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Old 01-24-2008, 06:15 AM   #1
tdew
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Default Photo software: Photo Mechanic

Ned spoke about the program Photo Mechanic, that he uses to organize and sort his photos. I'd be interested in hearing more about it.
I did go and look at it and it sounds wonderful, but $150 is a high price to pay for a program that I might end up not using, after all.

There is a free trial, but I need to have more free time to make sure I give it a good work out.

Does anyone else use it?
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Old 01-24-2008, 07:55 AM   #2
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Terry, Photo Mechanic and other Digital Asset Management products or Image Browsers are all over the map with price and features. Microsoft's entry is called Expression Media and costs $299. Then there are free with other software products, such as Adobe Bridge, which comes as part of Adobe Creative Suite. There are also totally free products such as Goggle's Picasa.

There are also much more expensive products too.

Which product in this category is right for you, depends on your needs, and what you want to accomplish with the product.

Here's the features I wanted in a DAM product:
  • View of all photos primarily in RAW, TIFF, PSD, JPG formats (if it can view others that would be good) in a folder with easily resizable and zoomable thumbnails to:
    • choose which photos are for working with and further processing
    • review what photos would be good for a particular project
    • further organize photos
    • sort on the fly for further review
    • quickly have exif and iptc available for review
    • mark and classify photos
    • easy and quickly delete, copy, move, rename, or send via email photos
    • drag and drop support is essential
    • to easily send photos to a variety of editing options which in my case include
      • photoshop
      • nikon capture nx
      • dxo optics pro
      • others
    • to be able to do simple non-destructive editing such as file rotation or soft cropping to aid in photo review
    • to be able to choose between whether to process RAW or JPG identical files (I simultaneously store RAW and JPG of each shot to have one to process and one to quickly show someone for their review)
    • to easy switch between folders and keep favorite folders to speed processing
  • To copy photos from memory cards to my computer:
    • to two separate hard drives simultaneous to create a primary editing area and a back up area (all my photos are kept on external firewire based hard drives and when bringing in photos from my memory cards they are written to two drives simultaneously with the same folder structure so I have an immediate backup in case of drive failure or my goofs
    • to immediate have photos sorted in a logical folder organization
    • to rename photos from the "obscure" consecutively numbered files set by the camera to subject oriented names with sequential numbers for ease of future recognition
      • this must automatically apply the same file name to each stored photo saved in different formats with the appropriate extension which in my case would be .nef and .jpg
    • to add or modify essential iptc data to the camera written exif data attached to each photo such as copyright, location, etc.
  • To batch process add or modify iptc data for photos
  • To use photo variables to create file name values automatically
I'm probably missing so items in the above list, but I think you get the idea of what I was looking for when I chose Photo Mechanic as my DAM tool.

Terry, I don't know at what level you you think of yourself in photography; novice, amateur, advanced amateur, serious advanced amateur, professional. I have found that as photographers move up the "food chain" their needs or desires in this area change considerably. Several years ago, I was talking with a friend who's a National Geographic Photographer. He's the one who told me about Photo Mechanic. Up to that time, I was using Adobe Bridge which was acceptable, however, with Photo Mechanic I have dramatically sped up my photo processing workflow, in part through PM's batch processing. For me the product has paid for itself, over and over again.

In addition, according to the size of one's photo catalog, needs change. To start, when I take photos, my RAW format photos run about 16MB a piece and their JPG counterparts take about 3MB a piece. I have thousands and thousands of photographs which are quickly coming to a total of a terrabyte (1,000 GB ). If nothing else, that alone points to my serious need for very serious DAM software.

When I look at the costs of Photo Mechanic for me, I see real value, plus compared to the cost of my other photography software, Adobe Create Suite 3, (upgrade after upgrade) with more than 50 purchased plug-ins, Nikon Capture NX, DXO Optics Pro, Genuine Fractals, Neat Image, Photo Kit, etc., $150 becomes a drop in the bucket.

When you come down to it, it's all about value for you and you alone.
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Old 01-24-2008, 08:18 AM   #3
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Ned and his DAM products!

(Sorry could not resist)

Interesting. It is way beyond anything that I would ever need, but it is amazing the capabilities out there!
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Old 01-24-2008, 08:39 AM   #4
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John, I should have known you'd jump on that faster than anyone else. Thanks for the big smile on my face.

On a more serious note, the tools now available for digital photography are unreal. There is almost nothing these days, that digital can't do, that film can do. Plus, many of the new tools are able to help us overcome goofs and/or poorly exposed digital photographs that 12-18 months ago would have been lost photos. Blown highlights are the bane of digital photographs (the dynamic range of digital sensors is on a par with slides, rather than negatives and therefore not particularly forgiving of an exposure that's off, especially when you over-expose), yet today new software can pull out some detail from these highlights, which is unbelievable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jfrenaye View Post
Ned and his DAM products!

(Sorry could not resist)

Interesting. It is way beyond anything that I would ever need, but it is amazing the capabilities out there!
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Old 01-24-2008, 09:08 AM   #5
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Ned,

I've used a number of different photo organizer products over the years and have still not found the one that suits me best.
On my main computer now, in addition to Picasa, I've got BreezebrowserPro, IDImager as well as the photo organizers within my PhotoImpact, Lumapix, and other photo programs.

One of my prime considerations is that whatever tags I add, they have to be of a sort that will still be visible when the next program comes along.
I don't want to have to re-do work. I use Picasa when I want to visually find something - and I use file names that make sense - so they can be found, but I never wanted to take the time to go through all that are there and tag them.

I'm probably not what you'd consider a serious photographer, but I am the family (immdediate and extended) photo archivist and have a business which scans photos for people who don't know how to, or don't want to take the time to do it for themselves and puts them into DVD slide shows.
When we go on a family vacation, our immediate family now has: my own cameras, 5 adults with digital cameras and a 16 year old with her own digital too.
If we travel with other groups, I usually take copies of everyone's photos and then select which are the best of multple shots of the same spot.
On the cruise with HS friends, if I hadn't taken the pix off the cards while we were on the ship and put them onto CDs for each person, they might still be sitting in the cameras!

So, I'd like to be able to tag the photos with the name of the photographer, making it easier if we ever need to find a backup, we'd know who took the picture, quickly see which pictures are of the same place and time, even though taken with different cameras.

From what I've read, I believe Photo Mechanic might be the final answer for me, but I've got a lot going on right now, so will have to wait a couple of weeks to try it out.

Thanks for the info.
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Old 01-24-2008, 10:14 AM   #6
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Terry, Photo Mechanic (and no, everyone, I'm not a shill for them) handles exif and iptc data.

For others reading this thread, exif data is generated by digital cameras when you take a photo. EXIF stands for Exchangeable Image File Format, and is a standard for storing photograph and camera information in image files, especially those using JPEG compression. The major camera manufacturers have adopted this standard not only for JPEG files, but their RAW files (which are generally modified TIFF files) as well. EXIF data has become the industry standard for camera generated data.

In addition to EXIF camera data, professional photographers use IPTC data, which like EXIF data gets attached to the image files themselves. IPTC (International Press Telecommunications Council) data is a method of and data storing textual information in images. The IPTC developed its set of metadata attributes originally for press photographers who needed to attach information to images when they were submitting them electronically. It provides a standard way of storing information such as captions, keywords, locations and copyrights, etc. Because the information is stored in the image in a standard way, this information can be accessed by other IPTC aware applications. IPTC data was defined originally in 1979, and revised significantly in 1991 to be the "Information Interchange Model" (IIM), but the concept really advanced in 1994 when Adobe defined a specification for actually embedding the metadata into digital image files - known as "IPTC headers." IPTC Headers can be embedded into JPEG/Exif or TIFF (RAW) formatted image files.

Both these standard have been internationally accepted by the all the world's major camera manufacturers, professional photographer associations, and the worlds print publication associations for more than 13 years. Recently, due to the efforts of the Professional Photographers of America, the Professional Photographers of Canada, the Association of Photographers (UK) and Adobe Systems, along with Microsoft and Apple corporations, both these standards have gained the acceptance of The Software & Information Industry Association which is the principal trade association for the software and digital content industry. As a result these have become the photo image data standards for photography software. That's a long way of saying you should be safe purchasing software which adheres to these two standards.

The web companies dealing in photography are quickly accepting these standards too. For example, SmugMug.com, one of the leading photography web site hosts in the world, is fully compliant with EXIF and IPTC data. The captions found on my photography site were not typed in on the site. The captions are automatically generated by SmugMug.com reading IPTC data from each photograph as I post the photos on my web site.

So, whatever software you decide on, go with one which is fully compliant with these two standards.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tdew View Post
One of my prime considerations is that whatever tags I add, they have to be of a sort that will still be visible when the next program comes along.

I don't want to have to re-do work. I use Picasa when I want to visually find something - and I use file names that make sense - so they can be found, but I never wanted to take the time to go through all that are there and tag them.
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