Apple has released Aperture 1.1, ushering in new controls, better image rendering and a new low price.

The software now costs £219 - £130 cheaper than before when it cost £349. Existing users can claim a £130 money-back voucher from Apple which they can spend at the Apple Store online.

The company calls the update (which is available for free download by existing users) "significant". The new version runs natively on both Intel and PowerPC Macs - it's a Universal application.

Apple boasts that the release features "dramatically improved" Raw image rendering and a new set of advanced Raw adjustment controls. Aperture 1.1 also delivers impressive speed gains on any Mac, according to Apple. Users will see image adjustments and searching are up to four-times faster.

"Since Aperture launched just over four months ago, we've been incredibly focused on improving image quality and performance, working closely with pro photographers to get it right in 1.1," said Rob Schoeben, Apple's vice president of applications marketing. "With the Raw quality and overall speed of Aperture 1.1 and its new low price, there's never been a better time for pros and hobbyists alike to take the art and craft of photography to the next level."

Raw image rendering in Aperture 1.1 has been improved in certain areas, including noise reduction, sharpening, and highlight recovery. New Raw Fine Tuning controls allow photographers to tweak decode settings such as boost, sharpening and chroma blur. A new built-in colour metre displays pixel values in RGB, Lab or CMYK in the Adjustments display or in Aperture's Loupe magnifying viewer. Enhanced export controls make it easier to output images at specific resolutions and improve the handling of layered Photoshop files.

Performance tests on a MacBook Pro have shown that common repetitive workflow tasks such as Lift and Stamp and searching are processed up to four-times faster on a MacBook Pro than on a PowerBook G4.

"I love the fact that you can save Raw adjustments in Aperture 1.1 and use those settings on future jobs," said Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Vincent Laforet who recently used Aperture to capture Olympic images from Torino for the New York Times.

"In the past, sending a selection of photos to clients for approval could take hours to import, edit down, resize, tone and deliver. With Aperture, I can do all of this in five minutes. Aperture has become the core application for me."