Is There a Free Alternative to Lightroom or Aperture?

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If you are a professional photographer, you’re either using Apple’s Aperture or Adobe’s Lightroom, I’m sure. This is for hard-core digital photo management. Both of these programs work well, but they are quite expensive. So, what can you do instead?

blueMarine is a cross-platform, open-source application that will give you a full-on digital photo workflow experience. The closest thing I could equate to this is Aperture or Lightroom. blueMarine is pretty much the same thing. You can sort by different variables, and increase or decrease the size of the results returned. It’s insanely easy to work with, and organize all of the photos in a professional manner.

As with most photo workflow apps, you have several methods of inspecting your image collection. Icons in the top left corner switch the app between filesystem tree, calendar, and tag views, and you can sift through the assorted photos in a 2-D grid, or a single “filmstrip” along the bottom of the screen.

You have full control over how much information blueMarine displays for each image, courtesy of the View -> Decorators menu. You can show file properties such as size and filename, image properties such as camera settings, and any metadata you assign to the file.

You can also assign basic one-through-five-star ratings for each image, and mark “keepers” and “trash” with simple keyboard shortcuts. Although blueMarine does not include editing functionality, the beginnings of such features are found in the image inspections tools, with which you can zoom in and out and magnify selected images.

I’m not a professional photographer, I’m just a hobbyist. If I hadn’t already paid for Aperture, I’d be using blueMarine myself on a regular basis. I’m glad I found it, and could pass it along to all of you.


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17 thoughts on “Is There a Free Alternative to Lightroom or Aperture?”

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  3. It’s a bit confusing to me but I just started playing with it. It does seem to be good. They have geotagging which is even better. I need to test if that will actually work on Flickr and Zooomr. The one thing missing, unless i missed it, is a tagging feature. Like in Lightroom, you can set tags for the image and when you upload it, they will already be set.

  4. How can you saying you don’t GIMP, just spend a day in gimp using the filters, they are some of the best out there, just try the alpha to logo filters, they are the best, I use them every day. look at this image I made from scratch in gimp, I used only the alpha to logo filters, and the text effect, plus that wall paper I made for you was done in gimp, plus that HD wallpaper I made for you was done in gimp,, that is the lower quality png image, but still.

  5. I haven’t tried it yet – website is having trouble loading at the moment.

    For those of you that have tried it, how does it compare to Picasa?

  6. I lately got Photoshop Elements 6, and impressed by Bridge, which comes with it – also allows you to categorise images as keep or reject, as well as give stars, assign keywords and so forth.
    Hardly free; but to me makes Elements esp good value.
    Haven’t tried bluemarine (link not working for me just now; but even so, maybe wouldn’t dovetail w Bridge, say); and though I sell some photos, Aperture beyond my needs I think.

  7. Amazing how many of the people posting here have not Clue One about what Lightroom is or does. A few in the know have pointed out BlueMarine which is still actually only in beta release.

    Picasa is a Google application – hello, please expect all your data are being copied to mothership. I would never use it.

    “wikili” above: a bot? or a noob? AOL user?

  8. “blueMarine has no editing features. They are being developed right now, and will include support for RAW formats”….muppet.

  9. There is no alternative to Ligtroom. Period. Darkroom is look-a-like software, but when tried to actually use it, to replace Lightroom, i used so many swear words per minute as never before in my life. As much as i love opensource, Darkroom is nowhere near being ‘alternative’ to Lightroom. By the way, when i think about it, Darkroom is more likely ‘alternative’ to PhaseOne maybe?

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