Aperture 1.5 unveiled at event in Germany

Apple on Monday announced the release of Aperture 1.5 during a special event at the Photokina tradeshow being held in Cologne, Germany. In front of a standing room-only crowd of 1,000 people Apple executives demoed some of the new features and told the crowd that updates for existing Aperture users would be free.

“Any notion that Apple is not 100 percent committed to this space has been completely erased,” Rob Schoeben, Apple’s vice president of Applications Product Marketing, told Macworld following the event. “Our customers are betting on our application and they are putting their reputations on the line everyday — we have responded by delivering a strong set of new features and some very nice refinements.”

The heart and soul of Aperture 1.5 is the Library, according to Apple. The new library system allows photographers to store images on internal disks or other locations like external drives, CDs or DVDs. The system also allows users to rate, review and organize images, even if they are offline.

Aperture also now features integrated support with iLife ‘06 and iWork ‘06, which means users can access Aperture media to build Web sites, create presentations in Keynote and copy photos to iPhoto, using JPEG versions of the Aperture images.

“Every single one of those applications can see the Aperture Library as easily as it can see the iPhoto library,” said Schoeben.

Other new features in Aperture 1.5 include a luminance-based Edge Sharpen filter for extremely high-quality sharpening results and a new Color tool that lets photographers tune the hue, saturation and luminance of specific color ranges within each image.

Schoeben said the Loupe magnifier has been dramatically enhanced with a set of onscreen controls, smooth zooming with up to 1600 percent magnification and a new option that enables it to be detached from the cursor while making adjustments. Individual image adjustment settings can now be saved as presets that can be automatically applied through a menu command, so that photographers can quickly and easily make standard adjustments.

Apple has also developed a new API plug-in architecture so that third-party developers can tap into Aperture and allow customers to seamlessly connect Aperture’s workflow to their service. Currently Getty Images, iStockphoto, Pictage, Flickr, PhotoShelter, DigitalFusion, Soundslides and Connected Flow all have plug-ins that are being shown in Germany.

While Aperture has been known for its high system requirements, Schoeben had some good news for notebook users. “Aperture runs on every single mac that Apple actively sells,” he said.

In addition to the new and enhanced features, Apple has also included support for three new cameras — the Fuji S2, S3 and the Sony A100.

Aperture 1.5 is available later this week in English, French, German and Japanese as a free update to current Aperture 1.0 customers. Aperture 1.5 is available to order for new customers for a suggested retail price of $299 through the Apple Store, which will be updated at 12:00 am local time tonight.

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