Photos vs. iPhoto and Aperture - Photos for Mac: A Take Control Crash Course (1.0.1) (2015)

Photos for Mac: A Take Control Crash Course (1.0.1) (2015)

Photos vs. iPhoto and Aperture

When you compare the features of Photos to those of iPhoto, it’s easy to see that, in most ways, Photos is a reincarnation of iPhoto. A few organizational features have been lost, the interface is more refined, deep connections to iCloud have been added, and the entire app feels faster.

But not long after introducing Photos, Apple announced that it was ceasing development of its professional photography app, Aperture, and that Photos would be a suitable replacement (see my Macworld article). Based on the initial version of Photos, however, this doesn’t seem to be the case. Photo hobbyists who used Aperture despite not needing most of its features might not mind the omissions, but professional users should probably start considering other options, such as Adobe’s Lightroom.

**①** iPhoto and Aperture have been discontinued. Apple intends Photos to be their replacement.

iPhoto and Aperture have been discontinued. Apple intends Photos to be their replacement.

Apps, We Hardly Knew Ye

Apple’s announcement specified that iPhoto and Aperture would both be updated for compatibility with OS X Yosemite, but that’s it.

Not to be a negative nelly, but you shouldn’t hold out hope that Apple will reconsider its decision. Both apps will probably still work for a while, yet, but updates are extremely unlikely.

If Photos doesn’t float your boat and you’re an Aperture user, you might want to consider Adobe’s Lightroom if you haven’t before. It’s tightly integrated with Photoshop and available as a part of Adobe’s Photography bundle, which as of this writing costs $120 per year. You can download a free 30-day trial to give it a spin.

Coming from iPhoto

If you’re used to iPhoto, Photos won’t be that jarring. Photos can import your iPhoto library (see Import from iPhoto into Photos) and retains most, but not all, of the features of iPhoto. Star ratings have been demoted to keyword status, flagged items are now Favorites, and Events are now just another kind of photo album. But with the optional sidebar displayed in Photos, you’d think you were using a slick new version of iPhoto.

There are new features, to be sure, including a modified and expanded editing view and more direct integration with iCloud, but with a little time, iPhoto users should be able to settle in comfortably.

Coming from Aperture

I’m not much of an Aperture user. I use it mostly to do tethered photo shoots with my Canon DSLR. I’ve built an entire workflow around shooting Apple events: resizing the images to Web resolutions on the fly, applying a watermark, and saving the result out as JPEGs to be uploaded to a server.

Could I do that same task in Photos? It doesn’t appear to support tethered shooting, exporting versions with different image quality levels, or watermarks.

And the differences certainly don’t end there. Photos doesn’t support the concept of separate projects inside a single library. Star ratings and color labels are imported as keywords.

Photos doesn’t support plug-ins or editing in an external editor, both key features of Aperture. And Photos’ editing features, while solid, don’t match Aperture’s. For example, Photos doesn’t offer an adjustment brush to selectively apply an edit to the image.

If you use Aperture because it’s more than iPhoto, but haven’t availed yourself of most of Aperture’s features, you may find Photos sufficient. But if you rely on one of the many Aperture features Photos doesn’t support, be prepared for disappointment.

Now the good news: Some Aperture features (like the Split view, which I use all the time) are available in Photos . And Photos will import your Aperture libraries, though your projects will turn into folders in the Albums section.

**②** Split view in Photos is different, but similar, to what you’d see in Aperture.

Split view in Photos is different, but similar, to what you’d see in Aperture.

If you try Photos and decide it’s not for you, your Aperture libraries will still be there, unharmed. So there’s no risk in giving Photos a spin.

The Optimistic View

Apple has a habit of killing its apps and replacing them with new ones that resemble the old only in passing. Perhaps most controversial was the radical redesign of Final Cut Pro X.

At the time, Final Cut Pro users were furious that the new version didn’t offer numerous features that they relied on. Apple’s response was to say that the old Final Cut Pro would continue to work for quite some time, and in the meantime the company would try to add as many of those features to Final Cut Pro X as possible.

Today, even the most ardent Final Cut Pro X critic would have to admit that Apple has added back a large number of key features that weren’t present in the first version.

When Apple announced Photos, it strongly indicated that it would be able to serve Aperture users, too. Does that mean future updates will add Aperture features? There are no guarantees, but at least there’s hope.