Despite being intended for professionals, any Mac user who shoots and edits lots of photos would do well to upgrade to Apple’s professional photo editor, Aperture ($79.99).
If you have used iPhoto or an online photo manager like Flickr.com , you have no doubt experienced workflow gaps that a program like Aperture can fulfill. This advanced editor allows you to batch process photos, apply preset adjustments and photo effects, back up your photo library on a separate drive, and much more.
These abundant features are why we have added Aperture to our Best of Mac software page.
From iPhoto to Aperture
iPhoto is a great program for editing and managing photos if you’re only shooting a handful of images on a regular basis. But if you’re adding hundreds of photos to your library on a monthly basis, you definitely should consider stepping up to Aperture. It includes all the features of iPhoto, but its editing and batch processing capabilities make Aperture more useful.
You can actually merge your iPhoto library into a new Aperture library, or you can open your iPhoto library within Aperture, so there’s no problem working between the two programs. The user interfaces of both applications are not that vastly different. They both contain a sidebar of albums and a larger viewer window. Where Aperture takes off is the wide range of adjustments for editing and enhancing your photos, including proper RAW editing right within the editor.
Aperture contains most of the advanced exposure editing and enhancement tools that you find in Photoshop, including curves, levels, noise reduction, white balance correction, edge sharpening, and highlight and shadow adjustments.
You can selectively copy and apply adjustments to one or more photos at a time, and easily disable applied adjustments in the side panel. You can also add the adjustment tools you most use to the side panel, and include selected adjustments in your Favorites.
Aperture’s preset adjustments can be very useful for your editing workflow. The effects presets allow you to see what impact they will have on a selected photo before the settings are applied; and after presets are applied you can fine tune them in the adjustments panel.
You can also create custom presets and import presets created by other Aperture users. Aperture also includes various brush tools, especially useful for portraits in the area of skin smoothing, dodging, burning, cloning and repair.
Photo Management and Workflow
When you’re editing hundreds of photos you need an application that provides lots of choices and preferences for developing a workflow that fits your needs. Aperture allows you to hide the side panels (the inspector) as well as choose which side (View > Browser > Swap Position) of the viewer you want it on.
If you’re working on a large screen Mac you can open the floating Inspector HUD which is also useful for when you take photos full screen. And if you have a second monitor you can select to mirror the user interface, open one or more images on the second monitor, or span images between monitors.
Aperture provides numerous ways to view one or more images at the same time, and several options for adding ratings, keywords, file names, and other metadata. As with iPhoto, Aperture includes smart albums but with tons more options for setting up rules. There are also several options in the browser for filtering photos by date, rating, keywords, orientation, and pixel size.
Version 3.5 of Aperture not only allows users to share images to email, Flickr, and Facebook, but now to SmugMug and the new iCloud sharing system (a part of Photo Stream), whereby images can be synced with other Mac and iOS devices.
You can batch process images for changing file names, keywords, dates, and other metadata, and you can create metadata sets for the type of information you frequently apply to photos.
The goal of Aperture has always been to provide all the tools needed to complete your photo work within one application. So, like with iPhoto, Aperture enables you to create slideshows and the layout of photo books, with additional options for choosing fonts, styles and colors. You can’t create cards and calendars in Aperture, but you can take images to iPhoto from within Aperture to complete those tasks.
The book layouts are fairly easy to create with over twelve templates and book sizes for various occasions. You can, of course, also order individual prints directly from within the application as well.
No Trial Version
Unfortunately, there’s no longer a trial version of Aperture available for download. Aperture 3.5 now must be purchased from the Mac App Store directly and now requires a Mac with an Intel processor. If you’d like to get your hands on it before purchase, stop by a local Apple Store where they typically have the application installed on the display models. This Aperture In Depth page explains in detail all of Aperture’s most important features.
I’ve been a user of Aperture since it was first released, and though it’s due for an upgrade, it is still a powerful application that allows users to accomplish nearly all their photo editing and production work.
Download: Aperture ($79.99)
Let us know what you think of Aperture, or what questions you have about the program.