Thu, 05 Feb 2009 iPhoto '09 review
High-profile upgrade debuts face recognition and geotagging
- Manufacturer: Apple
- Pros: Faces and Places make it easier to categorize your photos, solid Facebook and Flickr integration for sharing photos, subtle but good editing enhancements
- Cons: Faces and Places could be easier to use, no Effects improvements, no AppleScript or Automator support for Faces or Places, minor bugs
- Min specs: Mac OS X v10.5.6 Leopard or later, Mac computer with an Intel, PowerPC G5, or PowerPC G4 (867MHz or faster) processor, iMovie requires an Intel-based Mac, Power Mac G5 (dual 2.0GHz or faster), or iMac G5 (1.9GHz or faster), GarageBand Learn to Play requires an Intel-based Mac with a dual-core processor or better; 512MB of RAM; 1GB recommended. High-definition video requires at least 1GB of RAM; 4GB of available disk space.
- £85.00 (Family Pack)
- Star rating:
Places feels under-baked
As neat as all this is, there are a few areas where Places feels under-baked: there is no Undo if you are changing a location, which can wreak havoc if you’ve accidentally selected a group of perfectly located images.
On the flip side, as good as the My Places dialog box is, it would be great to be able to copy and paste location data from one photo to another (something similar to Microsoft Word’s Format Painter).
Also, if you’re adding locations to places in Asia some maps display the local character set (Kanji, for example), even though Google Maps will display streets and place names in English if you’re accessing maps in a standard Web browser such as Safari.
Apple has acknowledged that this happens, saying that this is a communication issue with Google Maps, but has not offered an immediate solution.
The Places Browse panel lets you quickly get to all the photos at a location. With the reverse geocoding support, you can also view, for example, all the photos taken in France, or Portland, Oregon.
Share and share alike: Social networking in iPhoto '09
iPhoto ’08 introduced a slick Web photo gallery feature; however, to share your pictures, you had to be a paying .Mac (now MobileMe) member. Apple now recognizes that there are other places people want to share and tag photos and has added direct posting to both the Facebook and Flickr Web sites.
The interface to creating albums on both sites is straightforward. Initially, you have to verify that you are a member, but once that’s done, all you have to do is select a group of photos, an album or event and click on the Facebook or Flickr icon in the toolbar at the bottom of the screen.
You’re given options for who can view the photos, and, in the case of Flickr, their size, and iPhoto automatically uploads the gallery.
Once the uploading process is complete, you can view and edit the photos on the service, assigning tags and adding or deleting images to the gallery, and iPhoto will synchronize any changes made, including downloading new images or deleting images, although they only get deleted from the gallery, not your library.
Because Facebook also has a face-tagging mechanism, any names you’ve added via iPhoto’s Faces feature will show up on Facebook.
If the email addresses of your tagged friends match the e-mail address they use for Facebook, then they will receive a notification that they’re in your posted photos.
Similarly, people can tag unnamed people in your images, and those tags will automatically synchronize with your Facebook galleries in iPhoto.
Also in the sharing category, Apple overhauled iPhoto’s slideshow feature, adding new themes, a bit more control over transitions (including music playlist creation on the fly) and a better mechanism for exporting your albums in multiple formats.
They’re not huge improvements, but they’re well done.
Apple has added a Travel book type to iPhoto's book-creation feature. The book includes a page template that displays a custom map, where you can add cities and a custom itinerary—with arrows—to showcase your travels.
Editing enhancements in iPhoto '09
Apple made some minor enhancements to iPhoto’s editing features. They pulled a few tools from Aperture (), such as the Vibrancy and Definition controls.
The latter adjusts contrast in a more refined manner than the Contrast slider (and is similar in effect to the Clarity control found in Adobe’s Lightroom.
The Vibrancy effect adjusts saturation, but minimizes the effect on skin tones in a photo; if iPhoto’s face-recognition feature recognizes that a photo has a face—or you’ve added a missing face to a photo—the Saturation control automatically has the “Avoid saturating the skin tones” box checked, which uses Vibrancy instead of Saturation.
Also in the editing mode are Aperture-influenced improvements to the existing Shadow and Highlight controls. The Retouch brush is also improved, with better edge detection, which means that your little touch-ups look more realistic. It’s no substitute for the tools in full-fledged editors like Photoshop, but it does a good job for small spots and minor problems.
My favourite improvement to iPhoto’s editing is a little one: now, when you click on the Enhance button in the toolbar, the changes that are made to the image show up in the Adjust panel, so you can see exactly which controls were changed (previously, the settings stayed at their center point, as if no adjustments had been made to the photo). This addition is helpful for understanding exactly what happened, and lets you easily dial back (or strengthen) a setting.
iPhoto '09's rough edges
While iPhoto largely shines, it still has a few weak points. The Effects pane, for example, remains underpowered. The black-and-white conversions are limited, and the vignette and matte tools still create heavy-handed, overdone results, which is a shame given how nicely a subtle vignette can help focus attention on a subject.
Also, for people hoping to integrate Faces and Places into AppleScript or Automator workflows (for importing photos from other programs or to use location data and photos with other Mac applications), Apple inexplicably left out support for those features in this version of the program.
While iPhoto ’09 was quite stable, there were a few glitches here and there. For example, occasionally, when we moved out of Edit mode, the Retouch or Color Cast overlays would inexplicably stay on the screen, and some of my Macworld colleagues saw empty, black-bordered boxes on occasion when confirming people in the Faces panel.