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Levels vs. Curves

I often see people trash Aperture's "Levels" adjustment tool. These people typically state that Apple should have borrowed, bought, stolen, or otherwise implemented the "Curves" control from Photoshop as if it's a given and anything less is just plain stupid. Moronic. Inconceivable.

I grew up using Curves. We all did, didn't we?

I've come to enjoy Levels. I've come to appreciate Levels. Hell, I prefer levels. I think it's more intuitive and just as flexible in real-world situations1.

So now, a simple question.

Which do you prefer: Photoshop's Curves or Aperture's Levels?
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Footnotes

  1. In other words, I'm assuming you don't want to create a curve with 14 inflection points.

4 Responses to "Levels vs. Curves"

  1. I fell I have more control with curves but levels is more intuitive and I get almost the same result much quicker - valuable if you have a lot of pictures to work on!

    Erik - good site and blog!

  2. Levels. Just because curves don't make much sense in my head. It's like HSB vs. RGB. "How much blue goes in dark brown?" vs. "Brown is just a dark red-ish orange."

  3. I think "real world situations" is the key phrase here. If you use the quarter-tone controls in Aperture's levels palette you end up with the same amount of control that you would normally make use of with curves anyway. And it's certainly more intuitive, at least for me.

  4. I used to use Aperture once upon a time. But I switched to Lightroom months ago (mostly because of the better Photoshop integration at the very first).

    I find the tone curve (Lightroom) much more intuitive and usable than the curves tool in Photoshop or Levels in Aperture. Levels comes second. I was never fully comfortable with the curves tool, not because of the principle (same as tone curve), but because of the usability. It is not well suited to experiments, you have to move many anchor points... Levels is definitely better, and the tone curve even better. I would love a Levels tool capable of displaying the resulting tone curve. That would be great.


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