13 Replies Latest reply: Jul 7, 2011 12:05 AM by d60Dave
d60Dave Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)



I use Aperture on my '09 quad core MacPro with 8GB ram. I use a 1TB WD Black Caviar HDD to hold the library. This disk is less than half full and regularly defragmented and is seperate from the sytem disk.


When I shoot an event I return and load maybe 500 pictures into an new project on the disk.

I then go through them cropping, leveling and perhaps adjusting the exposure to get the best out of them before exporting as jpegs and uploading to my website for people to view and hopefully buy. I try to do this process the same night or the next day whilst people are still keen and interested.


Even with a good spec machine and HDD I find the delays in making these adjustments make the task tiresome. Often when cropping a picture which I do to most shots there is a delay of maybe 1 to 2secs but other times it's almost instant.


Anyway I was thinking of purchasing a small solid state drive (SSD) say 40GB, perhaps the OWC Mercury Extreme model. This would be used to hold just the latest project whilst working through it. Then once done the project would be exported and loaded into my main library on the 1TB HDD.


Has anyone any experience of using an SSD with Aperture files and does it make much difference to performance?


Any advice much appreciated.





MacPro, 2.66GHz Quad Xeon 8GB (Sept '09), Mac OS X (10.6.5), www.DaveGaskellPictures.com
  • Frank Caggiano Level 7 Level 7 (25,715 points)

    While an SSD will speed up many operations I'm not sure cropping or other making other adjustments is one of them. The adjustment is done on an image that is already loaded in from the library, I don;t believe there is a lot of disk access going on during the process.


    Before plunking down that kind of money you need to try and figure out where the bottleneck is. I think you might find its more of a cpu/gpu issue.

  • SierraDragon Level 4 Level 4 (2,695 points)

    SSD helps a lot. Masters do need to load for cropping.


    I have my Referenced-Masters Library on SSD and it absolutely rocks. I intend to always keep the Library on SSD, buying larger SSDs when necessary. I cannot say enough good things about SSD. I initially keep the referenced Masters on the SSD and then later move them to a HD.


    Your CPU should be fine but Aperture demands a strong GPU too and yours is not identified.


    I encourage you to move to SSD. 40 GB however seems like a waste of time. I would buy a larger size.


    -Allen Wicks

  • d60Dave Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)

    Thank for your reply Allen.


    I plumped for a 40GB OWC Mercury Extreme. This should be fine just to hold the current project I'm working on and then when done it will be imported to my main library on a WD 1TB black. If I notice a big difference I might invest in a bigger version when/if SSD prices come down.


    My graphics card is the bog standard GT120 which I've also being thinking about updrading. Do you think this could be a bottle neck? What would you recommend, the HD4870 which I think was an upgrade option at the time of purchase?





  • SierraDragon Level 4 Level 4 (2,695 points)

    Yes I think it probably is a bottleneck.


    The last time I checked the Radeon HD 5870 was very good but the Radeon HD 5770 is cheaper. Barefeats.com has tests at http://barefeats.com/wst10g7.html.


    There are newer/stronger choices now, but sometimes an older box may not get everything out of a new GPU. And of course cost matters a lot.






    P.S. Let us know how that workflow works out with the SSD.

  • Tony Gay Level 4 Level 4 (1,630 points)

    A thread with someones experiences that might relate.



  • d60Dave Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)

    Thanks for your replies.


    I've been looking at the disk activity in Activity Monitor whilst using Aperture. When the crop tool is used and return pressed to accept the new crop size there's a big spike on the red "Data Written" trace of about 34MB/s.


    So disk speed could be an issue here especially if the data being written back to the drive is scattered about. Sometimes I experience no delay at all with the crop tool other times I can literally count ".......1s.......2s" so maybe with a mechanical HDD it depends where the write heads are at the time.


    I hope to receive the SSD next week and will report back if it makes any difference or not.


    If I still experience such delays I'll look at upgrading the graphics card. Is there a way to view the GPU activity in Activity Monitor or AtMonitor?






  • SierraDragon Level 4 Level 4 (2,695 points)

    IMO your own real workflow tests are more relevant than things like Activity Monitor because OS X and Aperture work all parts (RAM, CPU, GPU, i/o) at once and certain setups work more synergistically than others.


    SSD will present improved Aperture overall performance.


    Stronger GPU will present improved Aperture overall performance.





  • d60Dave Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)



    Well at last my 40 GB SSD drive from OWC arrived at the end of last week, about three weeks after ordering it!


    Anyway yesterday I had the chance to use it with a relatively small batch of about 200 new pictures and can honestly say it feels much slicker. When moving from picture to picture they now appear almost instantly. Before with my WD HDD there was allways a delay with the "Loading" label at the top of the picture for what seemed like a second or two which made the process tiresome.


    Cropping of pictures is also much quicker with very little delay. With the old HDD I could sometimes literally count one......two......almost three.... before the crop would take affect and the picture redisplayed.


    Yes, I think I can say with some confidence this was a worthwhile purchase and would recomend to anyone having to work through large batches of pictures.


    Obviously 40GB isn't very big, not big enough to hold a full collection but It's certainly big enough to hold the latest set of pictures off of my 16GB CF card whilst I work through them. Once finished working through them I export the project and import it into my main library on my 1TB HDD and erase the project from the SSD leaving space for the next.



  • Kirby Krieger Level 6 Level 6 (12,510 points)

    Hi Dave -- thanks for posting your experience.  I'm curious -- and I think the knowledge would be generally useful -- if there is any any noticable advantage of doing what you seem to be doing vs. just putting your Masters on the SSD.


    So, first let's confirm what you are doing:  Importing newly-made photographs from a camera card to a Project in a Library on your SSD, with all images having Managed Masters, doing your adjustments and metadata, and then exporting as a Project, importing that Project into your "main" Library on another drive, and deleted the Project in the Library on the SSD.


    The workflow I'd like to be tested is similar, but avoids the entire Library-on-the-SSD.  Using such a set-up one would:  Import newly-made photographs from a camera card to a Project in one's main Library on the system drive, with all the Images having Referenced Masters stored on the SSD, doing one's adjustments and metadata, and then relocate (or consolidate) the Masters for all Images in that Project.


    This seems to be a better workflow to me -- but I don't know and can't measure the cost in performance.  If you think it might work for you and give it a try, let us know what you find out.



  • d60Dave Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)

    Hi Kirby, thanks for your reply.


    I hadn't thought of doing it that way.


    I've never used referenced masters before so I'm a bit wary but I'm tempted to give it a try.


    I'll have a look at Aperture and the options to see if I can work it out for a test project and will let you know how it goes.






  • Kirby Krieger Level 6 Level 6 (12,510 points)

    Wary is sensible -- but there's nothing to worry about.  Aperture needs a Master to create an Image, and it needs to know where that Master is.  The default is for Aperture to manage the placement and storage of the Image's Masters:  it stores them in a sub-folder of your Library package.  These are Managed Masters.  Your Masters, though, can go anywhere you want.  You use Aperture to move them, and Aperture keeps track of where they are.


    What I'm suggesting here is that when you import your photograph files, you import them into your main Library, but tell Aperture to store them on your SSD.  The will:

    . create an Image in your Library

    . create a copy of your photograph file on your SSD

    . link the Image to the file on your SSD


    Viola! -- those Images now have Referenced Masters.


    You can change Images' Masters from Managed to Referenced or from Referenced to Managed at any time.  These changes must be done from within Aperture (don't ever do any file operations other than copy on any Masters).


    What fits with your current workflow (as best I can tell from the information you've provided) is to import your photograph files as above, make all your initial adjustments (with the Masters on the SSD as Referenced Masters), and then use "File→Consolidate Masters" on those Masters to move them from the SSD to inside your Library (and thus on your system drive), thus changing them from Referenced Masters (on the SSD) to Managed Masters (inside the Aperture LIbrary wherever it is, in this case on your system drive).


    While I can assure you there is nothing untoward about what I've suggested, regular precautions should always be applied: back-up your photograph files prior to importing them into Aperture.  (Fwiw, I treat the original on my card(s) as my back-up, and never delete it until I have both imported my photograph files and backed them up.)




    Message was edited by: Kirby Krieger

  • d60Dave Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)

    Thanks Kirby,


    That sounds like a good plan and will save me exporting and importing files from/to libraries on the different drives.


    Doing it that way though I guess will mean the adjustments will be stored on the mechanical drive where the main library resides and these will have to be written and read from there each time. I know such things are small when compared to the picture files but could this introduce delays when compared with reading and writing everything only from/to the SSD.


    Anyway, I'll give it a try this way with the next batch I shoot, probably Wednesday night.





  • d60Dave Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)

    Well last night I shot a relatively small batch (only 50 or so, I was rained off) and imported them into Aperture using the method described above by Kirby. That is, I told Aperture to store the masters on my SSD rather than in the main library. I proceeded to work through them making adjustments and exported jpegs for my website and then consolodated the masters to the main Aperture library.


    Maybe I'm imagining it but I don't think it felt quite as fast as my previous method when I created a project in a library on my SSD.


    Also, the other thing I noticed which was peculiar was that after consolidating the masters it moved all the master files from the SSD to my main Aperture library apart from those for which I'd created another version (using alt-v in Aperture). For some reason the master files for these pictures remained on the SSD until I chose just these three on their own and selected the consolidate masters again. Has anyone else experienced this quirk?


    I'll try it again with my next hopefully bigger batch of pictures to see what happens.