Aperture update brings Intel support, lower price

Apple on Thursday released Aperture 1.1, the promised update for the company's postproduction tool for photographers. In addition to the expected Intel support in Aperture, Apple has also made a few other changes to the application, which improves functionality and makes the application easier to manage for new users.

"Aperture was originally designed for the high-end professionals and we wanted to make sure their needs we met," Kirk Paulsen, Apple's senior director Pro Applications Marketing, told Macworld. "After it was released we saw that some hobbyists wanted to use the same type of workflow that the pros use -- it was in our best interest and their best interest to make it more accessible."

The new version of Aperture dramatically improved RAW image rendering, according to Apple. The update also adds a new set of advanced RAW adjustment controls and delivers image adjustments and searching on a MacBook Pro up to 4x faster than the previous version on a PowerBook G4.

New RAW Fine Tuning controls allow photographers to tweak decode settings such as boost, sharpening and chroma blur. A new built-in color meter displays pixel values in RGB, Lab or CMYK in the Adjustments HUD (heads up display) or in Aperture’s Loupe magnifying viewer. Many of these changes were the direct result of talking and listening to the users, according to Apple.

"We made some very dramatic changes based on input from users," said Paulsen. "We have been reading every single forum post and have invited photographers from different market segments to Cupertino to interact with our design teams."

Aperture 1.1 also includes enhanced export controls that make it easier to output images at specific resolutions and improve the handling of layered Photoshop files.

Apple has also added support for the Nikon D200 and Canon 30D, as well as dozens of reliability and performance improvements, the company said.

In recent months Aperture has a competitor in Adobe's Lightroom. Still in beta Lightroom is taking aim at the same workflow issues that Apple outlined for Aperture customers. Apple feels that Aperture will win out over the graphic-giants entry into the market.

"What's become clear since launch of Aperture is that there is definitely a need for a new workflow," said Paulsen. "Aperture was the first to define the workflow, but it won't be the last. We believe it will continue to be the best."

Aperture 1.1 is available immediately as a software update for existing customers. For new customers, the cost of Aperture has gone down from $499 to $299 -- customers that purchased Aperture at the earlier higher price can claim a $200 coupon redeemable at the Apple Online Store.

Update: Added information from interview with Apple executives. 4/13/06 1:53 pm

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