Apple Computer announced Wednesday a new photo production tool called Aperture during a media event in New York City ahead of the Photoworld trade show. Aperture offers both photo management and editing tools, and is aimed at professional photographers wishing to work natively with the RAW image format.
"Aperture is to professional photography what Final Cut Pro is to filmmaking," said Rob Schoeben, Appleis vice president of Applications Marketing. "Finally, an innovative post production tool that revolutionizes the pro photo workflow from compare and select to retouching to output."
The RAW image format offers the clearest and most-detailed digital images, and it gives photographers the greatest control over the data in their image. The tradeoff is that the image files are enormous. In addition to storage issues, working with RAW files was difficult because they were CPU-intensive.
According to Apple, Aperture offers an "incredibly fast" RAW workflow, making working with this file format natively "as easy" as working with JPEG files. JPEG files are much smaller, but the lossy nature of the file format means that pro photographers (and the users of their images) have to deal with a loss of quality.
Apple said that "Apertureis nondestructive image processing engine never alters a single pixel of original photos."
Aperture comes with built-in management tools specifically aimed at pros working with large quantities of images. These include compare and select tools designed to allow a photographer to compare groups of similar photos, selecting the one(s) they wish to use.
Claiming an industry-first, Apple said that Aperture also allows users to navigate through entire projects in a fullscreen mode that can span multiple displays. This would be the digital equivalent to being able to lay out proofs across a large desk or work space in the real world.
In a similar vein, Aperture comes with Light Table, a work space for building simple photo layouts. Photos can be arranged, resized and piled together digitally without going to a third-party app for quick looks.
When importing, Aperture can create "Stacks" of photos grouped together by time. This keeps photos organized in a way that mirrors an actual photo shoot.
Aperture includes a tool called "Loupe" that acts like a jewleris loupe, a small, high-powered magnifying glass often used by photographers to examine details in a photo. The Loupe tool in Aperture allows the user to zoom in on part of a photo without enlarging the entire photo, a process that saves CPU time.
A Lift and Stamp tool allows you to make adjustments on one picture and copy a specific grouping of adjustments throughout an entire grouping of images.
Aperture also features "a complete color-managed pipeline," including support for device-specific ColorSync profiles. A variety of output tools are also included (contact sheets, Web galleries, local printing).
Another output option is the ability to order bound books of photographs directly through Aperture, similar to the books that can be ordered through Appleis consumer photo management tool, iPhoto. However, books ordered through Aperture are printed at 300dpi, color managed, and are much higher in quality than the iPhoto product.
Lastly, and most importantly to many photographers, Aperture allows users to directly launch images into Photoshop for those who wish to do compositing, layers, or other additional editing.
[Update: This story has been updated with additional information from Apple; original source AppleXnet].