Aperture on a PowerBook, Pt. 4 - User Feedback

by Derrick Story

I've noticed a tension in most Aperture discussions. The comments to my posts, reviews on other sites, and even personal conversations have revealed an undercurrent of edginess regarding Apple's professional photo management tool.

This is an application that I find interesting. It has innovations that merit exploration, in spite of its flaws. I want to keep exploring and documenting what I discover. I thought that now might be a good time to provide a place for readers to post general comments about Aperture. That way I can stay more on-topic with my upcoming pieces focusing on specific areas.

I've already gone on record saying that I'd like better connectivity with Camera Raw. I think Aperture's Raw converter still needs some tweaking, and in the meantime, I'd like to stay within my Aperture workflow and tap Camera Raw more easily.

If you have a copy of Aperture, and have spent some time with it, what changes would you like to see? Do you want Curves capability in the Adjustments HUD? Is there something missing in Aperture that seems obvious to you?

Let's go ahead and have that discussion here. And I'll keep plugging away in other posts at documenting the features that I have a chance to test.

More in this series...


2005-12-13 15:56:25
iView MediaPro 3.0.1
This is not actually a wish list request but a statement about competition. Clearly the first revision of software will never be perfect or include all features. It is impossible to manage that way so Aperture 1.0 is what it is.

With that in mind take a look at what iView put into the 3.0.1. update of MediaPro:

  • Extended thumbnail & preview support, including dynamic thumbnails to 640 pixels

  • New feature "Make Capture Sets":
    Automatically groups burst of images and bracketed exposures based on time intervals between shots. Added in 'Download from Camera dialog' for new photos and as an option in the 'Make' menu for photos already in your catalog

Both of those are clearly a reaction to Aperture. I have been using MediaPro for 3+ years and so far love what Aperture gives me that MediaPro doesn't.
2005-12-13 16:24:03
Pentax Support
Some support for Pentax RAW files would be nice. I love my Pentax, and I currently can't use it with Aperture at all. The lack of Pentax support is really a show-stopper for me.
2005-12-14 01:05:32
I must confess that Aperture has grown a bit on me and become quite useful. I assume that most people would like to do most of their workflow in one program (like I do), so complete toolsets are important. I would like to see the following:
* Better noise-handling. The noise-reduction feature in version 1 is neither flexible nor good enough for production-work.
* Better sharpening. While superior to the sharpening in Camera Raw, I would still like to have better control over this vital part.
* Chromatic aberation. I use Canons EF-S 10-22 quite a bit with my EOS 20D, and have quite a bit of this problem, usually removed in Camera Raw, but...
* Support for other ColorSpaces. AdobeRGB (1998) is quite versatile, but lacks the gamut of ProPhotoRGB. It would be nice to be able to choose...
* Support for Lab. By just supporting Lab like Aperture now supports RGB, Aperture would leapfrog Camera Raw as a production-tool and if we could do sharpening on individual Lab-channels in Aperture Apple wouldn't have to redo the sharpen-command...

Curves would be nice - mostly since I am used to them, but honestly - the fine-grained levels-function does the job most of the time.

2005-12-14 03:33:39
Improve auto stack
I'd like it if the order of photos in the stack was the same as the current sort order you are using. That way you could sort by rating from 5 to 1 and then use auto stack. This would give you a stack with your picks already at the top and the lower rated pics at the bottom.
The current behaviour is to always place them based on date.
2005-12-14 07:30:00
RE: Completeness
I just wanted to chime in about "quarter Levels." If you're one of the people who miss Curves, enable quarter Levels. It gives you five adjustment points on the Levels histogram instead of three. Very cool.
2005-12-14 13:45:21
The Problem With Aperture...
The big problem with Aperture is image quality. For RAW conversion, it's a complete piece of garbage, totally unsuitable for use. Since it makes it difficult to not use it for RAW conversion but use it for other things, this is a problem -- you simply cannot use it for RAW conversion, but it doesn't want to let you use Camera Raw instead and still work the same way.

Then there's the part about putting your images into its own little database world. That is totally unacceptable, even if you can get at the individual files with a little work -- especially since it won't save the metadata into most of the files themselves, depending on format.

Its handling of metadata, speaking of that, is completely broken. It assumes you are starting in Aperture from a clean slate and never intend to use any other software at all with your pictures. It gets a big fat F in "Plays Well With Others".

The UI, of course, is brilliant. But that's just not enough. Aperture is not worth paying for.

2005-12-15 04:37:15
The Problem With Aperture...
In other words, what you would like changed is the following:
Be Adobe Bridge with an Apple interface

I would have to disagree on most of this. First: I disagree with your take on RAW conversion. I use the EOS 20D, and have done comparisions between ACR and Aperture. I do not see quality-issues at all. However that doesn't mean that there might be issues with other cameras.
I also disagree on your point of putting images into "its own little database world". A package is just another folder, and that is what Apple is using, along with XML-files for describing changes, metadata, etc. In theory this is no different than Adobe's approach. However Apple insist on copying the files into its own folder/package-system. It is a common misunderstanding that Apple is using some kind of proprietary database in Aperture.
Your third point relates to Apple's rule about never changing the RAW-file. I agree with Apple on this. I do think they should have adopted XMP as the sidecar fileformat though, in order to allow others to work with both metadata and corrections. But XMP is still not an established standard like IPTC and EXIF is.

2005-12-15 20:32:25
storage vs. organization
Some Apple apps have removed the requirement to manually organize/manage data using the traditional hierarchical file/folder storage structure of the underlying filesystem. iTunes, iPhoto, and now Aperture are examples that come to mind.

I'd rather organize content using "virtual containers/views" (hierarchical or not), without being overly concerned with how or where it's actually being stored. Playlists and albums in iTunes and iPhoto are just simple examples. But that can pose problems for interoperability with other apps that only see the data as it's physically stored, minus any virtual organization layer that might also exist for it.

Maybe Apple will eventually generalize these app-specific virtual organization layers so that other apps can have access to them if necessary. Same goes for any metadata that's currently held hostage by specific apps. The generalized and pervasive ability to choose different interfaces for creating more arbitrary relationships between different objects types, without the file/folder constraints imposed by the hierarchical filesystem, is the level of abstraction I'm hoping for.

I think that kind of "store anywhere, organize anyhow, access everywhere" metaphor has the potential to scale in usability better than being stubbornly stuck with the limitations of traditional office-like file/folder management. Although simplistic and restricted to mail, Gmail can be seen as a successful mainstream implementation that foreshadows the possibility by breaking the conventional rules of "storing" messages in folder-like "mailboxes".

Anyway... seen from that broader, long-term (and long-winded ;-))perspective I don't have any problem with how Aperture stores content aside from insufficient cooperation with other apps.