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Aperture 1.5 Reviewed

Needed features added at last By Stephen Schleicher

For the photographer who needs to review images, make slight tweaks, or just wants to have their entire library of images at their fingertips; Apples Aperture 1.5 may be the solution. 

Weve previously reviewed Aperture on this site, so there is no need to go back and rehash what Aperture is, or what it does.  Instead, Ill focus on the new features and how well they work in this latest release.

On the surface there are only a few new features found in the 1.5 release, that clear up some of the let downs other reviewers have expressed in previous releases.

One of my biggest complaints with some image manipulation programs is the logging or library feature.  In previous releases of Aperture, in order for the library to be recognized, the photos or files need to be moved to a specific hard drive.  This is totally worthless to someone who has terabytes of data from a seasons worth of weddings who doesnt have a single large hard drive to store content on.

With Aperture 1.5, Apple addresses this issue by giving you the option of where and how your images are stored.  If you want to burn everything to a DVD and still be able to access them later, you can.  The same is true with images on other drives in your system or facility.

On the surface this seems like a no-brainer function, but what if you could disconnect the storage system and still be able to access a reference library of images?  When analyzing a folder for images, Aperture actually creates a high quality thumbnail and stores the images locally.  The upshot is you can use Aperture 1.5 on a laptop with a small hard drive and still be able to access your library of the hundreds of thousands of photos you have taken over the years. If you then decide you want to access the full size image, it is a simple matter of popping a DVD into the drive, opening the original, and off to work.

When I discovered this feature, my concern was still the potential of filling up the local hard drive with a lot of thumbnail images.  Apple addressed this concern by giving the user the ability to adjust the compression size of thumbnails.  And because the thumbnails are JPEG images, the file size can be very small.  This is not an obvious on top feature, you have to set it in the Preferences.

For photographers who have some downtime traveling between jobs, utilizing this offline digital light box on a MacBook or MacBook Pro still allows one to review the shots, organize and rate the images, and even create a slideshow.

As far as connectivity goes, Aperture 1.5 makes images from its library immediately available to other applications like iWorks and iLife.  For example, if I have camera raw image that I have subtly tweaked in Aperture, I can launch Keynote, click on the Media browser, and be able to access a quality JPEG image from the Aperture library without having to export the image from Aperture first.  This workflow is perfect for anyone building DVDs, websites, documents and more.

If you arent satisfied with working just with iWork and iLife, wait a few minutes.  Apple has included a brand new API plug-in architecture to allow third party developers to create their own plug-ins to connect the Aperture workflow with other applications and services.  For example, Getty Images has an export plug-in that allows photographers to export their library directly to a Getty approved format ready for upload.

Apple has also added several new image enhancement features to Aperture 1.5 as well.  By far my favorite is Color Adjustment.  Here, an image can be tweaked on the hue, saturation, and luminance on a color by color basis.  If I need to enhance the overall red in an image, it is a slider away.

One of the cool features of Aperture is the ability to nondestructively edit images.  With the Spot and Patch tool for example, each patch is saved as a step.  If you are on patch 10 and realize patch 5 isnt working for you, you can step back to patch 5 and delete it, while still maintaining subsequent actions.  Unfortunately, this feature is not available for the Color Adjustments.  If you tweak the image on a variety of color channels, and then decide you want to reset the reds, you have to reset everything.  Since this is a brand new feature, Im sure this issue will be addressed soon.

While Im talking about adjustments, if you find you need to apply the same adjustment to multiple images, you can save adjustments as presets to use over and over again.  These presets can be applied immediately or later to other images via a menu command.  This is super useful for standard adjustments like noise reduction, color correcting and more.

As Ive come to find out, when Im tweaking an image for use in a video or web project, I rarely use all the tools other image editing applications provide.  All I usually need to do is apply a few color correction tweaks and fix a spot or two.  This is what makes Aperture 1.5 perfect for photographers or editors who need to do a few simple steps to make their content ready for use.  Im also a big fan of the image library.  Even if I dont have a lot of hard drive space, Im finding I can still preview and sample thousands of photos and grab the DVD if needed, saving me a lot of time.

For $299, I feel, with the current feature set, Aperture is about $50 to $100 higher than it needs to be, but if it saves you from spending $600 on an application that is overkill for your needs, it is a good deal.  I have a feeling Ill be using Aperture more and more over the coming months, and give version 1.5 a Strong Buy Recommendation.

TRY IT OUT FOR YOURSELF:  With the brand new release of Aperture 1.5.1, you can download a free 30 day trail of Aperture that is fully functional, so you can test it out for yourself.  Download it at

For more information visit

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Stephen Schleicher is a well known writer, visual effects artist and media guru! You can see more of Stephen at and
Related Keywords:aperture, photographers, image manipulation, apple, camera, digital imaging

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