The Photo Mechanic 5 vs Aperture 3 Video
In February 2014, during the Sochi Winter Olympic Games, photographer, Lexar marketing director and friend Jeff Cable posted on his blog a detailed write-up of his photo editing workflow. You can read the full post on his blog, but here's the summary. Jeff had 14 minutes between hockey periods to ingest, cull, edit, and upload photos to his client, Team USA. He used the fastest Lexar cards, fastest Lexar card readers, and fastest MacBook Pro available, and used Photo Mechanic to ingest and select, then Adobe Camera RAW to convert, and Photoshop to edit his favorites. If you watch the full video, you'll see that he sometimes — but not always — had a spare 60 seconds to grab a Coke before the next period began.
As you might imagine, when I read that he (and nearly every other Olympic photographer) was using Photo Mechanic, I cried foul. After all, we proved back in June 2012 that Aperture was way faster on import, and since he shouldn't have to open in Photoshop (the edits he's doing are very basic—crop and straighten, adjust exposure, done), the process simply had to be faster using Aperture.
I met up with Jeff at WPPI last month, and over a drink we hashed out a plan. I'd come down to his home in the Bay Area, interview him on his workflow, come to understand exactly what he needed to achieve, then train him how to do the same thing in Aperture, hopefully in considerably less time — and record the entire thing.
The resulting two hour, 45 minute video is the entirety of our evening. For those (i.e. 99% of you) who don't want to sit through it all, watch the introduction, then jump to Chapter 7, “Wrap-up Becomes New Aperture Test” for the big reveal. If video isn't your thing, scroll below for a text summary, as well as a resulting Aperture features wish list.
To jump around chapters, click play to begin, then choose a chapter from the list in the top left corner.
A summary of the results
To summarize, Aperture fell down hard on import, where you're forced to wait for the thumbnails to draw on the entire card before you can import a single picture. And you have to do this for each card coming in! In Photo Mechanic, there is no card preview; you simply select the two cards, choose your metadata presets, and hit import. While Aperture made up for lost time once it came to actual adjustment editing of the photos, the long wait in the beginning was unacceptable to this workflow.
Fortunately, we found a solution. A way to import the photos into Aperture not only bypassing the entire “wait for thumbnails to build” problem, but even importing multiple cards simultaneously. We erased Photo Mechanic's advantage, resulting in a nearly twice as fast import, edit, and publish process.
How? For that, you'll need to watch the video, or wait for tomorrow's post. :-)
The chapter play-by-play
Here's a summary of each chapter of the 2h45m video. If you're not up to watching the whole thing, watch Chapters 1, 7 and 8. each link will open a video to that chapter, or watch it all in this playlist.
- [Chapter 1] A brief introduction to the entire video.
- [Chapter 2] I interview Jeff Cable about his Olympic workflow, currently based in Photo Mechanic, Adobe Camera RAW and Adobe Photoshop.
- [Chapter 3] Jeff demonstrates and explains to me his Photo Mechanic workflow.
- [Chapter 4] Jeff executes his Photo Mechanic workflow, while timed.
- [Chapter 5] I demonstrate and explain to Jeff the Aperture workflow, and set up Aperture to mimic Photo Mechanic for tagging images.
- [Chapter 6] Jeff executes his Olympic workflow using Aperture instead of Photo Mechanic, while timed.
- [Chapter 7] We discuss the results of the tests. Part way through the interview, I have a realization on how to modify the process and potentially give Aperture the advantage it was previously missing. The discussion is stopped, a new test is performed, and amazing things happen.
- [Chapter 8] In this brief chapter, we have a quick wrap-up of the previous test.
More to the story
The next two posts on ApertureExpert will be the detailed modified import procedure, and then a guide on moving from Photo Mechanic to Aperture (focusing on import). They are…
- “How to Import Multiple Cards Simultaneously and Bypass Thumbnail Generation on Import in Aperture 3”
- “Mimicking your Photo Mechanic 5 Workflow in Aperture 3” (to be published
Friday, April 11Monday, April 14)
Aperture features wish list (hey, Apple!)
Throughout this there were several features we came across that we wish Aperture had. Some are new, some are well, well known and desired. Here's the rundown.
- Ability to have “Delete imported items… eject… keep/delete” dialog be suppressed. Let me set a preference that always (a) keep/delete the photos, (b) eject/not eject the card. That way I don't have to have a dialog interrupt my editing.
- Ability to not show thumbnail previews in import dialog. How about that entire preview window just has a collapse triangle, and when it's collapsed, the import button is available instantly.
- Ability to select multiple cards for import simultaneously.
- Larger (more visible) color label in Viewer mode. When you color tag a photo, the thumbnail gets a nice big, easy-to-see color bar on it, however in the Viewer, it's just a tiny dot in the lower right corner. I'd like at least an option for that color label to be a lot bigger in the Viewer.
- Ability to straighten by clicking on two points on a vertical or horizontal line, such as a light pole, or a horizon line.
- Ability to view Original version but retain crop and straighten. Meaning, if you crop and straighten an image, and adjust exposure, highlights, colors, etc., when I toggle back to the original view, I want to still see the cropped and straightened image, just without the exposure, highlights, and so-on.
- Watermarking that doesn't suck. C'mon, this is such a desired feature. I should be able to both create, and control the layout of, a watermark completely in Aperture, including typing, adding images, position, opacity, and naturally a preview of what it'll look like. And I shouldn't have to design a different one for every differently sized export preset I make.
- Actual progress bar, or countdown (i.e. “5 of 27”) instead of just the spinner on the activity indicator, so you don't have to open the full Activity Monitor to see how much farther you have to go for import and export.
That's it for now
There you have it… the results you've been waiting for. This “discovery” isn't a new feature, and frankly I'm sure others have figured this out already. But for many, this will be huge news, and a very, very compelling reason to abandon Photo Mechanic and move to Aperture full time for even the tightest of deadlines.
Jeff and I look forward to your comments below!