Aperture 3 - Fashionably late, or a dollar short?

Aperture 3 – Fashionably late, or a dollar short?

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It used to be one could get by with just Photoshop and your own folder management and manual organization system, but for photographers who routinely have days with photographs numbering in the hundreds or thousands, a good work flow application is now essential.  Fortunately, this demand supports a good number of competing programs that are all struggling for a piece of the pro-photo pie.  Two of the well known apps in this category are Adobe’s Lightroom and Apple’s Aperture.  Having used both, I don’t think there will ever be a TKO and a clear winner.  Instead, I hope to see both continue to push each other in new directions.  In this spirit, I was very excited to see Apple release its long awaited version 3 of Aperture, with many of the features I’ve been hoping for.  Here is a quick review of my favorite new features and what apple has to say about them.  Watch for an upcoming article detailing my hands-on experience.

Major Improvements

Non-destructive Brushes:

I’ve been waiting for this one!  This is one of the areas they are playing catch-up to Lightroom.  Prior to this version, Aperture users were left with plug-ins such as Viveza. The polarizing brush and skin smoothing brush seem promising.

adjustments-skin-smoothing-20091020Make nondestructive image enhancements to specific areas of any photo using new adjustment brushes. Use brush strokes to modify — brush in or brush away — most of the standard image adjustments available in the Adjustments inspector. You can control the size, softness, and strength of each brush with intuitive sliders.  Blend adjustments more easily — and achieve more realistic results — by taking advantage of the feathering tool available for each imaging adjustment brush.  Turn on the Detect Edges option, and Aperture will detect hard edges as you brush, making it easier to brush adjustments into specific areas of a photo.  Deepen color, and darken shadow areas and mid-tones, without affecting the black and white points in an image using the new Polarize brush. Use the new Skin Smoothing brush to apply a gentle blur effect, creating smoother-looking skin.

GPS support and Face Recognition:

Not a killer feature, but it will be fun for some.  Lots can be done with “Faces and Places” not mentioned here.

faces-detection-20091020Aperture 3 automatically detects faces in photos when you import them. It then compares the faces and finds similar ones (similar to iPhoto).  You can then view faces by project, album, or folder.  Click the Facebook button to publish selected photos directly to your Facebook account. People named using the Faces feature are automatically tagged with Facebook names, and published albums can be automatically updated as you add, remove, or edit photos.

Places allows you to organize photos based on where they were taken, using GPS data embedded in photos when you took them or location data added in Aperture.  See where you took your photos on an interactive Google map displayed in Aperture. Choose from terrain and road maps or view satellite images with or without labels.  Import GPS locations for the photos you take with your GPS-enabled iPhone directly into Aperture.

Multiple Instances of Adjustments:

Nice! You aren’t limited to global adjustments any longer.

Apply multiple adjustments of a single type to different parts of an image by creating multiple adjustment bricks for each adjustment. For example, set one Levels adjustment to create the perfect sky. Then add another Levels adjustment brick to selectively perfect skin tones. To add a new instance of an adjustment, choose the Add New option from the Action pop-up menu in each adjustment brick.

Adjustment presets with live previews:

The live previews are a huge time saver when you don’t know what direction to take an image.  It’s also nice to have some common presets available as well as being able to create your own.

adjustments-presets-20091020If you use a combination of adjustments frequently, save it as a preset. Then apply the preset to individual images or a batch of images. Aperture 3 includes dozens of ready-to-use presets, and you can easily create your own and export them for use by others.   The Presets pop-up menu in the Adjustments inspector displays a preview of each preset applied to your image, allowing you to assess the effect of the preset before you apply it.

Advanced Sideshows:

Apple is so good at building multi-media apps, it’s nice to see them finally bringing in these features to Aperture.  I’ve gone through so many slide-show making apps, hopefully this will end now that I can do it in version 3.

In Aperture, you can now export slideshows in a number of predefined formats, including YouTube, iPhone, Apple TV, HD, and 1080p. You can also specify a custom size and frame rate, and export slideshows using either the H.264 or MPEG-4 codec.  Using the Classic and Ken Burns themes, you can choose from a dozen transitions, including Dissolve, Fade through Black, and Fade through White.  Besides including a main audio track in a slideshow (such as background music), you can add a secondary audio track, such as a voiceover or narration, to create a true layered soundtrack.

Cures tool: (With brushes)

Meticulous pros know how huge this is.  Others may find the basic adjustments sufficient.  The extended range is a nice bonus.

adjustments-curves-20091020Use the new Curves tool to adjust exposure and tweak color. Curve adjustments can be applied to luminance, RGB, or individual color channels. You can set the black, white, and midtone points, as well as place custom points along the curve using a target tool. All Curves adjustments can be brushed in or brushed away as needed to achieve desired results. Because the Curves tool supports the “extended range” data sometimes available in RAW images, you can set the Range control in Curves to Extended in order to see the “out of range” highlight or shadow data that you may be able to recover.

Summary

Fashionably late.  Although they are playing catch-up in some areas, they are breaking new ground in others.  I think this update will keep Aperture as a top contender for a while.  The biggest challenge they face is boosting the performance, as this is quite a memory and resource hog.  They need to be better at updating their camera raw support as well.

Free 30 day trial.  Price: $199 or $99 upgrade from previous versions.

Note: Amazon currently have Aperture 3 available for pre-order at $189 and $94.99 for the upgrade.

For videos of the new Aperture in action, check out Apple’s videos here: Pros with Aperture.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Chas Elliott is a freelance photographer in the Northern Virginia and DC area. See more of his work at www.chaselliott.com.

Some Older Comments

  • Seth Parr July 12, 2010 03:06 am

    Maybe it's me but I really wanted to like LR2 primary because I love PS, I have 8 years of experience with it as a Graphic Designer to pay for my living and I'm a fan of Adobe products in general. My experience with LR2 wasn't bad but I couldn't get past how LR2 converted my Nikon D200 NEFs into ACR which in return really butchered the image IMHO, especially with Skin Tones adding red to them and it wasn't a red that was corrected with color adjustments and this seemed to happen only within LR2 and not within PS when I passed the .NEF to it. I loved certain features of LR2 - Slideshow, Web Gallery, & Print Module as well as the excellent Cataolg Database but I couldn't get past how the NEFs changed.

    I tried A1 when it came out using a DC 2.3 GHZ G5 and was very disappointed due to speed issues. When A3 came out I tried it using a 17" MBP DC 2.9 GHZ / 8 GB of memory' and found out I liked it for the primary reason of A3 being able to interpret the .NEFs much closer to how Nikon designed them to be interpreted but I'm amazed to find A3 to be painfully slow at times especially when using the retouch tools and on such a current and powerful Apple computer. I can understand the slowness if I'm working in FCP rendering video but not for a 10 MP image.

    For me, I've tried all versions of LR, A, NX, & PS and my preference would be PS but with manual cataloging. My problem is I'm not disciplined enough to go into PS and use the tools for only processing, as a Graphic Designer I always get carried away in PS. NX displays the .NEFS correctly, but of course, this is Nikon's software but it's painfully slow and not enjoyable to work in even though NX2 has gotten much better. A3 I find is the middle ground for me as it doesn't have the speed of LR or PS but it does keep me focused on only keeping a photo a photo and it offers me a close interpretation of how Nikon meant the .NEF to be read.
    I will mention I've learned that I use A3 for the basic adjustments and then I pass to PS for any cloning or healing brushes. I've also learned that when using A3 after I get done processing one image I quit the program and then reopen (which takes no time) this process clears the cache and the program doesn't have the slow issues as quickly when working on the next image. Overall, I'm pleased with A3 and currently it's my preferred program I also prefer the tool/tab menu over LRs..

    @Eric --> By the way 'A3' offers referenced indexing of images, you don't have to use the Vault feature.

  • Photobookgirl July 10, 2010 02:13 pm

    I decided to download the free Aperture 3 trial primarily to try out their photo book creation tool. I was pretty impressed with how it allows you to customize your layouts, print your books with Apple or any other photo book printing company, and its GPS map tool. I just started also using their photo editing tools and it does seem easier for a non-pro to use than Photoshop and has some unique tools of its own like the "definition" function. I think the editing interface is more intuitive and I found it to work on my MacBook Pro with no problems. If anyone is interested in seeing a review I posted of Aperture's photo book tool and of the quality of the final printed book itself, feel free to check out my July 5th post on my site.

  • Photobookgirl July 9, 2010 03:59 am

    I decided to download the free Aperture 3 trial primarily to try out their photo book creation tool. I was pretty impressed with how it allows you to customize your layouts, print your books with Apple or any other photo book printing company, and its GPS map tool. I just started also using their photo editing tools and it does seem easier for a non-pro to use than Photoshop and has some unique tools of its own like the "definition" function. I think the editing interface is more intuitive and I found it to work on my MacBook Pro with no problems. If anyone is interested in seeing a review I posted of Aperture's photo book tool and of the quality of the final printed book itself, feel free to check out my July 5th post on my site.[eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/photobookgirl/4761413962/' title='Apple Aperture 3 Photo Book & Software Review - Cover' url='http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4118/4761413962_8237cc3463.jpg']

  • Travis Forsyth April 11, 2010 01:34 am

    I recently made a jump from PC to a Macbook Pro and I picked up aperture 3 after arguing with Adobe over transferring my Lightroom licence to the Apple version. It took some getting used to but I am feeling right at home now with it and the performance issues I can foresee being solved in the future and currently don't seem to be all that noticeable.

  • DavidK April 3, 2010 12:16 am

    Not for me. It improved but is still slower than I need it to be for a happy workflow, and some of the new features, specifically brushes, I was still avoiding due to sluggish response, and the brushes were the biggest draw to 3 for me. So if I wasn't going to use them I'm better off with 2.

    One thing Apple definitely hasn't solved is how Aperture acts so differently for different people. For me 3.0.2 didn't get me close enough to where I need to be for the $100 upgrade.

  • Geir April 2, 2010 04:57 pm

    Aren't these problems solved with the 3.0.2 upgrade. For me delays are a thing of the past now that the Aperture techies have been working on these issues.

  • DavidK April 2, 2010 01:28 pm

    Personally, I don't feel that requiring 4 gig of RAM for good performance is unreasonable, because that's the nature of the beast. Any semi-serious graphics/video/audio program with pro features will perform better with more than 2 gig. That's the minimum for getting it up and running these days. Get the ram anyway : ) You'll be happier.

    But I HAVE 4 gig on my MBP and Aperture 3 is simply more of a hindrance than a boon. I didn't have any instability or horror stories, but there's some serious programming issues going on when it takes at least 5 to 7 full seconds for a crop to finish after execution before you can make your next adjustment. Same with the brushes.

    I've gone back to 2, choosing images, cropping, making exposure and color changes and exporting 16 bit TIFFs to PS for spot work, and back to getting a night's work done in a night : ) I'll keep an ear out for when to once again consider the upgrade, but for now I've got work to do, and it wasn't getting done with 3 : )

  • John Glynn March 11, 2010 10:54 am

    Totally agree with Meghan on the 2GB of RAM killer that is Aperture 3. I love the software but honestly not enough hours in the day to be waiting for this undertested software to generate thumbnails. Gimme a kill process button!

  • DavidK February 27, 2010 11:20 pm

    The crop tool bad behavior *seems* to have been fixed in the update!

  • Meghan February 27, 2010 04:28 am

    And DAvid I completely agree about the brushes. What good are these supposedly superior brushes if you can't see what's going on till you've already overbrushed an area and then have to go back in an use the eraser--waiting 5 seconds after each swipe to see how it looks?

    I'm not an Apple hater. (On all these A3 reaction conversations people say things like, "Oh, look at the sad little LR haters. They just want to hate on Apple. ARen't they sad and angry little losers.") Well, no. I WANTED to like this better. I really did.

  • Meghan February 27, 2010 04:24 am

    I'm only using 2GB of RAM and I find Aperture 3 to be an exercise in torture. Ok, so I want to upgrade my memory anyway. But I have read many reports of people with 4GB of RAM having processing issues.

    I do happen to like the Aperture 3 images better. I haven't done a scientific comparison, but I follow basically the same workflow and I just like the feel of the A3 images. I am not fast in A3--I know the shortcuts in LR and can move more quickly. And I get that file location anxiety that other people have. (Yeah, I know I can use the referenced files but LR just makes it looks so neat and obvious. I KNOW where everything is. I don't have to spend 2 seconds thinking about it.) Even so, I feel like I would get where I'm going more quickly with A3.

    IF, that is, IF I had $3K in the bank with which to buy a MAc Pro. Ain't happening.

    And what is with Faces and Places!? I find it annoying that Apple felt compelled to include these intro-level features even though on every single blog and forum anyone who sounded remotely serious about photography thought it would NOT be a good feature to include. It was so NOT being clamored for. We all wanted the space taken up by other features. Yeah, I can turn it off. But clearly Adobe has more respect for its users.

  • DavidK February 26, 2010 07:18 am

    "Wow, not bad. Almost 20% of my concerns and problems addresses within a short time…. Now what about the other 80%?"

    LOL. That list is entirely comprised of stuff that either is amazing that it made it by alpha testing (Oh, it doesn't print pages multiple images...?_) or deals with features I would never use. Faces? Places?

    Is the slide show (which is great) still unable to export successfully? Does the brush retouching update fast enough to be able to brush something continuously, like one can with every other image program, without overdoing it because you're looking at it while it's 10 strokes behind?

    Doesn't sound worth the time to install. I hope there's another one soon. : )

  • daniel February 25, 2010 07:13 pm

    Wow, not bad. Almost 20% of my concerns and problems addresses within a short time.... Now what about the other 80%?

  • tyler February 25, 2010 11:41 am

    The update has been released to address all the issues outlined here as well as adding some new features.

    What's new in this version:
    This update improves overall stability and addresses a number of issues in Aperture 3, including:
    Upgrading libraries from earlier versions of Aperture
    Importing libraries from iPhoto
    Importing photos directly from a camera
    Memory usage when processing heavily-retouched photos
    Face recognition processing
    Adding undetected faces using the Add Missing Face button
    Printing pages containing multiple images
    Printing photos and contact sheets with borders and metadata
    Editing photos using an external editor
    Display of images with Definition and Straighten adjustments applied
    Zooming photos in the Viewer and in the Loupe using keyboard shortcuts
    Accessing Aperture libraries on a network volume
    Selecting and moving pins on the Places map
    Adding and editing custom locations using the Manage My Places window
    Switching between masters when working with RAW+JPEG pairs.

    Cheers!

  • DavidK February 21, 2010 03:36 am

    "I think the initial wave of enthusiasm for Ap3 has faded like a bad movie" I think you may be right. I was an extremely enthusiastic (potential) upgrader from 2, but now that I've gone over all of the features and adjustments I will regularly use (including the non-destructive brush on filters, which is major for me), the frustration of the crop tool not staying at "Do Not Constrain" makes it so that I can barely get out of the gate. I ONLY want it that way, and the tool has gone from bad to worse. I'm back on 2.

    I'd be interest to hear others' experiences with the crop tool. There was a thread on the Apple discussion board about it and it was deleted (?).

  • Neil February 20, 2010 04:28 am

    I think the initial wave of enthusiasm for Ap3 has faded like a bad movie. My own brother, also a photographer, dumped it after a few days of fruitless tweaking. The real shame here is that Adobe now has no incentive to push Lightroom innovation. They effectively have no worthy competitor.
    Very disappointing.

  • Brian February 18, 2010 05:07 am

    I bought Aperture 3 i love teh features however a memory leak has been identified and reported. Hopefully they will fix it soon. I had major issues importing my A2 library's. So Aperture 2 users hold off on upgrading tell the memory leak issue is fixed :) PS: running the app in 32 bit mode seems to be a work around right now.

  • daniel February 17, 2010 04:46 am

    @steve briant:

    full ACK. IIRC LR crashed once on me ever. AP3 crashed 8 times in a couple hours of test use.

  • Steve Briant February 17, 2010 12:36 am

    Having bought and used Ap3, I would advise potential buyers to hold off a little. Packed full of exciting new features, but crashes frequently (iMac 4GB ram, 1TB disk) unlike Ap2.

    It'll be great once the bugs are ironed out.

  • Neil February 16, 2010 08:06 am

    @Geir.
    I've not read of a single Lr user in any forum who was remotely dazzled by Ap3, let alone compelled to switch. This is bad news for Apple as the vast majority of their growth is likely to come from switchers. Being an Apple fan I am dismayed, but probably not as dismayed as Apple engineers who are reading these forums posts. All that work for nothing.

    Basically, all the lovely new features of Ap3 amount to naught if the app is too slow to be usable.
    I agree with Daniel too, crop/rotate should be one tool, as in Lr. Also, there is no edit history in Ap3, so you can't see what you did to an image quickly, as you can in Lr. Shall I go on?

    I tell you what, I'll go as far as to say that if Ap3 was faster than Lr I'd switch and put up with the deficiencies.

    Note to Apple: I want to use Aperture!!!!!!!!!!! You should have asked me or Daniel, or Eric to be a beta tester, not Bill Frakes and Chase Jarvis. You could have saved yourself a lot of embarrassment.

  • daniel February 16, 2010 01:05 am

    @Eric
    > Aperture just puts everything into a file called "Aperture Library" which can't be explored at all.

    That's not quite correct. It is possible to reference masters the same as in LR. What is different though is that A3 can only do file operations (like remove them) when they're not on a memory card (A3 doesn't allow any operation but import (and optionally copy and reference) on memory cards) and/or not on a filesystem like FAT13/32, NTFS, CIFS, SMB or NFS; I know HFS(+) works, maybe AFP will, too. But this is a killer for me.

    Second, the Aperture Library can be explored and it is even mentioned in the documentation but making changes is highly forbidden.

    > Aperture 3 is also running extremely slow. Certain functions are near unusable.

    I absolutely agree, I'm having exactly the same problem and just as you I started with a fresh library for my tests so it's not "library upgrade" problem and also I've turned Faces etc. off; basically I tried everything the forums (including Apples' own) recommended. I also gave it the same treatment I grant to LR, namely to free up as much memory as possible before launching the application to prevent swap usage; though A3 behaves much better in that regard than LR3, which seizes 2 GB of free(!) RAM faster than I can a prayer on my 4 GB machine.

    > Finally, I don't care for the crop and rotate tools in Aperture. I like how Lightroom combines the two tools. However in Aperture they are separate functions and neither works as well as Lightroom.

    Totally agree again. I also don't care for A3 forcing me to make a selection before showing the overlay whereas LR starts with a selection of the full frame (and thus the overlay) and allows either to make adjustents to that *or* start a custom selection instead.

  • Geir February 15, 2010 06:46 pm

    Neil: I'll have to eat humble pie here. This weekend Apeture 3 went through the phases, and it grinded to a halt. and searching the Apple user forums I find other people facing the same problems. This is a real dissappointment because the additions in Aperture 3 were just the tools I was expecting.
    I firmly believe that the results from Apeture 2 were better (for me) than the same results in Lightroom 2, and that the user experience is wastly better in Apeture 2 than in L2.

    I also beieve that the main reason LR gets the vote primarily is because of the Adobe brand and "Combo experience" of LR and Photoshop, although an imaginary combo as I never had any itches with integrating Aperture 2 with Photoshop.

    I also see your point that five seconds matter in the field and not in the classroom, although even in the classroom we at times work through databases of 25 000 raw file images.

    Though Aperture 3 is slow, I won't give up on it yet. If not, I'll stick with Aperture 2 and use CS4 the times I need some advaned file manipulating.

    Of course it's not good that Apple lets it out before most itches are worked out, but as with Aperture 3, I remember that Aperture 2 had the same startup problem, but it was fixed in version .01 or something like that. So patience for a week or three, and I'm sure that this application will be just what I was hoping for - with one exception: Why can't Aperture (or Lightroom for that matter) do file handlig the Bridge way. I want to work with the file structure of

  • Ryan February 15, 2010 04:26 pm

    A few months ago I was debating whether to go with Aperture or Lightroom. I downloaded both the trail versions (Aperture 2 & LR 3 Beta) and Lightroom won my vote because of the adjustments and their version of "Brushes". Once Aperture 3 came out I was so excited because not only did they finally have "Brushes", I love the integration of Apple products with each other - opening up old photos in iPhoto, no need to fiddle around if you want to email it, albums, slide shows,etc.

    So I downloaded the trial of Aperture 3.

    Slow. Real. Slow.

    It was so slow it was unusable in my machine. Granted, I only have your base MacBook - but Lightroom flourishes in my setup. No lags while you're drawing up adjustments with the "Brushes" tool; virtually rendering time when zooming in and out; virtually no rendering time when turning specific adjustments on and off; etc. With every step that I did in Aperture 3, just like a previous review mentioned, my machine would slow down almost to a halt with the message "Generating Thumbnails" is shown.

    Once Lightroom 3 is available I would definitely purchase that. It's sad in my opinion. I really, REALLY would've wanted Aperture 3 to work.

  • Neil February 15, 2010 01:43 pm

    @Geir
    I've been in a classroom situation with all manner of apps. The speed of the app is never really tested. In the field, a photographer could give a flying fig what the app needs to do, what it needs to cache, etc, he just cares that his work is not impeded.
    I have 745 images to go through tomorrow.
    When you add up the various little delays Ap seems to experience, Lr is approx 5 seconds faster per image. In a classroom that's a non-event, but multiplied 745 times it's a catastrophe.

    Impressed with Ap3: Ap2 users, people new to Ap, non-Pros, people who've never used Lr.
    Unimpressed with Ap3: Lr users, Pros who need any sort of speed.

    The Ap3 defenders blame everything except Apple; it's how the user installed the app, it's their hardware that's the problem, they didn't turn off 'Faces' or whatever.
    Apple is a day late and a dollar short. They're trying to play catch-up in a market they should outright own. I'm so ticked off that I can't dump Lr it's not even funny. Ap3 should have been a leap ahead of Lr. It isn't.

  • dharmit February 15, 2010 12:25 pm

    I am reviewing Aperture 3 right now (second day of review) and I have also tested LR3 beta.

    Things I like about Aperture 3
    - Directly writes IPTC metadata to raw images (.CR2 for me)
    - All editing options, tagging options are available in one window
    - Is faster
    - Portable Library which can sync back to the main library

    I dont know why people are so fussed about Aperture managing their photos. If they are, just add the photo as a link (referenced photo) and you photo will not change places.

    I have seen many posters say that they will switch from LR to Aperture or vice versa, how will they be doing this. I have my 15Gig of library and I havent decided which path to go, but once I am on a path, I would like to stick to it, or else there will be a huge penalty of spending countless time, in re-editing all the photos in the new software???????

    Just my $0.02 worth (Really I cant understand what this means, I am an Indian and English is a secondary language, but I have really seen this used often when people want to add their comment and not hurt people's feelings, that now I have started using it)

  • Eric February 15, 2010 03:58 am

    After farting around with it for two hours my initial reaction is A3 is too flawed for me to switch to it from LR. First, I can't even locate the actually images on my computer. Lightroom leaves the originals in tact and just records changes in the Lightroom database. Aperture just puts everything into a file called "Aperture Library" which can't be explored at all. You can "export a master copy" of each image, which I assume just extracts the original out of that library file, but still, I would rather just manage the pics myself. Secondly, it doesn't play nice with Photoshop. It imported my layered PS files as flattened images. At least I assume that's what it does, no idea since I can't view the actual file on my computer. I do know when you "Edit in Photoshop CS3" it opens up as a flat image. Aperture 3 is also running extremely slow. Certain functions are near unusable. Finally, I don't care for the crop and rotate tools in Aperture. I like how Lightroom combines the two tools. However in Aperture they are separate functions and neither works as well as Lightroom.

    A3 has a really nice interface, and it has potential, but it's not there yet.

  • Geir February 13, 2010 08:44 pm

    I've been using LR2 and Apertre 2 extensively, and the thing is with both: You have to let the databases update and thumbnails be processed before you can say anything about speed. For me Aperture 2 is a speed demon, while LR2 just doesn't cut it.
    Why? Have no idea, but there are so many factors influencing the experience that I can only say that this is MY experience.

  • Chris February 13, 2010 08:36 pm

    I use LR2 and have tried Aperture 3. I was rather disappointed by how slow Aperture was in comparison to LR2. My system is a pretty average 4GB iMac with a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo. If it wasn't so slow to to use I would consider switching, but the speed difference is a no no.

  • Johnny February 13, 2010 04:29 pm

    Adobe always gets my vote.

    Lightroom and photoshop just kick Arse.

  • Neil February 13, 2010 03:17 pm

    Lightroom has roughly 90% of the Pro photographer market for a very good reason: It's better.

    I'm a huge Apple fan and have been waiting for a long time for a version of Ap that beats Lr so I can move back to an Apple product. Lr is ugly and not enjoyable to use at all, and I was thrilled to hear news of Ap3.

    I just spent the last few days testing Ap3 and I can't convey how disappointed I am. I am at a wedding this weekend and have not intention of using it. I've hit all the forums and it appears I'm not alone.
    I have not yet read of a single Lr user who was impressed enough with the new Ap to switch.

  • Geir February 13, 2010 09:56 am

    I teach Lightroom 2 and use Aperture 2. That really should say it all. I am with Cuchulainn, I just don't see why Lightroom gets as much space as it does in the photo world. Speed is worse than Aperture although somebody state the contrary. The interface is cluttered, and the real tools that you need work just as well or better in Aperture. The improvement with brushes, which are a lot better than the Lightroom versions, are a real boon, and I already say that if Apple can start using the folder system as it is on my computer in the Bridge way, I'll never consider switching. Aperture 3 is a lovely tool.

  • Eric February 13, 2010 07:17 am

    Does Aperture insist on maintaining it's own Library file the way iPhoto does? One thing I like about LR is that I can keep my files in my own directory scheme.

  • Robd February 13, 2010 06:07 am

    I've been an Aperture 2 user for a few years, and I've got to say the Aperture 3 is a big step up in terms of performance. This update came out right on time, because I felt that if Apple did not update the software this year, I was going to switch to something else next year. Aperture 3 is running much faster on my 13" MBP (2.5Ghz, 4GB RAM), 10.6 system than Aperture 2, and it actually is using far less RAM than Aperture 2 did, for the same task. I ordered Aperture 3 after using the trial for 24 hours, its just that much better.

  • Daniel February 13, 2010 06:00 am

    I tried to work with A3 a full two days now. I must say I'm so turned off right now.

    - It crashed 8 times within this time which is 8 times more LR2 did (if I recall correctly) in the long time I used it.
    - It is dog slow (at least on Leopard), the brushes are especially slow so they're completely unusable for me (which was the killer feature for me, since they work on almost all adjustments). But most operations are, it's almost constantly showing "Generating thumbnails" in the Activity Viewer after each little tweak.
    - The new and nifty fullscreen mode doesn't support swap screen with the primary screen in Desktop, so basically on my MBP I cannot work on my external proofed monitor in FS (the new mode, not the lame mirror/alternate, etc. modes where no browsing and HUD docking are possible) or I will have to give up using my primary MBP screen for doing anything else.
    - One of my cameras, the Panasonic GF1, is not supported by an oversight on behalf of Apple.
    - It forces one to create and use the Aperture library and it doesn't support either working directly on memory cards nor on other FAT nor remote filesystems correctly. In order to even properly try the software I had to improvise a completely new workflow which involved finding an unused USB harddrive and format that with HFS+. Only there a catalog can be created and only there can masters be deleted. My regular workflow starts with sorting out undesired photos directly on the card (typically I need a good magnification to pick the good ones from a burst of shots), then I fix WB and crop and overwrite the camera JPEGs with the custom version if needed and then (and only then) I move the pictures to a bakked up RAID-NAS, where they are classified and sorted into a custom directory structure and from there I can make further adjustments, send them out, burn them to CD or just keep them untill they're needed. In the two days with A3 I managed to get a whopping 16(!) images (out of about 500 waiting) preprocessed and onto the NAS, not without major manual intervention, see next point(s).
    - A3 cannot delete masters on non-HFS media which means that I cannot import all files from card to an import directory on my NAS but need to have space on a local HFS device.
    - A3 refuses to overwrite exported "Version"s, meaning that if you export twice, you'll get the image a second time with a name chosen by Aperture. How great is that? Have the camera version lying around and you'll have a second file you'll need to rename, export several times and you're up for some really cool file renaming/deletion action.
    - A3 has the same problem as LR2 (not LR3b!) has: JPEG files allways carry the suffix ".jpg", which is great on case sentitive media that also shares the camera files while in my case (and always have been) all uppercase.
    - Even at quality level 10 the exported JPEGs are suspiciously small (around half the size of 95% quality LR2 files) and don't look as good IMHO.
    - I am missing the before-after comparison modes of LR big time. The "create new version from master" and side-by-side view doesn't even come close and it's at major PITA, too.
    - I am also missing the effects view of LR e.g. when sharpening where a modifier key will easily show how the current parameters will affect the image. Apple can't be serious about in the manual on p.576 "Understanding the Edge Sharpen Workflow" where they basically suggest to temporarily turn up the effect to maximum to see how it affects the image and then back down.
    - The loupe tool is a PITA, too, and it doesn't work e.g. for selecting the clone source of a brush; I had to constantly switch modes. It's also not useful for inspecting details of thumbnails in the viewer because the area is far to small to be targeted with the cursor even though Apple suggests otherwise.
    - The stamp&lift tool does not precisely allow for selection of which adjustments exactly are to be applied to other images. Great, I got two items to chose from: RAW adjustments, image adjustment. Huh? Fantastic, now I only have two find two images in my gallery which need exactly the same crop, exposure adjustments, etc. . Chances are: There are no such pictures unless they're exactly the same or consecutive ones from a burst.

    I could probably go on for the rest of the night on this list.

    My short summary: It's the worst software I remember seing from Apple. My hopes were high that I could get away from LR which I really don't like that much but this software is so bad that it was a great pleasure opening LR and selecting about 50 out of 120 photos, cleaning up the card, touching up the rest and moving the results and RAWs to my NAS all in well under 2 hours.

  • Kyle February 13, 2010 03:02 am

    I've been using Aperture since it first came out and I love it. I've been using Aperture 3 for 2 days now and it's a great upgrade. Regarding performance, it feels much snappier to me overall. The only thing I thought was missing from Aperture was curves adjustment. I didn't even really think about the brushes options, but now that I have it, I'm sure it will be indispensable.

  • Dave R February 13, 2010 02:55 am

    I've been using LR2 since launch and while I generally like it, I still use Photoshop for heavy editing because it's much slower even with a new Mac Pro and 8gb of ram.

    If A3 runs faster doing local adjustments I may make the switch. Going to check out the trial, thanks for the write up!

  • Cuchulainn February 13, 2010 02:33 am

    I purchased LR, LR2 and have tried the LR3 beta. To be frank LR bores me. IMHO it has never lived up to the hype and praise that some folks seem to bestow upon it.

    In my own humble opinion I felt even Aperture 2 was a superior product to any and all versions of LR (Including the uninspired LR3 beta). Aperture 3 just builds upon that.

    My vote is for fashionably late.

  • Chas Elliott February 13, 2010 01:47 am

    @Rob: Turn face detection on or off in preferences. Turning it off stops Aperture from scanning photos for faces when importing new photos and hides Faces in the Library inspector.

  • Ben Jamieson February 13, 2010 01:46 am

    I jumped in feet first as a long time Aperture 2 user.

    After the initial upgrade of my main Library (took about 8 hours to complete for 300GB/30,000 image library) I'm *very* happy I made the switch.

    I've yet to explore the new slideshow features (which is going to be an incredible timesaver for wedding photo slideshows), but the enhancements and additions to the processing capabilities are absolutely amazing!

    I'm looking forward to stepping up my post processing this year!

    So, if you're an aperture user with a fairly decent machine (I'm on an early '09 MBPro - express card version) then I wholeheartedly recommend giving it a try out with the 30day Trial. It won't harm your Aperture 2 library, so you can revert at any time.

  • Greg Taylor February 13, 2010 01:09 am

    I have been an Aperture user for some time now. I have been waiting for these upgrades to be featured in a new release but for some reason I am hesitant to purchase the upgrade. Only time will tell if this upgrade was worth the wait and the money.

  • Phil February 13, 2010 01:05 am

    have been using it for the past couple of days, very very happy with it. Much improvement over Aperture 2

  • Jenni February 13, 2010 01:04 am

    I've been using Aperture since version 1.5 and really love it for my workflow. The additions are really great and make it an even better tool. Especially the brushes, curves and geo-tagging additions.

  • Lance February 13, 2010 01:00 am

    I'm an Aperture 2 user and I have already ordered the upgrade. There are some fantastic features in Aperture 3 and I can't wait to start using them.

  • Zack Jones February 13, 2010 12:55 am

    Some interesting reading regarding one users experience trying to upgrade:

    http://www.canon5dtips.com/2010/02/aperture-3-dont-use-it/

  • Rob February 13, 2010 12:39 am

    Faces drove me away from iPhoto and I now use Lightroom 3 Beta. Faces consumes tons of time and CPU whether you shoot people or landscapes. I hope Apple included an option to turn off faces or I am afraid they will lose even more people like me.

  • Chris February 13, 2010 12:29 am

    I have been using Aperture 2 for well over a year now and it has greatly improved my workflow. To say that I am excited about this upgrade would be an understatement. The localized adjustments and non-destructive brushes will mean I almost never have to export out to Photoshop anymore. The GPS tagging and facial recognition is a nice bonus as well. I already ordered my upgrade and am anxiously awaiting its arrival.

  • Trudy February 13, 2010 12:18 am

    Thanks for the post. Other than testing out when they first came out, I've never incorporated LR or Aperture into my workflow. I am looking forward to trying Aperture 3 and seeing how the experience is.

  • Jay February 13, 2010 12:13 am

    It's tough. I downloaded Aperture 3 and I like it, but not sure if I would make the jump to it from LR. I DO very much like the brushes. I did some adjustments with an image using some of them and it can be seen here:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrblonde/4350709846/

    The GPS and facial recognition doesn't mean much to me. But many of the other features as good as well. You neglected to mention that Aperture 3 can also pull video so if you're doing still photography and video, it's nice to be able to have one app that can handle both within your workflow.

  • James February 13, 2010 12:11 am

    In regards to performance, it has been rumoured that Aperture 3 does take advantage of OpenCL. This will allow Aperture 3 to make use of your graphics cards incredible speed to process some functions. Of course, you need to have an OpenCL aware graphics card on your machine.