Aperture 1.1

Aperture 1.1 adjustments palette

(Thanks to the people of this Flickr thread for informing me of this.)

It looks like Apple caved into all hearsay by photographers and is releasing a new version of Aperture catered to them.

The major thing to note, IMO, is that Aperture 1.1 will be a universal binary and available as a free update, paving my purchase of a 17″ MacBook Pro in August.

But let’s look at the features in this update:

Improved RAW Image Quality

This is the fruition of the Aperture teams aggressive attempts to deal with any RAW conversion bugs posted.

That’s nice, but the RAW support in Aperture was already pretty good, much better than the idiots out there have been saying. “What you say? Someone set us up the bomb?” I have yet to see a RAW image cut where “Adobe Camera RAW blows away Apple’s Aperture” that I couldn’t tear apart as being full of shit.

The worst culprit is the fot-quoted Aperture Review on Ars Technica by Dave Girard. It takes a lot for me not engage in an ad hominem here, but his review shows little or no understanding of RAW processing and photography in general. (I have a blog entry I haven’t posted going into the gory details of why this review is bad.)

In any case, I have yet to see a RAW engine that can come anywhere close to DxO Optics Pro. I find it ironic that all these so-called photographers rail into Apple’s Aperture and throw petals at Adobe Camera RAW at the same time when such a product exists that blows away both in RAW processing.

RAW Fine Tuning

To understand the importance of this please look at this thread comparing the “horrendous” RAW processing of Aperture side-by-side with Adobe Camera RAW.

What is going on is that a lot of people don’t realize that Adobe Camera RAW applies postprocessing by default that has nothing to do with raw processing: it darkens shadows (to reduce color noise in shadows), it increases contrasts (because contrast images are more pleasing), it applies sharpening (because digital images are unsharp to the eye), and it applies color noise reduction.

Now look at the RAW Fine Tuning section in Aperture 1.1. You see 1) boost to adjust image contrast, 2) sharpening: to dial in the amount of sharpening you prefer, and 3) chroma blur to apply chroma or luminance-based noise reduction.

Sound familiar to my response to the Chicken Little Aperture buyers from December?

Basically, what I’m saying is that when ACR beats Aperture, in most cases it is because the user likes the post-processing defaults, not because of RAW conversion. But when you have idiots like Dave Girard writing an article and a ton of amateur photographers parroting this bullshit, you have to do something about it.

(For instance, look at the example cited in the thread quoted above. Notice the horrible sharpening done by ACR on the skin-tones of this guy’s photoshoot. IMO, that’s unacceptable. Also, how was ACR supposed to have reduced the “severe purple fringing around the iPod cord” when chromatic abberation is is lens defect not a RAW processing issue? The answer is, it doesn’t. ACR just boosts the contrast a lot and the purple fringe gets pushed to black.)

Cleverly Apple does that and then goes one step further: you can save these defaults on a per-camera level and apply them automatically. Add this plus curves and pros will really fly through their RAW workflow with the new Aperture.

Auto-Noise Compensation

Personally I use the camera-based noise compensation built into DxO Optics Pro for those photos I can use this way and I use NeatImage for the rest (most people would use Noise Ninja). Building this in is a great idea for those people who are not so cheap that they can “purchase” a $500 piece of software but too cheap to buy a $50 plugin.

Of course, I wonder how good it will be. On one hand, you can be non-destructive with your noise reduction. On the other hand, good noise-reduction is a processor intensive task.

New Color Meter

I didn’t really care about this because Art Director’s Toolkit and Dru’s first OS X app does this already.

Whatever. It’s in there to keep people like Dave Girard happy. Guess I can delete another application from my install list next time my Powerbook hard drive kicks the bucket.

Enhanced Export Controls

I never really had much problem with the current one. It’s not as near as fine-tuned as Adobe Photoshop so I still have to push things through there when I send it to a Fuji Frontier.

I’ll have to reserve judgement on this.

Dozens of Other Improvements

I’ll see when it finally does appear on my software update. For now you have to be satified with this article.

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