New PowerPCs, Upgraded PowerBooks and Aperture Introduced in Bangkok
Apple introduced the latest PowerBooks, the G5 PowerPCs and photography software, Aperture, at the Metropolitan Hotel, Bangkok, recently. Therdsak Skulyong, Managing Director, Apple Thailand, introduced Danny Lam, Product Marketing manager, Desktop and Server, Asia-Pacific and Darren Sng, Software Product Marketing Manager, South Asia. These computers, and the software are pitched at the higher end of the market.
Danny then looked at the G5 PowerPC range and explained some of the chip technology. The dual-core technology gives a significant increase in processing power, which has been complemented by revised architecture. The G5s can now support up to 16 Gigabytes of RAM and one Terabyte of internal storage. PowerPCs now have two 1 Gigabyte Ethernet ports. These support link-aggregation giving a possible 2 Gigabyte Ethernet link.
Apple now produces a 2.5GHz quad-core machine, using two of the dual-core chips. Danny showed that all tests ran considerably faster with Linpack floating point calculations some 88% improved, Final Cut Pro 60% faster and PhotoshopCS 43% faster.
This may seem high for those used to Phantip Plaza prices, but these are for high level graphics; and for making movies: several recent releases have used Apple computers and software. The Apple PowerPC page still shows the 2.7GHz dual-core computer is available.
Darren Sng began by outlining OSX, Tiger, particularly its graphics strengths. Apple, he said, listened to hundreds of photographers who needed help with multiple shots and using high resolution images.
They needed to cull through shots -- quickly removing those they will not use and selecting the better ones for further work -- then retouch: the post production. They must do this with tight deadlines: for example, sports or wedding photographers who both have different types of deadlines and imaging types.
While movie-makers have Final Cut, the photographer now has Aperture: an all-in-one software tool for professionals. Aperture has three main functions: Compare and Selection tools; Image processing; and Printing and publishing.
It enables selection from multiple (almost identical) images which are placed in batches. A photographer can work in full screen mode or with smaller selections, and there is a virtual "Light Table". The software works in RAW as well as jpg, but the RAW image -- the digital negative -- is itself never touched. As it is currently difficult to work directly in RAW, forcing people to use jpg (or another format), this is an innovation.
First the application stitches together groups of shots: navigation of shots either in strips or full-screen is easy. A one-screen, multi-image viewer is available and there is even simultaneous zoom on several images. A Loupe function (a magnifying glass) allows magnification up to 800% of tiny sections of an image.
Aperture enables consistent colour management from camera, through proofing to output. It provides suitable output for different types of media, such as Kodak paper, on a Cinema display. Print options range from contact sheets to high quality local printing for web or book publishing (if you have the right printer). There is a one-click export to Photoshop.
Darren took the time to demonstrate the functions of Aperture and ran through a series of operations and options such as might occur when a photographer had returned from a shoot. One aspect I found interesting was the use of Smart folders: almost identical to the Smart folders one can create using Spotlight. Adding Keywords to photos selected can be done by drag and drop of the words onto the images selected. This is clearly not the Photoshop rival that had been earlier suggested. Aperture deals with the control and organisation of multiple images and their information.
This is an application for users at a high level: its specifications and pricing reflect this. It will run on the latest 15" and 17" PowerBooks, but not the 12". Aperture is available in Thailand for 26,400 baht.
While price considerations might deter most home users, these PowerPCs, PowerBooks, and Aperture, would be excellent tools for professionals. If you want to make a movie for the cinema, or work with graphics at the highest levels, a PowerPC plus the software to go with it should already be on your list.
Note: For those interested, a Google search for the term "link aggregation" will produce several sites that explain the technology.
For further information, e-mail to Graham K. Rogers.
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