Apple’s New Photos App for OS X

This is not a review of Photos, there have been many written by now. What it is instead is about my experience with trying to determine if Photos can replace Aperture.

Before going into the details, I should mention that I am not much of a post-photographic processor. I prefer to spend more time in getting the photo done correctly they way I want it inside the camera.

Because of my rare and limited post-processing, I use Aperture more as a Photo Manager, than as an Photo Editor. As I explained in My Post-Photographic Workflow, Part–1 article, I store all my photos on a external RAID drive. I don’t store the photos inside Aperture, but instead use the referenced masters feature.

The only post-processing I may do is to add or adjust the GeoTag within Aperture. Also, I f the distortion for photos taken with my ultra-wide lens is too large, I may do some straightening with DxO’s OpticsPro using the External Editor option, see My Post-Photographic Workflow, Part–2.

So what is it that I am looking for in Photos to use it instead of Aperture? Mainly six things, in no particular order:

  • Speed, opening library and displaying thumbnails and photos
  • Importing via referenced masters feature
  • Exporting selected photos as JPEG
  • Sharing selected photos via Mail, (i)Messages and Flickr
  • Geo tagging (add or editing GPS information)
  • Editing photos using an External Editor

Using the latest version of Photos, part of the Developer OS X Pre-release, here is how those features fare:

  • Speed is not an issue, it is much faster then iPhoto and Aperture. More on this later.
  • Importing photos as referenced masters works, but one cannot import, as in Aperture, a folder as a project (Album). Instead one must import first and then either create an Album selecting the imported photos or Smart Album with a rule to populate the Album.
  • Exporting is working very well and has all the options I like to use.
  • The Sharing option has some problems. It works for Mail and Messages, but trying to use Flickr has two problems. The first, is does not work every time, sometimes it just stops without any warning/error and nothing is uploaded to Flickr. The second is the problem with selecting a Flickr Photo Set, it does not work, all photos end up in the Flickr Photostream, never in the set selected. What is odd about this is that it works using the Finder share feature. The same GUI windows appear, and if selected, the photos do end up in the selected Flickr Set (Album). Clearly a Photos issue, that has been reported before the official public release, but Apple made no efforts to address this issue.
  • The biggest missed feature in Photos has to do with Geo tagging. Yes there is a map to show the location of those photos that have GPS meta data. However, one can not edit nor add any GPS data as in iPhoto and Aperture. This is one of the biggest complains by developers, beta testers and users. The most common remark is, how can a team of developers miss a feature that works so very well in iPhoto and Aperture?
  • Photos does have a very decent set of editing feature, however it does not cover all possible advanced post-processing features that users may need to perform. The only post-processing I do is lens distortion correction for my Ultra-wide angle lens. I perform this task with DxO Optics Pro using the External Editor feature available in Aperture. Sadly Photos does not offer this feature.

Before answering the question, can I replace Aperture with Photos, let’s go back to the Speed topic. For Photos to be fast Apple redesigned the way it stores the photos and its related thumbnails, meta data and editing data. To make my point I need to explain how and what I do with my photos.

Currently I have 5550 Photos in my 2015 Library folder structure that has a folder for each month, and within those a folder for each day. My photos are all in RAW @ 25MB each, totaling 137.68GB.

I do no post-procession, such editing on my photos. As mention before I store all my photos on a external NAS drive. I use my photo apps mainly for viewing, exporting, sharing and creating event based albums. The main application I use it Aperture, but I also use Picasa and the new Photos app.

Each create a reference database for the links, etc., to the photos on the external drive. For this test my 2015 Library contains only imported referenced photos with no editing or special albums, except for the monthly folder and its daily albums. Here are the sizes for each reference database:

  • Aperture – 2.32GB
  • Picasa – 68.4MB
  • Photos – 57.69GB

Noticed the size of the Photos reference database? There is no logical reason why the Photos database is almost 25 times larger for doing nothing more then linking the photos to an external storage of photos. A point made by many reviewers and users. Adding another 58GB to the 138GB of photos is totally unacceptable. I have currently 2+TB of photos, which would require another 840+GB of reference data if I were to Use Photos for all of them. This is ludicrous, and for this reason, as well as the shortcomings related to the importing, sharing, geo-tagging and external editing features, the answer to the question can Photos replace Aperture for me, is a definite NO!