Saturday, July 31, 2010

Aperture 3, Going Strong After 6 Months

    It is hard to believe that it has already been six months since Apple released Aperture 3, just a few months ahead of Adobe Lightroom 3, which was released back in June. In the early days of Aperture 3 I was seriously considering switching to Lightroom 3, after all the freezing problems that I had at the start. I still have the odd problem, but nothing like what I was seeing during the early days of February and March. I was going to do a review of Aperture 3, but there are some good reviews out already, and frankly I have more to say about usability than the mechanics of the application itself. There are also some features of Aperture 3 that I don't really use, like places or faces, which would make doing a proper review almost impossible.

    The primary issue I have is due to Aperture's desire to grab as much free memory as possible, which is pushing me towards upgrading my 13" MBP to 8GBs of RAM from 4GBs. Upgrading the RAM, is not a bad idea anyway, considering that I like to have Aperture 3 and a few other applications open at the same time, such as Firefox to manage images I've uploaded to Smugmug or Flickr. Any other big purchases, like upgrading to an high end iMac or Mac Pro will have to wait till next year due to budget restraints.

Today and during the week to come I'll have more posts on using Aperture 3, and photo editing via that software, which I have lots of time to do, thanks to a minor foot injury which is keeping me house bound for the time being. Anyway, back to using Aperture 3! 

    Overall I'd have to say that my experience with Aperture 3 has been good, other than the first month or so of absolute frustration, due to early bugs. Those kinds of bugs are kind of a given with a major application like Aperture 3, which was only tested by Apple, vs. Lightroom 3 which had open beta versions for users to try and find bugs. It was tough at times to hold onto Aperture 3 in the early days, when even the beta versions of Lightroom 3 were more stable than the first 3 versions of Aperture 3 (version 3.0, 3.0.1, 3.0.2). With the release of Aperture 3.0.3 came stability, and far fewer occasions where memory leaks caused my system to lockup. Of course while the progression of Aperture 3 updates came, so did updates to RAW compatibility and Mac OSX itself, which no doubt also helped. There are very few times now where I have a problem with Aperture itself, unless I am working with large images, which eat up a lot of memory. Okay, enough about the problems from the early days, what about using Aperture now?

    I use several Aperture Libraries in order to better manage my images, making a new library for every year in order to keep the size of the library manageable in and of themselves. I have used referenced files a few times, and whenever I do it just feels like a hassle, so I always move everything back into libraries. I like that Aperture manages the images so that I do not have to. First of all, due to the fact that Aperture is the only application that I use edit my images, and secondly because I just don't want the hassle of trying to organize them myself, which always gets messy and time consuming. Some people might ask, what are you going to do if there comes a time when you don't use Aperture anymore? The answer is simple, export them from Aperture, which allows you to configure exports of master images in any way you like; such as by day, month, year etc.

    Okay, so you have a way of freeing the master RAW files from the Aperture libraries, but what about the edits you have made? That is the tough part, which is why I backup my favorite images to DVD's. Almost any picture that I even remotely care about has a 3 star or higher rating, which means they are backed up, three times over. I have a DVD backup, which is made up of exported full size, edited JPEGS. Although that may not be the best solution, it is the one that I have right now. Speaking of backing up my images, lets talk about that a little bit more.

    I backup my images in a few ways, first via Time Machine, which backs up everything on my MacBook Pro's hard drive, secondly through Aperture Vaults, one for each library on two different hard drives.  Thirdly, as mentioned before, I backup my favorite images (images with ratings 3 or higher) to DVD's which are stored in fire proof boxes. At this time I don't have an off-site backup solution, but that is something I'm looking to rectify in the next year, as my image libraries continue to grow. I'm also looking to improve my current external backup solution, because right now I am using several external drive cases to manage two to four external drives for various purposes. There are many different ways of dealing with that issue, such as getting multi-bay external drive cases. I am strongly considering doing that, but right now I am debating between a Firewire based solution or a network (NAS) based solution. Neither is inexpensive, which is my primary concern at this time.

In the next post on this subject I'll focus more on using Aperture 3 itself, such as how to use and make presets, which is one of the biggest, and in my opinion best additions that came with Aperture 3.

Read the next entry on this topic:
Aperture 3, Going Strong After 6 Months Part II