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Apple Takes Second Look at Imaging Software

Posted by iTech - 2006-04-18

Apple Computer is providing photographers with an upgrade to its digital-imaging software and sweetening the deal with a price cut and free merchandise.
Aperture 1.1 runs on both Intel-based and PowerPC Macs and features advanced controls for raw-image rendering and a new built-in color meter.

The update comes with a price drop, from $499 to $299, and Apple will provide the latest version at no charge for customers who bought the 1.0 release. As a further thank you to these early adopters, anyone who upgrades will also get a coupon for $200 worth of merchandise from the Apple Store.

Head to Head with Adobe

The price cut follows Adobe's introduction of Lightroom, a similar digital photography application. Initially available as a beta for Macintosh, Lightroom will support both Windows and Mac OS when the full version of the software is ready for release.

As more professionals migrate toward digital photography, the competition among companies like Apple, Adobe, Nikon, and Canon will likely build. In fact, both Apple and Adobe point out that their products were created with feedback from professionals.

With Aperture 1.1, users have a set of "fine-tuning" controls to adjust image contrast, dial in the level of sharpening in the raw-decode process, and tweak settings on an image-by-image basis. In effect, users can create a decoding profile on the camera and save their decoding adjustments for future reference.

When exporting images, users can specify a resolution in dots-per-inch (dpi) and specify the default dpi for images to open be opened in an external photo-editing application such as Adobe Photoshop.

Improved Tools for Pros

"Because this version of Aperture is universal, running on both Intel Macs and earlier Mac computers, the performance is dramatically improved," Apple spokesperson Christine Wilhelmy said. "We have made it much easier to store and move the image files. This is much like the light table that used for viewing and handling negatives."

Wilhelmy said that because more and more photographers are using digital SLR cameras, they have more images to manage, which requires tools to assist in comparing and selecting images, and in putting raw files on the desktop.

As the current wave of digital photography software takes hold, technology firms should take a closer look at how to protect a photographer's copyright, said Steve Noble, who oversees regulatory affairs at the Photo Marketing Association International.

"The industry is going to have to have all these competitors come together at some point," he said. "There has to be a happy medium between boosting the ease of swapping digital images and respecting copyright."

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