Apple today announced the release of version three of their pro photo editing and cataloguing tool, Aperture. As ever there is an option to try the product for 30 days, so I availed myself of the offer and had a quick play with it. Of course there is only so much you can work out from an hour or so using something as richly featured as Aperture, however it was enough to give me a feel for the software and to compare it at a very high level with Photoshop Lightroom 2, my current workflow software of choice.
As you’d expect from Apple, the user interface has some very nice touches and it didn’t take me long to find my way around the software. Of the headlining new features, I don’t really expect to have much use for the Faces tool, as I don’t take family snapshots, nor for Places as there is no GPS device attached to my SLR. However Brushes is a local adjustment tool that matches Lightroom’s adjustment brushes pretty much feature-for-feature. The various presets for Brushes include ‘skin-smoothing’ (not available in Lightroom), which will be very useful for people who make a living from portrait photography, though I suspect more advanced users would use their own settings rather than trust it to the software. Disappointingly there is still no option to tint the highlights and shadows in a monochrome image, which is not the biggest let-down in the grand scheme of things, but it is a feature I use in Lightroom a lot for my black-and-white work.
I also have a beta version of Lightroom 3 which I haven’t really used much. If I get the opportunity I’ll spend some time working with both Aperture 3 and Lightroom 3 beta over the next few weeks to see if I can make some more detailed observations on the various features available, and may even be able to decide whether my next step will be to upgrade to LR3 when it is released officially, or whether Apple have done enough to help me to switch.
Update: prompted by the comments from Mark below, I went back to see if there was a graduated filter tool in Aperture 3. I couldn’t find it.