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Iphoto ’09

02/26/2009

Rufus Mangrove

For many digital photographers, maintaining and editing their images is an important task.  Unlike yesteryear where in a best case situation we kept negatives or color slides in boxes, most everyone in the digital age has some sort of program to organize and edit their work.  For the purposes of this post, I’m going to provide a short review on Iphoto ’09.

Let me first start by saying that I have been using previous versions of Iphoto for sometime now.  I liked that you could group things by keywords.  That was my main concern.  I didn’t want to have a whole blob of photos and not know where anything was.  This becomes an issue the moment you start going over 1,000 photos, unless of course you have some super human memory.  So with previous versions of Iphoto, you clicked on a keyword and, voila, the pictures that you had labeled with those keywords popped up.  I have no complaints there.  The problem, though, with prior versions of Iphoto was that it was really slow, particularly if you had 10,000 photos or more.  Anytime you turned on Iphoto, the whole damn library loads.  Yes, there are programs/apps out there where you can divide your library and stuff, but frankly I found it to be a pain in the ass.

I use to run one of those Emacs (discontinued) in 2004-2007 then moved over to a Macbook with 2 gigs of speed on Mac Ox 9.  Even with 2 gigs of speed, the older versions of Iphoto were just running slow. 

So, I tried Aperture 2.0 to see if I could shake things up a bit.  Aperture is an excellent program and there are numerous reviews out there describing its benefits.  Good keyword functionality (in the end, that is my primary concern:  can it organize the photos the way I want them?  And, can I search for my photos easily or do I have to go through the rigmarole?).  It also had good editing and RAW support which the old Iphoto just didn’t have.  But, when you have only 2 gigs of speed (and, at that point, I had upgraded to Leopard), Aperture runs SLOW.  Real slow.  In that regard, Aperture 2.0 becomes unusable.  I’ve seen it run on the Macbook Pros with no problem.  Thus, unless you have a Macbook Pro or a Macbook with the right graphics card and 4 gigs of speed, I do not suggest Aperture because of its speed issues (despite the benefits of the program).

A bit dejected, I picked up Iphoto 9.  I was impressed because the keyword functionality remained the same.  But something more important that it picked up from Aperture 2.0:  separation by projects or events.  In this regard, if you so decide, you don’t have 20,000 photos loading.  Instead, you have only 1,000 events (each event consists of however many photos associated with a particular download or date).  What does that mean for speed?  It means Iphoto runs very, very quick and it doesn’t have those pesky freeze issues it was having before.

As for editing, Iphoto 9 can handle RAW within the program.  Basic RAW editing and other editing stuff.  However, because I normally convert my RAW to black and white, I wanted more control over this process than Iphoto was letting me have (Aperture has quite a bit of control here).  So, I acquired Photoshop Elements 6 for Mac.  In Iphoto 9, you can set Photoshop Elements 6 in preferences as your “external editor.”  When you click on a photo, it gets sent to Elements.  And, the good thing about elements apart from greater creative control is the SPEED.  It’s blazing fast.  Unlike aperture which, with a Macbook with 2 gigs of speed running Leopard takes 30 seconds or more to convert from RAW to JPEG, Elements takes about 5 seconds, even with large compressions. 

That makes workflow run very smoothly, so you can spend more time taking pictures as opposed to finding or editing pictures on your computer.

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