If your business produces video for a social media platform, for marketing purposes, for internal training or for any number of other reasons, chances are pretty good you’ve looked into one or more software editing tools. You’ve also probably heard that macOS is the ideal platform for video editing. As someone who’s used nearly every operating system on the market for this purpose, I can tell you, first-hand, that holds true.
But once you’ve purchased the hardware for the task (an iMac makes for a great video editing station), what software should you go with? If you ask most users, that choice boils down to two options: Adobe Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro X. Because these software titles are both kind of pricy (Adobe Premiere Pro is a $20.99/month subscription, whereas Final Cut Pro X is a one-time $299.00 cost), you’ll want to make the right choice for your business right out of the gate.
I want to try to help you make that decision.
One thing to understand is that the target audience here is pro or prosumer video editors. If you’re not really that serious about videos (or if you don’t do it often enough to warrant the cost), there are plenty of free and cheap tools available. If you are serious about video editing, read on.
SEE: How to build a budget-friendly home video setup with expensive-looking results (TechRepublic Premium)
Final Cut Pro X vs Adobe Premiere Pro: The obvious difference
Aside from the cost, the obvious difference between the two is that one is made by Apple and one isn’t. To some, that won’t mean much. To others, however, it’s an important factor. This is especially true as Apple continues down the path of the M1 chips. You can be certain, when Apple makes changes to their hardware chipsets, that Final Cut Pro X will be supported almost immediately. Adobe Premiere, on the other hand, will probably have to work to keep up with that release schedule.
Another reason this is important is that Final Cut Pro X is installed via the Apple App Store. Why should this matter? Take my situation. I use two Apple devices: An iMac and a MacBook Pro. I was able to purchase Final Cut Pro X via the App Store on one machine and then install it again on the other machine without a single issue. This convenience matters, and anyone who needs to work on multiple machines will appreciate the simplicity and reliability of installation.
So if you’re someone who’s always buying the latest hardware Apple produces, you can probably stop reading here and go with Final Cut Pro X.
You should, however, keep reading. Why? Because there might be features found in Premiere that better suit your needs and workflows.
Final Cut Pro X vs Adobe Premiere Pro: The less obvious differences
With the obvious taken care of, let’s break this down in a way that makes sense. First off, I want to say that both tools are absolutely outstanding at what they do. With either option, you can rest assured you’ll create professional-quality videos that will go a long way toward taking your business to the next level.
With that said, know that running on an M1-powered device, Final Cut Pro X crushes Adobe Premiere in rendering times. This is a lights-out, hands-down win for Apple. I even remember moving from Intel-based to M1-based hardware and seeing my render times cut in half (and that’s using the same software). Although Adobe Premiere is an outstanding platform, it can’t compete with the in-house-designed Final Cut Pro X within the walled garden of Apple hardware.
Speed of rendering isn’t probably your primary point of concern, however, so let’s dig in a bit deeper. Table A shows a side-by-side comparison of the most critical features.
|Feature||Final Cut Pro X||Adobe Premiere Pro|
|Interface||Nontraditional timeline editing can be tricky for those who’ve worked with other platforms. Interface is less configurable.||Interface can be a bit intimidating for those who’ve not worked with complicated video timelines. Highly configurable.|
|External application support||Works with Apple Motion and plenty of third-party extensions.||Works with Adobe After Effects and other third-party extensions.|
|Rendering Speed||Very fast||Very slow|
|3D editing||Not supported||Supported|
|Exports to H.265||Supported||Supported|
|Keyword media tags||Not supported||Supported|
|Number of supported video tracks||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|360 VR Content||Supported||Supported|
|4K XAVC-S format||Supported||Supported|
|Timeline||Trackless magnetic||Traditional nonlinear|
|Media support||Supports nearly every type of media||Supports nearly every type of media|
|Audio||Can automatically fix hum, noise and peaks or you can manually adjust for these issues. Can match separately recorded audio tracks. Over 1,300 royalty-free sound effects are included.||Includes pan, balance, volume unit meters and clipping indicators. Tracks can be mono, stereo, 5.1 and adaptive. Supports Adobe Audition.|
|Output options||Outputs to Apple ProRes, AVC-Intra Class 50/100/200, DV, DVCPRO HD, H.264, HDV, MPEG IMX (D-10), MXF, Uncompressed 10-bit, Uncompressed 8-bit, XDCAM HD/EX/HD422.||Outputs to 3GP, AAC, AIF, AIF, Apple ProRes, ASF, AVC, ASND, AVI, BWF, CRM, DNxHD/HR, DV, GIF, H.264 AVC, HEIF, MPEG-1, M2T, M2V, M4A, M4V, MP4, MPEG-1 and 2, MTS, MXF, OMF, OpenEXR, R3D, Rush, VOB, WAV, WMV.|
|Color tools||Includes a color wheel that makes it easy to color grade clips. Also supports the use of 3D LUTs (look up tables). Can automatically adjust white balance and color.||Includes Lumetri Color tools for pro-level color grading, which support 3D LUTs. You can also adjust white balance, exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows and black point.|
|Titles||Includes several built-in titles (including 3D) and also supports the use of third-party titles as well as importing from Apple Motion.||Includes Photoshop-like control over title formatting. However, for 3D title editing, you’ll need After Effects.|
|Touch screen support||Yes||Yes|
Final Cut Pro X vs Adobe Premiere Pro: How to choose the best option for you
So, which software title is best suited for your business? That’s a tough call. If you’re already steeped in the Apple ecosystem, Final Cut Pro X makes for a very appealing option. This is especially true if those who’ll be doing the editing aren’t already steeped in traditional timeline editors, because the magnetic timeline makes for an incredibly efficient workflow.
From my perspective, both applications do a phenomenal job of helping you create professional-quality videos. With that in mind, I have two simple questions you can ask yourself to help make this choice a bit more simple:
Do you already rely on Adobe products (such as Photoshop) and are working in a mixed-OS environment? If yes to both, Adobe Premiere is the right choice.
Are you primarily an Apple shop (especially if you’ve already invested in M1-powered hardware) and you don’t mind learning a new type of timeline editor (if you’ve been working on a traditional nonlinear interface)? Then Final Cut Pro X is the right way to go.
The good news is, it’s a win-win proposition. Both Final Cut Pro X and Adobe Premiere Pro can create stunning, professional-level content.