Tag Archives: Aperture

The Aperture Is Closing

TrashingApertureMacRumors updated their sub-site for OS X Yosemite to include info about the new Photos app, which appears destined to launch with the next drop of Yosemite.  I’d guess that’ll be in March or April.

Frankly, it’s the time I dreaded.

The news about Photos isn’t good, at least not for me.  Aperture has essentially been deprecated (although it still runs, and likely will for a while), but the ecosystem that keeps it functional will no longer be developed.  No more versions of Aperture are to come, which is very sad.

Several years ago, I was a Lightroom junkie, and loved the product.  However, it didn’t handle geodata very well.  While that’s not the most important thing in the world, it’s pretty dang nice.  And for files that couldn’t take metadata natively (like RAW files), it was necessary to generate sidecar files to carry that info so you could see it from the OS.  That’s all well and good inside the application, but from the OS, it was awful.  When I’d do a Spotlight search for some piece of metadata in my images, I’d get a ton of sidecar files as search results, rather than the actual images.  This meant that I couldn’t see thumbnails for these images in Finder’s display of the results, so I had no idea if the images pointed to by the sidecar files were of Elvis, space aliens or Santa Claus.

And that’s when I made the switch to Aperture.

It wasn’t easy, but I was careful about my exports from Lightroom,  preserving my directory structure that I’d been carrying since 2002, and I got everything into Aperture.  I’ve been way happy with it, and its integration into the Mac OS.  However, with Yosemite, the announcement was made that Apple would have a new application called Photos, and with that, the speculation about what that meant for Aperture (and iPhoto) began.

When that writing hit the wall,  it was obvious that Aperture was going to be shuttered, and with that, there was a huge clatter of noise from pro photographers about moving to Lightroom.  Even Apple said that was the right destination for professional photographers.  And based on what I read on MacRumors today, I’d have to agree.

Photos will not allow plugins, which is a cornerstone for photo editing in most photography applications.  I use Nik, OnOne and other filters in editing my images, and giving up that kind of control and capability within the application is a pretty tough pill to swallow.

And based on what I gather, Photos wants to own the location of my images, meaning that my carefully manicured old-fashioned file folder-based system of filing my images would no longer be supported.  Aperture was happy to deal with that via referenced images, and that was perfect for me.  Call me a control freak, but knowing where things are lets me sleep better at night.

I suspect this is just the tip of the iceberg, however.  I’m betting that if you like iPhoto, this’ll feel like a big ol’ improvement.  For those of us that loved Aperture, this is a big step backward.

So, Lightroom, here I come.  Have the things that drove me to Aperture been fixed?  Can I get all the nuggets of metadata out of Aperture, and into Lightroom?  Well, that remains to be seen.  Adobe has some basic instructions for how to make that migration, and is promising a tool that will make that much more automated.  While I’ve got Lightroom 5 installed, I’m waiting for the tools to catch up to the reality of actually cutting over to Lightroom from Aperture.

For now, I’ll just hide and watch, eagerly awaiting the time to actually make the cutover to Adobe’s Lightroom, and turn out the lights on Aperture for a final time.



Aperture, f/0 and 0mm

After correcting a really big catalog foobar of my own making in Aperture this morning, I set about to create some smart albums to catch a few unique items in my catalog of images. Specifically, I was looking for images that either reported an aperture of f/0 or a focal length of 0mm. Largely, these are images I’ve shot through a T-adapter on one of my telescopes.

However, try as hard as I could, I couldn’t get Aperture to let me do that. Oh, I could enter the data in the panel for the smart album, but I couldn’t get Aperture to actually act on my parameters.

Then I noticed a parameter for “is in the range”.

Using that, I was able to set up conditions for in the range of 0mm to 1mm, and f/0 to f/1. Perfect!!!

In a perfect world, I’d love to be able to change the EXIF data to reflect the use of my telescopes, but I haven’t quite figured out how to have Aperture let me do that. For now, I’m using a custom field to track that info for the ‘scopes, as well as for lenses that aren’t identified well on my older camera bodies (Canon EOS 10D and 20D, specifically).

Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

New Gear : MacBook Air

I’ve been thinking recently about a move to lighter weight laptop. My 15″ MacBook Pro has been a solid machine, but it was getting long in the tooth (a late 2008 model), and seemed to be gaining weight as it got older. Don’t we all. 🙂

The question was MacBook Air or MacBook Pro. The first-gen MacBook Air was released a while back. The rub on that machine was that it was pretty dang slow, and I never really was interested in it. You’d think that’d point me toward the MacBook Pro.

However, as I started looking to get a bit more current on my road machine, I started looking at the recently upgraded MacBook Air. The new models had better graphics cards installed, and were all SSD-based. This flash-based drive really made a convenient, “no moving parts” laptop, and consequently, made it really, really light. And, it’s simply beautiful, with typically well-thought out Apple esthetics.

Apple introduced two screen sizes, 11.6″ and 13.3″. For folks that loved the ancient 12″ iBook, that 11.6″ screen was attractive. The memory sizes were fixed at either 2GB or 4GB, and weren’t user upgradable, with the RAM being soldered to the motherboard.

In the past, Apple had delivered recovery DVDs with their laptops and desktops. With the new MacBook Air machines, they supplied the recovery code on a teency USB thumbdrive. What a stroke of genius! And, of course, without there being an optical drive in the MacBook Air, it just makes a whole more sense when trying to recover the machine while on the road. Hopefully, this is a hint of what’s to come in the future.

With all that new coolness, neither of these machines weighed more that three pounds. Three pounds?! Yep, and it still ran regular ol’ Snow Leopard, not iOS. That means that anything you use on your “big machine” at home, you can — in theory — run on the MacBook Air.

That’s assuming there was enough umph to run “real” code, and that’s what I’ve spent most of the last two weeks trying to understand.

Everything I’ve read has led me to believe that the slower processors in the 11.6″ model will run Aperture, Lightroom or Photoshop, assuming you weren’t trying to conquer the world with big editing projects, nor cataloging tens of thousands of photos. It appears that the SSD drive is helping enhance the throughput, somewhat offsetting the slower processor architecture.

As you’ve probably figured out by both the headline, and this lead-up, I bought a MacBook Air on Friday. I opted for the 2.3 pound, 11.6″ model, upgraded the processor to a 1.6GHz C2D, upgraded the SSD drive to 128GB, and got the upgraded 4GB memory option.

This was a hard call for me, as while I was doing my research, I discovered that the new generation of MacBook Pro laptops had enough power that could even replace my iMac if I wanted. After a lot of soul-searching, I opted for portability, leaving the heavy lifting to be done at the house. Very tough call for me.

So how’s the machine?

Well, so far, pretty dang good. I haven’t really tried doing anything crazy with the thing — no big photo imports, or big edits — but it’s done everything I could possibly want to do. Surfing, social networking, and other Mac-centric things I do seem to run well, and I’ve got no reason to believe that it won’t do what I need in the field, and do it with a lightweight footprint.

As part of my purchase, I also bought into Apple’s One-to-One program. I’d picked up Aperture during the App Store launch a month or so ago, but hadn’t really spent much time working with it, being pretty Lightroom-centric in my work. However, I’d really wanted to get started moving to Aperture, and knew this might force me to start moving down that path. I don’t know that I’ve got any great reasons for moving to Aperture, outside of Faces and Places, neither of which Lightroom does natively. If you haven’t looked at those features, take a gander, and you’ll see why I kinda like ’em.

The One-to-One program allows you to attend seminars, set up one-on-one sessions, along with project work with the trained instructors at the local Apple store for a year. And it’s all you can eat during that year, including online training. The cost of all that is $99, which is about the cost of two Aperture books, and I figured I could get more out of face-to-face training rather than reading a couple of books. My first “Intro to Aperture” seminar is Wednesday, and I expect that’ll just be the beginning.

Big changes in the ol’ Deauxmayne, I suppose, but it’s time to shake things up a bit, and get a little more fleet of foot. Watch this space — I’m sure there’ll be other changes to come!

Mac App Store

So… yesterday, the blogosphere was all a-twitter (and a-facebook and a-wordpress and… well, you get the point) about the new Mac App Store that Uncle Steve promised last year finally opening up. Overall, I think this is a good thing, and kinda makes part of the application ecosystem on the Macs run like the music ecosystem on iTunes — buy once, use on any device managed with that same Apple ID. Cool.

While there are several bargains on the store (iLife ’11 and iWork ’11 are not among them, sadly, although their prices are a good bit cheaper as compared to the multi-license physical versions), the big screamer is Aperture 3. It’s out there for $79, while the physical copy is $199. That’s a huge discount. Sounds great, eh?

Well, maybe…

Folks are really tripping over the licensing. You see, the new license agreement (at least the part for the new App Store) indicates that things you buy there are “for personal, non-commercial use on any Apple-branded products running Mac OS X that you own or control.” Many, many, many folks that run Aperture don’t fit that definition — although there’s likely to be more hobbyists jumping on the bandwagon at that price.

Most places I’ve seen discussing this new licensing agreement leave it there. But to my eyes, there’s a piece that’s being left out. In the next section, it seems that the restrictions against commercial (or educational use) are eased a bit:

“If you are a commercial enterprise or educational institution, you may download a Mac App Store Product for use either (a) by a single individual on each of the Mac Product(s) that you own or control, or (b) by multiple individuals on a single shared Mac Product that you own or control.”

The way I read that, I can use Aperture on any of my Macs in the pursuit of the perfect photograph, although Becky would not be allowed to use it. Or, in the case of an educational locale, a shared computer lab machine could be loaded with Aperture for the students to use — one license per machine.

I guess for home users, it’s anyone at home, on any Mac you own.


Home use – anyone, anywhere (multi-multi)
Business use – just me, but anywhere (single-multi)
Educational use – anyone, but only on one machine (multi-single)

Of course, IANAL, and I don’t play one on TV. YMMV. No warranties implied. Batteries not included.

And those of you that have read my nattering for a while know that I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Lightroom junkie. However, Aperture has two things that I wish LR also had: face recognition, and actual use of geocoding data. LR can manage the geocoded data, but it’s just another metadata field to it — no mapping, etc., is available with that data. Bummer.

At the App Store price of Aperture, it’s not hard to rationalize pulling it down to play with. Perhaps some hodgepodge of LR for edits (along with PS CS5 for heavy lifting) and Aperture for cataloging, with some possibility of moving completely over to Aperture at some point.

I just dunno…

Gettin’ RAW

As I’ve delved more and more into the RAW images coming from my Canon EOS 7D, I’ve discovered that Adobe Camera RAW 5.6 just ain’t cutting it for me. The preview JPG images I briefly see in Lightroom 2.6 look much more like what I expect from my images, rather than the post-ACR images that are actually used for real work. Digital Photo Professional came with the 7D, and it sure seems to kick ACR’s backside with its RAW conversion routines. Now, there are folks out there who say that the camera manufacturer (in this case, Canon) should have the inside track on RAW conversion, and historically, I’ve just taken that as hype. Color me a believer now.

With the advent of the new year, I’ve decided to whittle away a bit of time to do some searching and comparing of various RAW converters for the Mac platform. Most of these comparisons will be done on a non-stellar image of a seagull shot last weekend at Winfield, and will be done with trial versions of the various packages on hand. I know other folks have done these kind of comparisons before, but frankly, they aren’t me, and the images aren’t mine. In other words, YMMV. Lather, rinse, repeat. 🙂

This ain’t exactly scientific, and everything I’m describing and posting is my own experiences with my Snow Leopard-based MacBook Pro running 10.6.2. The source image was shot with my 7D, my 100-400L at 400mm, handheld, IS on, f/5.6, 1/400 sec, ISO 400, and “cloudy” white balance selected. It was a grungy day, and the gull was at some distance over the river.

I’m sure there are settings I can change here and there to make some of these images better in these various packages, but that’s not the point. I’m ready, willing and able to work on my images to get them polished how I’d like, but running with default settings from these various converters is how I’d like to start. If I start out closer in the conversion process to how I expect the image to look, then that’s (potentially) less work in front of the screen, and more time left for photographing.

Where I could, I’ve tried to do my screen captures from a 100% rendering of the sample image. For each app, I did screen grabs from within the app’s UI as TIFFs using the Mac’s built-in Grab utility.

All that said, here goes.

Digital Photo Professional

DPP shipped with my 7D, and the only thing that’s bugged me is a problem with the preferences panel causing the software to abend whenever it’s accessed. There is a solution that I found here on an Apple forum that absolutely fixes the issue. However, there is also v3.7.3.0 version of code available, and for this test, I downloaded it from Canon to see how it fared. I still don’t like that the Canon software requires a reboot of the Mac in order to function correctly (so it claims). I mean, really, reboot the machine? But the good news is the v3.7.3 does solve the preference panel problem.

As a point of reference, the image in DPP compares pretty favorably to the embedded JPGs I would see briefly in Lightroom 2.6. In other words, this is the look I was seeing on camera (again looking at the JPGs according to how I understand things to work) and briefly in LR 2.6, and this is the look I was disappointed to lose inside LR after ACR did its work.

Below is the crop of the image from DPP.

Adobe Camera RAW 5.6

This is what started the whole fuss for me. Well, actually, it was Lightroom 2.6, which uses ACR 5.6 as its underpinning for processing RAW files. However, to be fair, I wanted to pull ACR 5.6 away from LR 2.6, just to ensure that there was no hocus-pocus going on with LR 2.6.

To my eyes, there’s a significant color shift or darkening — not sure which. It’s very noticeable in the background. There also appears to be quite a bit more noise in the image, although some/all of that could be the fault of the color shift. However, the noise could be being introduced due to some kind of sharpening. If you look at the top of the gull’s head and compare it to DPP, it’s definitely sharper, but I’m afraid the cost for that may be too high.

Below is the crop of the image from ACR.

Lightroom 2.6 + Adobe Camera RAW 5.6

After finally understanding (I think) why my RAW images looked great upon import into LR 2.6 (the embedded JPG previews were being shown) and worse after a few seconds (after LR engaged ACR to properly process the RAW file), this is what I was left with. Blecch.

From what I can tell, there’s no huge difference between images in ACR 5.6 and LR 2.6+ACR 5.6, although the one through LR 2.6 may be a tad lighter.

Below is the crop of the image from LR 2.6.

Lightroom 3.0β + Adobe Camera RAW 6.0

Adobe is working on a pretty big revision to Lightroom, and currently there’s a beta version of it, along with a new Adobe Camera RAW to go along with it. For me, one of the biggest wins with LR 3.0 may be some changes to help handle large catalogs. At this point, I don’t know what that’s gonna look like, but it definitely piques my interest.

From a RAW processing perspective, there’s a little bit of difference between LR 2.6+ACR 5.6 and LR 3.0β+ACR 6.0. LR 3.0β seems to have a “different” kind of noise in the background — speckly instead of blotchy. The gull’s head appears just a tick brighter to me, as well. I probably like the speckles better than the blotches, but it’s still not as good as DPP to me.

Below is the crop of the image from LR 3.0 Beta.

Apple Aperture 2.1.4

Apple has its own rendering engine for dealing with RAW files, and it has recently been updated to deal with the 7D’s RAW files. Frankly, I like the look of this image better than through Adobe’s products. It’s still just a tick darker than the image through DPP, but would probably not have sent me on this quest had this been the result through LR 2.6+ACR 5.6.

Below is a crop from Aperture.

Preview 5.0.1

It’s my belief that both Aperture and the Snow Leopard share the same engine for converting RAW files, but I figured it made sense to include a pretty common display engine for RAW files. I can’t imagine that Preview would be part of my workflow, but until you look at it, ya never know!

To my eye, there’s not much difference between the image in Aperture and Preview. Perhaps they really are using the same engine underneath.

Below is a crop from Preview.


Before I’d started this quest today, I’d never heard of Silkypix. Their engine seems to still be better than Adobe’s, but there’s still a darkening as compared to DPP that I don’t care much for.

Below is a crop from Silkypix.

DxO Optics Pro 5.3.6

I’ve seen DxO advertised for a long time, and hadn’t really thought of it as a RAW converter. In my head, it was a bigtime piece of code that could take lens characteristics and deal with those in an image. From doing the installation today, I’ve learned that it can handle specific camera and lens combinations, and convert RAW files based on their profile data. Pretty cool stuff.

The installation for DxO is much more complex, allowing you to select only the bodies and lenses that you might run into. I think that’s probably a good thing, and I imagine it probably cuts down on the disk utilization.

I’ve gotta say, DxO really rocked out the image. The gull is clean, bright and crisp. It almost looks as though it applied some kind of auto-balancing to the image — it is a dark image, after all. It looks the way I would expect it to be processed eventually anyway, and that’s pretty cool.

Below is the crop from DxO Optics Pro.

Capture One 5.0.1

Capture One is another name that’s familiar to me from adverts. I’ve read about loads of folks using them for their conversion, and I wanted to give them a whirl to see what the hubbub was about.

Comparing the images from DPP and Capture One, I notice the same things in the Capture One image that I liked about the DxO-based image. However, comparing the DxO and Capture One images, the DxO image looks “hot” to me. Add to that that the detail atop the gull’s head appears clearer in the Capture One image, suddenly Capture One starts to look pretty attractive.

Below is the crop from Capture One.

RAW Developer 1.8.7

This was another tool I’d never heard of before. To my eye, it appears much like the ACR-based images. Unfortunately, that’s just not the look I’m looking for.

Below is the crop from RAW Developer.

RAW Photo Processor 4.0.1

Yet another tool I’d never bumped into before. RPP seemed to make my image quite dark compared to DPP. I couldn’t compare the sharpness too well, as I couldn’t figure out how to get to a 100% image in the UI. I’m sure there’s a way, but it wasn’t obvious to me.

Below is the crop from RPP.


To me, from the out-of-the-box experience, I see it as a three horse race: Digital Photo Professional, DxO Optics Pro, and Capture One. Comparing the three images, I really like the one from Capture One the best. It appears that Capture One is doing some sharpening, but it’s not crazy high, and appears to make the image a little nicer overall.

Both DxO and Capture One do have a little color shift to the blue, which leads me to believe that they are doing some kind of tweaking of the white balance. It’s not horrid like ACR’s though, although it appears to be of a similar nature, strictly based on the color of the background.

I’d bet that both DxO and Capture One could be tweaked a bit to get images that look like the ones from DPP. So why switch? Well, DPP is really clunky and slow. I’d like to see something fill my harddrive with TIFFs a bit quicker than DPP can manage.

However, DPP is free — well, it came with the camera, so “included” is probably the better term. DxO is running a special for $109 through Tuesday for v5.0.1 standard edition (which supports the 7D) and will include a free upgrade to v6 when it hits for the Mac later this year. Capture One 5 is $129. Frankly, I’m seduced by what DxO claims it can do with lens/camera profiling. Capture One appears to be able to do that in the Pro edition, but that’s nearly $400.

I’ve got a couple of weeks before the demo versions run out, but with the sale at DxO running, I guess I’ll spend some time tomorrow running some comparisons on batch processing. Stay tuned!