am2am

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 15, 2011
221
102
I have been loyal Aperture user since the beginning and still cannot forgive Apple ditching it..

This is the story of migrating 50k+ RAWs (~1TB) into Photos. I've decided to share it as there are still many looking for Aperture alternative. Natural direction for most is Lightroom (which I truly believe is very good solution) but I decided to stay with Apple as I really wanted to maintain mine 15 years of cataloging/editing/key-wording and tight integration with ecosystem.

My requirements
- easily available for my wife and me to import, view, catalog and edit photos
- library has to be separate from our personal iPhone libraries
- all my edits, keyword, folders/project structure must be migrated
- acceptable performance with 50k photos

Phase 1 – Aperture referenced library to Photos referenced.

Process went quite well. Lost few features (eg stocked photos) but overall not bad. Keywords were not hierarchical anymore but I still had them all. Has been using it for more than a year.
Biggest problem – no reference photos management. I can have originals out of library but that’s all. No relocations, no delete, nothing. Once I decide to move original into Photos, its over – no way to make them referenced again.

Naturally editing is limited comparing to Aperture or Lightroom, but this was not my primary need – it has been improved recently in High Sierra and is pretty decent now. I can use external plugins if needed.

I have decided to use network share for my referenced originals (so I don’t need to connect external drive to my MacBook each time I want to edit /add photo) and surprisingly it was working quite well – from time to time I had to reconnect lost originals but overall it was not bad.

Phase 2 – Photos with managed library

With High Sierra/iOS 11 family cloud sharing finally arrived. It was no brainier to migrate to 200G – had already subscribed 50GB individual plans for me and wife - with new shared one my kids benefit as well.

Was struggling a moment with 9.99 monthly price point (need 2TB), but then Adobe Lightroom is the same, and I have a copy of my photos out of home so kind of disaster recovery plan. Decided it is worth for me.

As mentioned, I didn’t want to mix our DSLr photos with our iPhones ones. My wife and I have lots of Phone’s photos and we share them occasionally using icloud photo sharing albums but keep them separate in our icloud accounts.

I have created dedicated “family” icloud account and decided to use it just for family DSLr photo management.

My configuration:
- dedicated “family” icloud account for photos
- my always on mac mini (osx server, plex server, nextcloud server, fileserver, …) got new role - Photos library with full resolution (not optimized) originals.
- Caching service on mac mini – IMPORTANT – will explain later
- Family laptops with additional dedicated user/login (linked to “family” icloud account) – Photos with optimized library are there.
- My family ipad pro (256GB) is linked to the same “family” icloud with Photos optimized on it as well.


Long story short – all my photos are in the cloud now. It took few weeks, but I have everything synced between my laptops, mac mini & ipad. I have all originals in the cloud and on my mac mini library (and a backup on another drive as before).

PROS:

1. My wife is happy as she can import new photos, create new album, star rating, delete unwanted and edit on ANY computer at home EASILY

2. Everything gets magically synced

3. Caching service is great. It speeds-up access to originals when at home, and sync between devices on home network is really instant. I set-up big cashing buffer (1TB – memory is cheap now) and it flies – access to originals from all optimized libraries is really quick. When out of home I need to get originals directly from icloud so take a bit more, but still acceptable.

4. Faces feature is working really well (better than Aperture) and I have my faces synced between devices (be aware – it will process faces on all devices separately – long process, but once complete its working really nice)

5. Memories from 50k+ photos is a great discovery – I really appreciate Photos reminding me some old stories. There is big potential with key-wording and machine learning on big libraries. Image you can select a person (for some people I have several thousand photos tagged) and create 2 minutes memory with smartly selected photos covering last 15 years – wonderful – we all love it.

6. Filtering is nearly as effective as Aperture (still missing “or” logic function) – I can easily select 4* photos taken in 2005 during my mountain trip with myself, my wife and one of our kid. Just type your keywords separated by space and it keeps shrinking your photos selection (or use siri if you prefer voice commands).


CONS:

1. Editing capabilities are still far from Lightroom or Aperture, but they are progressing – latest changes on OSX platform bring some hope. Still not decided which plugins to use – hope apple brings native brushes to photos. Recently considered using Aperture as my external editor …

2. Mobile version (iOS) sucks. Lightroom is years ahead here. All this apple talk about ipad pro replacing computer is just marketing. You cannot add keywords, you cannot edit white balance and edits started with ipad cannot be continued on OSX (well they continue if you accept using jpg as your starting point with OSX), there is no shortcuts on smart keyboard, etc. iPad for now is just for viewing – and this is where it really shines :)

3. You are locked in apple ecosystem. If you want to migrate to anything else – it will be a pain.


Overall – I am satisfied – with few compromises I can enjoy building my photos library.
 
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CmdrLaForge

macrumors 601
Feb 26, 2003
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around the world
Thanks for sharing. I still use Aperture. It is running almost good on HighSierra. Once a OS updates breaks it I won‘t upgrade for a while but there will be a point when a new solution needs to be found.
 

BJMRamage

macrumors 68030
Oct 2, 2007
2,569
981
Yes, thanks for writing this thorough review.

I, too, am still using Aperture. I know I NEED to move on but am worried to spend money on one application only to find it not stay alive or fit my needs...and Photos from the start was lackluster.

I mainly shoot with one DSLR and then iPhones (wife and I) and only edit on Aperture but have a laptop with a library and an iMac (I don't really use) with an older library. I'd love to have a combined library, and the idea of having a viewable (at the least) library on our phones is nice. I used to edit iPhone shots with Snapseed but since i think of iPhone picture as snapshots i have just been using Photos editing on iPhone when on the go.

I've been wondering about Photos (would love Numbered Ratings—not just flagged/favorites as I like to base my first few rounds of edits on which numbers I have given photos and helps me cull the imported photos & would love brushes for editing). and then Luminar 2018...On1...CaptureOne

Looks like with all eventual DAM-Editors, I would either need to import as JPG Versions or start over as RAW imports...and that scares me thinking of doing edits all over.

- What is a Cashing Service?
- You mention a Family iCloud account...is this a new account to have all DSLR-Photos on one account that is shareable?
- Do you have different libraries for individual iCloud accounts to then have iPhone pics within Photos as well?
- Did you keep RAW "photos" on iCloud or do you save the RAW as JPG for the cloud?


Thanks in advance for any replies.
 

am2am

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 15, 2011
221
102
- What is a Cashing Service?
- You mention a Family iCloud account...is this a new account to have all DSLR-Photos on one account that is shareable?
- Do you have different libraries for individual iCloud accounts to then have iPhone pics within Photos as well?
- Did you keep RAW "photos" on iCloud or do you save the RAW as JPG for the cloud?

1. Cashing=>Caching (thank Alexander.Of.Oz for correcting me - I've updated my original post). You can find service description here: https://support.apple.com/guide/mac-help/about-content-caching-mchleaf1e61d/mac. I've been using it as a part of OSX Server for few years - now it's part of standard High Sierra. You have your local network cache for apple services.
Example - I have few macbooks at home - if one person downloads software update from apple, caching server saves it locally, the next person trying to update software will get updates locally = faster access, no need to re-download from apple. It works also with iCloud content including photos, so if I add new photo on one PC, it uploads to icloud but also keep cached copy locally. All other laptops or iPad are not downloading this photo from iCloud, but gets it locally from caching service.

2. Yes - I have created dedicated apple_id to store my DSLr photos (as I didn't want to mix them with my iPhone ones). Of course you may use any apple_id/icloud account but if you have iPhone associated with it all photos made with iPhone will be there as well.

3. No. I keep one library per icloud account. To simplify - myself and my wife have 3 icloud accounts in total. One is my wife's personal (with her iPhone photos), second is my personal account (with my iPhone photos), the third one is just for DSLr photos (associated with my family iPad for viewing). If I want to edit DSLr photos on my laptop, I switch to user linked to this "family" account

4. I keep my RAWs is the cloud. That is why I have to upgrade to 2TB icloud plan. No way for me to abandon RAWs and keeps only JPGs.
[doublepost=1511779941][/doublepost]
I've been wondering about Photos (would love Numbered Ratings—not just flagged/favorites as I like to base my first few rounds of edits on which numbers I have given photos and helps me cull the imported photos & would love brushes for editing)

You can have star rating easily done with Photos.
After converting from Aperture my star rating was converted into 1Star, 2Star, 3Star ... keywords. I have added those keywords to my favorites with keyboard shortcuts exactly the same as Aperture (1,2...5). I have even updated them with emoji star (⭐ :star: )

The only disadvantage is you need to open keyword window during photos reviewing (I open it and hide in lower down corner so its not distracting). Now when you see a photo you would like to rate, you press your shortcut (eg 3 for 3 stars). if you want to remove this rating - you press 3 again.

Unfortunately you cannot increase/decrease your star ratings using + or - like with Aperture.

I'm using keyword shortcut also for marking photos to remove. I've associated "-" with my "to_delete" keyword. I've created smart album where I display all recently imported photos which do not have "to_delete" keyword.
I use this album to review and rate my photos. If I don't like one photo, I simply press "-" and it disappear like in Aperture. At the end of my edit, I use another smart album (all photos with "to_delete" keyword) to display, select all and delete from library. With icloud account I still have 30 days to change my mind and recover them if needed.
It is faster than deleting each photo individually

As mentioned before - I can simulate most of my Aperture experience with built-in features in Photos.
 
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BJMRamage

macrumors 68030
Oct 2, 2007
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Thanks for the reply @am2am this was another informative post.

another question....what happens when you import a RAW file from Aperture that has been edited...possibly using functionality that no longer exists in Photos (brush edits for one). How does Photos recognize this file and edits or do the edits not there just disappear?

And...when using 3rd-party extensions for Photos...does the file stay a RAW file with "layers" of edits OR does taking the file to a 3rd party convert the RAW to a JPG or TIFF?

Thanks again and sorry if I am bothering you with the Q's
 

am2am

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 15, 2011
221
102
All edits from Aperture are still in place after library migration. Not sure how it works exactly.
I assume - if edits include tools not existing in Photos (eg brushes), Photos maintains jpg edited version on top of RAW.
If you want to further edit you work on jpg version or you can revert to original and edit RAW version (but you'll lose your brushes then). I rarely re-edit old edited photos so I'm fine with it. When I need to re-edit I always create a copy and revert to original to ensure RAW processing.

Each time you take photo to external editor, it returns as jpg (or maybe tiff - I don't know). Any further edits continue on this version.
If you open in extension not edited photo - it will use RAW in external editor. If you open already edited photo - it will use jpg version.

This is my understanding - maybe somebody can confirm/correct.
 
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whiteonline

macrumors 6502a
Aug 19, 2011
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California, USA
Each time you take photo to external editor, it returns as jpg (or maybe tiff - I don't know). Any further edits continue on this version.
If you open in extension not edited photo - it will use RAW in external editor. If you open already edited photo - it will use jpg version.

This is my understanding - maybe somebody can confirm/correct.

1. Correct - images edited in Photos will open as jpeg in an extension.
2. Mostly Correct - untouched images sent to extensions will be sent as original/raw. However, I discovered ON1 Raw will convert the raw file to a PSD for editing (which I find somewhat annoying, but it allows for edits/layers to be preserved on return to Photos).
 
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