update – iTunes is easily the most used of the iLife suite of integrated applications. Next most popular in iLife is iPhoto, as digital camera sales continue to outpace film camera sales.
iPhoto struggled in the early years. It was slow, buggy, and under featured, though promise was great. It’s no longer slow, or underpowered, or weak featured.
For the average Mac user, iPhoto, at version 6.0, represents a remarkable achievement—a place to store digital photos and movies.
Add to that a host of features that let users share photos, print photos, manipulate photos, and more, and iPhoto is officially a mature application.
No, iPhoto isn’t Aperture. iPhoto isn’t going to make professionals happy. It may not make them unhappy, either.
I’ll call myself a semi-pro. With 8,808 photos in iPhoto and thousands and thousands of dollars in very good camera gear, I take photography seriously. I take my photos seriously, too, and exercise care and concern for their well being.
iPhoto has managed to carry my digital photos (and twenty eleven hundred or so scanned photos) through multiple generations of Mac and iLife upgrades with few problems.
iPhoto is not Adobe’s Photoshop CS or Photoshop Elements. Both of those applications are superb, classy, and do much more than iPhoto when it comes to image manipulation. I use both when I’m serious about a photo.
iPhoto is for the rest of us and carries a suite of tools that make “managing” photos more pleasant. If iLife’s a great package because the sum of the parts is greater than the whole, so it is with iPhoto.
New with iPhoto 6 is speed. Handle up to 250,000 photos and it “scrolls like butter” as Steve said in the keynote.
The last version of iPhoto was quick, though somewhat slower on my ancient PowerBook. No more.
Few of us will hit the 250,000 photo limit. If you should, there are utilities which allow multiple photo libraries (convenient for its’ own sake).
Tools. iPhoto has plenty but not so many as to overwhelm even the new user or the casual user, yet sufficient for those of us in the not-quite-ready-for-pro level.
At the bottom left of the new platinum plastic screen are the basic tool buttons. A large Plus sign indicates the single click needed to create a new photo Album.
Next to that is the familiar Information button, the Search button, and the Keyword button. The Enter Full Screen button is last on the left hand side.
On the far right is the familiar Slider Bar which adjusts the size of the photos on the center screen. Nothing new, mostly familiar, easy to use.
Below the photographs, in either Library, or Album mode, are additional and familiar tools. To the left is Rotate and Edit.
Edit is improved and now the photo can adjust to as much screen real estate as you’d like to give it. Other tools are familiar, too. Constrain, Crop, Enhance, Red-Eye, Retouch, and so on.
New in iPhoto 6 is an Effects button which adds new digital photo effects for Black and White, Sepia tone, and so on, but now in a thumbnail version so you can see the effect before it’s applied.
Effects is a pop up similar to the Adjust color button. It’s Translucent black with white text and looks professional yet doesn’t infringe.
The rest of the tools below the photos look familiar though a number of new tools are present. There’s Slideshow, which takes a selection of photos and produces a complete slideshow in a click.
There’s Card and Book again, though Calendar is new. The selection of calendars is excellent, though these are custom prints. The only disappointment with Calendar is that I can’t print these beautiful productions on my Canon printer. Order from Apple is the name of the game.
New on the bottom toolbar are buttons for iWeb and Photocast.
Both are significant as they increase the amount of integration and sharing of each application in iLife.
Selecting photos in iPhoto and clicking the iWeb button presents a dialog for Blog or Photo, which then opens iWeb, open the templates menu, so you can select one of the many iWeb templates for your web site.
That’s integration and it works well. There’s really nothing quite like this kind of back and forth capability in Windows.
The Photocast button is different and works with .Mac. It lets you publish a group of photos from an album. Friends and family can “Subscribe” to that album, receive notification of changes whenever you update the album. It’s slick.
In the File menu (back to the top) of iPhoto you can now subscribe to another iPhoto user’s album by entering the .Mac URL (this may work with non-.Mac accounts, though I haven’t tried it yet).
The Export selection is back where it belongs, under File menu. The Share menu has some additions, including Photocast and .Mac slides.
In summary, iPhoto is faster, has greater photo capacity, more control over photo retouching, a good first try at integration with iWeb, and more custom printing options.
The fact that iPhoto is part of a suite that’s free with each new Mac is remarkable. As part of a suite of useful applications that work together for only $79 is also remarkable. It also marks the beginning of our annual Apple Tax. Get used to it.