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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

DPP Solutions: Organization Software

A brief look at the professional options

Elsewhere in this issue, we have an article questioning whether you always need to be using Photoshop.
Among the software mentioned in that article are several that started as organizational tools, but have evolved into powerful image processors in their own rights. Here, we'll take a brief look at some of the popular software for managing your images.

ACDSee Pro 4

Windows users have enjoyed using ACDSee for years. Until recently, this powerful and easy-to-use software was unavailable for the Mac, but that has changed. The designers have focused on letting you work through large numbers of pictures quickly and effectively. To this end, ACDSee Pro 4 doesn't import images, per se; instead, it references images in your library. The upshot is that you can be working on photos almost immediately and you can leave the image files on external, unattached drives. Quick Search makes it fast and simple to retrieve images by date, event, location and other metadata.

Adobe Bridge CS5

When it was first introduced, Adobe Bridge wasn't the most popular product to come out of the Adobe towers in San Jose. It might not have been the best out of the gate, but slow and steady often wins the race, and consistent improvements have transformed Bridge into a viable contender. One particularly nice thing about Bridge is that it doesn't try too hard. Adobe already makes Photoshop and Lightroom, so Bridge can stay focused on organization and file management instead of manipulation. And, of course, it integrates seamlessly with Photoshop and the other software in the Creative Suite. Improvements in Bridge CS5 include more options for batch renaming, drag-and-drop JPEG conversions and the ability to save custom settings for PDF or Web galleries. From humble, underachieving beginnings, Bridge CS5 has grown into a strong program that's fast and loaded with pro features.

Adobe Lightroom 3

Lightroom is a tough program to pin down. It was developed when Bridge wasn't working out well for photographers, Photoshop was becoming increasingly complex and Apple was introducing Aperture as a pro tool for organization. What emerged is a program that's adept at organizing and strong at processing, printing and exporting. Lightroom is essentially a soup-to-nuts tool for photographers and photography. Its strengths as an organizer have been overshadowed by the many books and other resources that show you how to use its less obvious processing and printing power. Lightroom is highly regarded for its well-designed and easy-to-understand interface. The Library module is the heart of the organizational side of Lightroom, and in addition to still images, it can handle video files.


ACD Systems

Apple Aperture 3

Aperture has a dedicated following of users who have shown that the program is full of powerful features and capabilities. The Aperture Users Network (aperture.maccreate.com) is one of the most respected sources for all things Aperture, and we highly recommend it as a resource for anyone who's using Aperture as their primary image organizer or image editor. Aperture 3 lets you decide how much you want the program to control your images and manage your archive, it can handle video, as well as motion, and the program shows its Apple DNA in an elegant, simple-to-use interface. Since the launch of the Mac App Store, it has been available for only $79.

There are other options available for managing your archive, but these are the most popular. As photographers get enticed into moving to The Cloud, we expect some new twists in image organizing. Stay tuned as that story unfolds.


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