Wondering how to manage, catalog, and find your thousands of digital images? Not sure what archival capabilities exist to create an efficient backup DVD? Or maybe you're just looking for a program that lets you edit and add the appropriate metadata to every image in your library. Read on for SP&D's digital asset management (DAM) roundup, featuring the latest innovations from some of the top players in the industry.
ACDSee 8 Photo Manager
The ACDSee Photo Manager hopes to win fans with its fast and easy functionality. Find pictures faster than ever by typing keywords into the new Quick Search bar; back up your photo and media collection with the software's new Burn Basket; view more information simultaneously in the Properties pane, e.g., image size, number of pixels, and uncompressed file size; and update EXIF and DB info (caption, date/time, author, notes, etc.) with the Batch Set Information function. Other new enhancements include the ability to create video slideshows with custom audio, write text captions for your images, and synchronize folders on your PC with network folders or an external hard drive to protect you from local hard-drive failure.
"As the primary fencing photographer for the Olympics, world championships, and the International Fencing Federation, I'll shoot anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 pictures a day, and need to process those pictures, archive them, separate them, rename them, and select the very best ones very quickly. ACDSee is very easy to use no matter where I am. I relate it to driving a BMW: No matter what kind of BMW you get into, you can drive it without much effort, and you can get to know the various features as you're driving it. In version 8, I can now work with keywords in a way that allows them to be recognized by various applications. They've really thought through some of the interactive elements of how a photographer works to optimize time and efficiency"
—photographer Serge Timacheff
While Apple's newest entry, designed for pro photographers, does a lot more than keep track of photos, its image management capabilities warrant mention. Aperture lets you import photos from a wide variety of sources, and preserves the method you used to organize files when you drag folders from your hard drive and drop them into Aperture. You're also able to organize a photo library with thousands of projects any way you want, whether it's by projects, albums, folders, or a combination. View, extract, and add EXIF and IPTC metadata (such as copyright, captions, and keywords) with just a few keystrokes. And speaking of keywords: Aperture not only supports true hierarchical keywording, but also a number of alternate ways to assign keywords. The program's free-form search field enables users to find any photo instantly. (See Digital Workflow, p. 28, for Heinz Kluetmeier's comments on the software.)
Canto Cumulus 6.6
Canto's enhanced server solution offers powerful version control features that include the ability to save all versions of an asset, ensuring that complete revision history is always available. Users will benefit from the ability to automatically read metadata from RAW files generated by more than 80 digital camera models. The program's Bounding Box allows a number of images to be rendered to the same user-defined size without any distortions. Asset security is enhanced by assigning permissions for checking out to specific users in connection with specific catalogs.
Extensis Portfolio 8
"Put your files at your fingertips" is the tagline Extensis uses to describe its newest version of Portfolio. Its database-driven catalog lets pro photographers find, preview, and repurpose their files more quickly than they can change the lenses on their cameras. What's new in Portfolio 8? Improved file format support means you can preview, index text, and read metadata from the most widely used formats, including Word and Excel files. Also enjoy full-screen previews from Adobe DNG RAW files, added support for current RAW files, and thumbnails and full-screen previews of QuarkXPress docs. Full custom sorts, scratchpad galleries (temporary baskets for sorting, editing, and merging files), and digital camera auto-rotation round out the software's latest enhancements.
"We probably have 50,000 images in our library. So when I have to find something, and find it quickly—we're a busy office!—it's great to be able to do a search with keywords in Portfolio and find exactly what I'm looking for. I can't imagine how we'd do what we do without this program. What I think is significant about Portfolio 8 is the scratchpad galleries. You can make a subset gallery of whatever you're working with and then delete it at the end of the day. I've also been using the slideshow feature more because, for someone unfamiliar with our images, it's nice to see them individually enlarged on the screen. We use Portfolio on both PCs and Macs. Cross-platform use is one of the program's great features."
—Meredith Lue, library manager
for photographer Mary Ellen Mark
FileMaker Pro 8 Advanced
To meet the needs of photographers who require advanced database capabilities, FileMaker 8 Pro Advanced incorporates all the features of FileMaker 8, plus new development and customization tools, including custom menus, tooltips, and a handy data viewer. A new PDF Maker is one of the highlights of FileMaker's updated desktop database for advanced users, enabling photographers to convert graphic-rich reports of their data into PDFs to be emailed for sharing with non-FileMaker users.
iView MediaPro 3.0.1
This cross-platform digital asset management application is customized for professional photographers and other creative pros, with a free upgrade available to all iView MediaPro 3.0 customers. New features include: RAW rendering support for Adobe Digital Negative (DNG), Minolta (MRW), Sony (SRF), and Olympus (ORF) on Mac 10.4.2 or higher; extended thumbnail and full-screen preview support; Make Capture Sets, which automatically groups a burst of images or group of bracketed exposures based on time intervals between shots; new merge modes during metadata synchronization; and full Photoshop CS2 compatibility when synchronizing image metadata.
"I've been using iView MediaPro since I went digital in 2002. What's most attractive about the program is it lets you look at, manipulate, and manage your photography collection as a whole, rather than as a series of individual folders full of pictures. I'm at about 32,000 images. I have a lot of pictures to keep together and there's no way to do that with browsing software. You really need embedded metadata and cataloging software that lets you see, manipulate, and organize your files in a number of different ways, the way iView does. A stand-out feature of this new version is its full integration with the DNG file format. So if you use a DNG file, it puts a fully corrected JPEG file inside the DNG file that reflects all the work you did with Adobe Camera RAW."
—Peter Krogh, author of
The DAM Book: Digital Asset Management for Photographers
This digital asset management suite, dubbed "a digital photographer's dream software package" by the company, contains 17 utilities for full control over RAW or other image file formats. Create photo albums to share images; view and search for images using EXIF info; rename single files or numerous images using PentaRename; or view, edit, and convert files from one format to another (more than 120 formats). Create PDF files from a variety of applications—including Word, PowerPoint, and Excel—and upload and download files using FTP functionality. PentaWare Manager allows users to access all PentaSuite DigiPhoto programs from an easy-to-use interface, while PentaZip manages compressed archives, makes self-extracting files, and manages zip archives larger than 4GB.
Photodex CompuPic Pro 6.23
If you were impressed with the original CompuPic program, you'll be impressed by its new Pro version, 6.23. This latest version allows users to visually browse and manage files; view, pan, and zoom photos; share pictures online; and create Photodex PictureCDs. Advanced batch conversions let you resize, rotate, crop, watermark, and adjust many pictures simultaneously. Other advancements allow you to add high-quality borders, select and convert colors, and customize file information display for faster browsing. Other new features include support for using EXIF metadata in text macros; improved performance of printing exceptionally large files; added Lanczos scaling to the resize function; and improved email support that now works with all ISPs.