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Creative Portfolio of Daniel Nelson » Aperture 4 Wish List

Aperture 4 Wish List

Posted by on Feb 20, 2012 in Journal | 7 Comments

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Smaller database sizes.
  3. Fix crop tool and straighten tool. It feels like a hack every time I use them.
  4. Better integration with two displays, ability to alternate the primary display.
  5. 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%)
  6. Gradient masks in addition to brushing effects in and out (especially helpful for dynamic range issues with skies)
  7. Usable detect edge feature on brushes.
  8. Blending modes on adjustments and brushes.
  9. Equivalent of content aware fill (I spend way too much time cloning out unwanted details)
  10. Integrate popular plug-ins by onOne and NIK.
  11. 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)
  12. Layers and layer masks. Built in Panorama and HDR editors that source from multiple images.
  13. 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.
  14. Better RAW processing, specifically noise reduction and sharpness
  15. Ability to organize referenced photos from Finder without corrupting Aperture library
  16. Real believable lens blur, ability to mimic natural grain on affected areas
  17. Integrated lens correction tool
  18. 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!
  19. 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)
  20. Library-wide tool to sort by color relationships, feature to identify duplicate and near-duplicate files.
  21. Improved key-wording workflow for stock photography
  22. Better presets for books and slideshows—it’s either cheesy or all manual right now.
  23. 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).
  24. More press options for printing from Apple (paper types, fold out spreads, binding types, cover materials, metallic inks, etc.).
  25. Built in ordering and wholesale pricing for photo note cards and other print products.
  26. Real color grading for DSLR video, deep integration with Final Cut X
  27. Powerful built-in authoring tools for combining photos and video. Output for web, tablets, interactive Blue-ray/DVDs, and native iOS Apps.
  28. Ability to completely disable “Faces”

What features would you add?


  1. Louis
    February 24, 2012

    I would like to see Perspective Control something like PTLens integrated.

  2. Falk M.
    June 18, 2012

    Best Aperture 4 wishlist I’ve seen sonfar.
    Very comprehensive!

    This should be mass-quoted to Apple in their feedback forms!

  3. Daniel N
    June 18, 2012

    That would be fantastic! I have submitted this list to Apple, but that has no where near the leverage of their users showing a consensus of interest.

  4. Pixyst
    June 18, 2012

    Have to say I don’t agree with 3. Personally I love the implementation of these two tools, much prefer it to any I have seen elsewhere. The other suggestions? Count me in.

  5. Daniel N
    June 18, 2012

    Thanks for chiming in Pixyst! Most of my editing happens on an older MBP so it’s very likely that the crop/straighten tools are much more responsive for you than for me… in principle, I think their UI is fine.

  6. GFHardy
    June 20, 2012

    Lightroom is already in Version 4.1

    Aperture is coming with Version 3.3

    (we have June 20, 2012)

  7. Daniel N
    July 12, 2012

    Thanks for chiming in folks! My wheels are still spinning on this one. I’ve just upgraded to the retina MBP with Aperture 3.3 and it has definitely transformed my editing experience.

    Now since I’m less distracted by a ceiling of computational power, I’m more aware of the limitations of the actual “interface ergonomics.” For example, the inspector UI seems like it should be capable of giving us access to the entire control set without needing to first scroll through to our selection.

    As a professional user, I’d love to see this taken a step further, where we could customize a physical MIDI controller for edits like FCP users have been doing for years. An interim/alternative solution could be to use an iPad as an external display (with AirDisplay or similar) with a customized touch-friendly version of the inspector for this window.

    The advantage of this solution is that it could work with curves and other controls that don’t accommodate a physical interface as well. The obvious disadvantage is the absence of tactile feedback and latency issues with linking a screen over wifi.

    (Pixyst, if you’re curious, using an infinitely more responsive machine hasn’t totally changed my mind about the straighten and crop adjustments. They’re 1000x smoother now, but I still dislike the way the straighten tool is controlled and how the crop tool interacts with it. )


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