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Programmes for Mac

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by HeatherTheVet, Jun 4, 2011.

  1. HeatherTheVet

    HeatherTheVet SC All-Pro

    Apr 23, 2011
    Scotland
    Heather
    Before I go and throw money down the drain I thought I would draw on your collective wisdom rather than my default setting of make an arse of it, then backpedal furiously.

    I use a MacBook Pro, it is one of the best things I've ever bought (along with a Selmer MarkVI baritone saxophone, and a rescue dog. Oh, an the NEX of course). I use iphoto because that's what I have. I also downloaded Picasa because there was a printing feature I needed on it.

    I'd like to be able to process images better, I suspect that means I need a new programme. I am not laying out for Photoshop. I'm a canny Scot, forget it. I was thinking about Aperture 3 which I can download for £45. Does anybody else use it? Is it worth it or should I get something else?

    What's the story with Silver Efex? I like the look.

    Wisdom me up!
    The ever grateful Heather
     
  2. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 12, 2010
    Philly, Pa
    Heather, nice sax.
    I use Light Room, I find it very intuitive. It also organizes very well.
    Some like Aperture. They both work well.
    Silver Effex will set you back a few bucks but is worth every hard earned dollar.
    I would say get LR & The Nik Suite if you can swing it. This upgrade in your software will greatly improve your images.
     
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  3. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    BB
    I'm with Don, Heather. I know we have at least three Aperture users here, and maybe more. I started out with Aperture, after iPhoto...but for me I ran into problems with Aperture, though I know Ray and John and Grant are very happy with it. I've found Lightroom to be excellent and then Don turned me onto the Nik software...and I finally listened after about a year and wish I'd listened right at the outset.

    Good software for processing does really make a huge difference. When you think what we spend on a camera and a lens or cameras and lenses...it's the least we can do to get a good way to make the best of our photographs.
     
  4. Duane Pandorf

    Duane Pandorf SC Top Veteran

    868
    Apr 25, 2011
    Western NC
    If money is tight and you want to get the biggest bang for your "bucks", I would buy Aperture and the Nik Complete Collection set for Aperture/Lightroom. This combo will set you back the £45 for Aperture and around £150 for the Nik software.

    But before you spend any cash I think you can download trial versions of all of these apps to see how they work which will help you decide.

    If you do download the trials I would make sure you had time set aside to really spend on each to ensure you get as good an idea as possible on how each works and that you'd be happy with your purchase.
     
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  5. bilzmale

    bilzmale Super Moderator Emeritus

    Jul 17, 2010
    Perth, Western Australia
    Bill Shinnick
    I support the advice given - trials are a godsend but spread the downloads over time or it may get all too confusing. Start with Lightroom and Aperture before looking at the Nik plugins. Make a choice on editor and then try Nik. The full suite is better value than buying Silver Efex and just one other plugin. Remember our sister site of mu-43 has a discount deal with Nik which also returns a small bonus to Amin. Just input mu-43 in the order process.
     
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  6. flash

    flash SC Veteran

    372
    May 6, 2011
    Gordon
    Sorry to disagree (again ;-) )

    I think you should get Photoshop Elements. Cheap. 80-90% of Photoshop functionality. Lightroom, Aperture and the like are amazing but they're primarily raw editors with mostly global functions. Elements allows far more powerful pixel level editing.

    Gordon
     
  7. BillN

    BillN SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 25, 2010
    S W France
    Bill
    download the LR trial and search for some free adobe LR tutorials and explore as much of the functionality as you can

    LR is really worth the money

    Elements is worth the money IF you wish to use the functions that LR does not have, (but I now find that I use LR 95% of the time as it seems to do all I need in a very straightforward way
     
  8. christilou

    christilou SC Hall of Famer

    Jul 13, 2010
    Sunny Frimley
    I started with Aperture on my Mac but didn't really get along with it. I'm not very computer savvy:redface: I used a trial of LR2 for a while and then got a "free" copy of LR3 that came bundled as part of the Leica X1 package. I find it's far more intuitive and I'm learning new things all the time. I'm using the 15 day trial of Colour Efex Pro right now and finding it dead easy to use. I also have a trial of Photoshop Elements running and I have to say that "layers" seem to be like a foreign language to me!!! It's very good software but I need to spend a LOT of time trying to work it out or spend some time watching the tutorials. I would also recommend that you download a trial when you have sufficient time to devote to it!
     
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  9. christilou

    christilou SC Hall of Famer

    Jul 13, 2010
    Sunny Frimley
    Stanley, I saw this too. Looks good but I've got too many trials running at the moment! I'll give it a go when the other two I'm trialling finish :)
     
  10. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Nic
    AFAIK if you want to use the mu-43 Nik discount within Europe you need to do the following;

    NIK European Contact Info - Micro Four Thirds User Forum

    I gotta say, decent editing software will probably give you a bigger improvement than any new camera or lens you could buy. I've recently being uploading some old travel photos on my flickr account taken on a Canon 350D that I have reprocessed using Silver Efex and Color Efex, and it has me thinking about how much I spent on cameras between then and now and how much all that expense really gained me in comparison to the cost of software.
     
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  11. Grant

    Grant SC Veteran

    249
    Nov 12, 2010
    Lunenburg Nova Scotia
    Me too, and I like to buy once but wisely.

    The direct response to your question is easy, I have Aperture , I use it and love it. I also have Silver Efex I use it on occasions and it is more like than love.

    The longer answer is of course, longer. Most people will tell you they like one of the other and the reasons why are … Most people buy into the hype and never use their chosen program enough to really know how good or bad it is. Aperture is an obvious choice for a Mac person, first off if it has the Mac look and feel, if you are an iPhoto person you have a leg up in the learning curve, It integrates very well with other Mac software, and finally it is very attractively priced. There is no choice for the PC users they are locked out of Aperture. Lightroom is a great product and there is tons of support and third party addons for it, but it is more costly. To get good with either program you have to invest time. Once you learn the deeper workings of these programs then their true worth will become more evident and you will become more productive. But once learned it is harder to change products that simply laying down a few dollars. I started with Aperture before there was Lightroom and hence there is no good reason for me to start over. If I were to start over today I would be tempted to go with Lightroom but in the end I think would go with Aperture. They are both brilliant programs and both integrate well with Photoshop but they don’t replace Photoshop’s power.

    I only use Silver Efex in Photoshop because in Aperture there are number of free actions that will do colour conversion easily. While Silver Efex really does a great job and in no way would I slag it, I am very good with Photoshop and I can get all the effects without using Silver Efex. What I can’t do is get those effects as quickly as Silver Efex can. But I can record actions to do those effects I need. The bottomline is I have them, I use them, but I can live without them.

    Finally my recommendations to an intermediate and advanced amateur photographer with a Mac is Aperture and Photoshop Elements (good bang for the buck) will fill all your needs. For a professional with or without a Mac is … well if they are professionals the will know what they need so no use me telling them what they know
     
  12. Duane Pandorf

    Duane Pandorf SC Top Veteran

    868
    Apr 25, 2011
    Western NC
    I believe the main reason to use Aperture (my preference) or Lightroom is to catalog your images and to be able to find them quickly. I think Aperture can do this the best with its Smart Filtering. The second big benefit that Aperture has over Lightroom (again my opinion) is the way it keeps your images in one library with a very simple way to keep that library backed up. Some like the way Apple does this with Aperture, others don't.

    Finally you can do some great image editing with both programs.
     
  13. Duane Pandorf

    Duane Pandorf SC Top Veteran

    868
    Apr 25, 2011
    Western NC
    I also recently came across this info when I was searching for Aperture related subject matter. Can't verify if this is true and I know some probably get a heartburn when you mention the authors name but thought I'd copy and paste and provide a link to some of the technical differences between how Aperture and Lightroom work with RAW files (feel free to shoot the messenger as I'm wearing my kevlar protection suite ; ):

    Apple Aperture Review
    Technical Supremacy

    Rich guys think they're cool when they open a raw file in Photoshop's Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), and spend a day jacking it in Photoshop with layers and masks.

    We can do the same thing faster in Aperture, and there's a secret. I knew all this, but is became apparent why Aperture is technically better when I jammed the Shadows slider and was able to pull up black shadows that were 8 stops underexposed, with vivid detail.

    When we open something in ACR, it's converting the raw data into a raster image that is then processed in Photoshop. If we open the file in 16-bits, all is well. All our adjustments made in ACR are done once, and then we have our 16-bit file to tweak in Photoshop to our heart's content.

    By comparison, Aperture never makes any final conversions from the raw data until we do a final export of an edited version. Every adjustment and brush is applied to the virginal raw information just once.

    When a raw file is opened in Photoshop's ACR, ACR applies all our white balance, exposure, contrast, black-clip and every setting to the data, and produces a big file from it. Here's the problem with this: we always lose something in this process. Add exposure, and we lose some highlights. Open with whatever black-clip setting, and we lose some shadows.

    No matter how much we screw with something in Photoshop with what started off as a raw file, we're losing information as soon as we've converted the raw data into a raster image in ACR. Photoshop can't process raw data: it needs the raster data from ACR, and ACR does all sorts of curve shaping, truncation, redithering, rounding and you name it to convert the 14-bit linear raw data into 16-bit log z-axis data. Photoshop asks you to make final decisions in ACR before you even get to start working in Photoshop with a raw file!

    Contrast this to Aperture, which is always working directly from the original raw data. All the settings we apply in Aperture are calculated directly from the raw data, so if we need to add black clipping, highlight compression, sharpening, severe white balance shifts, and add strong shadow recovery as well as burn and dodge, these are all calculated from the original raw data. There is no raw-conversion happening a la ACR before Aperture can read the file; the only conversion from raw happens in Aperture only on export.

    Here's an example: we sharpen in ACR as part of the demosaicing, but do arbitrary rotations later Photoshop to fix an unlevel camera. ACR does all sorts of inter-pixel interpolation to demosaic and sharpen our image, and we lose more sharpness when re-interpolating again performing the arbitrary rotate later in Photoshop. With Aperture, the raw data is never touched, so the demosaicing, rotation and sharpening are all calculated in the same conversion sequence from the original data, only on final export.

    Aha!​
     
  14. olli

    olli Super Moderator Emeritus

    Sep 28, 2010
    Metro Manila
    olli
    Lightroom user here so can't speak of Aperture.

    Before deciding what to buy it's good to decide what you need. If you're not going to be playing with RAW files I'd go with Gordon and suggest Photoshop Elements. It's cheap, it has almost all the features of Photoshop that a normal user would use, and it has a version of Adobe Camera Raw built in that will do basic RAW editing if you want it. If you are mostly a JPEG person it would probably be a better choice.

    The thing to understand about Lightroom is that it is more than just an image editor. Only one the five LR modules is primarily aimed at processing. The others, together with the Develop module, are designed to manage your entire workflow from the moment you import images to you computer to the point at which you send them for printing or online display. That said, I spend 95% of my time in the first two modules, Library and Develop.

    I would also endorse what Grant said above - in order to get the best from these programmes you have to invest time in getting to know their full potential. There are a huge range of online resources for LR - videos, blogs, podcasts, etc as well as printed guides - so there is plenty of opportunity to really get to know what it can do, though at first the amount of material can be overwhelming.

    With NIK and other plugins, my advice would be to get a good understanding of what LR is capable of before downloading trial versions. It's only once you know what you can do, for example, with B&W in LR that you will know how you can further enhance those images in something like SEP. The same is true for other plugins.

    30 day trials are a great starting point for any of these programmes but it does require a degree of dedication and preparation in order to get a decent idea of the capabilities of Aperture. LR or PSE in such a short period of time. The good news is that they are very affordable these days - even LR is regularly available discounted (though I'm afraid you'll still be paying more in the UK).

    Good luck with your decision. I think the key thing to bear in mind that these are all very capable programmes that will enable you to enhance and develop your PP skills.
     
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  15. Duane Pandorf

    Duane Pandorf SC Top Veteran

    868
    Apr 25, 2011
    Western NC
    I agree olli. It really is amazing what one can do with the digital tools available today. The choices can make you crazy! Could easily turn into software GAS!
     
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  16. Pelao

    Pelao SC All-Pro

    Jul 11, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Stephen
    I use LR on a Mac, and am familiar with Aperture. I found that both applications are very similar in philosophy and output capability. Basically they are designed from the ground up for photographers, unlike Photoshop, which can deliver a broad range of creative tasks.

    Both applications combine excellent library and image editing abilities. Most users will likely never need another editor, although there are plug-ins (like those from Nik) that are fun and very useful.

    I chose LR simply because at the time there was a broader base of instruction and tutorial material, and most of the pros with him I work use it - they are all Mac users. These points are no longer particularly valid: Aperture is well supported by training and tutorial material and lots of pros use it.

    While it is useful to download trials, it really can be hard to get a handle on a more complex application, never mind two trial versions, in the time available.

    I am certain that you are unlikely to go wrong in your choices. LR is, unfortunately, expensive compared to Aperture. If I were advising a friend I would probably talk through with them the photography they enjoy, their comfort with software, their output goals and their budget - including any other gear they might need. By gear, I also mean to ask if printing is an intention, and if so, I would recommend the ability to calibrate your monitor: and probably an external monitor for your MacBook. If there is any sensitivity about budget, then Aperture would be my recommendation, plus whatever Nik software you need. The plug-in collection for Aperture and LR is reasonably priced, and one thing to note is that the same licence will work for both.

    Don't sweat it too much: both applications are excellent.
     
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  17. Pelao

    Pelao SC All-Pro

    Jul 11, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Stephen
    Hi

    These technical advantages are for Aperture over Photoshop. LR has the same advantages.
     
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  18. HeatherTheVet

    HeatherTheVet SC All-Pro

    Apr 23, 2011
    Scotland
    Heather
    Thank you all for putting so much time in, I am especially reassured by the idea that neither is wrong. It's especially nice to get all the advice as I'm in a soulless hotel room in the middle of England, working away from home this week. They don't let dogs in, so poor Roddy is roughing it.

    I saw Flare last night, it certainly does look fun.

    I'll be mulling over what I want to do for the next week or so, then when I get home I'll download a trial and see how I get on. I didn't see a trial option for aperture but I'll go hunting. I'll let you know how i get on. Or maybe I won't so as not to upset anybody!
    Why does hotel tea always smell of feet?
     
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  19. Grant

    Grant SC Veteran

    249
    Nov 12, 2010
    Lunenburg Nova Scotia
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  20. HeatherTheVet

    HeatherTheVet SC All-Pro

    Apr 23, 2011
    Scotland
    Heather
    Back at home and continuing my investigation into software. What I am hearing you guys say is to get Lightroom or Aperture first, then look at Nik plug ins. Alternatively, get photoshop elements. Lightroom is about £230 so it has just ruled itself out. Aperture is about £45 which is good. Photoshop elements is just under £80. Both have free trials so I will give them a try, one after the other. That said I have just watched the demo videos for Aperture and I am impressed and excited. But that's what Mac are all about, isn't it, getting somebody amazing to show you what they do with their mac stuff, you get excited and buy it and then all you can think of to do with it is go on facebook or email your granny.

    I will also get a copy of Flare because it's silly, fun and cheap.

    Thanks for all your help, I will keep you posted
     
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