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Aperture 3: A Photographer’s Review

For those familiar with iPhoto, Apple’s recently upgraded Aperture 3 is a great introduction to advanced digital imaging without the price tag and headache of learning Photoshop. Aperture 3 is the software equivalent of an entry level DSLR camera—not quite professional quality, but much more enticing than your average point-and-shoot.

Apple added over 200 new features, some useful and some negligible. Faces and Places allow for better image organizing, and the RAW + JPEG import option keeps files in order. Like iPhoto, Aperture 3 uploads directly to Facebook and Flickr, and the Camera Info Pane shows the camera settings and specs of each specific picture, similar to the LCD pane of a camera.

This feature is especially useful if you’re interested in easily accessible ISO, aperture, and shutter speed information. In addition to direct uploads, Aperture 3 makes spiffy slide shows that combine text, images, music, and video — a great means of showing off anything from your meticulously produced fine art photos to your crazy spring break pictures.

Best of all is the new Brushes feature, which allows for easy and detailed digital adjustments without the use of difficult to master layer and filter settings. You can adjust anything from the entire image to tiny areas with just a few clicks. Aperture’s features are best taken advantage of with photos shot in RAW mode, so if you are not willing to sacrifice the space on your hard drive or if your camera does not shoot in RAW (most point-and-shoots do not shoot in RAW format), you won’t enjoy the full spectrum of Aperture’s photo editing power.

In sum, Aperture 3 is an easy-to-learn introduction to digital imaging. The more ambitious amateur might want to delve directly into Photoshop, though Aperture’s $199 price tag is much more competitive than Photoshop’s $999 investment price point. However, students looking to pursue digital photography might want to reconsider, as Adobe’s student discount prices Photoshop CS4 at a very reasonable $199. Consumers should also consider Photo Mechanic and Adobe Lightroom as more specialized alternatives.

The best way to determine of Aperture 3 is right for you is to download a free 30 day trial and take advantage of Apple’s tutorials.

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