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Goodbye iPhoto, Hello Aperture

February 21, 2007

Speaking of stepping up and embracing my photography habit hobby, I recently acquired some new software. Up to now, I’d been using Apple’s free-with-your-Mac program iPhoto. It’s fantastic stuff, really. If you have a Mac and you have a digital camera, you really should be using it. Basically it sucks the photos out of your camera, helps you organize and edit them, then, if you want, helps you export them to various products such as an email, a web site, a mail-order printing service, a photo book or just to your local printer. It’s full-service, end-to-end, photography workflow software.

Problem is, it’s groaning under the weight of my library: 14,000 photos totaling 50 gigabytes of data. Plus, while the editing features are nice for low-cost software, anyone who’s ever used professional editor such as Photoshop will wish for more.

What to do? Get professional-grade photography workflow software, that’s what. And it turns out I have a choice: in this corner, Adobe’s new Lightroom; in the opposite corner, Apple’s Aperture.

Ars Technica has an in-depth comparison, if you’re really curious. Me, I tried them both out for a day or two and found both of them quite adequate. Aperture seems to be heavier on the eye-candy, and thus runs slower, but on the other hand I like the interface better. It’s a horse apiece, I figure. The way I decided was, someone offered me an academic license for Aperture for evaluative purposes. (It’s nice to work in academia sometimes!)

So Aperture it is.

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No comments yet

  1. Hi, I noticed your into photography and printing. Check http://www.inkisit.com , Kodak is launching a new printer where the ink is significantly cheaper – only $10 for Black and $15 for color ink. Would love it if you blogged about it to your readers.


  2. I skimmed the review and it looks like a fairly powerful photo adjusting (post-processing) software along with an advanced photo organizer. I use the term “adjuster” since it appears you really can’t edit image content other than red-eye and some background distractions. I’m assuming the RAW feature replicates the exact on-camera adjusts for each brand of camera. It’s about $300 less expensive than Photoshop CS which does not have an organizer. Photoshop is a true photo editor with many editing features. The one important feature that Photoshop CS2 does have is the ability to create layers which allows for creating perfect skin tones, shadow compensation, hues and creative images. Photoshop also has thousands of additional plugins too do just about anything. The draw back is that Photoshop is not intuitive and user friendly. For considerably less cost, Aperture offers fairly powerful photo adjusting, RAW image capability AND an organizer. It also appears to be easier to use which is a major factor in getting things done quickly and available for viewing which would definitely appeal to pros. If you need to manage large quantities of photos such as a portrait studio, Aperture or Lightroom has a major advantage. If you don’t need all the editing features of Photoshop CS2, Aperture is a better buy. How long before Adobe offers Lightroom as part of a suite with Photoshop?


  3. Yeah, definitely Aperture and Lightroom are not directly competing with Photoshop. I have Photoshop CS and I still needed iPhoto. Now that I have Aperture I still need Photoshop! In fact all three (iPhoto, Aperture and Lightroom) all have a designatable “external editor” to which you can send images for compositing, layers, masks, etc.

    But don’t discount the editing features in these programs! I haven’t fired up Photoshop once since I got Aperture. Like I said, the only things I’d really need Photoshop for are:

    a) adding text or vector stuff

    b) compositing two or more photos together

    c) using sophisticated selection tools

    d) using the rubber stamp tools

    For color adjustments, cropping, level/exposure adjustments, straightening, red-eye removal, noise reduction, sharpening… (i.e., 98% of what constitutes photo editing) Aperture awesome.

    The thing that I’m really still trying to get my head around is this: Aperture never alters your original file. Never. And if I’m understanding correctly, it doesn’t create a new copy of the file each time you adjust it (like iPhoto did); instead, it simply records your adjustments as a set of instructions on how to display (or output) the file.

    I can take one image, make multiple “copies” in Aperture, each one with a different adjustment/crop, etc. But there is still only one image file. Just one – with several different ways to view it. Ingenious. I would bet that Lightroom works the same way.



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