In the June issue of Professional Photographer magazine we published a look at the Raw Rendering capabilities of Adobe Lightroom and Apple Aperture, written by Professional Photographer Technical Editor and Contributing Editor to LightroomNews.com Andrew Rodney, along with commentary from Ben Long, author of "Real World Aperture" (Peachpit Press) and co-author with Orlando Luna of "Apple Training Series: Aperture 1.5 (Peachpit Press).
One point of contention in the article was which application offered the best means in highlight recovery, getting something from nothing in a raw file. We provided our two experts with a digital image featuring blown highlights and asked them each to use their favored application to do their best in bringing back as much information as possible in the highlights without negatively affecting the rest of the image. We asked Long and Rodney to aim for an aesthetic balance between what's possible and what looks good and natural.
At right is a low-res JPEG created from the NEF file with blown highlights provided to Rodney and Long. It has Adobe Camera Raw default settings applied. The image was taken at Bandelier National Monument using a Nikon D40 with an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 ED II AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor lens at 1/80 second, f/4, ISO 400. ©Joan Sherwood
Click here to download the original NEF file for your own highlight recovery attempt.
Read on to see the hightlight recovery results from Aperture and Lightroom.
It appears the difference in highlight recovery comes down to a matter of preference. Both Adobe and Apple provide application demos, and the best way to evaluate each is to give it a thorough test run with your own files. In addition to the quality of the application’s rendering, being comfortable with the user interface counts, as does ease of use and the additional functionality you need.