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

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.

TOPICS: Apple, PCs
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


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience 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.

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  • Do you do video?

    It would be hard to get better video editors for the money than iMovie (free) or Final Cut Pro X ($300). Premiere Pro is powerful but you are looking at a $50/month Creative Cloud subscription rather than the $10/month for Lightroom and Photoshop.
    • I guess you don't do video.

      Otherwise I expected to see a "yes, I will use XXX software on my Windows computer"
      • I use iMovie

        But only sporadically and for simple stuff. I can replace it with any number of utilities, like Windows Movie Maker.
        • The current versions of Windows Movie Maker can't replace iMovie

          though the old one from XP could. That was an awesome version!
          • iMovie

            I bought my mac simply because of iMovie.(well, I have to admit I didn't want Windows 8 either) I do a lot of projects where I record school programs and put the onto discs for parents, only to find out that it doesn't export to iDVD. I had to download an older version of iMovie and iDVD. When My daughter wanted a macbook The sales person was downright rude telling me that nobody does that anymore. I said "I do"
    • Forget that...

      Let's talk about why it made more sense to spend at least $599+Tax on the underwhelming Mac Mini and $80 on Aperture instead of just buying Lightroom for $300 and using it on his existing PC?!?!

      I mean, let's face it... The dude wanted a Mac because he bought into the stuff that James was peddling and now, he's starting to have buyers remorse because, he now realizes how little he does with the machine.
    • If simple editing is all you need there are several windows alternatives

      I uses Premiere Pro now, but for years, I used some of the less expensive windows alternatives and they worked just fine. They were not Premiere or Final cut, but they did all the simple stuff really well. I think either Cnet or zdnet recently had a review of these and if you pick one of the recommended ones, you'll be just fine.
  • Lightroom for $300?!?!?

    I have never paid more than about $120 for Lightroom and it is worth every penny of that and maybe as much as $200. If you look at Amaz0n, you will find Lightroom 5 for less than $136.

    And tell me, if Apple stops supporting Aperture but it does what you need, why do you need to quit using it? Also, why do you use a MAc for only one application. I think you're exaggerating a bit here...
    • That was back in 2011

      When he bought his Mac mini in 2011, Lightroom was $300. I think they reduced it to $149 in 2012.
      • It was $300 list price...

        But I've owned versions 2, 3, 4 and 5 and never paid more than $150 for a full (non-upgrade) version. In fact, the last two versions I bought, I paid $99 for a full version from a one-day sale at NewEgg or maybe Adobe itself.

        That said, I am doing the Adobe Photographer Cloud subscription (PS CC and LR5), but I also already own a full version of LR 5 and PS CS4, so if I don't like how the subscription is going, I have a fall back.

        And if you don't need Photoshop (Lightroom does 90% of everything I need, and it catalogs the photos too), then you can still buy the standalone LR software.
        big red one
  • I got lightroom and photoshop

    both for free from my local to***t site... works good enough for a lot less money...
    • Sorry

      But I don't steal software.
      • File sharing...

        I agree with your stance, just that file sharing is not piracy/theft. You could "test" the software before you decide to buy. Better than buying blind.
        • Why on earth risk infecting your system, Windows or OS X?

          Adobe offers free trials for the software listed by the OP:

          "Select any of the applications below to download a free trial"
          Rabid Howler Monkey
          • I don't get it, either.

            I'd wager that 99 percent of the people who "share" PS beccause they feel it's too expensive don't use 99 percent of its capabilities. They don't NEED PS, and are not the target market. They would be more than happy with GIMP which is always free, so why risk getting malware with a PS crack?
        • Can I "test" out items from Target without their permission?

          Theft is theft. Go ahead and use bit torrent, but don't deceive yourself about the morals of your actions.
      • You don't steal sw but companies steal your freedom

        The open source movement is right. The biggest companies are not there for being honests. They steal from buyers when they make a big profit out of a single product and Apple is The example.
  • Article

    "If I had to guess, it will be more of a consumer-oriented tool than a professional-oriented one."

    If I had to guess, if you are as good as punditry as you are in your illogic, go run off to Adobe and Office 365 before actually seeing what come from Apple. Why wait? You obviously do not think they've learned any lessons from Final Cut, which a number of people now say has been improved and makes an excellent video editing product.

    It is amazing... if I put out an analysis like this in my job I would be fired for incompetence.
  • ewww...

    You made an apathetic comment towards an Apple product, now you must pay for it (in comments)!