Download for Mac OS X

152 kb – Mac OS X 10.4+

Apple Aperture is a digital photography post-production tool for Mac. Apple bills it as a professional-grade product on par with Final Cut for video or Logic Pro for audio.

Digital camera technology advances quickly, espeically at the high end of the market where Aperture is supposed to complete. But Aperture uses OS X’s built-in camera support. That support is only updated with new models and formats during OS updates, like from 10.4.8 to 10.4.9. This means that OS X is inevitably behind the times when it comes to supporting new camera and RAW image formats.

Update: Shortly after I posted this version of the software, Apple updated OS X to 10.4.10, including native RAW support for the M8. Classic timing huh? Ah well, at least the original version had been around since March, plus I got to learn how to use PackageMaker.

Leica M8 Luigi CaseFor folks using a very common camera like the Canon EOS 5D or Nikon D200, this is not a problem. But some of us also use the new Leica M8, a relatively new version of the classic 35mm rangefinder camera. It produces uncompressed digital negative (DNG) files, a format that Adobe supports natively in their post-processing program, Lightroom, but that Apple hasn’t bothered to integrate into Aperture. Apple tends to have a frustrating not invented here mentality that gets worse and worse as their market share increases. It’s amusing that Apple, whose computers account for 5% of the market, claims that they won’t support a pro-grade camera in their pro-grade post software because “the market’s too small.”

Like any niche, the Leica community is a close-knit and creative one, and it wasn’t long until a number of solutions started cropping up. Some Aperture users jumped ship for Lightroom or Capture One. But some of us wanted to continue using Aperture. Despite its absurd performance demands, it offers both excellent post-processing and excellent digital asset management. One of the forum members figured out a way to trick Aperture into recognizing files created by the M8 (dubbed Eoin’s Hack), but the process is multistepped and slightly technical. I subsequently created an M8 Aperture Import Automator to make the process work more swiftly.

But forums are sort of terrible places to distribute software. New people come asking familiar questions, and they either get flamed (a rarity on the ultra-polite Leica forums) or sent on a wild goose chase through forum search, which is a waste of time.

So, I decided to write some new software that combines “Eoin’s hack” with my import automator, all in one easy to use package for all the current and future M8 users who will inevitably follow the same road. The installer applies the necessary changes to Apple’s internal RAW support and installs my Aperture Import Automator to make transfers easier. You can download it here.

Release notes are in the readme that comes with it, but thinks you might want to know before installing:

  1. You need OS X 10.4.9, or you need the Apple Digital Camera RAW Support Update 1.0.1 if you are running an earlier version.
  2. You need the free Adobe DNG Converter. The installer will make sure you have it.

This solution may not suit everyone’s needs… for example, my importer stores files directly in the Aperture Library rather than by reference on remote drives. But you can always move your assets within Aperture, and I’ve included the Automator source code if you want to make your own adjustments.

Once you get everything installed, you might also want to configure Aperture to run the Aperture Import Automator as the default program when a card is inserted. You can do this by opening Aperture’s preferences and finding the drop-down next to “When a camera is connected, open: …”

That’s what I do, and now I just plug my SD card into my PCI-Express slot and everything just works. Not in the way Apple famously promised, of course; only after you write a whole bunch of software to make it so.

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published June 18, 2007