Starting with a Rant

I plan to use the blog on this site to share information and ideas, however I am going to start with a rant, sorry.

I began using digital cameras around 2000, and started using iPhoto to help manage those files. Compared to my previous system of scanning slides and storing them in folders on my hard drive, it was a quantum leap forward.

By 2005 my iPhoto workflow was quite refined, and when Apple release Aperture as iPhoto's big brother I made the jump. The power and simplicity of Aperture was welcome, and my workflow became more refined.

By 2014  my Aperture files occupied 14Tb spread out over 9 volumes on a set of Drobo RAIDs, as well as copies on external hard drives stored off site. I had looked at Lightroom, and decided that it was a good program, however Aperture's use of 'managed libraries' and built in options for books or slideshows were so much better that I opted to stay. 

Life was under control.

Then Photos happened

In June 2014, Apple announced that both iPhoto and Aperture would be going away in favour of a single app that would be based on a modern code base and would take advantage of the extensions architecture of Yosemit. My first reaction was quite positive. I was hoping that Apple would mimic its approach with iMovie and Final Cut Pro, where the is a consumer app and a pro app.

That is now shattered.

Apple has confirmed that Aperture will be going away after the release of Photos, and will no longer be available for sale. Existing versions of Aperture will work with Yosemite, and there are no guarantees that Aperture will work with Mac OS 10.11, though most modern apps should not break after just one OS release.

The new Photos app will be able to convert an Aperture library (i.e. read an existing library, and convert to Photos format), however many features will disappear including the use of stars and colours for organizing images. The timing for Photos means that it will probably do some cool things with the Apple Watch, however that is not a key feature for me.

So, it looks like my only option is to migrate to Lightroom, though this is not a simple process, or one that I am comfortable with.

The pain that I will feel:

  • My biggest issue is how will I deal with basically having to have two copies of all my images, one in Aperture, one in Lightroom. That means that if I move all my images over, I need an additional 14Tb of space. This is a very big issue.
  • When my images move to Lightroom, I can move either the RAW image, or the adjusted images. If I use the RAW images, then any adjustments that were made are gone. If I use the adjusted images, then the more flexible RAW files are gone. Not a good choice to make. I could always import both, however that means more storage, and no easy way to associate the two files together.
  • My Aperture libraries have been optimized for my workflow, and having to develop a new one would be a pain.

What I am going to miss while moving to Lightroom:

  • Managed libraries. I find this to be the single largest reason to use Aperture.
  • Direct access from OS X's file open dialogs that allowed me to easily attach files to email messages or embed them in Pages documents.
  • The Faces and Places features are something that I use occasionally, and they are a very slick add on.
  • The books, cards, calendars and other printing features when combined with iPhoto are very important to me.
  • The integration with Final Cut Pro to bring in photos for videos is a key feature.

Features that I will gain:

  • A better RAW convertor with Adobe Raw Convertor. I am not minimizing the importance of this feature. Currently with Aperture I have been known to export out the RAW file and open it with Photoshop before importing it back into Aperture to take advantage of the better RAW processing from Adobe.

So the way I see it I have two sets of choices to make.

For my existing libraries

  1. Aperture - Keep a version of Aperture running on a Mac with Yosemite. That might be OK for 3 or 4 years, however it is a dead end option.
  2. Lightroom - I will have to import either the RAW files or the processed files, and I have to double the storage while I do it. Not really a palatable option.
  3. Photos: Give up on the extra features that LR or Aperture would have offered, and for a while live with more storage requirements. The current version does not support external editors, though that seems like an obvious update.

It looks like my best option is door number 3. This means giving up on more advanced features for my existing photos, however the migration disruption will be the lowest.

For my future libraries

  1. Lightroom - As a full featured and well supported product I will know what I am getting. My support issues for a while will be looked after.
  2. Photos: It is possible that the extensions architecture of OS X will allow many pro features to reappear in Photos, and that it might even rival Aperture. The key feature has to be allowing external editors for Photoshop and the current plugins.

The good news is that I do not have choose this door as long as Aperture runs on Yosemite, however the 'safe' option would be Lightroom.

I am on hold for this decision.