Pierre R. Mai's Miscellany

The personal pages of Pierre R. Mai

First Impressions: Aperture 2.0


So Apple has shipped the long-awaited 2.0 of Aperture, its professional photo-everything app, coinciding with the Mac OS X 10.5.2 update that ushers in (again long-awaited) support for Nikon D3, D300 and Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III.

Having settled on Adobe Lightroom for my photography needs, but cursing its lack of multi-monitor support, and always interested in alternatives, I took a quick peek using the trial version, to see what has changed since Aperture 1.5.

My first impression is that speed has definitely improved since 1.5, especially for GPU-starved computers like my old-but-trusty PowerBook G4 17” 1.5GHz with 2GB RAM. That said, on this computer Lightroom is still a bit snappier for most operations, especially those that trigger a full RAW reconversion, but Aperture is definitely usable, and I’d imagine things to be much better on a more high-end GPU than the old Mobility Radeon 9700 in the PowerBook.

I also definitely like some of the UI-improvements, since to me the old Aperture UI felt a bit over-tweakable and somehow cluttered, whereas out-of-the-box Aperture 2 feels fairly approachable.

The new RAW rendering engine seems faster, and I quite like the output I have seen so far (based on random D70s samples): Especially high-ISO images seem to have less chroma-noise and a more fine-grained appearance to their luminance noise, without loss of detail, compared to Lightroom and Capture NX, yielding a high-ISO film look that looks fairly pleasing. Take this first impression with a ton of salt, though, since I have only looked at a couple of pictures in detail, all of them from my D70s.

There is of course lots more in the new version, compared to Aperture 1.5, and I’ll definitely take a closer look, especially since the price for Aperture 2.0 seems to have dropped again, now to only $199.

I’ll probably post more of my impressions as I get to play more with Aperture 2.0.