Okay – in short – I’ve had it with Apple. Ever since Steve passed, the company has seemed to be off course – not financially – but in regards to vision. Even before Steve passed, we saw the Final Cut Pro debacle – turning one of the most successful professional video editing applications into a glorified version of iMovie. While I am often mindlessly called an Apple fanboy, I have routinely called the company to task when I think they have made a mistake. And this is going to be one of those times.
Looking at what’s happened to the Apple Pro Apps division – one has to ponder – Is Aperture next? That’s the problem. I don’t know. And nobody at Apple will talk about it. For years I’ve defended Aperture and Apple for making such a great project. I think that was the right decision – then.
But as Apple has grown even more reclusive in its willingness to share its plans or talk to the media, they have forgotten that the people who aren’t getting the information are ultimately their customers.
I assumed we’d hear something about Aperture 4.0 by now. I was really confident in fact that there would be an Aperture 4.0 by now. I wrote an article not long back linking the timeline to releases and thought surely we’d have an answer by now. After all, Lightroom 4 is shipping and in every way it needed to, Adobe caught Aperture and in some cases passed it. But from Apple – not a peep.
I’ve used Aperture for more than five years for the simple reason that I thought it was the better product. As of the Lightroom 4.0 release, I no longer believe that’s accurate. I won’t go into too many details but I’ll mention just a few places where I think Lightroom has surpassed Aperture.
Let’s start with the raw converter. For years I’ve said that Aperture and Adobe’s RAW converters are both good – but different. I can no longer say that they are on par. With Lightroom 4.0, Adobe has released a raw converter that does a much better job converting files with low noise and accurate color than does the current converter from Aperture.. This is huge and it applies even more so to the new hot cameras like the Canon 5D MK III and the Nikon D4. Adobe has figured this out and Apple is silent. For the first time in five years I like the conversions better in Lightroom. That’s reason enough to switch. But other improvements in the highlight and shadow recovery, extended video support, the amazing (and I do mean AMAZING) clarity slider, improved develop module and much faster, speedier processing, Lightroom 4 has left Aperture 3 in the dust. Period. (NOTE: the aforementioned list was only a smattering of the improvements in LR4. For more information go to Adobe.com.)
Now if I knew Aperture 4.0 was around the corner and that Apple answered each of these new improvements with improvements of their own, I’d reconsider. But at this point I don’t know that and have no reason to expect it.
So if I can get my arms around the fact that I need to move almost 480,000 images and that I need to be able to master a new workflow involving referenced rather than managed files, I’m going to switch and if I do – I’m not going back – no matter what Apple does. Even if they do catch up because it will only be a matter of time before it’s deja vu all over again.
There have been a host of new bugs in Aperture (either introduced by OS or converter updates) that Apple has only recently addressed. They won’t communicate with their users and there’s no loyalty there. It takes loyalty to get loyalty so unless something happens in the next few days to change my mind, you can expect to hear me talking about a permanent change to Adobe Lightroom 4. I flirted with this once before when Aperture 3.0 launched because it was so buggy. But this time if I switch, I’m not coming back.
You might not know my history, but if I do switch it’s a pretty big deal. My history with Aperture is as almost as deep as you can get. I taught (alongside Derrick Story) the first live Aperture class taught anywhere at Macworld the year the product debuted. I also taught it there the following two years. I have been the technical editor on almost every Aperture book ever written (I worked on nine of them.) I was in the first Apple Train The Trainer (T3) class and was one of the first Apple-Certified T3 trainers. I’ve taught thousands of people how to use Aperture in seminars and workshops. I’ve also recorded training titles for lynda.com (total three video training series) and I founded the first Aperture blog and podcast (Aperture Tricks) later sold to a third party. If Apple can’t hang on to someone like me, what does that say about their prospects for hanging on to the rest of the market?
You’ve been put on notice Apple. Put up or shut up. Lightroom 4.0, here I come.