End of the line for Apple’s Aperture

As you’ve probably heard by now if you’re an active user of Apple’s Aperture professional tool, its death warrant has just been signed… by Apple.

Based on a growing collection of news sources including The Loop, it seems that Apple appear to have decided to cease development of Aperture in-favour of a new consumer-orientated tool called “Photos”.

“With the introduction of the new Photos app and iCloud Photo Library, enabling you to safely store all of your photos in iCloud and access them from anywhere, there will be no new development of Aperture,”

“When Photos for OS X ships next year, users will be able to migrate their existing Aperture libraries to Photos for OS X.”

[Should probably mention that development on Apple’s other professional apps is apparently unaffected!!]

While this doesn’t personally affect my workflows as I switched from Aperture to the fantastic Adobe Lightroom some time back, there is a huge number of photographers out there who have now been left high & dry by this move. Pro’s with complex workflows tend to centre on a particular product which meets their needs – with associated image libraries, repoisitories of images with adjustments, metadata and who-knows what else all “safely” being stored & managed within the tool.

It sounds like Aperture will be getting one final update to ensure it functions with the upcomming OSX Yosemite, but after that you’re on your own…

When it first burst into view, Aperture was an amazing product – bringing together fantastic RAW processing, great compatibility & non-destructive editing tools together under one roof. I’d been using Aperture for a few years before Aperture 3 appeared – and wrote a post on the subject enthusing about how great it was… Unfortunately, compared to its competitors (well, Adobe’s Lightroom), Aperture all but stood still.

Adobe in comparison were rapidly evolving Lightroom, pressing forwards with new features and generally improving the product at every opportunity.

It didn’t take too long for this to wear a little thin – and I ended up trialing Lightroom just after investing in a Canon EOS 5D Mk3. This camera and it’s 22.3MPx sensor all but pushed Aperture over the proverbial edge in terms of performance. The tool went from being great to something that struggled to open or process RAWs from the new camera – and essentially killed off my workflow! I soon opted to trial Lightroom, and began shifting my images & workflow over to Lightroom a few days later… and never looked back!!

I was in the fortunate position at the time of not having a massive library of images & adjustments which I needed to try and preserve while switching products – which made the move somewhat easier. My images were arranged into a relatively logical folder structure on disk, and all I was really concerned about was metadata. This was embedded in my images rather than being held in Aperture, and as such was immediately and accessible to Lightroom without any further work.
I simply ran both products side by side for a few weeks until I’d finished working on things I’d started working on with Aperture, and then switched to Lightroom for anything new.

Would imagine that if you’re more beholden to Aperture or have a massive library of images for which you need to preserve the adjustments / post-processing work, then switching might not be that simple.

One solution to this however is to simply avoid the problem… Keep a copy of Aperture installed on you machine if you need to go back to an old image, and use Lightroom for new work going forwards. Both tools can share a library file structure on disk; and should be able to share metadata if it’s embedded in your images.

The big wins for me from switching were centered around performance. Lightroom at the time was significently quicker than Aperture when working with the same images on the same hardware. This alone shaved a healthy chunk of time off my post-production workflow – meaning I could focus on my images rather than waiting around for the tool to work. As a side benefit, the Lightroom catalogue file structures also seem to be much more efficient than Aperture’s – dramatically reducing the amount of disk storage needed to index your libraries.

In summary, Aperture’s termination isn’t the death knell it perhaps sounded like… look on it as an opportunity to evolve your workflow, and give Lightroom a go – would imagine you too wouldn’t look back.

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