Friday, September 1, 2006
Gadget Bag: Digital Image Management
Take the work out of photo organization with these smart applications
There are also cataloging programs like iView MediaPro and Extensis Portfolio that keep thumbnail versions of your images in their databases but let you store images wherever you want. This method gives you the most flexibility—you can search for your images whether they're on your hard disk or archived on a CD, DVD or other removable media. Integral to all of the applications is the ability to quickly find images based on keywords or other metadata, such as ratings, date taken or file type. Also common to these applications is the ability to rename files, generate contact sheets, create web galleries and open your photo in your favorite image editor.
The Full-Meal Deal
With many photographers shooting in the RAW format now, conversion from RAW to other image formats is also becoming a regular feature. The days of needing to use either Photoshop or your camera manufacturer's software for RAW files are over.
iView MediaPro (Mac and Windows) was recently acquired by Microsoft. It uses the catalog approach, archiving thumbnails of your images to give you access to everything—whether online or in storage. iView can be configured to automatically watch and update folders, which is useful once you've set up and begun tracking your photos. Although you can keep everything in one large catalog, you can also create a series of catalogs with different image attributes. This is handy when, for example, you want to keep landscape images separate from wildlife photography. Multiple catalogs can be opened, and images can be dragged and dropped between them. iView has one of the most flexible organizing methods available with excellent web gallery options and image-editing features. It retails for $199.
Extensis Portfolio (Mac and Windows) is the other cataloging application in our roundup. As with iView, you can catalog images whether they're on your hard drive or archived to other media. Portfolio is the only application here that has a server version, which allows multiple computers to share one image catalog. The latest version of Portfolio includes support for most RAW formats. Along with iView MediaPro, there's extensive support for a variety of file formats and powerful organization tools. You can define hot folders that will automatically add images to your catalogs and then sort or view images in any grouping that you need. A free runtime viewer lets you send your catalogs to clients for review while the extensive web gallery options generate professional quality websites. Portfolio is available in several different configurations, starting at $199.
ACDSee Pro (Windows only) is a powerful image browser with cataloging features similar to iView MediaPro and Extensis Portfolio. Although you can view and edit images directly from within ACDSee Pro, it will also store thumbnails and location information for archived photos. The Pro version adds support for RAW image conversions and a number of special-effects filters. Printing and web gallery creation are excellent with ACDSee Pro, which retails for $129.
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