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News and Reviews > Image Manager Shootout

keywords and image management thoughts

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Hi all,
IMHO assigning searchable keywords to images is fundamental to modern image management.
Preferably those keywords are embedded in the image metadata (IPTC or XMP) and do not only reside in the program's database. This allows to easily migrate your photos to a different DAM program in the future (Digital Asset Management). A DB is also desirable to speed up sorting/searching/browsing operations of large collections.

Among the free programs,
Faststone or Irfanview do not allow to assign/embed keywords, while free XNView and cPicture can do it AND include a search tool (no DB though).
Picasa does everything that is needed; it has a great interface, has a  DB, performs well and allows to easily tag/caption/search your pictures. Tags and pics get embedded into JPEG IPTC metadata. The latest 2.5 beta does show folder structure and can embed "Geotags" (long./lat.) into a picture´s EXIF data with the help of GoogleEarth:

Managing RAW files does get tricky as it is usually not possible to embed metadata into RAW files (and not recommended if possible). You either write it to an XMP sidecar file or else convert to Adobe DNG raw which is designed to have embedded metadata and preview.
Programs such as Idimager, IviewMediaPro and Imatch can write keywords to XMP/DNG; they are not free, IviewMP being the priciest (but has an academic discount).

Picasa 2.5 can read RAW files (incl DNG) but will not embed captions or tags into them; as a RAW user, my workaround is to shoot RAW+JPEG and to embed captions/tags into the JPEGs, which also act as very fast previews (if I have a JPEG I don´t need Picasa to show me the RAW file).
Incidentally those RAW shooters that convert to adobeRGB should be aware that Picasa is not colorprofile aware, use an external viewer that is  (such as Faststone but not XNview or Irfanview).

I did try the latest ACDSee and although ACDSeePro has an IPTC editor I believe it will not embed keywords into IPTC. Someone correct me if I am wrong.

Those are my hopefully useful 2 cents... 

Also, As it isand to successfully manage an image collection I think ii

Extensis Portfolio is the grand-daddy of all DAM software.

Not free...not cheap by far ($199)...but it is the most powerful I know of.

It even has features for exporting a collection, with it's database, for burning to a CD, with a browsing application that is a scaled down read only version of itself.

And images isn't the only thing it can can handle sound files too...and video and all kinds of other document types. It can catalog anything you have on your hard drive.

Fast Cataloging: Fast cataloging quickly adds files to your Portfolio catalog in the background, allowing you to start working with them instantly.

Improved File Format Support for MS Office, DNG, RAW, Quark, Pro Video: Preview, index text and read metadata from the formats you use most, including: Microsoft Word and Excel files in Windows, full-screen previews from Adobe DNG RAW files, added support for current RAW files, and thumbnails and full-screen previews of Quark XPress documents (Mac).

Full Custom Sort: Drag and drop, reorder or sort items in galleries, SmartGalleries and disk folders. This information is retained separately for each user in a workgroup environment.

Scratchpad Galleries: Scratchpad galleries are temporary baskets used for sorting, editing and merging files from multiple galleries or searches into a single gallery. These can be used for printing, collecting or publishing.

Digital Camera Auto-Rotation: Portfolio now automatically rotates thumbnails and previews from digital cameras that record the camera’s orientation, streamlining photographers’ post-shoot workflow.

HTML Help, Video Tutorials, Sample Catalogs: The answers are at your fingertips with Portfolio’s new searchable HTML-based help system. We even include new sample catalogs with pre-mapped custom fields and SmartGalleries for specific workflows — making it easier to customize Portfolio to your needs.

Enhanced Item Properties: The properties dialog is now the one-stop location to find and edit any metadata. The most common information needed (such as file type, resolution and file size) has been consolidated to the first tab for faster viewing.

Leverage Previews: Portfolio’s ability to use Screen Previews rather than the original files makes the process of finding and sharing your files — even those that are offline — much faster.

Movie Metadata: Portfolio can now read common metadata such as frame rate, duration and audio tracks from video files.

Custom XMP Read and CS File-Info Panels: Take advantage of the IPTC4XMP standard known as IPTC Core, used by Adobe Creative Suite 2 applications. This effectively extends Portfolio’s custom fields into the most popular creative applications, allowing a two-way exchange of information.

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And that's just the tip of the iceberg of what this program is and does. This does things the smaller programs can only dream of.

This is a program that if I could afford it, I would buy it in a heartbeat.

I have a collection of images I purchased that came on a CD with a copy of the free file browser. It's darn old (v4 from 1999) but I love using it.

Since it's just for browsing a database, you can't edit it or add any new images to it.

The full version of this and enough time and I would have everything on my hard drive cataloged.

So if you are looking for something a lot more serious, or for professional/corporate/commercial use, this program would be the one.

I did try the latest ACDSee and although ACDSeePro has an IPTC editor I believe it will not embed keywords into IPTC. Someone correct me if I am wrong.
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i believe it can, elpresi.

think i might give 'portfolio 8' another look, app - tried an older version but something didn't agree with me at the time.

i've yet to make the transition to using 'metadata' even though i tried to convince myself that it was an important feature when i was reviewing acdsee - i guess folder heirarchies and structure are something ingrained into me.

Hi nudone,
I realize that ACDSeePro has an IPTC editor, thus obviously it is possible to write a keyword, caption, etc to IPTC.

My point is that programs such as Iview or Idimager can write/sync DATABASE keywords to IPTC. With Iview it is a manual operation while Idimager can be set to do it automatically (as Picasa does for JPEGs). This way, if you assign a keyword to a picture with the application, you can embed that tag into the IPTC metadata without invoking any IPTC editor.

So to get back to ACDSeePro, if you drag a picture into various keywords/categories, can you make ACDSee write those keywords to IPTC automatically (and not by manual entry in the IPTC editor)?

Portfolio is a great application but to get back to my topic it apparently has some trouble writing metadata to XMP/DNG (raw files):
In my experience v7 isn´t designed to keep a perfect sync between DBkeywords and IPTC keywords (it would append keywords to the existing ones and not keep them in sync). Don´t know how v8 behaves.

i've yet to make the transition to using 'metadata' even though i tried to convince myself that it was an important feature when i was reviewing acdsee - i guess folder heirarchies and structure are something ingrained into me.

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I think folder hierarchies and structure are very useful and intuitive.
Metadata (keywords,captions, etc...) are just one more tool to help you search and browse thru your pictures.
I usually include names and locations in the caption while include generic categories as keywords ("portrait", "BW", "landscape", "sports", etc...).
This allows me to very quickly find/gather photos of a particular location/person/subject that might be spread over very many folders ...


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