Gumby

Thoughts from the clay guru.

My Image Management Tool – Selection Process (updated)

NOTE:  This was originally written in 2007, and I have not reviewed the tools since then…maybe something I will consider this winter…when things slow down.

In my previous post, I promised to give you the reasons I chose IMatch Image Management tool from Photools.com, so here it is.

To start with, I have thousands of digital photos now, and closing in on 10,000 100,000.  It is nearly impossible to quickly find a photo that I want without spending a LOT of time going through photos.  To help solve this issue, we (and that mean you too) need to create some way to index and search these photos.

Now, I don’t consider myself a professional photographer, so I figured I did not need a “professional photographer version” of image management.  I don’t need (at least this year) some of the more complex workflow and image managment tools that say National Geographic or a studio would have.  I simply want to index and find my photos…today.  So my focus was more on the consumer and prosumer (professional + consumer – really just a hobbiest) software packages.

I looked that the following software packages:

  • Picasa – gooole.com
  • ACDSee – ACD Systems
  • Photoshop Albums – Adobe
  • Nikon Capture – Nikon
  • IMatch – Photools

I briefly used the above software packages and settled on IMatch for the following features:

  • Hierarchical tagging of images – so I create a tag of Sports, then under that tag, I create baseball, soccer, etc.  This has the following benefits:
    • When I tag an item for example with “soccer”, it automatically inherits the parent tag “sports”.  Now, though a single tagging step, my pictures will appear in searches for either sports or soccer, depending on what I am looking for.
    • Most of the other package had a big running list of tags, and finding or collaping the list was difficult.  The Hierarchical list with expansion of the nodes was a big benefit.
  • Ability to easily back and share the IMatch database.  I can copy my IMatch database to my network drive, and my wife can assess that version from her computer.  I get a backup copy and my wife gets a recent version of the database to search for images she wants.
  • Take photos “offline”.  Eventually, I am going to have so many pictures, I am going to want to move some of them off my computer.  IMatch allows you to move the photos to DVD (or CD) and still have the items indexed through the database.  All my images are still indexed and searchable, but when I need to view the full photo (the thumbnail is stored in the IMatch database), I am prompted to insert my media.  Now if you have backed up as I oulined in my previous post, you can already have the images on DVD, and can remove photos by date….oldest ones can be deleted from my computer and a simple action in IMatch lets me tell the program everything in folder DVD001 is on a DVD labeled DVD001.
  • Programmable.  Okay, I have not used this feature yet…but it is nice to know I can script within the tool to automate processes.
  • Support.  Great community and author support in the discussion thread on the photools.com site.
  • EXIF support, including my custom tags.  So, if support was ever discontinued, I would be able to apply all my tags into each photo as EXIF, and load into another tool down the road.  It takes a lot of work to index a large (+4000) batch of photos initially, and I don’t want to have to go trough it again.  Once you have your library of photos indexed, keeping up on it is very easy.  When I upload photos, I can index them in just a few minutes – since they all tend to be tagged very similar (ie. a group of photos might all be from my daughter’s soccer game, so selecting a few tags and applying to all photos in the folder is easy).

I would suggest that you download a copy of IMatch, Picassa and others (most of them have free trial versions), and test them out.  Leave a comment on this blog and let us know what you thing.

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