Aperture on a PowerBook, Pt. 1

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Derrick Story

Derrick Story
Dec. 03, 2005 10:30 PM
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I finally had a chance to spend a whole day with Apple's new professional photo software, Aperture. As I had mentioned in an earlier post, I'm using a 17" PowerBook for all of my photo work. This is the first in a series of posts describing my experiences with Aperture on a laptop.

Fortunately, my laptop is only about a year old. It's a 1.5 GHz PowerPC G4 with 1.5 GB DDR SDRAM and a 80 GB hard drive. I have the ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 graphics card with 64 MB VRAM. I have Mac OS X 10.4.3 loaded. And finally, I'm using two LaCie FireWire external drives for "vault" backups.

To be honest, I was nervous about Aperture's performance on this computer. The recommended system, a Dual 2GHz Power Mac G5 with a ATI Radeon 9800 XT or 9800 Pro, blows the doors off my 17" laptop. But after a day's worth of work, everything seems just fine.

I currently have 10 applications open, plus a number of Dashboard widgets, and I'm only using about 1.15 GB of my 1.5 GB system memory. Aperture is grabbing about 180 MBs of RAM. Leaving Aperture open in the background isn't adversely affecting my overall system performance. It just rests quietly when not in use.

Overall application performance is quite acceptable. There are times when I could tell more horsepower would help: slow importing of Canon 5D Raw files, (Rebel XT Raws import acceptably), and short delays when loading full size image in the Viewer after I've clicked on its thumbnail. There might be other performance bottlenecks too, but I haven't discovered them yet.

I will say this however, I'm really glad I have a 17" screen. The minute I load the Viewer, or use the Light Table, screen real estate becomes a real premium. I need every pixel on my 1,440 x 900 monitor.

There's lots more to report, and I'll post again in a day or so. But for now, I'm happy to say that Aperture seems to be running just fine on my PowerBook.

More in this series...

Derrick Story is the author of The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers, The Digital Photography Companion, and Digital Photography Hacks, and coauthor of iPhoto: The Missing Manual, with David Pogue. You can follow him on Twitter or visit www.thedigitalstory.com.