Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Aperture 3: After One Month

    So I've been using Aperture 3 since the day it was release, and so far I have mixed feelings about the application. If you have been following my blog, you'll know that I have mentioned a few issues that I have had, and I'll start off this post by talking about those issues, and finishing off with the good news.

Memory Leak Issue? The Bad
    What I am pointing out in this photo is memory usage while using one of the brushes, in this case I was using the blur and retouch brushes to deal some nasty objects that were distracting from the subject. Note that only 3.75GB of 4GBs of RAM is usable by the OS and applications, since the Nvidia 9400M in the 13" MBP uses 256MB of RAM. At the time I took this photo 3.99GB of RAM was in use and the swap file was 16.24GB in size. I force quit Aperture when that file reached 20GB in size, about 15 minutes after the App became unresponsive. From what I can see, even maxing the RAM in my system 8GB would not help, but maybe I'm wrong?

    The memory issue while using retouch brushes has been the only reason issue that I've had while using the program, which for me is an issue since that is one of the new features that I specifically upgraded to Aperture 3 for! If you look closely you'll notice CPU usage is less than 50% total. Aperture 3 and activity monitor were the only user applications running when I took this photo.

    All of the other problems that I initially had with Aperture 3 were ironed out by Apple via updates, so I think they are doing a decent job of getting Aperture usable for the majority of users. The thing that I find strange is that most people I talk to have not had this issue since the Aperture 3.01 and Pro Kit 5.1 updates were released. What makes my system so different? What I am doing wrong? I've reinstalled the Application twice, once by just deleting the Apple, and second time after a fresh install of Mac OSX 10.6.2. Maybe there are evil ghosts in my MacBook Pro?

    The real hitch is Aperture 2 ran problem free on my current MBP and my last one, but Aperture 3 has been troublesome from day one. Of course by the time I got Aperture 2 a year and half ago, it was a well refined piece of software in comparison, which helped I'm sure. At times I am tempted to go back to Aperture 2, since I work from referenced master files anyway, although I'd have to redo all my editing since many photos have been processed only by Aperture 3. I am hesitant to revert, because I do like many of the changes made in Aperture 3, so on to the good stuff.

The Good
    What about the things in Aperture 3 that I like? I actually like to use the brushes, which is why the memory issue I'm having is so frustrating! Not having to export files to another application or a plug-in really makes using such tools far easier and less wasteful of hard drive space. If the memory leak is somehow fixed for me in a future update I will jump for joy, to say the least! I love the presets that can be used in Aperture 3, and I've downloaded many from other photographers as well as making my own. I also like the overall speed of the Application, which is an improvement over Aperture 2 in many ways. I don't use places or faces, the latter just being a pain. I like the idea of the places feature, and once I get a GPS unit for my D300, I'll likely use it a lot. I've already added some of my photos in manually to tag them, but I find it time consuming and not really worth while at this point.

    Overall RAW image processing has improved, which includes the noise reduction element, both of which were welcome changes. It really helps take noise of the sky in ISO200 images, which the D300 is notorious for. I like the improved sliders, which allow you to fine tune the changes by sub points, rather than full points. The adjustment sliders themselves also seem to be easier to control. Overall I've found it easier to work in Aperture 3 than in Aperture 2, which was starting to feel dated, and slow. Once I fixed an issue I was having with plug-ins for Aperture 3, a folder was missing in the Application support folder for Aperture, I find them to be more responsive, most likely due to 64bit goodness of Aperture 3. On that note, I have not noticed a huge difference between running Aperture 3 in 32bit mode and 64bit mode, but it is a little bit more snappy in the latter mode.