Without Aperture, what the heck do I need a Mac for?

Summary:I loved Apple's professional photo editing software. But if it's destined for the software graveyard, I no longer need Macs in my personal technology stable.

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Art: CBS Interactive/ZDNet

As I am sure a number of you have heard, Apple has decided to discontinue the development of its professional digital photography editing software , Aperture, in favor of a new application that will incorporate some of Aperture's features along with their existing consumer photography app, iPhoto, into a new application, Photos, in early 2015.

It should come as no surprise that the reaction from the professional digital photography community has been overwhelmingly negative. And from a purely personal perspective, I'm not happy about it either.

Unlike many Mac users, I don't have an emotional attachment to the system or Apple's products. 

As some of you may remember, back in 2011, that after 25+ years of resistance, I was going to let bygones be bygones and decided to purchase a Mac Mini for the purposes of using it strictly for my digital photography hobby and for some light video editing using iMovie.

Why I chose to do this was fairly simple -- at the time, it gave me the most photoediting capability bang for the buck as a digital photography enthusiast. I don't consider myself a photography pro by any means, but I liked having access to the same software tools the pros had. 

Apple's Aperture, which only runs on Macs, was an $80 download from the Mac App Store, and it was continually updated. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, regardless of whether it ran on a PC or a Mac, was about $300, and the software upgrade costs on Lightroom going forward were an unknown.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom arguably had more marketshare, but Aperture was still an excellent tool for the money.

Instead of a Windows machine running Photoshop, I could buy a $800 Mac Mini with 4GB of RAM, hook it up to one of my existing 1080p HD monitors, download an $80 copy of Aperture and I was in business.

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For the last several years the Mac Mini has served me well. In fact, I now am on my second Mac Mini, upgraded with 16GB of RAM, an SSD drive, and an external RAID to hold my Aperture library. 

I can't say for sure what functionality that the Aperture/iPhotos mongrel in the new Photos app for OS X Yosemite is going to bring. If I had to guess, it will be more of a consumer-oriented tool than a professional-oriented one.

Given Apple's primary business focus on consumer electronics, this is completely understandable.

But for digital photography enthusiasts like myself, it means we have some decisions to make in terms of where to go next.

Unlike many Mac users, I don't have an emotional attachment to the system or Apple's products. It's a fine computer, with a perfectly fine operating system. But to me, computers and devices have always been tools that run the apps I need, and nothing more.

Like Microsoft with Office 365, Adobe is now moving to more of a subscriber model. I can get Creative Cloud Photo Edition for $9.99 a month, or $119.00 a year, which gives me access to Photoshop, Lightroom, and also the mobile and web applications. 

It's fair to say that from a functionality standpoint, there isn't a lot of difference between the Mac and Windows versions.

I'll probably load Creative Cloud on my Mini when Yosemite and Photos comes out and if it (inevitably) proves not to meet my needs, but going forward, I don't see a lot of reasons to buy another Mac Mini when the time to upgrade approaches.

The Mac Mini is a nice machine, but at $800 for the Core i7 version with 4GB of RAM, there are any number of decent small form factor Core i7 PCs I can buy, with faster graphics cards, more storage and more memory, for the same amount of money or possibly even less, even from Tier 1 OEMs such as Lenovo, Dell and HP. 

In addition to the Macs, I own my share of iOS devices as well, and I forsee no reason to end that practice even if I decide to end my romance with the Mac Mini in favor of Windows.

Apple has done a great job of removing Mac desktop dependencies from the iPhone, iPad and the Apple TV, choosing instead to make them citizens of iCloud. 

It seems that in this day in age, at least from my perspective, the Mac has really become a companion to iOS devices, rather than the other way around.

Has Aperture's untimely death got you thinking about leaving the Mac behind? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

Topics: Apple, PCs

About

Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet is a technologist with over two decades of experience with integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer... Full Bio

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