Digital photos, metadata, and syncing with online services.
August 11, 2007 8:12 AM   Subscribe

We love to take pictures. Lots of them. And we want to love to tag them with metadata. XMP, IPTC, doesn't matter, as long as the metadata is IN THE FILE (for JPGs) and not in a sidecar file. We also love sharing our photos with family and friends (and just family and friends, thank you).

The problem is twofold: First, we want to have tools that natively read and write metadata from and to the file so my wife and I can both use the programs on our respective PCs at will (no database issues). Second, and perhaps most ornery, we want to sync the photos to some online service that will use the metadata we're embedding. The online service should support organizing and navigating photos by keywords.

Now, an ideal solution would have one or more of the following features:

Client-side software: Windows Vista Photo Gallery (which does embedded XMP tagging VERY nicely) or iPhoto (I have a MacBook Pro as my main laptop now, and my wife would switch if it meant easier photo managing) or something just as easy to use. I'm not opposed to Lightroom or Aperture, mind you, but they're not that easy to use for beginners (read: must have high wife acceptance factor). Hierarchical metadata would be nice if presented in an easy-to-use fashion. I know that Vista's photo gallery doesn't do hierarchical metadata, not sure about iPhoto or other Mac or PC apps.

Online side: Ajax-y interface, storage of full resolution files, navigation by metadata (navigating by hierarchical metadata would be awesome, but again, that's not a requirement), add by e-mail (for mobile updates) would be a nice feature, metadata changes online written to the file would be a nice feature

Metadata: IPTC stored as XMP seems to be the way of the future, and I can get on board with that as long as it's not in sidecar files. "The truth is in the file," that's the mantra here. Old style IPTC is fine, too. 100% required: metadata in the file for JPGs. I shoot with a Canon XTi, and I know that Canon doesn't allow writing metadata to the file. That's fine. I'll suffer with that part of my workflow.

File format support: JPG is all I really need. If the app does CR2 (Canon's raw) format with sidecar files, I guess I'd be okay with that, but I don't see how CR2 files fit into the online sync-and-share situation.

Price: Honestly, this is a smaller concern. I'll pay up to $500 for the software and $250 a year for the service if it does everything I need.

Help me before I drown in my JPGs!
posted by Merdryn to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Incidentally, aside from typical EXIF data stored in the file, the only metadata we REALLY use is keywords (again, hierarchical isn't a necessity, though it would be super-cool) and caption.

Other metadata fields, like subjects and location info, are less important, since I realize that many online services won't pay attention to them.
posted by Merdryn at 8:20 AM on August 11, 2007

You've already identified a PC solution that meets your needs in Vista's photo gallery, correct? (There is also an XP plugin from MS that lets you edit in-file metadata)

I don't know anything about a Mac solution.

As for the online service, Flickr:
* Pulls keywords from the in-file metadata and use them as tags.
* Pulls captions from the in-file metadata
* Will pull the shooting data from the in-file metadata and use it to order the photos.
* If there is a standard for geocoding photos, it will probably pull that info too.
* Stores and returns full-res photos if you have a paid account.
* Let's you submit photos by mail
* Let's you keep your photos private.

There are also windows and mac tools to make it simple to upload big batches of files.
posted by Good Brain at 11:14 AM on August 11, 2007

Response by poster: Flickr doesn't read the IPTC metadata stored as XMP, so that's an incompatibility with Vista's photo gallery.
posted by Merdryn at 11:25 AM on August 11, 2007

Response by poster: In case they changed their story, I just created a test account and used the simple uploader, the Flash uploader, and the Windows native uploader. It did NOT preserve IPTC data stored in XMP format, the Adobe standard.
posted by Merdryn at 11:38 AM on August 11, 2007

Ah, ok, I thought it worked with XMP. I guess it only works with native IPTC.
posted by Good Brain at 12:40 PM on August 11, 2007

Online storage? I've used Fotki.Com of years and its awesome. Unlimited storage and hosting for about 30 bucks a year. One of the best bargains out there, believe me. I back up and host much of my business there (MANY gigs of images) and I've only rarely had an issue with downtime, etc. Please do consider it.
posted by blaneyphoto at 9:35 PM on August 11, 2007

Response by poster: They don't meet any of my specs, either. They have no tag/keyword based navigation, and no (or poor) metadata support.

Maybe I should've posted this on a Monday, it's not getting many responses. :)
posted by Merdryn at 8:47 AM on August 12, 2007

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