AMITIAE - Thursday 14 May 2015

Seeking Replacements for Aperture (Part 4): Perfect Browse and Perfect Suite

apple and chopsticks


By Graham K. Rogers


I recently wrote a small series of articles on my search for Aperture replacements. Although we may make offerings to the gods and keep our fingers crossed, it is almost certain that Apple will remove the ability to use Aperture either with the next update to OS X or not long after. While most will shift to Adobe Lightroom, there may be alternatives.

Workflow is a sequence of industrial, administrative, or other processes through which a piece of work passes from initiation to completion. For me, that starts with the camera, but when I arrive at the computer, I want to have an automatic import of images, the ability to organise the files as they come in (including culling), an ability to examine and in some cases edit metadata, some access to in-app editing tools. And then I want to be able to export selected images in a variety of sizes and file formats. I have all this with Aperture.

With a lack of enthusiasm for a switch to Adobe's Lightroom when Aperture does finally disappear, I have spent some time seeking out possible alternatives. Last week I examined three: the Open Source Darktable; Nikon's Capture NX-D and AfterShot 2 Pro from Corel.

Although each of these had a number of strong points - whether it be editing, metadata handling or ease of use - not one gave me the basic feature of importing files direct from a camera (or card). None of them was able to handle an Aperture library.

Within a couple of days of putting the three articles out on my site, emails arrived suggesting two other applications that I had missed: Perfect Browse and ID Imager Photo Supreme. This was especially remiss of me as the onOne software suite of Perfect Photo Suite 9 as well as a version of Perfect Browse are available on the Mac App Store. Unlike the other applications I had examined, these also claimed support for PNG files.

Depending on the source of the download, the price differs, with the On1 developer site offering Perfect Browse for $59.95 as opposed to $19.95 on the Mac App Store; and the full suite being priced in the Mac App Store at $79.99 (the same as Aperture had been) or $129.99 on the website, the same as Adobe Lightroom. Both applications are also available in free 30-day trial versions.

Perfect Photo Suite

Photo Supreme from ID Imager is only available from the developer's site and is priced at $99.99 for OS X or Windows versions: about halfway between the prices for Aperture and Lightroom. There is also a server version at $199. The trial versions all require an active internet connection, but this is not needed for the paid version. I will examine Photo Supreme in the article following.

Neither download was perfect due in part to the Apple sandboxing, but while Perfect Browse arrived as a disk image, Photo Supreme was a package and needed me to use the Open menu, then confirm and confirm again that I really did want to install this.

Perfect Browse

The basic requirement of any proper workflow software is to be able to import images. Those I examined earlier needed me to set up a file structure separately and then import, which is doing only half the job. It would also be nice if I had direct access to Aperture libraries, although I am not holding my breath for this.

When I opened Perfect Browse 9 (v. 9.5), sources available to me were shown in a panel to the left. As well as those on the computer and the external disks connected at the time, a number of other links were shown: Dropbox, Google Drive, One Drive and iCloud PhotoStream. I do not use Google Drive or One Drive and have only a few images in Dropbox (for transfer only). iCloud is another matter, but this is not iCloud Library. Thumbnails of those images available loaded quickly.

Looking into the disk that held the Aperture libraries, I was not surprised to see that they did not show up; but in compensation, older iPhoto libraries were shown, although navigating the folders that contained separate projects was a little slow. At least I could get to them.

Perfect Browse

Then I inserted the SD card into the slot at the back of the Mac mini. This was immediately shown in the sources list. The images available were displayed in the main panel and to the right was a list of the metadata. I was later able to add some key information, including GPS coordinates copied from another (iPhone 6) photograph, although this was using cut and paste: nothing like the Lift & Stamp feature in Aperture.

I selected all of the images and created an album. I could also have done this by dragging the images into a small panel for albums. I quit the application and ejected the SD card. When I restarted Perfect Browse, the album was shown, but no images were available. I quit Perfect Browse again and created a folder in the Images folder on the hard disk as I had done for the three previous applications.

On the SD card in a folder were the RAW (NEF) images, JPGs and and an XMP file related to one of the images, which would have been created when I added the GPS data. Selecting only the NEF images, I dragged these into the new folder on the external disk, ejected the card and restarted the application once again.

The folder was listed in Perfect Browse and contained the images. As I added GPS data to two of them, so a pair of XMP files appeared on the disk. I deleted two files in Perfect Browse and they also disappeared from the folder (they were in Trash).

While I was able to edit any of the images using an external editor, this would not be enough for my needs, so I downloaded the full suite (trial version). That was 595 MB allowing me enough time to make some tea.

Perfect Photo Suite

The installation of Perfect Photo Suite was around 650 MB on my hard disk. When started there was an option for users to view demo videos. In the Applications folder, I now had a Perfect Browse 9 folder and a Perfect Suite folder. The components for Perfect Suite were self-contained so I removed the Perfect Browse files including the cache.

As I expected, the actions and options were the same as for my Perfect Browse standalone test. However, at top right of the main panel is access to the other components of the suite: Layers, Enhance, Portrait, Effects, B & W, and Resize. When any of these was accessed a panel appeared to show settings options. The default image was for PSD (Photoshop), although TIFF and JPG - both marked "No Layers" - were also available. With RAW images, I was not given the option to Edit Original. With the exception of Layers, I looked at each of the components in the order they are shown on the panel:

  • Enhance - I began with Enhance and found several presets available in Correction and Enhancements to the left. There were a number of tools to the right, including a rectangular loupe (available in other components) with Zoom between 50 and 800.

  • Portrait - This setting needed to define a face to work with so I missed this out initially, but returned later. There were a series of presets again and a selection of tools. I later loaded a couple of face images, but was not really satisfied with the presets, some of which introduced digital artefacts. I prefer to edit manually.

Perfect Photo - Portrait

  • Effects - The panel here had a good selection of preset effects with some fine-tuning options to the right. Oddly, there was no Exposure adjustment which I usually seek out, although working on a night shot, applying one of of the presets (Dark Bleach) gave me a result close to what I was after, although only after I had enhanced an image. This meant I was swapping back and forth between panels.

Perfect Photo - Effects

  • B & W - With the presets, the user has a good selection of image adjustments, but the tools allowing individual color channels to be adjusted made this a section that really appealed to me

Perfect Photo - B & W

  • Resize - The resize panel provides a number of formats and sizes so that images may be used with certain printer outputs or on certain devices. Canon, Epson and HP were represented, along with iOS devices (different settings for each type of device), video and web formats. I selected a rather large output size just to try.

    Once adjustments were done, I saved and closed, using a button at bottom right. Using Save As, I was able to save in PSD, PSB, TIFF, PNG or JPG. I selected TIFF and was warned that layers would be lost. My 3264 x 4928 image was 64.4 MB.

When applying any effect, I found there was a slight delay (around 1 second). Each selection has its own independence and I found that I needed to switch between panels for the best output: this meant saving an image each time, closing the panel, then opening another. I do not regard this as efficient and prefer all tools available at the same time.

With almost the same image-handling as the applications I had already examined, and the oddities I found with editing, this is not my replacement for Aperture.

Coming soon:

Seeking Replacements for Aperture (Part 5): ID Imager Photo Supreme

See also

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life.



Made on Mac

For further information, e-mail to

Back to eXtensions
Back to Home Page

All content copyright © G. K. Rogers 2015