is stored with the Lightroom database.

Another option is Aftershot Pro which works on Windows, Mac and Linux with 64-bit versions available in RPM and DEB formats. This is the only software which is faster than Adobe's and leaves to organization component optional. It also features non-destructive editing and, while Corel is smaller, it is one of the oldest software companies around.

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    Faster than Adobe's Could you please provide a link to some benchmark test? Jun 28 '14 at 14:33
  • For strictly culling based speed, there is also Photo Mechanic. I just use it alongside LR though.
    – dpollitt
    Jun 28 '14 at 15:53
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    @dpollitt - The one I use pre-import is PMView Pro. It's blazingly fast and means less time importing in Lightroom, plus no need to catalog images that are destined to be deleted.
    – Itai
    Jun 28 '14 at 18:50
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    @bart - They now claim to be 4X faster (down from 10X two versions ago) but my tests align with this. Now that I just upgraded to LR 5.5 (was stuck on an old version previously due to a bug), I'll run some more benchmarks.
    – Itai
    Jun 28 '14 at 18:57
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    @Itai I actually meant some pre-existing webpage comparing the two applications reliably, but if you want to run some tests yourself that's very kind. Jun 28 '14 at 19:32

Photos for OS X

The next version of OS X Yosemite coming Spring 2015 will have an application Photos for OS X that will integrate many of Apertures features. Photos for OS X is a new product that combines features from the soon to be retired Apple Aperture as well as Apple iPhoto.

Photos for OS X is tied closely to other Apple cloud products, and edits are even synced between mobile and desktop software. Unfortunately, at least with the Preview available in February 2015 it appears as though the new product is not geared towards pro photographers. Rather it seems to be very similar to iPhoto but with easier to use editing tools for novice users. The organization of photos is quite automated, which can be handy but also frustrating for those with rigid workflows. The new product isn't all bad news, as performance compared to iPhoto appears to be greatly improved.

Overall, if you are well versed in Aperture already and rely on many of its more advanced tools, moving over to Photos will likely require a step back in functionality. You might be better suited with some of the other options below.

Adobe Lightroom

The obvious other solution is Lightroom as you have already pointed out. Here we have a question with some comparisons between the two:

Apple Aperture or Adobe Lightroom: which is better for post processing RAW photos?

OEM Software

Beyond the above I would recommend both taking a look at any software that your camera manufacturer has available such as Canon's Digital Photo Professional (DPP) and Nikon's ViewNX.


If you would like to use a free or open source solution check out the previous question:

How do popular free RAW editor/converter compare to each other on Windows?

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    Based on my evaluation of the Photos beta and talking to others, it's a nice replacement for iPhoto, but most Aperture users will find it wanting. Id' recommend against it as a replacement for Aperture at this point.
    – chuqui
    Feb 15 '15 at 20:22
  • Photos has a very bare UI, so one could easily take a look and decide that it hardly has any adjustments. When you dig in, though, you'll find most of what you're looking for
    – Caleb
    Jul 17 '15 at 18:00

On the side of open source options, in Apple OS X and Linux (but not in Windows) a nice option is darktable. I use it a lot (as an almost exclusive Linux user), and I am quite satisfied with the results(1).

There is still no support for X-Trans sensors, but it is coming along.

(1) caveats: I am not a pro. And I know that there are a lot of missing thing with respect to other SW, but darktable is quite actively developed and a lot of thing are getting better and better.

  • Dartkable has a less intuitive and polished interface than Lightroom, and it's noise control capabilities are somehwat less effective IMO, but other than that it's really a powerfull tool! +1
    – kamituel
    Feb 15 '15 at 20:25
  • +1. Darktable is well-designed and has more media-management capabilities than other options like RawTherapee. I'd use it any day over Lightroom, though I would've bought Aperature if it was not end-of-life'd.
    – Wayne
    Feb 15 '15 at 22:04
  • @kamituel: Try darktable's denoise (profiled) with mode wavelets and strength around 0.1 or 0.2. It's pretty amazing, really. (It has a profile for my camera, and may not do as well for other cameras.)
    – Wayne
    Feb 15 '15 at 22:09
  • @Wayne That's what I'm using (and it has a profile for my camera as well), but it's still harder to get pleasant looking image than with LR at high ISO's (3200). Anyway, right now I'm considering getting myself a LR in a box, but actually I'm not sure it's worth it given how good Darktable is :)
    – kamituel
    Feb 16 '15 at 9:31
  • @kamituel: I've only used denoise at ISO 800 or less, and it's been pretty magical, but 3200's another ball game.
    – Wayne
    Feb 16 '15 at 21:32

Capture One is awesome at RAW processing, and can also be used for organizing, tagging, and sorting. I've found the RAW processing to be better than LightRoom most of the time, although that's very subjective.

On the down side, it's more expensive than LightRoom, and does not have plugins to upload to SmugMug, Flickr, etc.


Photo organizing software is generally of two types, browsers and DAM/PIEs.

A browser just browses folders that have images in them. Maybe showing just the images, or allowing albums to be made that are really links or paths to the photos. The images themselves are kept in what filesystem arrangement the user wants. Lyn, AfterShot Pro (in part), Graphic Converter, on the Mac do this.

DAM/PIE's are digital asset managers, usually referring to an application that stores info about the images (metadata), location of images, adjustments to images, etc in a database. PIE's are parametric image editors, which means in addition to organizing photos, they can store the adjustments to those images in the form of data in a data, so the image itself doesn't have to change: you're storing the info about those changes, like storing plans for a remodel rather than the remodel building.

Both have advantages. The browsers can be fast; the info about AfterShot Pro is a bit vague because it can operate like a browser and show pictures quickly; Lightroom by comparison will import images and create it's own previews and copy them to whatever locations you choose, etc. The PIE's can store a ton of info about one image, like several versions in BW, sepia, different crops, etc, all without having to output a file, like one does with "save as..." in most operating systems. Saves space, and speeds things up.

DAMs can work in two ways, either by managing image files, or referencing them. In managing, the application (like Aperture) copies the image off the SD card and puts it in it's own filesystem, or library in the case of Aperture. It's a date-based scheme that is hidden from the user in a special folder called a package.

Others, like Lightroom, only reference images; the images are put where the user put them in the filesystem (say a Pictures folder), or where you instruct Lr to copy them. But they are right out there like any Word, text or other user data file, not hidden in a library. The locations (paths) are stored in Lr's catalog, NOT the images. By default it will copy off an SD card to a date-based file structure in the Finder, but there are lots of ways to customize that.

Unfortunately you seem to have missed the fact that Aperture can EITHER reference OR manage photo files. You can instruct it (or iPhoto or Photos) to not copy the photos into its library, and instead reference them. So you could put them in any old file structure you want, and if imported from there, Aperture will treat them as it would photos copied into its own library.

  • Good clarification of the role of image editing vs image cataloging. I think the answer will eventually be to have PIE and DAM in didfferent programs with a good set of hooks between. So far this doesn't exist. Mar 19 '16 at 3:09

Can you elaborate on what you mean by "photo organizing software"? I've used a lot of packages, and used Aperture for about two years after I got a MacBook Pro. One thing that I hated was that Aperture insisted on managing the photos by storing them in an internal library. I really, really prefer to store the photos and sidecars on the disk in a way that I can manage them. I much prefer the way that Lightroom does it.

The fundamental problem is that humans need to access photos by at least two ways, first by date taken (Gee, I took that back in March) and second by subject or keyword. This is not an organization problem, its a retrieval problem. Exactly what a database is for.

Aperture hides the file locations and shows you the database. Lightroom provides the database on top of a file storage scheme that you define (I use by date).

Neither does much of what I'd call "photo organizing"


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