Two Weeks with Aperture on a PowerBook G4

by Derrick Story

Two weeks ago my MacBook Pro began to have video display problems. After diminishing returns using the "jiggling fix" (like an old rabbit ears antenna for the TV), I resigned to repair and took my MBP to the nearest Apple Store. The Genius ran a few tests, made some notes, and replied, "Mr. Story, I need to take your Mac into the shop."

Oh no! Since my Aperture Library is on an external hard drive, my data was OK, but my backup computer is a 17" PowerBook 1.5 GHz with 2 GBs of RAM. I knew this wasn't going to be fun.

As it turned out, my MBP was in the shop for two weeks waiting for parts. They replaced the entire LCD and hinge assembly. It works great now, and all charges were covered by Apple.

But I also discovered that I could not bear to use Aperture on the PowerBook. It just isn't a good user experience. On my MBP, Aperture operates at the speed I work. I'm allowed to become immersed in the photos without thinking about the computer, or even the application. Being forced to use the PowerBook made me constantly think about the computer.

It was an interesting exercise. Like having your DSL go down and be forced to use dial-up networking. Aperture is absolutely amazing... on the right computer. I'm *really* happy to have my MBP back.


Sandor W. Sklar
2007-05-14 09:16:58
This is a very heartening comment. I personally DO use Aperture on my 17" PowerBook, with 2 GB of RAM, as my primary computer. I find it to be excruciatingly slow, but I committed to this workflow, knowing that I'd be replacing this PowerBook with a MacBook Pro by year end. Knowing that I have this big difference in performance to look forward to validates my plans!
2007-05-14 09:36:07
Hi Sandor, You're in for a real treat when you're able to upgrade to a MBP. I suspect there might even be another rev of that laptop early this summer, further improving its Aperture performance. Aperture - and everything else - is truly a pleasure on these machines.
2007-05-14 11:12:02
Yeah, I have a 17" 1.67ghz PB, and at times (like whenever the application is open) there can be some slowness. Esp. When the loupe tool is used.

I have tested out Aperture on the MBP's in the Apple store, and I can second that they are as fast as you need for Aperture. It is seemless on those, esp. compared to working with it on my PB.

But, alas, photography is my hobby, not my life, so I can't justify the upgrade to the MBP. Boo hoo, I know.... :-(

2007-05-14 11:13:46

I still think that the direction of the comments should go the other way. Logically, the end of one comment should beget the beginning of that that follows. You shouldn't have to read DOWN, then go back UP, to be correctly chronological.

Sorry, I won't mention it again. For like, 2 weeks at least, I swear!

2007-05-14 11:42:15
I used to use Aperture on a slower Powerbook than yours, and quickly learned there were just some things you didn't even try (straightening by an arbitrary angle, for one). But given the choice, I'd rather go back to that than forced to use dial-up again. :-)
2007-05-14 14:53:15
I use Aperture on a 15" MacBook Pro (2.16 ghz core duo) with 2 gigs of memory. I have to say that I find myself avoiding running it because it really wants all of my computer's memory and takes forever to get up and running. I always let it finish building previews but its slowness is bothering me greatly. I love the program but it isn't nearly as responsive as iPhoto. My iPhoto library has 2800 images in it (half RAW) and my Aperture library has maybe 300 (all RAW). I find myself scared to click on images lest I get a colorwheel from hell.

PowerBook? No way would I use Aperture on it now that I've spent time with it. Maybe I'm doing something wrong or need to perform some routine maintenance, I have no idea and the program isn't helping me find out either, seeming to enjoy displaying the colorwheel... Too bad, I really like the product.

2007-05-14 15:08:41
Hi Richard, I'm a bit surprised to read that you have speed issues with the MBP. I have the 17" version with the same processor and RAM. I had seen some differences between the original 15" and 17" MBP, with the 17" performing better. But it wasn't that big of difference. Have you opened your Aperture library on another computer just to double-check?
Rico San
2007-05-14 21:49:59
I use Aperture day-to-day on my 1.5 GHz PowerBook G4 (15-incher), and while it's not the best experience, it's useable. I switched to Aperture, knowing full well that it wouldn't run the best, because of what the program can do for me. Now, since getting a dSLR a month ago, Aperture just fits. Version 1.5 ran a lot better on it than 1.0, but it's not much of an improvement.

I've tried Aperture on a friend's 15-inch MBP, and it's blazing. I tell you what, my workflow was cut in half. No joke. I was breezing through photos and edits, and I was able to think about my pictures more. I want a MBP soon, but I've got to live with my PowerBook for one more year before I can make the upgrade. Until then, I can live with Aperture. It's useable.

2007-05-15 14:44:37
Derrick: thanks for your reply, sorry to take so long to get back to this thread.

I tossed my Vault and now things are fast again (well, as fast as Aperture gets). So, maybe it had something to do with the vault, I don't know.

I do know that one doesn't want to avoid using a great tool like Aperture because it bogs down and I've found myself doing just that. Anyway, I'm back using it again and it seems fine... so far. ;) Thanks.

2007-05-18 21:03:41
Hmmm, it is also slow on my dual 2.5 G5 tower with 4Gb of memory. I am hoping an upgrade from the Radeon 9800 XT to the Radeon X800 XT will help.
2007-05-21 01:50:41
I've tried Aperture on a Powerbook 1,67GHz and 1,5GB RAM with the 64mb Ati - it runs and it's ok for browsing but any edits are just soooo slow!
It takes more than a second for the sliders to follow my cursor sometimes. I love the look and feel and the way it works - couldn't imagine a better tool but the GUI and processing is just incredibly slow. (While the raw conversion isn't even one of the finest yet).
I can see that the MBP and MacPros are faster but honestly I can't imagine that it runs really smooth. I can run all the Final Cut Pro stuff and edit DVCPRO HD video on my machine BUT I can't make faster RAW conversions than my old 10D does internally?!? That sucks!
I hate to say it but I'm actually trying out Lightroom right now. While the GUI and workflow really don't feel good. (I'm way more forced to do it their way instead of my way like I can do in Aperture.) I must say at least the conversion is decent and it runs smooth.

Argh! Come on Apple!

2007-05-27 10:28:47
It's quite amazing to know some of you guys are using Aperture with PowerBook. Before that I thought I'm the only one. I'm running Aperture with 1.5GHz G4 with 1.5G RAM. It's not fast you know, so I would just do everything carefully not to overload the processor. Honestly I feel Aperture is quite stable even it's slow to load a full size jpeg from my 10MP Nikon D200. I still feel fine for browsing projects and albums. However, my Safari always died for no reason. The beach ball comes out from time to time. I'm waiting for if there's coming new MBP from Apple. Good luck for all PB + Aperture users!
2007-06-22 07:53:16
I am running Aperture on a 2.6 ghz dual processor Dual-Core Mac Pro tower.
I have for the moment 3TB of internal storage, 3GB of RAM and the NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT video card.
Trust me when I say that although Aperture runs ok on this machine it still is nowhere near optimal. OK I might benefit from an additional gig of RAM but since we are still in a 32bit environment no app can address more than 2GB of RAM until we move to Leopard and 64 bit apps hopefully in the fall.
It seems that even an upgrade of the video card will not do a whole lot for me at this time. Apple has suggested maybe an additional 2GB RAM and to try and be patient as they work out the speed issues... A very good source has informed me that they are well aware of this and it is a big priority for them to work this out.
For the moment I would consider my configuration to be the absolute minimum to use Aperture if you work with large retouched files as I do. I would seriously say that if you are a Photoshop user and like to use both programs at the same time you will need 6GB of RAM and the fastest processor available today and the best video card they make.
I think buying into Aperture at the moment also means a considerable investment in hardware. I will not do my RAW conversions in Aperture yet. I am not even fond of my Canon camera software for that. I will continue to use CS3 Bridge or Imacon software to convert all files to TIFF's or PSD.s for scaling and retouching. The smallest files my cameras make are from the 13MP Canon EOS 5d and up to the 40MP Hasselblad and Sinar files. I only use jpegs from the camera for snapshots and really dont need Aperture to manage them .. IPhoto is just fine and much faster.
Apple had really better find a way to make Apple compatible with at least the later G4's such as DP Quicksilvers and Mirror doors. I have a few of these in service and they are true workhorses. Aperture and Apple will not force these machines out of my studio.
With the huge user base of G4 machines I think it imperative that they give more consideration to these folks and don't expect all Aperture users to drop 8 grand on a new computer.
I am fortunate to have a 5 month old Mac Pro with a 30" Cinema HD display but I am already feeling that it is not adequate ... this really sucks so all of you should make a lot of noise to Apple and give strong consideration to other options such as Lightroom