I am playing with Aperture 3 right now to see how it compares to Lightroom which I am using since 1 beta. I have to say that I like the higher ISO pictures better in Aperture than Lightroom at least for the Canon G11. This was shot with the Nikon D300 and comes out very smooth. I used the healing brush to get rid of the fire extinguisher at the wall and it did a great job in Aperture 3. I like the UI and editing tools seem on par with LR 2.6.
Apple Aperture 3 is finally here. Here is the question: Is Apple Aperture just catching up with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom or moving ahead?
Yesterday, I downloaded the trial version of Apple Aperture 3 so I can test it over the next weeks. I have been an Adobe Lightroom user since day one and have used Lightroom 1 and 2 extensivly. I must admit that I have never tried any of the previous versions of Aperture for various reasons and therefore you can see I am not an Apple Troll ;-) but I am keen on finding out how version 3 works and how it compares to Lightroom. Apple applications usually offer a great overall integration and file management and this might a plus.
Now is the time to consider Apple Aperture 3 as Lightroom 3 is not out yet and before upgrading to version 3 I could jump over to Aperture 3 if it offered anything over Lightroom 3. At this point in time we obviously do not know the full features of Lightroom 3 as we only have insight into the beta version.
For me what matters most is that the raw converter software is written with the photographer in mind offering as many tools as possible without having to use an external editor for most pictures. Using an external editor is fine for some selected pictures but if I have to use Noise Ninja for pictures shot at 800 ISO then the converter doesn’t cut it for me. In fact, noise reduction is one of the weak points of Lightroom. It’s just not great. I wonder if Aperture 3 is better at that. I will have to test this.
The two new features that Apple is mostly talking about are faces and places. Why is Apple focussing on these? Easy, because Lightroom does not have them in version 2.6 and in 3 beta. Both might be nice to have but I couldn’t care less. The other feature that is new to Aperture is the use of presets. Presets have been a very strong point of Lightroom and many people were missing this feature in Aperture. I do not know yet if they work in the same way but I am hoping find out more on these.
The weirdest part of my initial Aperture 3 experience was the empty trial download email in Gmail. The email was empty in my browser but fine when downloaded.
I have 30 days to test Aperture 3 and make up my mind.
After using a trial account for Zenfolio for over a week I decided to go for a “Premium” account. I liked all the bells and whistles and enjoy my own domain name but also has all the pro photographer features like configuration of pricing and watermarking.
The Internet is pretty much like the wild-west when it comes to respecting copyrights. The option to at least make it more difficult and use the watermarking as a free advertising tool appealed to me. There are two options for watermarking. You can either add a watermark in Lightroom or Aperture and then export or upload the images to Zenfolio or you can have Zenfolio displaying a watermark for you. While the first option might be good for a portfolio it will not work too well for anything clients will order via the site. When it comes to ordering and printing via Zenfolio it’s obviously causing an issue and you can only do the self-fulfilling as anything printed directly via Zenfolio would have a watermark right on top of every picture.
The better alternative is adding a watermark via Zenfolio. There are a few preloaded generic watermarks provided by Zenfolio that you can use immediately. If you like to see your name on the pictures as a way of advertising you need to create your own watermark file that you can upload.
Any decent image manipulation program like Photoshop or GIMP will allow you to create such a file in a few steps. Here is how it works in GIMP. Start GIMP and create a new image. Select a resolution of 800 x 600 and select transparency in the advanced menu.
My GX200 is finally on Ebay (again).
I put this little camera up there two times before without selling it. You might wonder why it didn’t sell previously. Well, it never reached my reserve price. Also, I was almost relieved that it did not sell but then I finally decided to remove the reserve price and really sell it.
The Ricoh GX200 has been really difficult to let go off. I have sold many other cameras before but none, not even the legendary Nikon D70, was emotionally difficult to sell. So, why is the Ricoh GX200 so hard to put on Ebay? Probably because it’s not a mainstream camera and the design is outstanding. The virtual horizon is amazing and so is the level of customization available. All digital (compact) cameras are a compromise and so is the Ricoh GX200. I am redefining my photographic goals and while I am in the process of doing so I start to let go some of my equipment … and then buy other camera gear. :)
The last two days I was in Belfast to do some “after Christmas” shopping. Below is a shot of the Apple store in the Victoria Centre in Belfast converted into B&W in Lightroom.
It was very busy in the City centre and also cold. There were long queues in every cafe.
We went on the wheel and enjoyed the view. We stayed in the famous Europa Hotel in the centre of Belfast. It’s the “most bombed hotel in Europe” according to wikipedia. Our room was right opposite of the Clinton Suite. Bill Clinton has stayed in the Europa when he was in Belfast.
I also could not help myself and try out the Canon PowerShot G11 a bit more as you can see. Until today, I have only clocked up 40 pictures in total since Christmas. I still have not accessed the menus much. In fact, I decided to take it very easy and use P mode with Auto ISO mostly and shoot raw plus JPEG. This way I got a lot of different scenes with ISO values all over. The next shot is taken at ISO 1000 without flash inside the room at he widest setting 28mm.
The next picture is shot through the room window that you cannot open completely. The window was humid and therefore the picture has some fuzziness and low contrast.
I also shot some pictures deliberately at ISO 1600 and even 3200 in the last few days. I have to say that I am very impressed with the G11. The picture quality at low ISO is DSLR like and up to ISO 800 it seems not far or the same as my Nikon D40x. This is absolutely amazing! When I am back home I will do a direct comparison with the D40x and the D300 but so far it looks much better than I ever imagined and, I have to say, there is no comparison to the GX200.
Zenfolio has shared some screenshots on Facebook on upcoming web site templates. I just joined Zenfolio recently and more professional looking web sites templates would be really great as the current ones are ok for a basic even photographer site but do not look so beautiful from a web design point of view so that many photographers have a portfolio website and then direct clients to the Zenfolio site for Galleries and purchases. Looks like an extra site is even less needed. According to Facebook notes these new templates are launched on the 5h of January 2010.
I also got a grip on my dark print issue. I can match the Photobox prints by decreasing the exposure by one stop or decreasing the brightness in Lightroom by 50. I could probably also mess with the white- and black-point of the monitor but if this Lightroom slider fixes my issue I am happy enough and the pictures look great on the monitor too. The next time I upload photos I will just increase the brightness by 50 in Lightroom with a preset and I should be set.
Update: I just received an email from Zenfolio informing me that there is downtime scheduled for maintenance and new Zenfolio features on the 6th / 7th of January (depending on time zone).