It has always been clear that Lightroom has the advantage of speed. When it first came out it ran better on lower spec machines and in my experience is consistently faster at showing the effect of modifying image settings. What I had not seen before was just how good the Raw images produced by Lightroom are. It is consistently better at handling tricky images, and low light/high ISO performance is stunning. I mean simply stunning!
There are two reasons I will stick with Aperture, even though it’s slower and more prone to crashes:
The integration between Aperture and other applications and services is much better. Even through Lightroom provides integration with Facebook, SmugMug and Flickr, Aperture includes these but also provides upload to MobileMe, iPod/iPhone syncing and includes Vaults that provide a seamless backup mechanism.
I have spent so long using Aperture that it would not be possible to migrate all my images. Partly as result of the time I’ve spent using Aperture, I am much more familiar with it and find it frustrating to use Lightroom due to the differences in the interface. I don’t think it’s simply down to user experience though; the two applications are very different in their interface. Aperture’s interface is more integrated, where Lightroom requires that one is in the right module (Library, Develop, Slideshow, Print, Web) for specific operations.
The start of a new year is a good time to evaluate alternatives and I’m going to persist with Lightroom for the next month and see how whether my views change. For new users I would recommend Lightroom as the better application of the two.
Edit: In my follow-up tests judged on image quality, Aperture just had the edge on two groups of images processed in parallel. This also included some high ISO shots where I had expected Lightroom to shine.