Aperture 3 first impressions

February 16, 2010

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If you're interested in such things, by now you've probably seen the news that Apple released Aperture 3. Tons of new features, and it's finally a 64-bit app, so performance should be much improved. This past weekend I got the Aperture 3 (A3) demo up and running on my iMac, and loaded some D700 RAW images for testing. Aperture 3 LCD metadata view

First impressions: I love some of the new features, including the WB preset previews, image adjustment presets (and previews), and the responsiveness of the interface. I'm very excited about the photo book plug-ins from high-end album companies. I'm always on the lookout for ways to streamline my wedding/portrait workflow, and for tools that make it easier to create quality products for my photography clients. On that note, while I haven't used Faces or Places yet, I'm certainly interested these features for my own personal images. Bonus: The new LCD-like metadata view (shown on the right) is killer.

The exposure in A3, at least for my D700 files, is much more accurate than in Aperture 2 (A2). I used to have to set the "Boost" in RAW Fine Tuning to .5 in order to keep the highlights from blowing out — annoying, albeit predictable. In my A3 testing, no "Boost" or recovery tweaks were required, and the exposure was consistent with how I shot the images.

Here are a few photos from Valentine's Weekend, which were the first images I've processed with A3.

Ridge 2007 East Bench Zinfandel

Valentine's Day Rose

Valentine's Day Rose

Hottie Valentine's Day Card

Of course, as with any upgrade, there are a few things I'm not a big fan of. At the top of my list is the ridiculous Flickr "integration" which originally had me pretty excited. The actual implementation leaves a lot to be desired:

  1. No ability to upload to existing Flickr sets

    Every time you want to upload an image, you need to create a new Flickr set. Yes, I'm serious. You can't put an image into an existing Flickr set, unless that set was created from A3...

  2. No ability to upload images to your Photosteam

    This builds on the last point, but you can't just upload an image to your Photostream (i.e. not put the image into a set).

  3. Metadata isn't used in the expected fashion

    It looks like Aperture uses the "Version Name" to set the photo's title field on Flickr, instead of using any of the IPTC fields. I don't use "Version Name" except to track various post-processing treatments, and would prefer Aperture to leverage the substantial investment I've made in trying to incorporate IPTC standards in my workflow.

  4. It's more of a "sync" than an "export"

    The bi-directional sync is nice, since it lets me add tags or update metadata either locally or on Flickr. Unfortunately, if I remove the Flickr mapping in Aperture, the photo is actually deleted from Flickr. Not good.

  5. No support for groups

    I like to put some of my images, particularly those of Chicago, into one or more Flickr groups. Unfortunately A3's Flickr integration doesn't have any support for groups, so I still need to hop into the Flickr web interface to make this happen.

I, for one, am going back to Connected Flow's FlickrExport for Aperture, at least for the foreseeable future... FlickrExport addresses all of the above items, and then some. Fraser Speirs actually just released a 64-bit version of the plugin, and it works beautifully with Aperture 3. If you use Aperture and want to upload to Flickr, go buy it.

Performance in A3 seems to be pretty good, but then again I'm testing it on my 27" iMac Core i7 with 8GB of memory... It'll be interesting to see how it behaves on my 13" MBP with 4GB of mem. There's some buzz going around today about possible memory leaks in A3, so I'm certainly going to follow that story closely. I have also read some forum discussions where the A2-to-A3 library upgrade process took a long time or errored out. I'm hoping that when I do upgrade, it goes smoothly. Of course, that's what backups are for. :)

Obviously, I still have a bunch of testing to do before I start using A3 for new shoots, or before I upgrade my existing library. Do you have any thoughts on the upgrade? Anything that you love or hate, or any words of advice based on what you've run into? Let me know — I'd love to hear from you!

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