Aperture 3 Lightroom 5 and VSCO

Carly In The Woods

Consider this post just for giggles. While trying to run down a little preview rendering bug that I noticed in Aperture 3 yesterday I was playing around with images that happened to be convenient. Those images just happened to be what I chose randomly for the post on my baseline Aperture 3 adjustments.

It crossed my mind that they looked a heck of a lot like those I processed in Lightroom 5 using VSCO film. Just for heck of it I brought up the same exact image in LR5 reset everything and slapped in a VSCO Fuji 400H preset - I then chose a neutral gray to ensure identical white balance across both RAW processors since we can't do it by the numbers.


You can see the result to the right. The image at the top left is the Aperture 3 image with that baseline I discussed. Huge difference? Nope, not really. Any color difference - a tiny bit. Mostly in the warmth pushed into the highlights - you can see it on the light colored walls and the window in the background the most. I could obviously do that in Aperture 3 as well I just left it as is though. I would say they are far more similar than they are different. I could reproduce the results exactly if I tried with a slightly different curves adjustment instead of my baseline.

Now here's the giggle worthy part. Way back when I offered my honest opinion on VSCO for Aperture 3 I advised against it if you wanted anything near the results that you were seeing from the Lightroom version. Considering 99.9% of anything that could be considered examples out there are from Lightroom I still stand by that. In fact I remember saying that the default Aperture 3 rendering looked a whole lot more like VSCO film 400H in Lightroom than the corresponding VSCO for Aperture 3 preset did. You be the judge.

Aperture VSCO

Take a look at the image here on the left. This is VSCO 400H for Aperture. Before you askā€¦ Yes same exact white balance, etc, etc. Everything the same except the baseline I discussed previously vs the VSCO preset.

I bring this up for a couple of reasons other than amusement. First is that there are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a home base for your image processing work-flow. One of them really shouldn't be the default rendering characteristics if you are shooting RAW. As long as you know where you want to go just about anything with a few basic controls will get you there. If you absolutely need some image correction feature for 100% of your images or somewhere close obviously that will be a factor. If not then it's not that relevant. The other reason I bring this up is a few conversations I had with folks about some of my Aperture film presets. Specifically the likelihood that I will port them over to Lightroom. I haven't given a solid answer beyond - ummm not right now.

I think the biggest reason is that I find VSCO completely acceptable - more than acceptable in the context of Lightroom and ACR. That's why I use them and why I'm a customer. It's pretty much a bunch of variations of where I would go anyway without me making a big mess and having to sort it out every version. I'm really not in the preset business - if I were I would probably make a really slick website to market them and charge at least 10x the $4.99 I do. Honestly presets in the context of a RAW processor aren't brain surgery. With basic controls like curves you can pretty much reproduce within a hair of what you see that was processed in any other RAW processor. Give it a try yourself. It's probably a decent educational endeavor for yourself in many ways. If you are having trouble give me a shout and I'll see if I can provide any useful guidance. It's probably more important that you get a grip on things like the curves tool - generically and how to produce the result you want rather than depending on some random default that a product produces anyway.

Have a great weekend.


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