Last year, Apple launched Aperture, an image management tool aimed at professional photographers. Just as Apple had introduced Final Cut Pro DV editing software to compete with Adobe Premier, many expected Apple to launch an image manipulation application to give Photoshop a run for its money on OS X. So people were quick to assume that Aperture was Apple’s answer to Photoshop, leading to many negative reviews with Aperture apparently lacking many of the features of Photoshop.
Aperture may a share a handful of features with Photoshop, but image manipulation is not its main purpose. It is a tool to manage the workflow of digital images, using RAW as its native file format. Therefore, it was wrong to criticise Aperture on the basis that it is an image manipulation tool. Other points of criticism included that it is over-priced, and that its system requirements are far too high. Having never used the software, I wouldn’t like to comment on whether it offers value for money or not. But then, I would like to be able to use the software on my Mac Mini, so in my opinion, criticism over its system requirements is valid.
Today’s news is that Adobe have introduced a similar application called Lightroom, and they have been very smart about how they are launching it. You can download a free beta version of the software, allowing photographers to give feedback so that Adobe can improve the software before its official release in the summer. They’ve chosen a great name too, Lightroom being the digital version of the old chemical darkroom (In fact, maybe Lightroom should have been the name for Photoshop?). Best of all, Lightroom doesn’t have the ridiculous system requirements Apple have recommended with Aperture, so it should be useable on my Mac.
Although it seems support for my Nikon D70 isn’t quite there yet – Adobe still have to work around the nasty white balance encryption Nikon have put into there NEF file format – I’m going to follow this software with interest. I just hope that it is reasonably priced when it’s launched.