Aperture 3 - First Impressions

Ap3Places.jpgI have used Aperture 3 since yesterday morning and stayed up until the wee hours. I will obviously post a lot of first impressions but I wanted to get this one out while it is still fresh. Overall this is way more than I expected as an update. There are some things in my wish list that are not there and some nice surprises. Some of my comments are first impressions and I may change my opinion as time goes on.

First - there are some bugs - nothing earth shattering but they are there. I am confident that Apple will nail these pretty quickly. It is faster - if you have the hardware and if you are intelligent about using it. Just like before. You can pile on intensive adjustments and do things that are not a smart way to go about doing them and bring Aperture 3 to it's knees. I am sure we will hear lots of complaints about this. For me - it is faster. Aperture has always been fast but also very easy to ask it to do insane amounts of work easily as well.

Just about everything in my eBooks is still very relevant - actually critical in using Aperture effectively. File management, Organization, work-flow, even the book tool eBooks are spot on. With the exception of a couple of new twists on project and library import and export. I will not comment on these until I really put them through there paces. Today I want to offer my impressions on the UI changes and three headline new features.

For the most part I do not like most of the UI changes - they are okay and most of what I love is still there but there are a couple of things that get in my way as well as the new UI associated with Faces/Places. For the most part the UI has dumb-down features so the first time you fire it up it is "easier" - this is debatable considering most of the power is still not "obvious". I do not like the new RAW+JPG, in my opinion it is a dummy feature that provides no new functionality and gets in the way. It will stop the incessant question of "Hey where are my JPGs" for people that care not to explore the context menus for more than 4 seconds. For me it adds an extra step. I guess if you shoot RAW+JPG and ONLY want to screw with the JPGs then it saves you a step. Easy album access to both it costs a step no matter how you slice it.

The "Aperture trash" is stupid. Yes it will save inexperienced users some pain - once. For everyone else - it is an extra step. Now you have multiple redundant "Are you sure" steps reminiscent of Windoze. Reject the image, review your rejects, get rid of them, empty the aperture trash, empty the system trash. Good for casual users - bad for Pro users. Both the Faces and Places UI decisions seem to be hung on the side of the rest of Aperture - sure they work in whatever context you are in like everything else but… You have to use the mouse - no shortcut keys - I will fix this but out of the box there is no standard shortcut keys so it is a huge disruption if you are used to using shortcuts to change what is or is not on the screen without the mouse. So you can cycle viewer/browser/spit but to activate Faces or Places it is the mouse - to deactivate the mouse again - wouldn't it me nice if the V key at least cycled you back or something. The Faces UI is pure iPhoto only worse. The Places is better but needs huge improvement to fit in with the rest of the Aperture UI. The local adjustments and multi zoom UI is fantastic - so are the new full screen modes.

Faces - I have spent significant amount of time with Faces - I will try to find a pro use for it but this is pure casual user gee wiz at the moment. I know Apple has to have this for graduating iPhoto people but for the most part it seems to be useful only as a casual user tool like if you shoot a limited number of fairly diverse people like your immediate and extended family. If you shoot lots of people - even dozens let alone hundreds and a lot of them have a similar demographic it is worthless. It also seems to have no other connection with Aperture metadata than just itself. Keywords are faster, easier, and a better way to do this for now. Faces is a giant waste of time. I am tenacious and will continue to try to find a way where it will improve your workflow - casual or pro - when I get there you will know.

Places on the other hand is fantastic - except for some of the UI that I hope will improve and feel more a part of Aperture as time goes on. It is simple, powerful, doesn't seem to have glitches, the searches and metadata are well integrated into Aperture. Well done. I am in the middle of a second gigantic snow storm within the last few days so I had to make  a cigarette run to stock up while I am trapped. I tested the Places stuff in Aperture 3.

I took two cameras and shot them while driving (not a good idea). I also took my Garmin 76CSx marine GPS. I got home, imported the images, clicked on the Places button in the toolbar, imported the GPS track data, selected the images and drug them to the track on the map. Aperture 3 asked me if I wanted to tag the images based on time, I answered yes. Bang done. Fantastic. This is a great UI. I wish the place definition was a little more direct but it is easy enough. If you have a GPS and you can get at the track data - you can have geotaged images no matter how many cameras you shoot. The workflow is really really fast compared to anything else I have used. Good work Apple. (screen shot at the top)

Local adjustments are fantastic but they take a little getting used to. You need a tablet - or at least a magic mouse to be productive. Just one tip the strokes are cumulative but… Only if the strenth slider is set low. In other words the maximum degree of the effect is the amount slider. If the strength slider is all the way up that is it for the brushing. To work like you do in PS set the amount higher in the adjustment inspector and the strength slider low in the brush controls then you can paint in the effect cumulatively. This should be obvious but I am pointing it out for people not super used to local adjustments.

Okay - not a real educational post but I did want to share some "feelings" and see what all of your thoughts were as well.


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