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There are a number of inexpensive programs all of which do the job with ease. Adobe Photoshop Album, Jasc Paint Shop Photo Album, ACDSee5.0 and on the expensive end, Extensis Portfolio. There are certainly others as well, but these are the most readily available. All cover the basics thoroughly, and mostly vary in the added "bells and whistles".
All can be used for single users. Extensis Portfolio is aimed at asset management in a publishing environment, and probably overkill for most single users, since it costs around four times the price of the others.
I chose ACDSee primarily because I already was a user of their FotoAngelo slide-show software which is included in their full suite of apps. It combines great simplicty with power in a completely intuitive interface. One does not have to relearn the software on the occasions when one does a slide-show. ACDSee itself is much the same way.
I have over 36,000 JPEGs alone on my main image processing computer, and probably as many or more on my second machine. I can find any one of them instantly, even across the network. It has taken minimal work on my part, just a matter of thinking through ways to make it easier.
Many of the images are originals from my digital camera. When I transfer the pictures, I copy the whole folder they are in and store it in folders by year. I rename it with the month number "01." for January, and by the date it was transferred "January 02, 2004" and a couple of keywords "New Years - snow". Whether or not I am using ACDSee, this lets me find a shoot quickly.
I have ACDSee set to open in the "Nikon Originals" folder as the default. However, other folders that I access frequently "E-Mail" and "Image Processing" are set as Favorites for quick and direct access.
I have set up categories and in some cases sub-categories Travel -> Desert -> 2002, that let me see the contents of multifolder shoots. Sorting images into categories is a simple matter of drag and drop and only takes seconds, even if the images fit into several categories. Thus if I want to see all my flower shots together, I can click on "Flowers" category. If I just want to see orchid shots I click on the sub-category "Orchids".
I can also find my images by date. If I want to review my total output for 2003, I can click on the year and all my shots will flow into the tumbnail window. If I want to see what I shot in July 2003, clicking on the month will bring only those to the screen. I can shift-click on the calendar for all those within a given period say July 10th through 20th or click on a single date. Dates when images were created show up in bold-face type.
It has extensive database functions if you really love clerical work. You can attach a wealth of information to each image, enabling extremely complex searches if you would rather spend you time typing than shooting pictures. However, it will do some pretty complex searching in any case. As a test, I just had it find every shot I took in 2002 using an ISO800 setting! It found 1040 files.
It also makes renaming, moving, copying and deleting files simple. One can drag and drop tumbnails into image processing programs, word documents, e-mail and so on.
As well as image files it will handle all media files - both sound and video - including MIDI files.
As for bells and whistles, the list would be far too long, but suffice to say it has simple built-in image processing with links to any other image processing programs, a minimal slide show program with links to FotoAngelo for elaborate shows, HTML web-page generation, prints excellent contact sheets that are easily customized, orders prints on-line, does screen captures and a host of other things - probably some I have yet to discover.
I expect that the others do the same fundamental things well as well and any will serve your purposes.
Sorry, I didn't follow protocol and put the text between the lines. That's what I get for doing this at 4am. ;-)
I just went through the process of evaluating archiving programs, including all those you mention. I eliminated ACDSee (ver. 6 is out now) because unlike Adobe and most of the others, it doesn't support RAW (NEF) file viewing. I think Adobe PA is clever, but a bit "Mickey-Mouse". There is also a 36 megapixel limit on file size (not Mbytes...it doesn't matter about bit depth). That figure goes down to 24 then 12, depending on how much RAM you have. I have some medium format scans that Adobe PA refused to index for this reason.
Hey Larry, thanks for poiting me to ACDSee. It has the features I have been looking for. I own Adobe PA, and have tested a few more. Though I must admit that non-support of RAW (and PDF), as Lloyd pointed out, is very limiting. I would assume that the developers will soon add RAW-support in a 6.x version.
I am amazed that they would remove it in Version6.0.
In that case I would recommend that you try to find a copy of 5.0. The RAW (.nef) file from my Nikon CP5000 contains an embedded 160x120 24-bit TIFF preview that it has no problem displaying. I just dragged and dropped it into Photoshop, and it opened fine in Photoshop's 48-bit workspace, full size.
I expect that it will still be some time before all applications support extended workspaces. IrfanView will open and process .nef, but it first converts it to 24-bit, dropping it from RAW's 12-bits per channel to the usual 8-bits per channel.
Until Photoshop CS, many processing features were not available outside of 24-bit workspace. I don't have it yet, but I understand that most major operations can be done now using the full 12-bits per channel. Other than Photoshop CS, NikonView and NikonCapture, I don't know what other program fully supports the 12-bit per channel Nikon RAW files. At best, expect the application to convert it to 8-bit per channel for processing in 24-bit workspace.
Since so few applications actually let one process RAW in its 12-bit per channel form, I find this no problem whatever with ACDSee5.0, as long as I have Photoshop. Granted, all these archive programs do have some minimal processing features built in, but at heart they are elaborate file managers and that is what they do extremely well and with zero learning curve and little time demands upon the user. ACDSee5.0 came with an image processing extension, but I have only looked at it and not used it. However, I have made good use of the superb slide-show extension, FotoAngleo, which I like very much.
Understand as well, that each manufacturer has their own version of RAW. While ACDSee5.0 works fine with Nikon RAW, it may not work with the Sony, Canon, Sigma or Olympus versions.
Hi Nele, I think I'm a bit late on this but I will recommend that for many the Adobe Album 2.0 Starter Edition which you can download for gratis from the Adobe website is worth considering. I hope this helps. Innocent
That's interesting. I actually communicated with them and was told that ACDC didn't support RAW, but were planning to in the future. This was maybe a couple months ago. Maybe they expedited the process?
ACDSee is a Archive program, not an image editor, though it does have some minimal functionality in that sphere. Anyone who buys an archive program with image processing in mind is simply misguided.
With ACDSee, I can find any of over 30,000 images on each of my machines in seconds. I can visually compare images, deciding on which of several similar images I choose to work with, and open them in whatever app I want. And yes, you can name, copy, move. If you love doing clerical work, you can add extensive notes to every image.
As far as processing, I can quote a project. A friend shot a pretty major back-country expedition and needed a quick and dirty slide show. We did it on my machine using ACDSee and FotoAnglo, a superb slide show program that works almost as a plug-in.
1. The images for the show were selected from the tumbnails and copied to a working folder, leaving the originals intact of course.
2. We CDed to the chosen images and in a very few minutes had them pretty well balanced using the built-in controls to take them to full dynamic range and boost the mid-range with the gamma control where needed. All the color balances had been done in-camera and were fine.
3. From here they were exported into FotoAngleo, where a timing interval of three seconds was chosen along with a simple wipe.
4. In less than an hour in the city, the producers were watching the results with totally positive consequences.
Had there been time to run each image through Photoshop, the slide show would have been far better. The production executives were actually amazed that it was that consistent. The stills - along with DV footage - are now nearing the end of post production.
One does not fault Photoshop for its feeble media management features and total lack of sound editing. That is not its purpose. One does not fault the media management software from ACDSystems, Jasc or Adobe for their lack of media processing. That is not their purpose.
They do many things, but the main thing they do is making the handling of thousands of media files - sound, image, animation and video - files a breeze. That is their purpose. They do many other things, but that is cream.
If you want an editing program - specially one that handles RAW - buy Photoshop CS. At this point, it is the only game in town for .nef files. Yes, Nikon Capture HANDLES them. Photoshop CS PROCESSES them at a high level of function.
There is no comparison between the function of Photoshop and the archive programs other than very minimal overlap. They are optimized for entirely different purposes and one will not replace the other.
If you want media management, don't buy an image processor. If you want image processing, a media manager will fall far short. If you want a financial spreadsheet, don't buy a video game and expect it to perform like Excel.
Depends upon the level of support you expect. One can view them, rename them, copy them or move them to other folders, add copiuous notes if one really enjoys typing, open them in all the image processing programs that support 12-bit per channel files - Photoshop - do searches for them in many different ways.
What more is expected of an archiving, cataloging and media management program?