Copyright Scott Bourne 1998 - All Rights Reserved

I’ve had several weeks to get to know Aperture 3.0. The latest updates really brought the software to a point where I finally feel like I can rely on it. It’s still not perfect, but it’s at the point that I no longer worry about it.

Accordingly, I’ve been able to delve deeper into the program and here are my top five favorite new features in Aperture 3.0.3

1. Support for Video

I am a big believer in multi-media. I see the application of video in settings where still photography used to rule as part of the new normal. With hybrid DSLRs being so popular, it was time for Aperture to support video. I believe Apple will continue to tweak this feature, but it’s a good start. You can now import, rate and scrub video. You can even trim your clips and add audio. While it’s not really designed this way, you could actually make a full-on movie within Aperture or export to Final Cut Pro. You can also send video to Photoshop for tweaking.

2. Exportable Slide Shows

Finally. I’ll never forget the first time I showed Aperture directly to a client. It was a client who I met back in the days when I shot weddings. She had commissioned me to shoot some portraits of her children. I brought her to the sales room where I had an Apple 30″ Cinema Display set up running a quick and dirty little slideshow I’d built in Aperture 1.X. I used some royalty-free music and I have to say, it turned out pretty well. The client loved it. I pushed all her buttons. She was laughing and crying all at the same time while we were discussing an album of the images. She then asked, “Can I buy the slide show too?” I saw dollar signs and said, “Of course – no problem. We’ll work up a price for you.” OOOOOOPS – problem. There was no way to export the slide show!!! Now you can export the slide show as a movie with the click of a button. Thank you Apple.

3. Show Focus Points

This feature isn’t quite as important to me as a photographer as it is as a photography teacher. When you look at a shot that’s slightly out of focus, it’s sometimes hard to tell what the photographer was aiming at. As someone who critiques and judges lots of photos, I use this feature to find out where the focus point was in relationship to the subject. Just hit OPTION-F to turn this feature on. Try it.

4. Adjustment Presets

When I started exploring Lightroom 2.X, I decided that one of its great advantages over Aperture was it’s ability to use presets. Now the scales are balanced. Aperture now supports fully editable, customizable presets. You can make your own presets, download other photographers’ presets, create your own preset menus. It’s all very powerful and makes it possible to get in and out of Aperture in just a minute or two if your shot starts out right.

5. Skin Smoothing Quick Brush

I simply can’t believe how well this tool works. It eliminates most of the reason I used to round trip to Photoshop. Apple has managed to make this tool both extremely powerful and at the same time, terribly easy to use. That’s a killer combination. You have fully selective control over the process.

Aperture has matured quite nicely. I am back to using it as my primary image editing, selecting and processing tool. I am still using Lightroom because I think it has some nifty neat features too. But I have to admit that I am simply more comfortable with the Apple interface and I prefer managed libraries. I realize that makes me a bit of an odd duck, but hey – what else is new?

I’m teaching a free course in Aperture 3.0X at CreativeLive.com starting this month.

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This post sponsored by the Digital SLR Store