Switching to Aperture: First Impressions

I have been a little mysterious in one of my previous post’s about a new acquisition of mine but after using Adobe Lightroom for many years (I used it since version 1) I’m now in the middle of switching to Apple’s Aperture 3.

I have been using it now for a while and still have a little while on the trial period, but to test it I processed my images from last landscape shooting in Norway. So far I’m very much impressed with the software and I’m definitely going to make the switch. It feels just right to me and feels much easier, or better intuitive to work with. I would like to share a few things here which I liked so far.

First thing I noticed was friendly design and intuitive user interface. I tend to ignore the manual of almost every software that I use and prefer to find my way through it myself. This wasn’t at all a problem. It’s of course a RAW-converter and as such it has the controls which you can expect.

In terms of functionality it has almost completely eliminated the urge to go to Photoshop for some finishing touches. With the images that I have processed so far I only needed to take the image to Photoshop to remove some lens-distortion.

Working on an image in full-screen mode is just pure fun in this application. All important tools are accessible via an unobsrusive HUD display. With a large screen I can take full advantage of this option. The list of available tools covers everything that I need for my work on an image. Besides the usual RAW controls I was very happy to find real curves, levels and shadow/highlights controls. Extra bonus is that for example these can be applied to the whole image or simply brushed in or out. Also the possibility to use multiple curves, levels etc. adds to the flexibility to the software.

Besides the editing capabilities I enjoy the integration in the OS. The library is available in all other Mac apps and the images can easily be added to a Pages document for example.

I’m still in the beginning with my use, trying to explore all the possibilities and learning all the necessary shortcuts, but so far this app fits perfect into my workflow, as it also allows editing of videos, which I occasionally add to this blog of mine also. I will have some more findings and things related to Aperture coming up in future posts.

Published by Sven Seebeck

I make music, take pictures, write and apparently collect text-editors and bags.

8 replies on “Switching to Aperture: First Impressions”

  1. Much of what you listed is coming to LR3, but I guess it's nice to have it now in Aperture. I work on a PC, so Aperture isn't an option for me but LR1 and 2 have been perfect for my workflow for years. Post more details if you can. Is it good at managing large databases? I have 150,000+ images to manage.

    1. Thanks for your comment Jon.

      I knew that some of the features are going to be also available in LR3, but I saw in Aperture 3 in action and wanted to give it a try and I somehow feel it fits better to my processing workflow. Also it has some features which I'm very excited about, but this has to do something with an upcoming post ;-)

      How it handles larges databases I actually can't say at the moment, as I just started to use it and so far only imported one project into it, but so far it feels snappier at least. I guess at the end of the year I'll know more about how it deals with a bigger database.

  2. Hi Sven

    I too switched but more out of necessity. My LR2 just kept crashing so I gave up. I'm quite happy with Aperture 3. I do miss (or haven't found) a way to do a graduated filter effect yet. If that's possible in Aperture 3 I'd love to know how to do it!

    I'll keep reading to see how your experience relates to my own.


    1. Hi Paul, nice to hear from you.

      LR2 was stable with me, but the user experience and the features are just better in Aperture and I have the feeling it suits me much better. Indeed there seems to be no equivalent to the grad-filter from LR. I haven't used that feature much though. I found a tutorial, or better preset the other day somewhere, can't find the link though right now. It should be possible though to once make a curve adjustment and then paint in the graduation and save that as a preset. Will post the link here, if I find it again.

  3. Hei Sven!
    Just found your nice blog. Really great stuff. I have been pondering Lightroom to Aperture switch now for some time but I am still not sure. I have been using LR for so long time that it will be quite hard to start use a new system (even though I used Aperture before LR). Your thoughts on your change may give me new burst to try A3. Thanks!

    1. Hi Jonne!

      Thanks for your comment and your nice words.

      I have been also using LR for a long time, but have been thinking about switching for long time already. This version has convinced me quite fast and I'm very happy about my decision.

  4. Sven: I found your site via Jonne's tweet.

    I too am considering making the switch (back) to Aperture from LR and for many of the same reasons you have: I don't like the LR user interface. I love many of its tools but mode switching and the fact that you can select a group of images and they stay selected through mode switching has enabled me to delete multiple images by accident when I thought I was deleting just one.

    In other words, for Macintosh users who are intimately familiar with and depend on Apple's user interface, Adobe strays just enough to make life irritating at times.

    I switched from Aperture to LR a while ago because Aperture was running way too slow on my MacBook Pro. I'm going to be upgrading computers to a new MBP with a quad core processor in it and I'm quite sure that Aperture will be happier and run faster.

    Lastly, I must say that I'm not happy with the way Adobe is dealing with the phone/pad flash issue and I'm on Apple's/Jobs' side on this: I want iPhone and iPad apps written in native code, not relying on middleware controlled by Adobe.

    So, I plan to buy Aperture again when I upgrade computers and start using it along side LIghtroom, then, if I like it and it works well I'll work on moving my LR library over.

    Thanks for your report, I look forward to reading more about how you're doing with Aperture.

  5. Here's Ars Technica's review of Aperture 3.03:

    I didn't find the review all that useful but the comment thread was VERY useful. After reading it I'm putting off my sidegrade from LR 2 to Aperture 3 because I'm quite sure it's sluggishness in the UI department will bother me. LR is snappy. It's got a terrible UI but I've learned to live with it (barely) and until Apple gets their collective act together and makes Aperture work better on machines it's supposed to work on, I'm staying away. Once burned, forever cautious.

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