• Price: 300

  • Company: Apple

  • Pros: Fast integrated workflow for viewing, sorting and enhancing digital images, including integrated RAW conversions. Clever stacks sorting, and excellent print tools.

  • Cons: Pricey, demands top-powered Macs, no Windows version, slow imports, no offline tracking, noisy shadows when adjusting underexposed RAW images.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 7 out of 10 We rate this 7 out of 10

The huge attention and adulation given to Apple Aperture even before it shipped proves that Steve Jobs’ salesmanship is still fully operational. Aperture is a very fast image workflow utility that lets you preview, sort, tag, and adjust digital images in a systematic way.

Its main function is speedy opening and processing of RAW-format image files from digital cameras, though it also works with scans and other image types. Adjustments are made non-destructively, so the original master images remain unaltered on your disk, but Aperture writes a database to keep track of how each file should be handled when they’re opened. This allows you to alter your editing or produce another version later.

You can import, sort, search, and view files, alter colour balance, white point, colour temperature, brightness, contrast, sharpness, noise reduction, crop, rotation and size. There’s a red-eye fixing tool and a tool to blur out small defects.

 border=0 /><BR></div>
</p>
<p>
Aperture is a sort of turbo-charged iPhoto, but it’s certainly not Apple’s answer to Adobe Photoshop. Aperture isn’t a pixel editor – it doesn’t include brush tools or filters, it doesn’t use or display layers and it cannot output CMYK colour. Instead, it’s more like Apple’s answer to the Adobe Bridge file viewer and Camera Raw utilities included with the Adobe Creative Suite 2 bundle. 
</p>
<p>
The Bridge/Raw combo is part of the Adobe Creative Suite 2 or Photoshop CS 2, while Apple charges £300 (and you’ll probably still need Photoshop). However, Adobe is sufficiently worried about the threat of Aperture that it is preparing to launch Project Lightroom, a fast image manager that matches most of Aperture’s features (see news for more).
</p>
<p>
Aperture really is fast: clicking on a RAW thumbnail displays it instantly in half-resolution, then loads the full-resolution image in a few seconds. Image adjustment sliders work in real-time, too. 
</p>
<p>
<b>Power hungry</b>
</p>
<p>
This demands very hefty processing power. The minimum is a G5 desktop or iMac with a 1.8GHz processor and 2GB RAM, or a 15- or 17-inch PowerBook G4 with at least a 1.25GHz chip. However, Apple recommends a dual 2GHz G5 or faster for optimum performance. 
</p>
<p>
Our dual 2GHz G5 handled Aperture perfectly well, but we also tested the software on a new Quad G5s with two dual-core 2.5GHz processors and 4.5GB RAM. Aperture is only fractionally faster to open RAW files on the Quad than the Dual G5, and no faster when importing images. 
</p>
<p>
Aperture also ran on an 18-month old PowerBook G4 1.33GHz with 1GB RAM. File import and opening is a bit slower, but it’s not problematic – a 6mp RAW image opens fully in ten seconds on the PowerBook compared to three seconds on the dual G5. 
</p>
<p>
Aperture’s user interface is similar to Final Cut Pro. It’s clearly presented, and windows are for the most part in shades of neutral grey, which is vital for accurate assessment of the colour. Aperture hooks into ColorSync for display and output and you can soft-proof the effects of RGB or CMYK printers. 
</p>
<p>
<img src=

 border=0 /><BR></div>
</p>
<p>
Aperture is a decent first attempt by Apple, but it’s expensive for what it does, computing requirements are hefty, file import is slow, and RAW conversion is suspect.
</p> <div id="otherBodyContent"><p>
<b>Heads up: RAW images</b>
</p>
<p>
Professional photographers increasingly prefer to shoot RAW images. Photographers can archive RAW files as though they are digital negatives, and re-process them in the future.
</p>
<p>
Camera manufacturers develop proprietary RAW formats and provide free utilities to open, adjust and export files. Several commercial utilities can open a range of different RAW formats, notably Bibble 4 Professional workflow (£80) and PhaseOne’s standalone CaptureOne workflow (from £100 to £350). Adobe’s Camera Raw utility is bundled with Photoshop, and now Apple Aperture has hit the market. 
</p>
<p>
Adobe Camera Raw handles files from over 90 cameras, while Bibble handles 60. CaptureOne handles most of the big makes plus Leica and PhaseOne. Aperture only opens 24 camera formats so far (most Canon and Nikon digital SLRs plus the Olympus E1 and KonicaMinolta Dynax 7D), with more coming.
</p>
<p>
Adobe has developed a new RAW format called DNG, which it hopes will be adopted by camera makers. It has also released a free utility to convert most proprietary RAW files to DNG for archiving. Aperture imports DNG but can’t export.
</p>
<p>
<div class=inlineimage><img src= Print

Comments