What's the best Mac photo manager and how do I transfer everything over?
December 27, 2018 6:18 AM   Subscribe

So I've been using photos for Mac since it was iPhoto. But now it's a mess. I've got multiple copies of things. I've got Raw+Jpg and I want to only keep the raw. And I have no desire to keep all my photos in the cloud and let Apple manage them. So what's the best program I can use for this and - more important - how do I transfer everything over while keeping all my edits?
posted by rileyray3000 to Technology (7 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Mostly bad news.

If by keep your edits, you mean import the original RAW file along with the settings (Contrast +0.75, Exposure -1.34, white balance, etc.) into another program, you can't do that. There's a lot of special sauce to how each program develops a RAW picture. Even something like +0.33 Exposure in Lightroom would not lead to the exact same image as +0.33 Exposure in Photos.

If by keep your edits, you mean just the final picture, you could export your pics as JPEGs and just import those into your program of choice.

Several years ago, I ditched Aperture for Lightroom and I decided to literally re-post-process all ~35,000 of my pics. I did it slowly over a couple of years, but in the end I thought it was worth it.

As to separating RAW+JPEGs, you can't do that in Photos. The only way I can think of doing that would be to go to File->Export->Export Unmodified Original to export to some directory, delete the JPEGs from the directory, and then reimport. But then you would lose all of your edits.

As to what's the best program, it depends on what you're looking for. Are you looking for something more advanced than Photos? How much do you care about organization/metadata? Do you care about syncing with whatever mobile devices?

The easiest thing to do might be to just stick with Photos, try to clean our whatever duplicates, and start shooting in RAW only.
posted by alidarbac at 7:51 AM on December 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

Lightroom or Capture One seem like the most popular tools besides Photos. Both are quite “Pro” (i.e. complicated) which may be a plus or a minus! Lightroom Classic CC is the version that uses photos on your drive, like how you use Photos, while Lightroom CC is focused on storing things in the cloud.

I tried looking for info about migrating from Photos to Capture One, but had no luck (not helped by “Photos” being hard to search for!), although there’s a bunch about migrating to it from old Aperture libraries, like this. It has a 30 day free trial, so you could try migrating and seeing how it works.
posted by fabius at 9:04 AM on December 27, 2018

Damn. This is a subject of interest to me. I too had iPhoto and it worked fine. Then they "upgraded" it and now I hate it. I can't find anything easily; there aren't my subject folders anymore. I just hate it. So I'd love to migrate to another program. I don't need anything any more fancy than the old iPhoto with its basic fixes. But I don't need anything too "pro" so it seems like there's no real option for me.
posted by MovableBookLady at 11:22 AM on December 27, 2018

I made my life simpler with Neofinder. Here is their blurb on use with photography. If the main focus is finding your stuff with all associated Metadata then this works.

I have a lot of digital assets of various types. Being able to find things is a plus. The dev at Neofinder is very responsive to questions.
posted by jadepearl at 11:53 AM on December 27, 2018

Thanks, jadepearl, Neofinder seems interesting though it's a little more sophisticated than I need. I'll give it some careful thought.
posted by MovableBookLady at 7:34 PM on December 27, 2018

I went through this when Apple shut down Aperture and I needed to migrate thousands of photos to Lightroom. After much experimentation I eventually realized it wasn't worth the trouble trying to keep the editing I had made in Aperture. You have to export either a jpeg or a tiff with the edits burned in. But you want the raw files too and you want them stacked together. It's just a nightmare. I eventually realized that I don't look at many photos older than a couple years and when I do, it takes very little time to adjust them. Lightroom's editing controls are so much better and faster than iPhoto's or Aperture's. In short, just export the masters. You won't miss the edits.
posted by conrad53 at 10:20 PM on December 27, 2018

The best program was Aperture. Grr. Although version 1.0 wasn't perfect (and was such a nightmare project that most of the dev team quit after release) by 2.0 it was great.

When Aperture was killed, I did what you did and dumped everything into Apple's Photos app. These days it has improved a lot, with the magical "Light" slider that cheats the curves and fixes some unfixable shots (I think a copy of something Google's Picasa could do). I do like how it syncs the pictures from my iPhone wirelessly. If you run in dark mode it isn't that ugly. When I dump only a few dozen new RAWs into Photos from my Canon 5D it does make the whole Mac crawl for some long period afterwards while it does various mysterious tasks in the background.
So yeah, Photos is a mixed bag.

Personally I find Lightroom pretty bad. The color controls are awful, nothing like the believable "Warmth" slider in Aperture and Photos, which I tweak on every shot I put online. There is no magical "Light" control as in Photos, my slider of last resort. So try it out on some of your actual RAWs and see if you think it is unusable, as I do.
posted by w0mbat at 10:35 AM on December 28, 2018

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