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WWDC Session Shows Lens Correction and Noise Reduction for OS X, Mentions iPhoto and Aperture

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June 6, 2014 - 9:00pm

WWDC 2014, Apple's World Wide Developers Conference, has been in full swing this week, and the sessions are available for free for anyone to watch. Which means anyone with the patience to watch all these and the technical understanding to know what it means can learn a LOT about what's coming in the future.

A reader posted a link to this video, Session 514—“Advances in Core Image”, with instruction to start watching around the 33 minute mark. You can see his post here, and jump in on that conversation if you like.

Faces, smiles and blinks, oh my!

The RAW discussion starts at 32:50, although shortly before that is something about Faces with smile and eyes-open detection that was wicked cool. It was running in real-time on video, but consider it for Faces in iPhoto and Aperture, where it could theoretically find the photos in a series of shots where everyone (or the highest number of people) are smiling and have their eyes open. A real boon for any group photo situation!

Anyway in the first slide build talking about Adjusting RAW Images, the presenter points out that RAW Support is provided for the entire operating system (which of course we knew), and nicely mentions Aperture, iPhoto and Photos (which is curious since the only “Photos” app is on iOS, which to-date doesn't support RAW files, although I didn't watch the earlier part of this video, so perhaps that's changed?)

Aperture and iPhoto are both mentioned

They also mention that OS X Yosemite supports the latest version of DNG specification, which is obviously a Good Thing™.

Custom CIFilter

The next tidbit that caught my attention was this introduction of Custom CIFIlter, which is explained as the ability for third party filters to be added to the RAW process before the image is drawn. We all know that any render as part of the RAW process is the highest quality, so I'd like to think that this means filters like the Google Nik Collection could feasibly be added earlier in the chain, non-destrucively, which would be huge.

Custom CIFilter is a filter inserted during RAW conversion

Maybe I'm over-interperting this (I'm not an engineer after all), but imagine an Aperture where very plug-in sits as a module in the adjustment tab, fully editable at any time, all drawing back to the RAW source for the ultimate in image quality. Yummy.

Is this the new Aperture icon?

Shortly after that we get to see a demo. Before the demo itself got going though, I spotted something in the dock that caught my attention. You tell me, what does this icon look like to you?

Looks like an Aperture icon on the RawExpose developer app

I screen captured that to snag the frame where the mouse rolls over the icon, and it doesn't read Aperture, but instead is called RawExpose (which is the app the developer demos from, but the generic icon running on the right). There's no question that icon is the same as the Aperture we currently know and love, just with a lot less color in it.

Highlights & Shadows

As part of the demo on inserting filters into the RAW pipeline, they show off Highlights & Shadows as being run in an earlier part of the pipeline. Specifically they say that you can “insert this filter into the middle of our RAW processing pipeline and take advantage of the liner input space that we are operating in. That means that you will be able to better keep the color fidelity, you'll operate on a linear 16-bit pipeline, and at the end get better results”

Demonstrating Highlights & Shadows as part of the RAW processing engine

(Remember we're not looking at an iPhoto or Aperture or even Photos app here; this is just a simple developer app written to show off this technology).

Noise Reduction

New noise reduction algorithm with OS X Yosemite appears to be a huge improvement over what we've had in the past, and also dramatically faster. In the demo, they are operating on a RAW image and making noise reduction adjustments in real time, drawing to screen at 60 frames per second.

The original image will all noise reduction disabled
The same image with considerable noise reduction added

Jump to about 43:00 if you want to see this in action. What probably impressed me most was the CNR slider, or Color Noise reduction. Reducing just the color noise makes a huge visual difference, and it seems to work very, very well.

Lens Correction

Finally they discussed lens correction. The demo was specifically to show what happens if you turn it off, by enabling “vendor lens correction” which if I understood this correctly, disabled the OS X Yosemite RAW lens correction. If there are any controls to be exploited we didn't see them here, but it was interesting to see this mentioned, and to show the ability of what's now in OS X, even if all we saw was a before and after.

Here’s the default state, with lens correction on
Here we see what happens when “Vendor Lens Correction” is enabled, effectively turning OFF the OS X lens correction

If nothing else, at least we are seeing that some level of lens correction is being built into the RAW decode on OS X Yosemite. Since improved noise reduction and lens correction are by far the two most desired and overdue features in Aperture, this is great to see.

Second GPU on the new Mac Pro

There was also an interesting demo and discussion on the second GPU on new Mac Pro. While it's possible today, with Yosemite it'll be much easier to access that second GPU, which means developers can send background tasks to the second GPU while performing foreground tasks on the primary. It makes for an impressive demo.

What else can we learn from these sessions?

There are many, many hours of developer sessions free for the watching. Head over to if you're so inclined and see what else you can spot, and be sure to let us know in the comments!

Apple Aperture
To some degree some of those features already were there before. The vendor lens correction e.g. Is used for some MFT, some premium compacts (Sony RX line), Sony E-Mount Alphas. The cool thing is that aperture even understands lens corrections I create using the in camera lens correction app of my Sony A7. I’ve tested this by creating a custom correction in the camera that created a heavy distortion instead of fixing it. The RAW file in Aperture took over this custom distortion while it is not shown in RAW converters like RAW Therapee. So Apple already supports reading and applying lens correction data from RAW files. Regarding the color noise slider: Aperture up to now did color noise reduction completely by itself. I guess this was part of the camera specific profiles and maybe dependent on the ISO of the image. The demo showed directly adjustable sliders for color und luminance noise, which would be a cool thing to have. Besides of that - the Trick with the details slider works in current Aperture: If you put details in 0 and raise noise reduction the image will get very clean but also very flat. If you just nudge the details slider a bit you immediately get a more pleasing “analogue” looking image. You can try rising the details slider - there is a point where the pattern begins to look artificial (like in the demo).

This is encouraging. If Apple were abandoning the pro market entirely, I don’t think we’d see this development in their raw algorithm.

Somewhere earlier in there they also demonstrate selecting 4 points on an image and the app applying a perspective transformation that corrects in 3D. By that I mean not only in XY to straighten and correct for convergence but also correcting for something that is at an angle to the viewer (eg leaning away, rotated and convergence all corrected in a single transformation). The API call is CIPerspectiveCorrection. It is at the 26 min 26 sec mark. That is something we all have been waiting for in Apereture. Let’s hope we see that in the new 2015 app!

[Update] After looking at this some more, while it is impressive, it isn’t necessarily exactly the distortion / perspective correction tool we’ve been waiting for .. at least not if it works like the above illustration shows. Note that the illustration does perspective correction, but also crops to the selected area. I think we will want more control than that.

Let’s hope we see it before. If it’s built into OS X, maybe we’ll see Aperture 4 in the fall.

Something tells me that won’t happen before “early 2015”. With all they are putting into the frameworks, I could see iPhoto and Aperture converging into Photos for OS X and iOS. Both CloudKit presentations say the new Photos app is built on CloudKit. CloudKit is impressive as a communication vehicle.

Well Walter certainly was prescient!

the classical use case for this feature is using your iPhone or iPad as a “scanner replacement” for paper documents though. There are apps which do something similar and there are many apps that do it badly. So Apple may have decided to offer this feature at the OS level.

The Photos App was demonstrated during the Keynote - running on a Mac - and would be 'available new year'. I think it's a replacement for iPhoto with a name which matches the conventions Apple has adopted to keep continuity across platforms. It's dropped iCal and iChat while Messages, Mail and Calendar are named the same way on both iOS and the Mac. 

I'm guessing that's what's happening, iPhoto will morph into Photos.

Nigel P

Thanks for the news!

I looked carefully at the video and to me looks like RawExpose is the app that they created for the demo…..look at the screen shot i attached…… it doesn’t have an icon and it shows the “dot” !

but the one you spotted looks like being  the new Aperture (which is closed!)

That icon could be placed there purely for psychological eye candy to tell us they aren’t forgetting that they still have Aperture. It isn’t like Apple to show their cards before they are ready.

It could also be placed to trigger an endless stream of discussion around Aperture & co…. erh…. damn they got us ;)

I personally have to say - with what they actually told so far, I'm more enthusiastic about Aperture and its future than ever before. Even if they consolidate all those apps, I'm willing to believe that the result would be better than what we have today - which isn't bad at all too. If Apple does this right, then they really make Adobes efforts to create a more integrated photo solution look old. 

Look back at my screenshot. The name “RawExpose” is on the Aperture icon as the mouse rolls over. It’s not really an Aperture app. The dev probably has multiple versions of the RawExpose app on the system.

— Have you signed up for the mailing list?

In any of these developer sessions has anyone seen a icon similar to iPhoto or the iOS icon for photos?  Is this Aperture-like icon really going to be the new Photos icon and iPhoto and Aperture will be morphed into the new app?  I like the fact that Aperture is specifically mentioned, however, so let’s hope that it remains and comes out with some more post-processing options and the ability to take advantage of Apple’s new  iCloud platform for usage across multiple devices  Fingers crossed.

Florian Cortese

Most of the icons in the Developer Preview of Yosemite have changed. If this means when its time that iPhoto and Aperture will change, ?? I would probably put $ on it. That being said, I know there will be a major update to the Photo Apps, just because of the Cloud Drive set up, and moving Photos around, so I would be expecting some kind of Update, be it major or not for both iPhoto and Aperture when Yosemite is out. Pity they don’t drop those Apps out for us for Beta testing :(

In the release notes, it has that the new Photo App, has a lot of the features of iPhoto for iOS, so if they are wiping that completely I wouldnt be surprised. As to OS X, we can’t be sure, just like anything to do with Apple. Its mostly speculation already.

__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __
Arguing with a zealot is only slightly easier than tunnelling through a mountain with your forehead.
"Can't innovate any more, my ass" Phil Schiller

The aperture icon has depth and texture. It also has drop shadow which none of the applications showed in they keynote had any depth or drop shadow. I would assume it’s the current version of aperture which probably works on the betas of 10.10…but I’m just guessing.

The new 10.10 icons do all have drop shadows. Many have depth, like the preferences icons. The aperture icon looks similar in style to the preferences icon you also can see in the video.

I’m not buying that the “photo app” they are talking about is what Aperture will become.  It does however suggest that a new version of Aperture would need OSX 10.10 so we aren’t getting a new version until at least fall.  If they wanted to kill Aperture they could have done so already.  Why add the few features they have in the last year if the plan was to combine it with iPhoto.  I think they upgraded the library in iPhoto to match Aperture to make it easier to add raw support and make upgrading to Aperture easier.

I really hope Apple hits it out of the park because there are already rumors about LR 6

I think Apple is working on a more integrated, vertically structured approach to its photo editing software. Currently we have a flat approach with iPhoto and Aperture sitting side by side on the Mac and Photos and the iPhoto app sitting side by side in iOS 7. I think/hope they are trying something new. Like others, I think iPhoto will be replaced by Photo - which will be the shared base layer and scaffold for Aperture - the next level built on Photo’s structure leveraging core image advances and offering a more sophisticated set of “adjustment bricks.” All this looks like it will be tied together via iCloud - allowing us to edit when and where we like.

One thing seems obvious to me - Apple has a much longer view and more robust strategy for the photography components of its ecosystem than I thought previously and I for one am excited to see what things will look like in about 6 months…

I wrote a piece on the ApertureExpert Google+ Community with my thoughts on where the product line is going. It is pure speculation on my part based on the WWDC talks and demonstrations.

With all due and sincere respect, I think you and Thomas are off the mark. By more than a mile. I also don’t think there is enough definitive information to prove Aperture will prevail. The information available still leaves too much to interpretation. Long on technical minutae, short on fact. I think is is a total exercise in futility to discern either way it will go for Aperture.

If what you are sharing is true and you think the new Photos app is to become the replacement for iPhoto and Aperture … why are both still currently on sale? How could Tim Cook sleep at night knowing he is selling both apps this late in the game when he knows full well, in about six months both apps will be for naught? 

I also think your logic is flawed if you consider the other current “pro” apps … will iMovie and FCP X suffer the same fate? Will Logic Pro and QT audio be merged to a similar product as what you expect with the new Photos app.

It’s possible that what you foresee could come to pass … but I think it is highly doubtful. What was shared at WWDC in the sense of Apple tipping their hand as to their intentions of the future for Aperture is just too vague to hold any certainty beyond what the underpinnings of the imagery building  blocks will be available in Yosemite for developers working on their own projects.

Sorry, but I do not share your interpretation of the information you perceive in the WWDC tea leaves …

Honestly, I’m no more or less confident about Aperture than I was on June 1. Nothing has changed.

Hi Walter,

very interesting read! Similar to Butch though, I tend to disagree with that prediction. First: I think we're all clear, that there just is not enough information to make safe predictions. So what I write below is just speculation too.

There is a value in separation of concerns and I think it definitely applies to photography too. An often read argument is, that Apple will not maintain 3 apps and therefore only Photos will remain. While this is absolutely possible, I do not see a particular good reason why they would NOT just maintain 3 apps - or 2. Why does it have to be one for all?

If we look at what this three applications are now - they all have a quite clear purpose:

1) iPhoto

Part of the “iLife”-Suite, iPhoto was the obvious solution to manage your photos on the Mac including applying some simple modifications (often automatically). It was also the host application to generate slideshows, calendars, photo books and such photo products.

2) Aperture

Is the incarnation of a streamlined non-destructive RAW photo workflow from the CF/SD-Card to prints, books, slideshows and so on.

3) Photos

Is an iOS-App that fullfills the single purpose of being the sandboxed container app for the photos you put on your iOS devices. Its a hub, that often seemed more like an obstacle than a streamlined solution. With iOS8 much of its original purpose is refined. With iCloud-Drive one is no longer forced to always store and load from the camera roll. With iCloud Photos one doesn't need to think about saving those iCloud Photo Stream photos to a safe place and one doesn't have all this double storage mess. Photos stays the central hub to easily access your photos - but now it extends to all of your devices. It seems to be just a thin layer above “PhotosKit” which is the programmatic API to access photos, collection, albums a.s.o. PhotosKit is built upon CloudKit and is said by apple to make accessing local and remote assets transparent to the developer (and in extension to the apps and users).

Whats my guess:

iPhoto loses its former place at the Mac as being the easy photo hub app to Photos. This also drops this “Consumer vs. Pro” moniker on what actually is a basic OS feature. (Is the Finder a consumer tool? ;) )  It may still have a purpose as an easy app to create books, calendars, slideshows and so on. It may also provide filters which enhance “Photos” set of default filters.

Apertures purpose will not be that different to what it is now. The main difference will be that it uses PhotosKit as an API to manage its library. This will make it very easy to make the contents of your local library available to the cloud. It may be much more flexible in options on how and where to store your assets. It will also be much more extensible by using the new Extensibility frameworks. The new Custom CIFilters not only after, but also _within_ the RAW decoding stage doesn't sound like Apple is dropping any idea of providing professional photo tools.

Photos will not be a second iTunes. I think Apple did learn a lesson here, that it is not good to combine to much concerns into a single application. Aperture can be an App which allows more flexibility about photo storage, photo editing a.s.o. The price will be that it will be more complicated in ways FCPX is more complicated than iMovie. Photos needs to be really easy just because it will be the integrated Hub to access your photos on any device. There will be no Aperture on iPhone or iPad - you just use Photos to access your assets. There is no need to have Aperture on any of your Macs, because Photos will be enough for many purposes.

I offer the iWork suite as an example of my hypothesis. Apple completely rewrote the apps from the ground up, spanning both iOS and OS X. Both platforms share documents over iCloud. Perhaps the Photos app will only replace iPhoto, and we will see a new Aperture. That would be great. I am absolutely speculating with absolutely zero hard facts other than what was shared in the WWDC presentations.

Apple has a long history of selling something right up to the day before the next version is available. Typically they offer customers a free upgrade if they purchased their previous version within the last 30 days. We still have possibly 9-10 months before we see this new Photos app and what ever else Apple may have yet to announce. I have never seen a company stop selling version X of a product so far ahead of the next version coming along.

“I offer the iWork suite as an example of my hypothesis.”

But … that is my point as well … iWork is still alive and well … none of the apps in the collection have disappeared simply because they became cross device capable.

While it may be true Apple is in the process of unifying image processing on OS X and iOS … that alone should not be interpreted as a future absent of Aperture … or proof that it will survive and grow either …

I’d be very interested to see what improvements their are with taking advantage of the second GPU.  I just picked up my new Mac Pro, and would love to see how it screams with that process running in the future, its pretty amazing already.

Ryan Mitchell
Grapevine, Texas
Outdoor Enthusiast|Digital Content Production|Photography & Cinematography|Aerial Camera Pilot|Audio/ Visual Guru|Eagle Scout|Fruit Surgeon

My Mac Pro will be delivered shortly. What has been your experience using Aperture in the new Mac Pro? How many cores and video RAM does your machine have? 

Ive got the 6Core, Dual AMD FirePro D700 6gb Cards, 16gb (to be upgraded when I need it) 1Tb SSD Running Mavericks, and Yosemite on a test partition.  Aperture Runs phenomenally on my Pro, I look forward to what they will upgrade hopefully soon.   

Ryan Mitchell
Grapevine, Texas
Outdoor Enthusiast|Digital Content Production|Photography & Cinematography|Aerial Camera Pilot|Audio/ Visual Guru|Eagle Scout|Fruit Surgeon

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