Apple Aperture 3.5.1 review
There's much in common between Aperture and its Adobe rival, Lightroom. Both are professional photography apps that offer support for very high resolution Retina displays and handle RAW image processing particularly well.
Note: Apple has confirmed that it will be discontinuing work on Aperture so from 2015 Photos for Mac will be the only Apple photo management software on the Mac, read more here: What Apple's decision to stop Aperture says about its pro apps
However the application workflows have diverged with Aperture seeming to move to a simpler approach, while Lightroom seems to be offering more complex visual-correction tools.
Certainly there's a lot that's in Aperture that's also in iPhoto: the Places feature now uses Apple maps to display photo locations, there's support for for iOS 7 camera filters applied to photos imported from iPhones and Aperture offers iCloud Photo Sharing.
However switching iCloud Photos to the Aperture library will turn it off in your copy of iPhoto. In addition, as well as Flickr and Facebook sync, there's new integration with SmugMug.
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Professionals may sniff at consumer-level utilities like Faces and Places, which have come across with iPhoto interfaces almost intact, but they add another dimension to asset management and automatically work across both Aperture and iPhoto. Aperture can also open libraries created with iPhoto and share them with the consumer app. When you adjust images using any tools in one application, you’ll see the changes when you open the same library in the other application.
That's not to say there are no Pro features. Aperture now uses camera-generated previews for faster browsing of RAW files immediately after import. There are also some great tools in the Adjustment panel. The advanced White Balance tool offers a Skin Tone mode which is quick and efficient for levelling out portraits, while other modes include Neutral Gray for adjusting colour balance in landscape shots and Temperature & Tint mode for 'challenging light' situations. An auto-balance setting will apply the mode that works best.
Enhanced Highlight and Shadow recovery tools can access more of the RAW image information and there's a one-click auto enhance tool. Quick Fixes and Preset Effects are also available, with Aperture offering a fly out preview of how the image will look.
Aperture's tabbed and minimal interface may look boring, but it hides many powerful tools. Integration with the useful iPhoto utilities might have been more tasteful though. It's a well-priced, efficient organiser, offering decent image correction. We had a few odd experiences using a second screen, so it could be more robust after its recent stability update. The toolset could do with a refresh, particularly given the arrival of the Mac Pro and the power it offers.