Open to Aperture

Keith White
18 May, 2010
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Most people considering the switch up to or across to Aperture 3 have probably implemented their decision by now. What follows then is for people who still haven’t made up their mind or for people like me who perhaps hadn’t seriously considered Aperture before.

I’ve used Photoshop since 
version 3 and make extensive use of the clone tool and the healing brush for vintage photo restoration. The fully adjustable repair and clone brushes on Aperture 3’s Retouch panel come closer to their Photoshop counterparts so I’ll be exploring them further. I also use layers in Photoshop to create montages and to add text. Aperture can’t do that. Yet.

So where does Aperture 3 sit in the Apple software pantheon? Having beefed up its video and music offerings from consumer-level iLife versions to the fully professional Final Cut and Logic Studios, Apple has finally produced a serious image handling tool for users wanting more than iPhoto can handle.

Aperture 3 is not a Photoshop killer yet, but still worthy of consideration for serious photographers. Its closest market rival is actually Adobe Lightroom, which costs over twice the $249 that Aperture will set you back.

So what do you get for your money? 
First, with more than 200 enhancements to the workspace, importing and organising functions, adjustment tools and output options, this is a major upgrade. The face recognition and GPS location functions first introduced in iPhoto 9 have been incorporated into Aperture 3 and given more power. Whole libraries, single images and two-up comparisons now make full use of all available screen real-estate.

I was able to import my modest 1500-image library from iPhoto without any trouble, although some difficulties in importing large libraries have been reported. Metadata, once the province of control freaks, has now been mainstreamed with functions that enable you to work with information on every aspect of every image in your library from RAW data to star ratings.

When it comes to image manipulation, Aperture’s adjustment presets and precision brushes can produce professional effects with amazing rapidity. Presets include quick fixes to common image problems as well as options for tweaking colour and white balance adjustments. You can fine-tune presets from the extensive adjustment panel and save them as your own.

There is a range of almost any adjustment a photographer would want all conveniently available on one customisable slider panel. This, to me, is the main advantage over other image editing programs where you are often working with one tool at a time.

When it comes to output Aperture 3 offers rich slideshows, a wide variety of Apple-designed professional book templates and access to Flickr, Facebook or MobileMe.

Where I previously used iPhoto to do quick corrections to a large number of images, Aperture will now be given these tasks and more.

If you’re still hesitating, check the system requirements, download the 30-day demo and watch the videos. If you don’t need layers or titling then Aperture 3 can look after your imaging needs very nicely.

This article originally appeared in the April issue of Australian Macworld magazine.

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