UPDATE: Today Apple issued an update to iPhoto
(This update addresses issues that, in extremely rare cases, could result in data loss when upgrading a library from an earlier version of iPhoto. http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4431)

Apple’s iPhoto is one of the most popular photo editing and sorting programs in the world. After all, it’s free with every new Mac. Not everyone wants or needs the power of Photoshop, Aperture or Lightroom. Still others simply can’t justify the cost of those programs. In steps iPhoto. iPhoto hadn’t seen any major enhancements in quite a while. But recently, that changed. Apple introduced iLife 11 – which I bought and installed yesterday. While I haven’t tested iPhoto extensively yet, I do have some first impressions.

iPhoto’s biggest new feature is mega-full screen mode. You can now browse, edit, and share your photos full screen. You can do everything in full screen mode. It’s beautiful to look at.

There have been enhancements to the Facebook engine and other sharing like better email. Emailing photos got even easier. You can now email directly from iPhoto. Apple now offers eight different themes you can use to send email photos and it works with just about every popular email service.

The slideshows are quicker and better. There are also some very attractive new themes. The new slideshows even take advantage of iPhtoo’s face detection capability. I have to say that while I own just about every slide show program on the market, the free on in iPhoto is pretty darn good and just got a bunch better.

A while back Apple changed printers and revamped it’s book service. The new service is quite good. Apple now makes it easier to build books with a new dynamic theme browser. You can outflow images, use face detection, do spreads, etc.

One of the new features that really excites me is the ability to order photos that are printed on letter-press cards. This is a very high-end application of a low-price (free with any Mac and less than $50 to upgrade) solution.

It might be my imagination but this new version of iPhoto just feels a bit more stable and a little snappier. Faces and Places work better than ever before. The new full screen mode makes it easier than ever to really see your photos, and the program is just plain smart. In most cases, you can pretty much guess the most logical way to do something and iPhoto comes through.

Here’s a case in point. There are some Aperture users who decided not to upgrade to Aperture 3.0. The new iPhoto has some of the same features as Aperture (although it’s not intended as a replacement for Aperture.) If you want to export an Aperture 2.0 library and then import it into iPhoto 11, it’s as easy as drag and drop. iPhoto is smart enough to determine which parts and pieces of the Aperture library go where within the iPhoto library. It’s brilliant.

If you don’t buy a new Mac and need to pay the $50 upgrade price – do it. I think it’s well worth it. Highly recommended.

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This post sponsored by Rogue Flash Benders – distributed by Expo Imaging