Apple Aperture 2 Review

Matt Grayson takes a look at Aperture 2, Apple's image workflow program.

| Apple Aperture 2 in Other Software
Aperture is Mac's version of Lightroom allowing you to import, manage and edit images in one system.
Apple Aperture 2: Specifications
One of the following Mac computers:
  • Mac Pro
  • MacBook Pro
  • MacBook Air
  • MacBook
  • Mac mini with an Intel Core Solo or Duo processor
  • iMac with a 1.8GHz or faster PowerPC G5 or Intel Core Duo processor
  • Power Mac G5 with a 1.6GHz or faster PowerPC G5 processor
  • 15in or 17in PowerBook G4 with a 1.25GHz or faster PowerPC G4 processor
Memory requirements
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 2GB of RAM for Mac Pro
  • One of the following graphics cards:
  • ATI Radeon X600 Pro, X600 XT, X800 XT Mac Edition, X850 XT, X1600, X1900 XT, 9800 XT, 9800 Pro, 9700 Pro, 9600, 9600 XT, 9600 Pro, 9650, HD 2400 XT, HD 2600 PRO, or HD 2600 XT
  • ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 or 9600
  • ATI Mobility Radeon X1600
  • NVIDIA GeForceFX 5200 Ultra, 6600, 6600LE, 6800 Ultra DDL, 6800GT DDL, 7300GT, 7800GT, 8600MGT, or 8800GT
  • NVIDIA Quadro FX 4500 or FX 5600
  • Intel GMA 950 or GMA X3100
  • Minimum operating system requirements
  • Mac OSX v10.4.11 Tiger
  • Mac OSX v10.5.2 Leopard
  • DVD drive for installation
  • 5Gb of hard drive space for the application and sample projects
Recommended configuration
  • Mac computer with a 2.0GHz or faster Intel Core Duo processor or dual 2.0GHz or faster PowerPC G5 processors
  • 2Gb of RAM
  • One of the following graphics cards:
  • ATI Radeon X800 XT Mac Edition, 9800 XT, 9800 Pro, X1900 XT, X1600, HD 2600 XT, or HD 2600 PRO
  • NVIDIA GeForce 6800 series, 7300GT, 7800GT 8600MGT, or 8800GT
  • NVIDIA Quadro FX 4500 or FX 5600
Apple Aperture 2  Review: Apple Aperture 2
Importing images is done on the start up in three main stages. Choosing the location on the left, which images in the middle and the information joining them on the right.
Apple Aperture 2: Features
Opening up the program launches a welcome screen asking you which task you wish to perform such as importing images from memory card, computer files or from an Apple iPhoto library. You can also view tutorials or simply launch Aperture if you wish to browse later for images.
Tutorials are viewed online so if you don't have an internet connection through that computer, it won't be able to perform the task. However, the tutorials can be accessed from any other computer and using the sample images on Aperture will help you get a hang of the program.
I put a memory card into a card reader after launching the system and if you do that, it automatically takes you to the import screen. On the left is the workflow of where imported images will be placed from the card and this can be changed by clicking the folder you prefer the images to be put into.
The images on the card are displayed as thumbnails in the centre of the screen with assorted information on the right such as image information giving the name, date it was taken, file type and size. You can also change the store location of the images and adjust the time zone details.
Apple Aperture 2  Review: Apple Aperture 2
The work area is split into three tabs with a large pane for viewing the selected image and the other imported items as thumbnails along the bottom. There's no restriction on amount of thumbnails.
Loading images into the main screen brings them all up along the bottom as thumbnails with the main selected image in a larger window above. To the left are three tabs for Projects, Metadata and Adjustments and these tabs can be flicked through by pressing W.
There are over 100 upgrades and new additions to the second version and they can all be viewed on the apple website. To list a few, the UI now shows EXIF data under the histogram in the adjustments pane and advanced RAW processing feature has been added to increase efficiency. The Loupe has also got a massive 50% magnification and a vignette/de-vignette feature to add the creative effect or remove darkening at the edges due to wide angle lenses.
Duplicates are detected on import and if you decide that you don't want them to be brought into the workflow, Aperture will keep them out. You can also change the keyboard shortcuts if you find them difficult to get to grips with and tethered shooting is also supported.
Apple Aperture 2: In use
When you import the images from a memory card, it's important to be organised and get a project folder started to put your pictures into. New folders and (in time) sub-folders can be created as your image collection grows. Images can be tagged for quick retrieval and albums can be made to simplify the amount of work you see at any given time.
Aperture accepts all popular file types such as RAW, JPEG, DNG and TIFF. It also supports native RAW types from major manufacturers including but not limited to Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, Hasselblad, Leaf, Leica, Sony and Panasonic. Updates have already been developed for the newest cameras such as the Canon EOS 5D MkII, Nikon D3x, Hasselblad H3D 1 II and Epson R-D1x.
Editing the images in the adjustments tab seems to be pretty straight forward. Images can have automatic adjustments made using the options available simply by clicking the boxes. You can choose straighten, white balance, exposure, enhance, levels, highlight & shadow and colour.
Apple Aperture 2  Review: Apple Aperture 2
Choosing fullscreen removes all surrounding content. A HUD can be brought up for making adjustments.
Pressing F toggles between full screen and normal screen and HUD's (Heads Up Display) can be activated as separate windows to still work on the image. This is great if you're working in close up as you can get to see more of the images without having all the thumbnails in the way if you don't want to see them.
For this shot of a model I cropped the image first then adjusted the exposure and contrast. It works easily enough but I found that using the full screen and HUD, loading any adjustments took longer and I could be waiting several seconds for each command to be actioned. This may not sound much but with a few changes to make and if I have a large workflow then I could potentially be here a long time.
Apple Aperture 2  Review: Apple Aperture 2
Original image.
Apple Aperture 2  Review: Apple Aperture 2
Edited image.
Apple Aperture 2: Verdict
Apple Aperture 2  Review: After using this, I think it could become very useful for someone using the Mac system. Mac screens are really nice to view so having your favourite images full size looks really good.
I think it's harder to get used to than Lightroom but offers many similar features. If you're an Apple fan then you'll be perfectly happy with Aperture 2 but if you're open to other company's then there are alternative workflows available.

Apple Aperture 2: Plus points
Improved workflow
RAW support
Tethered shooting support
Command key adjustment
8-bit external editor support

Apple Aperture 2: Minus points
Not as easy to use as Lightroom
Limited advice in the user manual




Apple Aperture 2 costs £126.25 and is available from Warehouse Express here:
Apple Aperture 2

Current Aperture users can upgrade for £63.62 by clicking here:
Apple Aperture 2 upgrade

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User_Removed Avatar
User_Removed 14 16 England
19 Apr 2009 11:41AM
Not entirely sure why LR is considered 'easier to use' as I found it to be the opposite. I don't think the review covers many of the features in Aperture which I find to be very useful. The stack, auto stack and compare modes are great time savers. The Digital Asset Management is pretty powerful and betters alternatives like Adobe Bridge. The Vault back up feature is a nice way of backing up your image libraries without having to leave the program. The interface is very easy to use and adjustments are rarely more than one or two clicks away. I find the shadows and highlights adjustment tool is better in Aperture than in both LR and even Photoshop! However, I do find I do round trip image sharpening in Photoshop as well as any selective adjustments needed.

The area of Aperture which does need improving is the way plugins are managed and handled which will create a copy of your master image and not provide a non-destructive mode of making alterations. This means that once you save after editing with a plugin you cannot undo without recreating the copy and starting from scratch. This isn't the case with Apertures own adjustments which are all non-destructive. I would also like to see some better controls for zooming in and out or allowing edits while leaving the loupe in place. And of course selective adjustments would be most welcomed as presently I do those through my NIK plugins or round-tripping to Photoshop.

All in all Aperture is a very capable image processor - especially in studios where you may want to use the tethered shooting mode. My personal review score would be 8.5/10

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