Apple today has released Aperture 1.1, a significant upgrade to its Mac-only pro photo management and RAW conversion application.
Topping the list of what's new is a revamped RAW conversion engine that delivers crisper edge detail and fewer artifacts, while a RAW Fine Tuning Adjustment HUD enables you to tailor the tone curve, sharpening and noise reduction applied during the conversion. Aperture 1.1 is also a Universal Binary, which means this version of the software is compatible with Macs with Intel processors. In addition, users of previous versions of Aperture will immediately notice how much more responsive the program's adjustment sliders are, even on lower-end Macs. Aperture 1.1 adds support for RAW files from the Canon EOS 30D and Nikon D200 as well.
There's also something in Aperture today for prospective purchasers: a new US$299 price tag in the U.S. when purchased direct from Apple, down from the company's previous online store price of US$499. The price drop is being rolled out worldwide, says Kirk Paulsen, Senior Director of Pro Applications Marketing at Apple. The reason for the reduction? To encourage the purchase of the software beyond the pro ranks. Feedback to Apple, says Paulsen, is that the advanced amateur has been interested in Aperture, but the previous price was a significant barrier to entry. Whatever the reason, the price drop is obviously welcome.
Aperture 1.1 is available free to existing users via the Software Update mechanism built into Mac OS X, and as a standalone updater here. Mac OS X 10.4.6 and Aperture 1.0.1 must be installed before upgrading. A demo version of Aperture 1.1 is not available, nor has one been announced; the only way to try Aperture is to buy it.
Apple has also introduced a rebate program for licensed users of Aperture 1.0/1.0.1, whereby current Aperture owners will receive an e-coupon to be used towards purchases at an online Apple Store through September 30, 2006. In the U.S., licensed owners are eligible for an e-coupon worth US$200 (US$100 for academic copies of the software). Other regions worldwide will be offering similar rebates, says Paulsen, though it may take a day before Apple's collection of global sites are all updated to include information on the rebate in that region. In Canada, the rebate is CDN$250 (or CDN$130 for academic copies); in the UK, £130 (£80 for academic copies).
For more information on the numerous feature and usability changes in Aperture 1.1, see our earlier article RAW processing improved in upcoming update of Apple Aperture, as well as Apple's Aperture 1.1 press release.