Why I’m still in Aperture 3
I’ve been an Aperture user since version 1.5 and the program has grown up a lot since then. Even though Adobe’s Lightroom has emerged as the clear winner for most photographers, I’ve continually found reasons to stay in Aperture. Most important to me is the actual output quality. Especially for RAW images, Aperture seems to render better tones and colors. From a workflow perspective, I also strongly prefer Aperture’s UI. Some of this may just be familiarity, but I love being able to call up an editing HUD in any phase of a project—it seems crazy to lock this into a unique “module.” And, even though most of Aperture’s headlining features (places, faces, FB integration) are more hype than they’re worth, the built-in book designer is powerful, fluid, and intuitive. In my photography business, this gives me an efficient solution for professional album design.
My prediction? The cutting edge is moving away from Pros.
Apple will confound professionals and delight enthusiasts. Like Final Cut Pro X and Aperture 3, Apple will target the bigger prosumer market and pioneer new features that appeal to enthusiasts and pros, but aren’t quite ready for professional use. I’m specifically anticipating tools to author photo and video content together and more powerful controls for DSLR video editing. Hold-outs like me will have to choose between having new features now (in a prosumer package from Apple) or waiting 2-3 years for Adobe to integrate these features into a professional workflow. I think we’re seeing this trend already with Lightroom 4′s book module.
A wish list for Aperture 4. What could make me stay?
Based on Apple’s previous release schedule, Aperture 4 is due out any second now, and Lightroom 4 is already in Beta. I’m close to jumping ship, but there are some changes that would entice me to stay:
- Dramatically improve stability and speed. Aperture 3 is an improvement, but it still regularly crashes and gets hung when closing. After long periods of editing, the memory bloats uncontrollably.
- Smaller database sizes.
- Fix crop tool and straighten tool. It feels like a hack every time I use them.
- Better integration with two displays, ability to alternate the primary display.
- Ability to adjust opacity of all edits (i.e. I have to modify the shape of a curve to change it, I should be able to just set it to 80%)
- Gradient masks in addition to brushing effects in and out (especially helpful for dynamic range issues with skies)
- Usable detect edge feature on brushes.
- Blending modes on adjustments and brushes.
- Equivalent of content aware fill (I spend way too much time cloning out unwanted details)
- Integrate popular plug-ins by onOne and NIK.
- Deeper backend integration with 3rd party plug-ins (whether or not you use an aperture plug in or use an external program, you get a 60MB + file)
- Layers and layer masks. Built in Panorama and HDR editors that source from multiple images.
- Supplement editing presets with powerful custom FX engine. This would enable image editors to make custom multi-layered adjustments to images using photo textures, blending modes, custom masks, layer adjustments, blend modes, etc. The existing material shaders in 3D programs like Autodesk Maya are already very similar to this.
- Better RAW processing, specifically noise reduction and sharpness
- Ability to organize referenced photos from Finder without corrupting Aperture library
- Real believable lens blur, ability to mimic natural grain on affected areas
- Integrated lens correction tool
- Tool to select regions based on focus—this would use image sharpness to create a depth mask that could be used for decreasing depth of field, adding atmospheric haze, selective vignetting, etc. I’d love to see this in Photoshop as well!
- More control over how stacks work (currently they’re not useful if you might ever need to use more than 1 image within a stack)
- Library-wide tool to sort by color relationships, feature to identify duplicate and near-duplicate files.
- Improved key-wording workflow for stock photography
- Better presets for books and slideshows—it’s either cheesy or all manual right now.
- For books: more control over which auto alignments are suggested and ability to set/save/load guides and center points (in addition to page presets).
- More press options for printing from Apple (paper types, fold out spreads, binding types, cover materials, metallic inks, etc.).
- Built in ordering and wholesale pricing for photo note cards and other print products.
- Real color grading for DSLR video, deep integration with Final Cut X
- Powerful built-in authoring tools for combining photos and video. Output for web, tablets, interactive Blue-ray/DVDs, and native iOS Apps.
- Ability to completely disable “Faces”
What features would you add?