I've been using Aperture 3 for a couple weeks now. It has its ups and downs but overall I am very pleased with it.
First some background on my machine. I'm using a Macbook Pro, 2.2ghz with just 2gb of ram. It lives connected to an external 22" monitor.
I've used all three versions of Aperture that have been out, and third time appears to be the charm.
While I didn't mind using either of the previous versions, they lacked some features of Lightroom and Bridge that I *really* like. Aperture 3 makes up for these shortcomings for the most part.
So, you fire up Aperture 3 and load your library and here's what you get:
An alphabetical listing of the projects and folders in your library. Not bad.
Most everything remains unchanged from previous versions. I turned off the Face Recognition because I keyword all my images with the people who are in them. I turned off the feature that shares the Aperture library info with the rest of iLife because its worthless and because it adds a minute or so to the shut-down time of the software. Now when I tell Aperture to quit, it quits. Instantly. No screwing around.
For the most part, Aperture 3 is snappier than previous versions. Open and shut down are quicker, moving from Full Screen to Normal viewing modes is faster. Bringing up the HUD and Keyword windows are faster as well. It's worth mentioning that NONE of my images are stored in the Aperture Library. I am far too much of a control freak for that. My photos live in neatly stacked folders that I organize - Aperture references them. The first thing I did upon loading Aperture 3 was to re-link all my referenced images. In Aperture 2, this had to be done folder by folder. In the new version I could do it a year at a time. I just clicked the "reconnect all" button and watched thousands of photos get re-linked. Awesome!
The new brushes are pretty cool, and definitely worth the upgrade. If you goal is to avoid pushing images into Photoshop though, you're in for a rude awakening. The brushes will do great up until a certain point, after which you need Photoshop. The skin healing tools do a better job than in Aperture 2, though they are still slower than CS4 by a long shot. If you mess up, undo takes FOREVER by comparison. Props to Adobe and shame on Apple.
I muchly prefer using the adjustments sliders in Aperture to the adjustment layers in CS4 though.
Generally I will get a photo as close as I can while still in Aperture before moving into Photoshop.
Example: I got from left (original) to right (nearly finished) all inside Aperture.
Of course, after that I wanted to do some dodging and burning. Aperture did a terrible job of it so I launched into Photoshop and finished the image there. This is all well and good because all my finished pass through photoshop and DR. Browns 1-2-3 process anyway. It isn't a question of whether I will launch PS, but a question of how far I can get in Aperture before I do it. Often the only reason I open PS is to run Dr. Brown through his paces to convert into print and web-ready.
Keywording is a breeze, and Aperture 3 got rid of the bug that would randomly duplicate sub-keywords outside of their keyword group. That annoyed the heck out of me in version 2.
Speaking of Version 2, Aperture 3 still adds a "- version 2" to each of the images you edit. I find this supremely annoying, but my other option is to not create a new version at all. I like being able to see where the photo started while I'm working on it, so stacked "versions" right next to each other is the lesser of two evils. What I would really like to be able to do is choose what text is appended to new versions. I would add a "-1" or "-2" which are part of my file-naming scheme as outlined in THIS post on my workflow. Unfortunately, that is not an option. Oh well.
Overall, I'm very pleased with Aperture 3. The upgrade was $99 with free (fast) shipping from Amazon. Well worth it.
If you have any questions about the software or how I use it, feel free to drop me a comment below!