Aperture 3 Users: Try Not to Worry


"Where the heck is Aperture 4?"
[a cry from the blogosphere]

Usually when we get this deep into the Aperture release cycle (2 years +), murmurs begin that Apple has abandoned the application. Blog posts are published with disgruntled photographers threatening to switch to Lightroom. (I like the phrase "switch" to Lightroom, btw.) And everything in general seems to get a little tense.

My position? Try not to worry. Why? Well, here are a few things to consider.

Consideration #1 - Raw Updates Are Still Rolling In

Apple continues to provide Raw updates for iPhoto, Preview, and Aperture. That means you can can process Raw files in your two-year-old application from the Nikon D4, Nikon D800, Canon 5D Mark III, and the Olympus OM-D. Your photo management app remains up to date without having to spend an additional dime. Maybe the people who should be complaining are the ones who have to spend big dollars updating their apps to access the Raw profiles from the latest models.

Consideration #2 - Dot Releases Still Being Released

My current version of Aperture is 3.2.4. Lots of minor fixes have been published over the last two years. Apple seems to be on top of its app maintenance.

Consideration #3 - MobileMe to iCloud Transition

Aperture 3 is tightly integrated with MobileMe, which is going away in a month. There's much to work out with iCloud integration, and Aperture 4 won't be released until that work is ready.

Consideration #4 - WWDC Announcements

Did you see all of the TBDs in the WWDC program? There are going to be many changes after June 11, 2012. Some of those will affect Aperture.

Consideration #5 - Mountain Lion

You can bet that Mountain Lion, the next release of Mac OS X, will have an impact on Aperture.

Unlike some other photo applications, Aperture doesn't live on its own. It's a component of the Mac OS X (and possibly iOS) ecosystem. So there are more levers to pull in between releases.

If you want to spruce up your Aperture life while you wait to see what appears around the bend, then I recommend you switch to a solid state drive in your Mac. That will certainly improve Aperture's performance until we find out what Apple has up its sleeve.

In the meantime, try not to worry. Everything is going to be just fine.

Aperture Tips and Techniques

To learn more about Aperture 3, check out my Aperture 3 Essential Training on Lynda.com. Also, take a look at our Aperture 3 Learning Center. Tons of free content about how to get the most out of Aperture.

My next open Aperture Workshop is scheduled for Nov. 2012, in Santa Rosa, CA. You can get on the pre-registration list, plus learn about all the other photography workshops offered this season by visiting the TDS Workshops page.

The Digital Story on Facebook -- discussion, outstanding images from the TDS community, and inside information. Join our celebration of great photography!


As an Aperture user I applaud your post of encouragement to those of us out here wishing v4 would arrive soon.

I too am considering upgrading the internal drive on my near 5 year old MacBook Pro to the SSD and replacing the DVD with another 2.5" hard drive.

I travel for my job and work a 7 on 7 off schedule and can be anywhere in the world. As an example, I was in Madrid, Spain this past week. Having the faster internal main drive would really speed up my post processing.

But I am looking forward to v4 and hoping it will include lens correction, or the ability to customize your lens settings along with perspective correction tool too.

Again, thanks for the Aperture pep talk Derrick!

Hi Duane, yes, I would like lens corrections, gradient filter, iCloud integration, and maybe even Final Cut X integration. We'll see...

Derrick, I like your logic as it seems very plausible. However, I also wonder if the recent Final Cut fiasco has anything to do with it. Apple took a lot of heat and supposedly lost many pro customers when they either intentionally released a "dumbed down" product or just released a unfinished product that they had to scramble and make several quick changes and/or additions in a series of updates. "If" that was the case with Aperture 4, I'm sure they would rather have us all grumbling about a late release vs. a product that had the same dumbed down or unfinished perception as Final Cut X.


Ed: couldn't agree more. Better to get it right than release something that isn't fully baked. Lightroom 4 was only released in March, also; if Apple decided to redo/add some features in Aperture 4 in response to LR4's features, that would also push back the release.

I actually did switch switch from Aperture 3 to Lightroom 4 because I was getting antsy, waiting for Aperture to support my camera (which they just added). I don't feel particularly locked into LR4, however. I'm learning that, so long as I keep a referenced library (as opposed to a managed one), it's easy enough to switch between the two. And the software packages are cheap enough now that it's not too big of an investment to have both :)

Derrick has a way to keep us all grounded. I too hope for an aperture 4 soon. I did upgrade to an SSD for my 8-core Mac Pro and aperture still quits when I try to lift and stamp image adjustments to several images. Drives me crazy. I might switch to LR4 if there's no upgrade soon.

Thanks Derrick for the Red River recommendation. I just received my shipment today.


But they haven't fixed the UI regression introduce in 3.2 that Snow Leopard users are being victim of (yes they are serious, and yes I reported them 2 days after the release, and yes, they don't occur on Lion)

Nor have they come with Fuji X10 or X-Pro1 support. Despite putting out specific updates for D800 and 5DMk3. That's not encouraging.

Yes, I agree. I haven't abandoned Aperture yet - and I don't intend to any time soon. Aside from Universal Access (which isn't really even an app), it's the one app I use more than any other, and have for almost 7 years (I think...) and love it. My main thing that's getting me lately is the handling of noise. ACR and the latest versions of Lighroom have been doing very well with high ISO from what I've been reading (though I haven't tested much myself). I've long liked Apple's RAW handling, but really expanding the RAW Fine Tuning brick and really updating the engine would be very welcome.

I'd also like them to update the app to improve the web options with Facebook and others. Integrating it with Mountain Lion's new feature would also be really welcome. I'm running the developer builds of Mountain Lion, and of course everything works the same way, but if they have updates to connect with the system-wide accounts for things like Flickr and Twitter it would make things smoother. It's not really a huge deal, since they aren't essential features, but they would just make the experience more fluid.

If apple could add iPhoto for iOS style Journals with decent export options, I'd be really really happy! Combine that with some of the light table features, and that would be a real winner for beautiful and simple web photo stories.

I'm a big fan of aperture and have never been able to wrap my workflow into lightroom very well.

But seeing all these updates and people using lightroom it does make it look very tempting when aperture hasn't had much commotion in a while. I love aperture and will definitely hold on for a few more months to see what transpires.

I really do think you guys have a good theory about how the terrible launch of final cut x may have really put it in perspective that the product needs to launch as a polished application and not one that needs a lot of updates. I for one am hoping for improvement in the following areas:

- refreshed UI (nothing crazy just something to give it a more modern clean feel
- better importing
- improved keyword hud
- better raw conversion
- better noise reduction

I too am a big fan of Aperture. I also added a SSD to my 3 year old MBP. I replaced the optical drive with a 240G SSD. Makes a big difference. One concern that I have is if Apple is abandoning the computer side of the business. It seems that all effort is going into mobile devices. That is one reason I decided to upgrade my MBP.
The last version of Lightroom that I purchased was LR2. I occasionally bring it up to remind me how "clunky" it is. I also tried a demo of LR4. I still prefer Aperture 3.

I am also a big fan of Aperture. The last version of LR that I purchased was LR2. I still keep it around to remind me of how "clunky" it is compared to Aperture.
I replaced the optical drive in my three year old MBP with a SSD. I use the original HD to store my Aperture Library's. It seems to really speed things up.
One reason I added the SSD is I am concerned that Apple is more concerned with the mobile devices than the computers. I hope I am wrong but it seems that Apple is giving up on professionals.

rather than arguing why not to worry, why not argue that we SHOULD worry. Just because we love Apple doesn't mean we need to be their defense squad whenever things don't favor the consumers.

It's mentioned that this worry happens all the time, but is that a reason to NOT worry or is that precisely the problem? We are PRO users and we rely on certain products to be maintained diligently but how are we supposed to feel that if they're constantly making us guess what our future is?

And then came Aperture 3.3, which made me switch to Aperture from Capture One Pro 6.

Aperture is amazing.