Aperture is more of a Lightroom alternative than a Photoshop CS6 alternative, and if you’re a Mac user it might be just what you need. Aperture blends advanced features such as RAW processing, manual retouching, custom-printing elements, and tagging/organization tools with novice-friendly options such as facial recognition, geotagging, and one-click filters. Unlike Lightroom, Aperture does not offer built-in lens-distortion correction out of the box, but there are several Aperture plugins available on Apple’s site that offer that and many other features.
Earlier versions of Aperture were notoriously system-intensive, requiring a lot of processing power to run, but Aperture 3 is much improved. At $80 it’s hard to find much to complain about.
If you want automated, tailored-to-your-camera lens correction in your RAW-processing software, look no further than DxO Optics Pro.
This Lightroom alternative features an extensive database of camera/lens combinations, which you can activate as ‘modules’ to automate lens-correction, chromatic aberration, sharpening, vignetting, and noise-reduction fixes. The Standard edition’s database of lens/camera combinations is built to support everything from RAW-capable point-and-shoot cameras to consumer-level DSLRs, while the Elite edition is a better fit for those shooting with a full-frame DSLR or other professional-level kits. Optics Pro 8 takes some getting used to, but it’s an incredibly powerful tool and its lens corrections really do have to be seen to be believed. Be prepared to wait for new cameras and lens modules to be added, though DxO is getting better in this regard.
There are plenty of reasons for enthusiast photographers to consider this RAW-processing package, too though, including excellent organization tools, speedy performance, and a unique focus-peaking preview that helps you identify the sharpest shots in your batch of photos. Like Lightroom and DxO Optics Pro, it also offers an extensive selection of noise-reduction, lens-correction, color-correction, and custom-printing tools. If its relatively high cost gives you pause, you can always download a free trial version and see how you get on.