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New Adobe app to take on Apple\'s Aperture

Exclusive — Refusing to stand idle while Apple Computer woos digital photographers with its new Aperture post production tool for working with RAW images, Adobe Systems next week will unveil a similar piece of software designed to lure back its professional audience, AppleInsider has learned.

Sources familiar with the company's plans say Adobe will preview the application, dubbed LightRoom, for the first time during next week's Macworld Expo in San Francisco. A finalized version of the application is not expected to ship until sometime later in the year.

Designed as a virtual light-box and photographer's companion, the initial version of LightRoom is expected to support approximately 100 digital cameras and their corresponding RAW file formats. It will reportedly boast a feature set similar to Apple's Aperture, including basic color correction and photo enhancement tools.

Also like Aperture, LightRoom will offer photographers several ways to sort and display photographs immediately following a photo shoot. Specifically, sources said the application will pack a slideshow feature akin to the one built into Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger.

In the few weeks it has been available, Apple's Aperture has been met by mixed reviews: while some praise the software for its intuitive new approach towards post production RAW image editing, others gripe at its sluggish performance and lack of professional-level tools and filters.

Although Aperture was designed to run on computers such as the 1.25GHz 15- or 17-inch PowerBook G4, Apple on its Web site recommends that software be used on a computer with at least two (dual) 2GHz PowerPC G5 processors and 2GB of RAM for optimal performance. These steep requirements have deterred some potential users from adopting the $499 software for their mid-ranged Macs. At the same time, Mac systems approaching two-years of age and older just don't meet the grade.

According to sources, Adobe developed LightRoom to run on a slew of Macs not supported by Aperture. The company hopes that LightRoom's more lenient set of system requirements will be one its greatest benefits and selling points.

While Adobe has yet to set a release date or pricing information for LightRoom, the company plans to offer the application as a free beta in an effort to widen distribution and put the software into the hands of as many professional photographers as it can, sources told AppleInsider.

Initially, LightRoom will be released only for the Mac. However, sources say a PC version is in the works.