Dec 15, 2005

Putting Aperture Through Its Paces: Part I

Source: PDN Online
Written By David Schloss

The following article, the first in our two-part online review of Aperture, focuses on the design goals behind Apple’s new photo management software, and some of the hotly debated features of the new program. As this article was getting readied to run on, we received an invitation from Apple to get a hands-on look at an update to Aperture, already in beta, and designed to address some of the concerns raised by early adopters. Part 2 will run next week on

Since our tests convince us that many photographers will be adopting–or at least considering adopting–this new working environment, the February issue of PDN will explain how to transition to an Aperture workflow and how the program might improve workflow.

Aperture, Digital Photography In A Box?

The pomp surrounding the announcement of Apple’s new professional photographic program Aperture was designed to signify that this would be a ground-breaking program designed to radically change the way photographers work. Aperture, Apple said, would simplify the post-processing experience that’s become the bane of the digital photographer, eliminating the multiple tools currently used to go from camera to output and opening up new possibilities with an interface and integrated toolset that would be almost a photographic panacea.

The problem is that photographers are a persnickety bunch, often loyally tied to their digital workflows. In the weeks before the official release of Aperture, forums were clogged with posts about the pros and cons of a program not yet seen in the wild. Even reputable online news organizations branded Aperture as a “Photoshop killer,” something it neither is nor was designed to be.

In the face of Apple’s marketing machine, it’s important to note that Aperture is a 1.0 release. No matter how impressive it is, there will naturally be things that need improvement. In our nearly dozen conversations with Apple product managers and PR people in the past month, one thing is clear. This program is only starting to scratch the surface. Aperture might be important more for what it will do tomorrow than what it does today.

It’s difficult to categorize Aperture. By design it was meant to bring together many different photographic tasks under one interface. It’s easiest to just say that Aperture is meant to handle everything from the moment a card is placed into a reader through the time when the file is sent to a client or output. It’s not the only solution photographers will turn to, and that’s one of the reasons why it’s not a Photoshop killer at all. There are some things (advanced edits, multi-layer composites, high-end web-site integration and more) that Aperture is not designed to handle. For those photographers still must go outside the program’s interface.

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