Thoughts on Aperture 1.5

I've been using Aperture for a couple of weeks, in somewhat light usage (some days not at all, others, like today, with it open for most of the day). I've got a few gigs of images in my Aperture library, without importing my iPhoto images (I decided it's not worth having an out-of-sync snapshot of my iPhoto library in Aperture). Here's some quick thoughts based on my time in Aperture 1.5:

  • I love the various views (list/browse, browser/viewer/fullscreen, metadata hud, adjustments hud, secondary screen modes...) - makes it soooo easy to find what I'm looking for, and get the job done.
  • Smart albums - great way to organize images. I can add stuff to projects/albums, and have a Smart Album populate itself based on combinations of keywords, star ratings, and other metadata fields (show me all images with 3 or more stars, having the keyword "Issue #1", shot with an aperture greater than f4 in the last 2 weeks).
  • It runs like a pig on my PowerMac G5 Quad. The chips and RAM are up to the task, but the stock Nvidia GeForce 6600 video apparently doesn't have the horsepower needed by Aperture (although it kicks Q3A and UT2003 pretty nicely - Dashboard hangs a bit, too, so perhaps it's a Quartz Extreme thing). Images can take a few seconds to display. The loupe might take up to 5 seconds to show up, and is sluggish to drag. HUDs fade in very slowly, often over a couple of seconds. I resorted to minimizing the previews, selecting the smallest size and lowest quality, and that seems to have really sped things up. But it sure doesn't feel like it's running on what was Apple's flagship machine until the recent release of the Mac Pro.
  • Keyboard shortcuts aren't properly localized. They're hardcoded to the QWERTY keys. Or, rather, some are hard-coded, some are localized. I use the Dvorak layout, so have to use the menus and toolbar buttons for many things (like changing the Window Layout), but keyboard shortcuts work fine for other things (like fullscreen, and loupe). Frustrating.
  • No straightforward way to crop/export really wide aspect ratio images. I spent most of today cropping a whole bunch of images into 790x287 and 790x134 sizes, and had to leave Aperture to do that. The crop HUD won't let me enter values over 40, and seems to be acting up on large-ish numbers in general. So I resorted to exporting versions of the image, and taking those into Photoshop for cropping (where the crop tool lets me enter whatever dimensions I want) and export as jpeg for use on the web. Frustrating. I'd love to be able to apply non-destructive crops in Aperture, then export at the appropriate dimensions. It would make tweaking the crop much easier, rather than eyeballing it in Photoshop.
  • No "Burn Project to DVD" button. I wanted to send a copy of an organized Aperture library to a client for backup, because their photographer sent them some really scratched and unorganized CDs full of great photos, and a nice DVD with the Aperture library would be better for their archives. I had to export the project to my desktop, then copy that do a DVD and burn it. A handy "Backup Project to DVD" feature would be great. Maybe I missed it.

Even with a few gripes, I'm pretty impressed by Aperture 1.5. It's not perfect, but is a really sweet app that (mostly) lets me plough through a whole bunch of images quickly to get things done right and fast.

Things I'd like to see added:

  • Live reference to iPhoto library. So I don't have to stop using iPhoto in order to use Aperture. Instead of importing a snapshot of iPhoto's library, how about a dynamic reference, something like a symlink from a Project in my Aperture library to my iPhoto library. There are a few reasons to keep using iPhoto, so it'd be cool to play better with it rather than just trying to push it out of the playground.
  • Make it run faster on the Nvidia GeForce 6600. No idea if that's possible, or how to do it, but the card's not supposed to be a total stinker, and a whole lot of people have Quad G5s with it as the stock card. It's a shame that Aperture doesn't run fast enough on it.
  • Wide aspect ratio cropping/exporting workflow. For things like blog/website banners, newsletter headers, etc... The crop tool's acting up at really wide aspect ratios.

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