I think the features that grab me most about Aperture, are the ones that nod to the pre-digital era. The times when you spilled your negs or slides onto a light-table, grabbed a good loupe and in magnified glory, saw just how good you really were. Through the loupe I would choose the best frame, check sharpness and look for detail in the highlight and shadow areas, to know what to expect in the scan or print.
The importance of editing cannot be understated in my view and with film, having a good loupe makes sense–allowing you to see subtle details easily missed while looking through cheap plastic magnifiers. You had to pay a healthy premium for loupes by Leica, Schneider or Rodenstock, and a Rollei 3x Magnifier for medium format film, still sells for $100 more than the cost of Aperture!
Know that a three-dimensional loupe at any price, doesn’t come close to the magical performance of Aperture as an editing tool, and The Aperture Loupe, which has been improved in version 1.5.1.
The first thing I needed to learn was how to turn it on and off without having to click on the loupe icon, which was driving me a bit crazy. The shortcut is the “grave accent” key ( ` ) just above the Tab Key. Once you learn this, you will tap that key all the time.
In this latest version of Aperture, the new “centered loupe” feels much like dragging a traditional loupe across the film frame; as you drag the loupe over an area of the image, that area is magnified, from 100 to 1600 percent, depending on your chosen preference. Generally, I like to see my images at 100 percent since there is not much practical info you can glean from higher magnifications. Even at 100 percent, some of the noise and artifacts you see won’t be visible in the print.
Placing the cursor anywhere on an image, even over an area on a thumbnail
like in this example, magnifies that area of the image.
The centered loupe works best on a large screen, where you have room to leave it in a corner. The “old” way of dragging the loupe is still pretty cool and gets the job done on a laptop or smaller monitor. But the big advantage of the centered loupe is access to a pop-up menu, which includes all loupe options. You can change magnification, display color values, or choose the “focus on cursor” mode.
In this mode, you can leave the loupe in one place, and see a magnified view of wherever your cursor travels around the screen. This includes moving your cursor outside the main image area to thumbnails in the browser. Wherever the cursor roams, that portion of the frame is magnified, making it quick and easy to check focus or view details of any frame, anywhere in your library, even when in book or web gallery mode.
The more you play with the Aperture Loupe, the more you will appreciate its shortcuts. To quickly change the size of the loupe itself, OPTION-SHIFT-HYPHEN decreases loupe size; OPTION-SHIFT-EQUAL SIGN makes it bigger. For magnification, COMMAND- SHIFT-EQUAL SIGN increases magnification while COMMAND- SHIFT-HYPHEN brings it down.
The Aperture Loupe is the super-hero of all loupes: powerful, extremely functional, and very cool.