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November 28, 2010 7:36 PM   Subscribe

Picasa does everything thing I want in a light photo editor (cropping, highlight and shadow correction, roation (90 degree and free)) and browser except it does not support multiple computers using the same meta data. My fricken database has been corrupted again (apparently it doesn't handle 200K+ photos very well either) so I'm looking for an alternative that does support syncing between multiple computers and network storage.

My photos are currently arranged into subfolders by date so a program that either keeps metadata in a single location; with a subfolder of photos or; less ideally, written to the photo itself is the kind of thing we are looking for.

I not willing to consider Flickr.

I currently also use XnView for some editing tasks but it's browsing function leaves a lot to be desired. I also hope for my new software to have something similar to Picasa's pin a group of pictures and export to a folder feature.

Windows Live Photo Gallery looks like a good candidate but synchronization appears to be limited to 20 folders and requires syncing via Microsoft servers both of which would be show stoppers. Am I reading their information correctly?
posted by Mitheral to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
You need an image browser that a) has non-destructive image editing, b) can share data between multiple computers, and c) that supports at least 200,000 images? Sounds like a job for Adobe Lightroom.
posted by RichardP at 8:17 PM on November 28, 2010

I personally found Lightroom to not be well suited to my huge library of photos sitting on a NAS, though that was a couple of versions ago. It seemed to not really be targeted at that task, even if it could be coerced into doing it. Lightroom and Aperture *seem* to be set up for people to use them in a very specific way, which doesn't really match my workflow. I can of course change my workflow, but before doing so I'd want to be sure the tool is really a large improvement over what I currently have, and so far that hasn't happened.

I should be clear, my usage seems to be a bit different from what you're looking for. I use one app to catalog my images, search by IPTC data, etc. I use a different app for ingesting images from cards, adding the IPTC data, renaming to my standard naming scheme and culling as necessary. I don't use either of those for image editing at all. So my cataloging app needs are much simpler than yours -- I don't really even *want* and all-in-one does-everything app, because it seems like none of them are truly strong at everything.

I've been using iView MediaPro for cataloging for years, and for the most part it has worked well though certainly not perfectly. The metadata is stored in simple catalog files that can live anywhere, and I keep them on the NAS so any of my computers can access them (I imagine bad things would happen if more than one computer tried to open a catalog at the same time). I've never had any corruption or anything like that. However, I have been looking for a replacement for some time. My primary issue is that the company was bought by Microsoft, and the product was turned into Expression Media. Expression Media looks ok, but I have my doubts about its longevity (especially as a Mac product -- probably not something you care about) and it doesn't look like a big leap over the ca. 2004 version of iView MediaPro I'm still using.

I've just recently been experimenting with Picasa, but I'm not sharing the metadata between computers because it seemed too risky to me. This is of course a big loss of functionality.

So, I haven't really found anything that meets my needs better than my ancient copy of iView yet.
posted by sharding at 8:34 PM on November 28, 2010

Can I suggest dropbox? Keep Picasa as your photoeditor, but store the photos in your dropbox - multi-computer sync across the cloud, and accessible as a folder on your drive. Freaking awesome. www.dropbox.com
posted by Metheglen at 8:46 PM on November 28, 2010

Best answer: You could use Picasa Starter to make copies of your picasa database or redirect it to a network share.

It just makes it easier to manipulate copies of your "Picasa2" and Picasa2Albums" directories, which is where Picasa stores most of its info.
posted by madajb at 8:48 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

The two most commonly used photo management packages (or Digital Asset Management (DAM)) I see around are Expression Media (previously iView), and Camerabits Photo Mechanic

iView has now morphed into Microsoft Expression Media, and has bizarrely been sold to Phase One. Regardless, it's a great piece of software, and may do the trick for you. I've used Expression Media extensively, and it's very powerful for particular types of workflows. You can write IPTC data to the file and/or generate XMP sidecar files. It works a bit differently to Picasa, as you create photo library files which allow you to easily browse, and sort the files within that, and I've found it quick and painless to edit sets in. I've now moved onto Lightroom, but I'm not sharing the files between computers. Trial link

Photo Mechanic is similar. It's very fast, and is dearly loved by some of it's users. I haven't used it extensively, but I'm aware that it's very powerful. Trial Link

One thing to bear in mind is that neither Expression Media nor Photo Mechanic are image editors, so you'll need to process your photos in an external program, like Picasa, Photoshop (Elements), or one of many others.
posted by Magnakai at 3:28 AM on November 29, 2010

I like Picasa enough that I used to run it in Wine (buggy as heck) until they finally released a Mac OS version. What it does well, it does better than any other photo app I have tried. I have successfully synced my photos between multiple computers for some time now. I pretty quickly learned that there is no really good way to do this. The mutiple-computer issue isn't limited to Picasa. I know it's not a Windows app, but iPhoto, for example, just sucks at this... at least Picasa recognizes newly added/deleted images after a sync!. (Steve Jobs wants us to be able to easily share purchased, copyrighted music but can't develop a program to do home sharing of photos we took ourselves?) Lightroom might work but it also generates a MASSIVE database file (gigabytes!) which takes for-freakin'-ever to sync.

My suggestion (which worked pretty well on Windows, albeit predating face recognition): Install Picasa locally. Add images. Use Microsoft SyncToy to synchronize all Picasa files between the two computers involved (including the hidden picasa.ini files, the images themselves, and the database files left in Documents and Settings or wherever the hell the folder lives on Vista/7). It is best to do this as a one-way rather than two-way sync. At the very least, set up two sync containers, one which does two-way sync of images and one that does one-way sync of the database files, and commit to only tagging faces on the computer that stores the master database.

Make sure your Google account is the same on both machines so it can access the face info. This SHOULD work. Most of the time.

On my current setup, Picasa + sync keeps my images the same as those on my wife's laptop. We gave up on syncing the faces because she didn't want to link her Picasa install to my Google account. So, we sync the images only, and each of us handles face tagging on our own. By which I mean, I tag the faces on my computer, and she really doesn't care to do so so her image database is largely untagged. If they ever start writing faces to the EXIF tags, half your problems go away.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:54 AM on November 29, 2010

I can vouch for PhotoMechanic but it is just a browser. But it allows you to very quickly browse, tag, copy/paste, ftp, add metadata and iptc info to. Great program popular with photojournalists working on deadline in the field.

Another consideration though it would be on their servers is photoshelter. Again no editing of the image but full control of all metadata. Completely private and password protected unless you want to share.

If you consider it let me know and I can send you a referal and we both get a small discount.
posted by WickedPissah at 7:57 AM on November 29, 2010

Yes, WickedPissah is right -- PhotoMechanic is a browser, it doesn't really do what you're looking for. I use PhotoMechanic as the first part of my workflow and iView as the second part. They aren't really interchangeable.
posted by sharding at 8:09 AM on November 29, 2010

Apologies for any misinformation - when I was using Photo Mechanic it seemed like a fairly good analog to iView/Expression Media. I'm used to searching, keywording, batch renaming etc in iView, so I didn't see any major differences in Photo Mechanic, which I was mostly using for browsing.
posted by Magnakai at 1:17 PM on November 29, 2010

Response by poster: Picasa Starter seems to handle the large file count allowing me to split my database; allow me to back those dbs up easily; and share the files amonst computers. It won't allow for concurrent multi user but that was more of a wish than a need. I've been messing with it for a couple days now and everything so far is good. Thanks for all the suggestions.
posted by Mitheral at 7:11 PM on December 1, 2010

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