For a decade Aperture was my all-in-one photos app for storing and editing all of my pictures. And when it got local adjustments, the unified library and private/public photo-streams, Apple's media ecosystem was close to perfect. I was in Paradise, praised the duo iPhoto/Aperture whenever I was asked about photo apps, brought dozens of Windows users over to the Mac platform and whenever an iPhoto user asked me for help with advanced image editing or restructuring his iPhoto library, I've enjoyed how easy this was by simply opening their iPhoto library in Aperture.
I was shocked, when Apple killed Aperture. And I still count it an epochal mistake by Apple to ditch their number-one high-performance showcase app for core-graphics-acceleration just before bringing Metal to OS X. Now they are at the mercy of Adobe to showcase the power of Metal in non-gaming apps, which is like trust the fox to guard the chickens.
After Apple's new Photos app turned out to be a stripped down toy app for iPhone snappers, I started my journey to find a replacement for Aperture. A journey probably many of you have gone through or are still undertaking.
My first stop was at Lightroom. I more than once had tried it before. I even bought books and video tutorials in the hope, that I might like program if only I know it better. But I always returned to Aperture after a short time. The static UI with the strict separation of modules severely slowed down my productivity. The UI that is forced on you in a dual monitor setup doesn't work for me at all. I couldn't believe that you cannot display multiple photos side-by-side in the viewer and pan around, something I do all the time in Aperture. Panning, editing, brushing was slower than in Aperture and that is still true with speed-boosted LR 6.
Then the DAM part: No managed workflow (key for round-tripping to a Laptop). The inability to create projects/albums (in Aperture terms) on import (well that finally has changed in LR 6; better late than never
) and most important, no handling of RAW+JPEG pairs, ruled this thing out for me as a sole Aperture replacement.
I went on to Capture One, which I hadn't tried before. The UI is really nice, even more customizable than that of Aperture. The RAW processing is superb and the editing tools IMO are better than those of Lightroom. The speed, well, not so nice. Much slower than Aperture even with GPU acceleration enabled (see the video
of my comparison).
The DAM part at first sight quite similar to Aperture, even a managed option is there. Then the shock: No RAW+JEPG pairs workflow either. Anyways I've imported my Aperture library, about 70000 pictures, into Capture One to see how things work. It took about 10 minutes (really minutes, not seconds !) each time I've opened this library in Capture One! You can read my full rant about things I don't like in the DAM part of Capture One in this post
. So I've learned: Capture One is good for editing but not good for storing large amount of pictures.
I won't bother you with the other dozen programs, that I've tried. None was even close to an Aperture replacement.
After this long journey I've realized, there is no true Aperture replacement. And probably there never will be one.
What to do now? Bend my brain to Lightroom's UI? Ditch shooting RAW & JPEG to become compatible with Lightroom's or Capture One's DAM structure. Forget about the other second-tier goodies in Aperture like books, geotagging, maps integration, light-table or even the rarely used faces, that don't exist in Capture One at all? Give up on Scripting? Applescript Support in Capture One is poor and in Lirghtroom it is non existing. Now that I know what is possible in Aperture with apHUB that would be a serious drawback. The answer for me was NO!
Stick solely with Aperture and accept, that the quality of my pictures developed in Aperture falls more and more behind those of people who have moved to the competition? Live with the sword of Damocles, that all edits I do in Aperture at some point will become destructive (or non editable), when Aperture stops working with future versions of OS X? The answer for me was NO either!
At that point it became very clear for me, where the path back to paradise for me is leading:
I'll stop searching for a single Aperture replacement but instead use several programs each for the task it is best in.
The DAM part shall be handled by Aperture. It is still the best in its class. That includes comparing , rating pictures, geotagging, maps integration, books and photo-streams. And all my picture are already in Aperture, so why spent weeks or month for relocating them?
For editing I won't stick with a single program. No one is superior in all respects. Each one has its strength and weaknesses. So I'll use the best editor for the individual picture and/or task.
The programs are there already: Aperture, Capture One, DxO, Lightroom, Affinity Photo, Photoshop etc.
What's missing is the link between them.
And that's the reason, why I made apHUB.
All I can can say, I'm now back in Paradise.
So what is this apHUB thing?
It is a suite of Applescripts, that allow you to send RAW or JPEG files (or whatever format Aperture/the external editor can handle) to an external editor and back with a single keystroke. It saves the adjustment files and masks from the external editor transparently behind the scenes so the whole process is always fully non-destructive.
Now Capture One, DxO, Aperture and the other apps are no more compertitors that fight somewhere in the back of my brain against each other, to convince me to stay with Aperture or switch. Now they are peaceful companians to give me the best workflow and quality for my pictures. Irrational? Somewhat, but it gives me peace of mind and that is all what counts for me.
If Aperture will stop working at some point in the future, you simply make a half-way roundtrip to the external editor and work from there. All your adjustments are intact and re-editable.
Or more likely I will choose another photo app with a strong DAM part and adopt apHUB to use this app as the central storage.
apHUB currently works with Capture One. A version for DxO OpticPro is in development. I'm evaluating other's as well, suggestions welcome.
Doesn't sound too impressive for you? Well, if you haven't already, head over to the videos category, take a 10 minutes brake, get some coffee and watch the demos of apHUB, that I've recorded for you. Maybe you'll change your mind afterwards.
I've made apHUB just for my own needs and initially had no plans to make it available publicly. But after I realized how nice it works for me, I thought it would be a shame to hide it from all the other people who are still holding on to Aperture with currently not light at the end of the tunnel, suffering from the same frustration I felt before I've got apHUB.
Reenter Paradise …
apHUB is not released yet, but you will be able to download it from here soon. Currently I'm looking for people to test the suite. I use apHUB already for a couple of weeks and it works fast and reliably on my system. But the last thing I'd like to see are frustrated people bashing apHUB for choking on their system. Thus I'm currently looking for beta-testers to test apHUB on a broader range of systems, especially with different localization and report any bugs they encounter to iron them out. If you are interested to participate, register here if you haven't already and ask for a beta-tester account.
What will apHUB cost?
Nothing, it will be free for all you stiff-necked, defiant, loyal Aperture users. It's your reward for not having left the ship prematurely.