In my efforts to find the best, a subjective qualification, post-processing application for my photographic workflow needs, I have visited two varying applications. Having seen both Nikon Capture NX 2 and Lightroom 3, here is my short impression of Apple's Aperture 3.
Apple has created its image processing application in line with previous Apple software: elegant, visually appealing and functional. Icons are graphical, descriptive, glossy and some even have shadows, allowing the user the opportunity to simply stare at the program even if there are no pictures to edit. The colorful interface is also useful, with controls centralized within the "Inspector." There are three tabs to access the Library, Metadata and Adjustments in the Inspector panel while commonly used tools are located on the edges of the application. Once in use, these tools open a small window on top of the image with the relevant options.
Aperture is unique in its inclusion of "Places," a geotagging feature through which photographers can tag images with relevant locations on a map. This is a reminder of how similar Aperture's interface is to iPhoto, and how the two were meant to be used in conjunction with each other. The other well advertised feature is its fullscreen mode. In full screen, the Inspector panel can be floated to provide the image with more screen area and immerse the user into the photographic editing process.
The main aspect I appreciate in Apple's software is the file handling system. Such a system is expected to exist in an Apple application, but at the same time its appearance in an image-processing setting is a wonderful surprise. Once the thumbnails have loaded or updated, the browser moves quickly and definitively. Additionally, there is a convenient feature that permits personal image organization. On import, Aperture allows the user to leave the file in its original location.
Aperture is a very homey and personal application, alike its kin, iPhoto. I can see it being a nice addition for a user looking to edit a well-organized personal photographic collection. Its features and interface provide a seamless integration into the Apple experience. If I had the time to organize my photography library for use with iPhoto, I would have considered this application as a competitor to Adobe Lightroom 3 for my workflow.