What photo manager do you recommend?

Started by ArcziPL, May 04, 2019, 11:55:12 PM

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Hello, I'd like to ask you for a recommendation of a photo management software. My photo collection is so far organized in directories, named by sortable date + keywords. Pretty neat and tidy but as it constantly grows since 2004, it became barely searchable and hardly possible to keep an overview.

Despite never using a photo manager, I think I have some ideas what I'd like to have. While setting up a new laptop for my grandmother, I checked what the included apps can do. Microsoft Photos from Windows 10 was an eye-opener here.

What the ideal program should be/can:

  • fully offline solution: photos stored offline (actually on a NAS in LAN), database stored offline
  • face recognition, really working one, Microsoft Photos is here just amazing
  • rating system (I mean, I can assign stars to mark best or worst photos)
  • tagging photos by keywords, also by browsing the underlaying directory structure and doing actions on directories, e.g. adding tags to all photos within a directory
  • possibility to view images on a timeline, like here:

    neat, tidy, space-saving, on the right you can slide to move between dates over whole collection
  • filtering and sorting options
    example 1: show only photos with tags "(Norway or Sweden) and Winter", sort by rating
    example 2: show only photos of my wife (by face recognition) with tag "ID card photo", sort by time
  • after selecting a certain photo from a collection I'd like to be able to either see it's physical location or open it in external program of my choice
  • it should look neat, work fast, Microsoft Photo could be a benchmark here
  • freeware/open-source of course best but a reasonable price for a private license is also ok, let's say... up to 100€ (?)

Nice to have details:

  • possibility to exclude directories or files by some filters (ideally regular expressions), e.g. exclude all .psd, exclude all RAW-* subdirectories, exclude all *work*.* and *small*.* files; but if not possible I could re-think the folder hierarchy... maybe completely split RAW+working dirs from the final ones
  • once the photos are scanned and tagged I'd still like to have a possibility to edit them (or rather replace, as this will be mostly newly developing from RAW to the same location as the previous file) with external program without loosing the tags
  • would be good if also moving or renaming a subdirectory could be tracked without loosing the assigned tags
  • the photo manager should not edit photo files, i.e. adding tags shouldn't be realized as adding data to EXIF -- this would screw up my whole backuping strategy

Too much? Ask Santa Claus or write yourself? It so, then I'll still happily hear about best what you can recommend.
Actually Microsoft Photos + tagging + rating + filtering would be already good enough. So it can't be that hard.

No editing options needed, have another tools for that. However, a nice simple full-screen browser would be nice. I use FastStone Viewer for that purpuse but I can imagine wanting to see all photos matching the filtering+sorting on a full screen.

I started looking for possibilities by checking which apps offer face recognition. Got a list, tried Fotobounce first. And it's such crap I can only imagine. Slow, screen-space-wasting, offers no better browsing options than just browsing my directory structure and face recognition is unusable. For face recognition they just simply compare 2D images, so only identical perspective, haircut, lighting conditions and so on lead to a match. There are much more advanced techniques already. Full 3D head projection, pose and expression neutralization... Microsoft Photos must use it.

Some background of my directory hierarchy: I split all photo sessions, holidays into separate directories named by a date (in a sortable form yyyy.mm.dd) + some tags. Inside I put a subdirectories: all RAWs, selected best shots in RAW, selected best shots postprocessed, selected best shots postprocessed for showing to others (without too private stuff or limited to let's say 100 shots of a holiday). Naming of these directories is always consistent. If needed I could move all final images to another location.

For viewing I use FastStone Image Viewer: fast, nice to browse through directory trees, awesome full-screen viewer. I believe I'll keep it anyway as standard browser for many cases. However, it has problems when switching from viewer to browser mode, while being inside a directory on a network drive. It hangs up or crashes often. It is also problematic to browse directories fast, as FastStone always load photos new to show thumbnails. This includes all subdirectories, also with RAW photos, which takes some time. Keeping the collection on a NAS makes it even worse. I like that it doesn't create any files inside directories but that's the price to pay.
M50.110 [main cam] | G7X III [pocket cam] | 70D.112 [gathers dust] | M.202 [gathers dust] | waiting for M5II


Remember using IrfanView back in the days. Nice and stable soft. seems to accept raw too
good luck


Thanks for your contribution. However, as far as I know, IrfanView is just an image viewer, without managing/organizing functions.

Another one I'm just evaluating is DigiKam. It is very well designed, usability is definitely it's strength. It also satisfies all my important requirements with the exception of face recognition, which is just bad. However, manual face tagging is made in a very smart way. I like how it's philosophy greatly matches to my already available folder hierarchy. Next strength: it's cross platform. I consider moving away from Windows if privacy will be further spoiled like it already is and possibility to keep the tool on another platform is pretty convincing.

Next one to check out will be ACDSee Photo Studio. Based on videos on Youtube looks promising. Quite pricey though.
M50.110 [main cam] | G7X III [pocket cam] | 70D.112 [gathers dust] | M.202 [gathers dust] | waiting for M5II



I'll stop using it soon or later and digikam seems the best alternative for me (i don't use face recognition a lot)

BTW: privacy and security is a problem on any internet connected PC with AMD/Intel processor made after 2008 (OS don't matter)
I'm using ML2.3 for photography with:
EOS 600DML | EOS 400Dplus | EOS 5D MLbeta5- EF 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro  - EF-S 17-85mm f4-5.6 IS USM - EF 70-200mm f/4 L USM - 580EXII - OsX, PS, LR, RawTherapee, LightZone -no video experience-


Photo Mechanic might be worth a look though doesn't have any face recognition AFAIK. Also, Honeyview for image viewing.
EOS R5 1.1.0 | Canon 16-35mm f4.0L | Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 | Canon 70-200mm f2.8L IS II | Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L II | Canon 800mm f5.6L | Canon 100mm f2.8L macro | Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art | Yongnuo YN600EX-RT II


If anyone interested, I share some more impressions:

Really good face recognition. It needs more user input than Microsoft Photos but the end result is also way better (more recognized faces). Amazing to see how the detection algorithm adapts decisions after every single user action. It's also great to have an option to just don't tag particular person. Just give this feedback and the tags for this person disappears. Great for some school photos or trips with people in the background I don't even know.
It offers tagging and so on but, typically to Google apps: they implement just one way of doing things and leave nearly no configurability. This I don't like a lot. Example: tags are always stored in metadata of JPEGs, so my automatic backups would explode.

ACDSee Studio
Also a very good face recognition. Beside that a lot of features, options, menus... A bit too much for my taste and important things are hidden. I was also not able to find e.g. multiple directory/file exclusion by masks. The statistics looked cool when shown on YouTube video but it's just a gadget. Can't really configure them. Also very bulky: it starts 3 processes. One main app, background indexer and something else, probably for synching with clouds? The last two stay on, even after you close the main program. Blah, don't like such stuff.

At the moment I tend to DigiKam, even despite the automatic face recognition doesn't really work. The rest ist just great.
M50.110 [main cam] | G7X III [pocket cam] | 70D.112 [gathers dust] | M.202 [gathers dust] | waiting for M5II