Apple's new pro-photo product Aperture addresses specific workflow hassles pro photographers have faced for years, but isn't a Photoshop competitor.

"I was blown away," renowned sports photography Heinz Kluetmeier, told MacCentral after Apple's event in New York. "I think it's going to revolutionise photography because it is going to let photographers do what they do best - take pictures."

Even though Aperture seems to challenge Adobe Photoshop, Apple executives said the application is not meant to compete.

Complement, not compete

"We are positioning this as an all-in-one solution," said Rob Schoeben, Apple's vice president of applications marketing. "We know photographers use Photoshop, so we integrated support into Aperture."

Schoeben explained that Aperture supports Photoshop's PSD files. Specifically, Aperture can open and manipulate the files, but it cannot work with individual layers.

Adobe representatives were not immediately available to comment.

"Photoshop is a versatile application and there is some overlap with Aperture," said NPD analyst Ross Rubin. "However, Aperture is really about workflow, while Photoshop is used for things like compositing. Certainly this is addressing issues for a significant amount of the Photoshop user base. If I were Adobe, I would consider this a shot across my bow."

Doing it right

Apple said that Aperture opens up a whole new category for photo applications. The company set out to eliminate many of the issues that pros have been facing over the years as they move from their familiar print workflow to the digital workspace.

"This is a one-of-a-kind application," said Schoeben. "This is really an entire new category. We take making a new application very seriously - we look at how it should work, not how it has evolved in the market over the years."

Schoeben said during his presentation announcing Aperture that people will look back on today as the day that things really changed for photographers.

In the RAW

Among its many features, Aperture works with RAW images natively throughout the application. There is no intermediate conversion process and the application uses a nondestructive image-processing engine, which leaves the original image untouched.

"People have been bragging about RAW for too long - we felt it was time to deliver," said Schoeben.

In addition to its backend power, Aperture has an interface that allows photographers to view and manipulate images in full-screen mode. Tools appear using the keyboard or your mouse and have the familiar Apple transitions when working with images.

Apple's special sauce

"We are Apple - we put a lot of work into the finishing touches; a lot of companies just don't get that," said Schoeben.

Aperture was not the only product announcement on Wednesday. Among other hardware, Apple introduced dual-core Power Mac G5s. The new Power Macs come eight months before Apple is expected to release its first Intel-based Macintosh, next June.

"We are going to innovate on the PowerPC and we will bring great value to our customers," said David Moody, Apple's vice president of worldwide Mac product marketing.