- Editor Rating
- Rated 4 stars
- Apple Aperture 3.4.4
- Reviewed by:
- Published on:
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- Installation & SetupEditor: 90%
- Design & InterfaceEditor: 90%
- FeaturesEditor: 60%
- FunctionEditor: 80%
- Value For The PriceEditor: 80%
Aperture is a popular photography software by Apple developed exclusively for the Mac OS.
Any serious photographer knows how complicated it can be to neatly organize massive photo libraries and keep their files all in one place. By utilizing a popular photography program called Aperture, you can easily achieve this type of organization along with the added benefit of basic photo editing functions. The software retails for $79.99, which is a considerably cheaper to their closest competitor Adobe's Lightroom 4 that is currently selling for just over $100.
Aperture is developed by Apple and is available exclusively for Mac computers via the Mac App Store. The newest version 3.4.4 requires Mac OS x 10.7.5 (Lion) or later so anyone running earlier Mac operating systems such Leopard or Snow Leopard, will need to upgrade in order to run Aperture.
Installing and configuring Aperture for the first time was a relatively simple process. While Apple used to offer a free trial option, they have recently ditched that concept and instead turned to a $79.99 license that allows you to install Aperture on multiple of your own computers. Personally, I'd rather have it this way as having to pay $80 each time I want to install this software on another one of my computers would not be a viable option.
If you're looking to potentially make the switch to Aperture from iPhoto, don't worry. It couldn't be a more simpler process. Apple recently updated Aperture to share one unified photo library with iPhoto. This means whenever you import, export, or make changes to photos in one app, they will automatically be mirrored in the other. Great iPhoto functions like Faces and places have now been integrated into Aperture to prove the same great functionality that we have come to know and love.
Much like any other software produced by Apple, Aperture's interface is very clean. The structure and design differs from Lightroom, which features separate tabs for things like Library, Develop, Slideshow, and a few more. Instead, Apple decided to keep all the functionality confined within a single interface and they have accomplished this surprisingly well without the feeling of getting overwhelmed with all the features. If you're someone who loves keyboard shortcuts, then Aperture will satisfy you're shortcutting needs as almost any function can be achieved using your keyboard.
Personally, I thought the Lightroom interface was great, until I made the switch to Aperture. Now, I have made Aperture my go-to program for basic photo editing and organization as it is so clean and simple to use. For those of you who are going to be using Aperture on a Retina model, you're in luck! Apple has included retina support for Aperture so you'll be able to view your whole photo library in unbelievable clarity.
Importing & Organization
When you're ready to launch Aperture and start loading in your photos, it is a simple and straight-forward process. In the event that all your photos are already imported into iPhoto, there is no need to re-import as those photos will automatically integrate into your Aperture library. If you're looking to import photos from a hard drive, flash drive, or memory card, the process involves simply inserting the device, clicking the “import” button at the top left of the screen, choosing which photos to import (if not all of them), setting the destination (new project or existing project), and clicking the “import checked” button. For those of you who desire adding custom metadata, you have the ability to apply captions, keywords, locations, or copyright information, to all your photos during the importing process.
Aperture can be configured to automatically import your photos or you can set them to import media in specific intervals such as every day, week, and a few other time intervals. The actual time spent importing may be a bit sluggish depending on your system and the amount of photos you choose to import. Running Aperture on my 2.7GHz Core i5 iMac with 20GB of RAM took just under 9 minutes to import 610 RAW photos which average about 22MB each. Once the files were imported, it did take an additional couple of minutes for the photos to be processed. While this delay can be a pain at times, you are able to browse all the images before the import or processing is finished so it is not a huge inconvenience.
Now the way Aperture organizes your photos is by placing them into their own projects. Each project should contain images that can be categorized together. For example, every time I take product photos for a review, I put them in their own project with the product or service's name as the title. This way I can always reference these photos quickly and easily whenever I desire to.
Photo Editing & Manipulation
The Apple Aperture software does allow a significant amount of photo editing possibilities, but it is important to note that you will not see the same advanced features you get in a powerful software like Photoshop. Basic photo adjustments that are offered include levels, curves, sharpening, exposure, and white-balance. Aperture is ‘non-destructive', which means that it will always keep a master copy of the original image and saves all the editing in their own database. This gives you the ability to undo any editing changes whenever you'd like.
There is a bunch of built-in presets such as auto-enhance, auto white-balance, hold highlights, and brighten shadows. I have used the auto-enhance feature to boost the look of some of my product photos. From my experience it works considerably well, but it does not work as well as the auto corrector tool that comes with Lightroom 4.
If you don't see a preset for what you're looking for, it is very simple to program your own presets and save them for future use. This is a necessity for some people out there who love to tinker with the color settings to their specific needs and it will save them valuable time by not having to manually reconfigure it the settings on each and every photo.
There is a ‘skin smoothing' tool for photographers that take a lot of portraits, but frankly I was a bit disappointed at the performance of the tool. I found it caused most of the photos to look noticeably altered especially in comparison to the ‘spot healing brush' on Photoshop which almost always leaves no visible trace. It is important to note that Photoshop and Lightroom also carry native support for lens geometry correction, in which I was unable to find any functionality within Aperture. Though this isn't a huge downfall, those of you who heavily rely on this feature will likely want to take a more concentrated look at Lightroom.
When you're finally done with any tweaking or editing changes, you have several ways to export your photos. Since I was looking to export my photos in a specific size and include my watermark, I was able to easily create a preset image export that will automatically re-size and watermark all of my photos in one bulk action. There is a number of other built-in exporting presets, but I prefer to manually create mine to tailor my specific needs.
If you're looking to share your photos right through Aperture, there is built-in support for email, Flickr, Facebook, and your own Photo Stream. Apple integrated iCloud and Photo Stream support in the latest versions of Aperture, so this allows you to easily share your images among your iOS devices and Mac computers.
In the end, I found Aperture to be an excellent software at a reasonable price tag. If you're a Mac user looking for an easy to use program for organizing and providing basic editing features for your photos, Aperture should be an excellent fit. However you're running a PC or you're a Mac user who is looking for more in-depth editing functionality, you'll likely want to take a look at Lightroom 4 or Photoshop. Personally, I choose Aperture over Lightroom due to their simple interface and easy to use exporting options, plus I can always resort to Photoshop for any advanced editing needs.