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First Look: Aperture 2.1

Update offers more ease of use, plenty of new features By Heath McKnight

Apple released Aperture 2 earlier this year with more than 100 new features, and priced it at $199 ($99 to upgrade). To sweeten the deal, Apple recently released version 2.1, which gives users still more features, but also third-party support.

Aperture 1.0 debuted in late 2005, and digital camera users dipped their toes into Apple s newest software. Further updates and price drops allowed Apple to improve the software and make it more attractive to users. An advisory panel was created by Apple, which was comprised of many respected, working photographers. They told the company what they d like to see, features-wise, and also that Aperture needed to be much faster. It also needed to support large files. Apple also learned that more than 50 percent of iPhoto users are amateur DSLR shooters, and the reason why they prefer iPhoto to Aperture is because of the graphical user interface; iPhoto s GUI was much easier to use that Aperture. They wanted to see Aperture evolve into something simple yet powerful, and also intuitive.

Version 2 delivered a lot of what was sorely lacking in version 1, and packed more 100 new features. iPhoto users will find it easy to migrate to Aperture 2, while professionals will enjoy the increase in speed.

Over 100 New Features
Among the many new features, Aperture s GUI (graphical user interface) is clean and easy-to-use. It s obviously deliberate, so iPhoto users can upgrade to a more powerful photo app and not be scared off by a complicated GUI. Aperture also sports a much faster overall experience, including a faster database and Quick Preview, which enables users to scan through photos (even RAW) in seconds. I gave it a try and am very impressed when comparing it to version 1.5. You can hit one button to jump into the full-rez version of a photo to do editing, and move back to Quick Preview in an instant. A friend of mine recently upgraded to version 2 and confirmed that older versions didn t have the preview speed the latest Aperture has.

Image processing is faster and more powerful, and it works hand-in-hand with OS X 10.5 Leopard s RAW processor (I knew upgrading to Leopard was smart). There are more tools to work with, and there s obviously greater speed and power.
As I stated above, if you re comfortable working in iPhoto, using Aperture 2.1 won t be a problem. I am a power Final Cut Pro user, and I understand the program inside-and-out. To be able to immediately start using a new pro application like Aperture without any problems is a testament to Apple wanting iPhoto users to feel comfortable in the program.

There is also a Dodge & Burn feature, made famous by Ansel Adams found in other photo software applications. Dodging allows you to lighten elements of an image, while burning allows you to darken. Check out the full list of features at

The Dodge & Burn tool is great, and I was able to do some fun stuff with some photos taken on the beach in St. Petersburg, Florida. It s easy to use, and I look forward to working with it more.

You can export files to the Web, iPhoto, iPod, iPhone, Apple TV, Apple Mail and more. If you want to make a book of your photos, Aperture provides book design capabilities that are more powerful and flexible than iPhoto s. That s right, you can make your own books in both programs! There is support for medium sized soft cover books, dust jackets (full-bleed, wrap-around), and custom book sizes, all with Aperture 2.

Version 2.1: Third Party Plug-In Support
When version 2.1 was released (free for 2.0 owners), I was impressed to see the third party plug-in support now available, including Tiffen s Dfx Digital Filter Suite and some Digital Film Tools apps, including Power Stroke! and Light. Find out more at

In conclusion, Aperture 2.1 is an excellent next step in Apple s professional photo application. Again, at a price of $199 new and $99 for an upgrade, there s no excuse not to buy this amazing software app! Also, make sure you visit to learn more about third party plug-ins, websites, and more.

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Heath McKnight is a filmmaker and author who has produced and directed several independent feature and short films, including Hellevator, 9:04 AM and December. He is currently web content manager for doddleNEWS. Heath was also a contributor to VASST's best-selling book, "The FullHD," and has written for TopTenREVIEWS and Videomaker.

Related Keywords:digital photography, photo management, photo editing, RAW processing


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