Layers in Lightroom and Aperture?

April 25th, 2011

Now that real estate photographers can straighten verticals and remove barrel distortion in Lightroom 3 the only reason they need Photoshop or Photoshop Elements any more is to mask windows or replace skys right? If they had layers in Lightroom and Aperture then they wouldn’t need Photoshop! This is onOne Software’s line of thinking.

So last Friday onOne released a public beta of Perfect Layers which is a Lightroom and Aperture plugin that gives you layers and layer masks in Lightroom and Aperture. Well, not really IN Lightroom and Aperture, in a plugin. It’s not the same thing! When I first tried the public beta after watching Scott Kelby and Matt K’s little video intros on the download page they had me all pumped up! I was enthusiastic! Scott can sell ice cubes to Eskimos and there’s never been a Photoshop version or plugin that Scott hasn’t been “totally pumped” about! I tested Perfect Layers on my window masking test images and sky replacement images and the new plugin works fine and I have to say that the interface in Perfect Layers is clean, intuitive and very easy to understand. It’s nicely designed and implemented.

But wait, there is very little difference between launching Perfect Layers to do your layer and layer mask work and launching Photoshop to do the same thing. I timed Perfect Layers and PS CS5 on my 16 Gig iMac that has a SSD drive and I can’t tell any difference in launch time they both launch and load two big images in about 4 sec.

After thinking about the difference between Photoshop and Perfect Layers more I realized that the biggest difference between Perfect Layers and Photoshop is that Photoshop has way more options for making complex selections that become essential when your’re masking skys and windows that Perfect Layers doesn’t have. The fact is, when you are making window masks and sky masks you need all those tricky ways that Photoshop has had for years to create complex selections and then convert the selection into a layer mask. You can’t do all that stuff with Perfect Layers.

My Recommendation
So my recommendation is that if you only own Lightroom or Aperture and the final release price of Perfect Layers turns out to be WAY less than $78 (the Amazon price for Photoshop Elements 9) perhaps Perfect Layers makes sense. However, if you already have ANY version of Photoshop or Perfect Layers is around or above $78 then there’s no point in purchasing Perfect Layers because Photoshop has everything Perfect Layers has and more and is just as fast launching from Lightroom as Photoshop. As long as you have plenty of RAM (8Gig or more) everything I said for Lightroom holds for Aperture.

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4 Responses to “Layers in Lightroom and Aperture?”

  • From the ononesoftware.com website…

    “Perfect Layers is currently available as a Free Public Preview. Perfect Layers 1.0 will sell for $159.95 when it is available in mid 2011.”

  • Thanks for the heads up. Downloading it right now.

  • I haven’t tried it, but from the sound of things, this doesn’t do anything that Photoshop doesn’t already do better.

  • Does Perfect Layers work with RAW files or does it convert the files to tiff or jpeg when working in layers?

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