Apple Final Cut Pro vs. Adobe Premiere Pro: Which is Better and Why?

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The Apple Final Cut Pro vs. Adobe Premiere Pro bout is a tough one to call.

They dominate the high-end section of the market, overshadowing all other heavyweights. You can hardly go wrong with either one if you seek to cover professional video editing needs.

At the same time, their nuts and bolts differ in some important ways. This can make a big impact on your editing experience and shape the success of the projects. So, take a deep breath and get ready to swallow some hard facts.

Let’s check out how two tools compare in several key categories.

User-Friendliness

The layout in Final Cut is neatly organised.

First off, we’re going to examine the duo through the lens of ease of use.

Final Cut Pro comes out of the gate strong. It has an incredibly intuitive interface first-time users tend to find welcoming. Everything is where it should be and fits the editing workflow seamlessly.

You spend minimum time trying to locate the desired feature.

Compared to that, Adobe Premiere Pro feels less accessible. In fact, it’s clearly tailored to seasoned editors, not newcomers. We would say this isn’t a bad thing per se.

What it sacrifices on user experience, it gains on other fronts. Finding files is a breeze and layers are clearly separated. Once you get the hang of the menus, it’s a joyride from there.

The takeaway to draw is clear. Apple’s flagship edges it in the first round of the Final cut vs Premiere confrontation. It’s an advanced tool that doesn’t face you with a steep learning curve.

Performance and Optimization

Final Cut Pro runs lightning-fast without skipping a beat.

It’s perfectly geared for peak performance on Mac devices. You can expect short exporting and rendering times for all videos. Yes, even those in 4K quality.

The beauty of it is your device will consume little power while doing that too. Just in case, you should check the Final Cut Pro requirements. 

Adobe Premiere is considerably slower because it wasn’t designed for one platform. It harnesses whatever resources it can do deliver functionalities. This lack of bespoke quality shows when rendering and editing videos.

That being said, Adobe has now made it possible to take advantage of the GPU on your graphics card. So if you own a NVIDIA graphics card you can now see up to five times faster rendering times in Premiere Pro.

So, provided you have a Mac computer or don’t own a good NVIDIA graphics card, Final Cut Pro wins in terms of performance. Otherwise, you may want to choose Premiere Pro.

Workflow: Timeline and Tracks

Premiere Pro takes a traditional non-linear approach.

Final Cut Pro’s timeline isn’t for everyone.

Many people are instantly put off or feel restricted by it. Others absolutely love it, go figure. The truth is it works much like a storyline for slapping scenes together.

There is a neat feature that does away with anything that could interfere with the workflow. Connected clips option feature enables you to cycle in different pieces of material.

Adobe Premiere’s timeline takes a more traditional approach (nonlinear editor). It offers the utmost flexibility and precision when handling individual elements (layers).

There are tracks and track heads, and your content is displayed as a sequence. Organizational tools and tabs for different sequences are a treat. The overall level of customization and control is greater, which also makes collaboration easier.

All in all, we prefer Premiere Pro when talking strictly about the timeline and bigger projects. It comes with a wide range of editing features. Final Cut Pro does the trick though when working alone or in a small team.

A Matter of Color Options

There are a lot of color grading options in Premiere Pro.

Adobe Premiere Pro is superior when it comes to color grading.

The spectrum of options for manipulations is vast and varied. You can easily convey emotions, create eye-popping effects, and making your raw videos come alive.

Lumetri Color tools also support 3D LUTs, which is nice if you want to quickly test out some looks.  

As for Final Cut Pro, it isn’t lagging that far behind. Recent versions of Color Wheels have narrowed the gap that used to be quite wide before. Besides, you can add external plugins to expand the range of possibilities.

That said, Final Cut is more suited for simple videos than serious filmmaking and long-format editing for big screens. The latter honor goes to Adobe Premiere.

Exporting, Importing, and Rendering

A still from my short film VECT0R which is shot in 2:35:1 at 24 frames per second. This is a common aspect ratio, but Final Cut recognizes it as 1080p 25 fps. You have to go in and manually set the preferences to “color space override” in order for the footage to turn up perfect. Premiere Pro, however, eats everything you throw at it.

Adobe Premiere has one other major thing going for it.

We’re talking about a wide array of export presets. They support small smartphone screens, big cinema projectors, and everything in between. So, you can thoroughly optimize your videos to the target audience.

The drawback is everything takes a bit more time and is less intuitive.

Apple’s Final Cut has some good functions for importing. For instance, it’s possible to take a look at your snippets/files before uploading them. This quality of life feature allows you to avoid unnecessary bulk importing.

That being said, Final Cut has some weird stuff going on. For example, if your project doesn’t conform to some very limited aspect ratios your color space end up looking weird, and you have to dive into the submenus and override the color space for everything to appear normal.

Also, you cannot export Final Cut projects in Advanced Authoring Format (AAF) format which is a really big deal if you want to quickly send your projects to someone else who uses another program e.g. if you want to send your project to a sound guy who mixes in ProTools or transfer your project from Premiere Pro to Avid or vice versa.

Adobe Premiere Pro has a really powerful way of creating proxies when importing, i.e. converting processor-heavy files like 4K, 6K, and 8K resolution video, to a lower-quality file for editing. 

This is to say that Premiere Pro is far superior when it comes to importing and exporting footage.

The Price Difference

The price tag is seldom the main selling point, but it’s worth bringing up.

After all, two tools involve different pricing schemes. For Final Cut Pro (complete package), you have to bid farewell to $299. And it’s a one-time payment.

Later, you can add plugins as you see fit.

On the other hand, Premiere Pro is a subscription-based service, part of the Adobe Creative Cloud. Monthly subscription separates you from $19.99, which amounts to $239.88 each year.

You may also get Premiere Pro in a full suite of Adobe professional tools.

As you can see, Final Cut Pro turns out to be far less pricey. It costs a bit more than Premiere Pro’s yearly subscription. You pay for it once and are done with it.

Just the way it should be.

Apple Final Cut Pro vs. Adobe Premiere: The Verdict

Apple Final Cut Pro vs. Adobe Premiere contest doesn’t have an undisputed winner.

They are both remarkable choices for top-notch movie and TV production. Nevertheless, the side-by-side comparison reveals the have their strengths and weaknesses. This is to say they fit different needs and use cases.  

When deliberating, focus on core inner workings, crucial aspects that make or break video ending endeavors. Then, consider the type of projects you’re working on and your audience.

You should be able to make an informed decision and avoid buyer’s remorse.


About the author:

Jan Sørup is a videographer and photographer from Denmark. He’s the owner of filmdaft.com and of the Danish company Apertura, which produces video content for big companies in Denmark and Scandinavia. Jan has a background in music, has drawn webcomics, and is a former lecturer at the University of Copenhagen.

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