First Look: Aperture 2

If you’re a Mac user, there’s a lot to like about Aperture, and its version 2 includes new features that greatly improve the efficiency and capabilities of this powerful imaging application—all at a new, lower price of $199. There are more than 100 new features, but we’ve focused on some of the more important changes that make this new version worth the upgrade.

The biggest news, in our estimation, is what comes with the free update to version 2 that was just released. Version 2.1 opens up Aperture to enhancement plug-ins like Nik’s new Viveza (see page 66), Picture Code’s Noise Ninja and others. Version 2.1 also comes with a starter plug-in from Aperture—the Dodge & Burn tool brings this traditional darkroom technique to the Aperture workflow.

Customizable Keyboard Shortcuts

Don’t like a particular keyboard shortcut? You can configure all of the keyboard shortcuts in Aperture to be keys that make sense for you.

Improved RAW Processing

Apple upgraded the RAW-processing engine behind Aperture, with an emphasis on better handling of extremes of the tonal range and noise reduction.

Highlight Hot & Cold Areas

This new feature, when enabled, shows areas in your image that are losing detail because they’re either over- or underexposed. Blown-out highlights are shown in red and overcooked shadows are shown in blue.

Inspector Redesign

Instead of using separate panels on the left and right sides of the workspace for the Projects, Metadata and Adjustments panels, Aperture 2 combines all of them into a tabbed panel on the left of the screen, freeing up valuable real estate. You can move the Inspector to the right side of the screen if you prefer.

Customizable Adjustments Panel

You can now select which adjustments will be shown in the Adjustments panel by default, so if you frequently use Sharpening but only rarely use Vignette, you can set the Adjustments panel accordingly.

Recovery & Black Point

Two new controls in the Exposure adjustment help you rescue lost details. Use the Highlight Hot & Cold Areas feature to show where you’re losing detail; then use the Recovery slider to regain details in the highlights and the Black Point slider to restore shadow details.


New to the Enhance adjustment is the Vibrancy slider, which is a great alternative to Saturation. Use it when you want to add punch to less-saturated colors without affecting skin tones. It’s designed to enhance without overdoing it.

All Projects View With Key Photo

Taking a cue from Apple’s iPhoto software, there’s a new All Projects view, which shows every project in your library, each represented by one Key Photo. You can set any image in a project to be the Key Photo for that project. Drag your mouse over the Key Photo, and Aperture displays each image in the project.

Viewer Only Mode

The thumbnail strip at the bottom of the workspace can now be hidden to give you a bigger view of the image on which you’re working. Switch between view options by tapping the V key.

Extended Loupe Magnification Range

The Loupe tool now offers a magnification level of 50%, making the total range of the Loupe from 50% to 1600%. Magnification level is selectable from the drop-down menu located on the Loupe itself when Use Centered Loupe is enabled.

Retouch Tool

Another big addition to the Aperture toolbox is the Retouch Tool, which offers two settings: Repair and Clone. Using Repair, you can paint texture from another part of the image without affecting the color and tonality of the destination area. Or use the Clone mode to directly copy pixels from a source point.

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