A while back, I exceeded the useful capability of Adobe Photoshop Elements for keeping track of the digital images that I have on the hard drive. The program worked great for the image manipulation that I require (not much) but as a database it just wasn’t cutting the mustard. So off I went to find something to replace it for database purposes.
Idimager’s main competitor in this process is Adobe Lightroom, a companion software to Photoshop, which everyone is familiar with.
Both of these software, Idimager and Lightroom, are workflow software: they take you through the steps from downloading images through tagging and categorizing to manipulation (batch or otherwise) and finally to publication. One important difference is the cost: Idimager was $139 while Lightroom was $299. I wasn’t ready to shell out the dough for Lightroom, so I decided to give Idimager a shot.
That was about a year and a half ago. Since then, I’ve been happy with a number of aspects of Idimager and sad about others. I’m very happy about its image tagging and categorization features. Those are fabulous-rock-awesome-oh-yeah without any need for exaggeration. Those images that I’ve tagged as “Jennifer Bowie” are easy to find. Same with all the ones marked “Races”. With multiple subcategories, drilling down to a particular race is also easy. I’ll praise Idimager to the skies for those features.
However, I’ve had difficulty getting it to smoothly act as a database. By smoothly, I mean seamlessly and flawlessly importing and tracking the 40,000+ digital images that are sitting on my HDDs. For example, I’m putting together a list of pictures to print for an annual photo album2 but as I’m going through all my 2008 images I notice that some are not in the database catalog. Why? I have no idea, and neither did the forums. It was suggested that I could just reimport those folders and it would bring the missing images into the catalog non-destructively but I actually discovered something a bit more worrying. The following two screen shots illustrate my point.
Notice the picture of Jennifer and myself in the top right corner? This screenshot is from the “Autocatalog” category that was designated when I imported all 38,000 images from my old picture folders into Idimager. The Autocatalog is a good function in order to categorize images on when they were imported into the database, if nothing else. I’ve been using that to slowly work backward in time and tag images into other categories. However, compare the above image to this one:
Notice that there are several more thumbnails of myself and Jenn? Interesting. It must be that you imported the same images a second time into a different category, Bill. But, alas, that is not the case. The category that is being displayed in the second screen shot is entitled “2008″ and comprises all the images shot in that calendar year. The kicker is that this category was created by going to the Autocatalog import marker, selecting all images that were taken during 2008 (through the expedient of shift-select and eyeballing the start and end date markers on the images) and then tagging them with the “2008″ category.
Do you see the fundamental head-scratch here? The first image represents a database category that was directly used to create the second image. The first image has fewer thumbnails than the second!
I don’t know how to rectify that, and unfortunately, that’s a fatal flaw.
This particular problem does not seem to be in evidence in any of the imports or downloads I do on a daily or weekly basis from my camera. It seems that the vast glut of images I did all at once gave the software a bellyache. Having discovered a “solution” to my problem, I’d be tempted to keep on keepin’-on with Idimager except that I am having some other issues that put a nail in the coffin.
The damn thing hangs a lot. Not fully ctrl-alt-del hang, but it hesitates for a good ten seconds at times, for reasons I can’t identify. Furthermore, I’ve been getting odd database writing errors when using my external HDD that don’t actually cause any problems, but are really really annoying.
So, I’m going to try Lightroom on for size. There’s a thirty day free trial and that should let me know if it works better, worse or the same as Idimager.
I don’t plan to uninstall Idimager. In fact, I will probably keep using it to do tagging and categorization of my images. However, if Lightroom can pull through with a win as able to deal with the huge number of images I’m about to dump on it, Idimager will only be a step in the workflow and not the database I use to keep track of my images.
I’ll post here my impressions with Lightroom over the next 29 days.
1: Really, finding anything you care to tag and put into the database. It’s a digital content database, not an exclusive photo management db.
2: 2008. I’m a bit behind.