Idimager vs. Lightroom: Part II

30 Aug 2013 update: Note that this discussion has been deprecated by Photo Supreme supplanting Idimager. The following discussion isn’t relevant anymore.


The Situation

Last week I ranted about Idimager. Since then, it has actually come around a bit. Two things occurred to enable this transition:

  1. We had snowpocalypse, which meant I spent a lot of time indoors
  2. I broke myself, which meant I spent a lot of time indoors

I used that time to mess around with Lightroom and Idimager and my image databases. I learned a few things that seem to make using Lightroom less attractive, and using Idimager + Lightroom also less attractive.

Lightroom is awesome

I’ll start by saying that Lightroom worked smoothly, quickly, and reasonably intuitively “out of the box”. If I were not currently invested in Idimager both in money and time, we’d not be having this conversation; I’d be using Lightroom without any qualms.

Things that make Lightroom Awesome:

  • The button placements make sense. That doesn’t surprise me as this is a flagship product of Adobe, complimentary to Photoshop; I’m sure they’ve spent money on usability testing
  • If you have any familiarity with Photoshop, you already know the terminology of Lightroom
  • It works, smoothly, and doesn’t have conniptions sometimes when it decides something is resource intensive

Things that make Lightroom less Awesome:

  • Cost: It’s $300
  • In my case, 2 gB worth of additional data that is just the catalog of the images I’ve uploaded. Note that I haven’t uploaded my entire catalog; I’ve done maybe half. Also, again probably only relevant in my particular case, but that 2 gB worth of catalog comprises a gazillion different folders and files, which makes…my…backup…run…sloooowwwwwww…

Still Haven’t Purchased Lightroom

You might surmise that, given my previous post, I was done done done with Idimager. I imagine that there was a bit of frustration evident in the writing. That was intentional. At the time I wrote that posting, I fully intended to get things to a stage where I knew my Idimager catalog database was good, then port everything to Lightroom and be done with it. However, things interfered. Things, such as:

  • I had to figure out how to be sure that all my tags (keywords) in Idimager were placed correctly in the image XMP/IPTC files so that Lightroom would have the keywords I’d spent the last year and a half producing
  • I had to figure out if there was a way I could still use Idimager as a tagging application (see below) while using Lightroom for everything else
  • I had to figure out how to do a few things to a couple of cool pictures before uploading them to Flickr, and ended up figuring out how to do them in both Lightroom and in Idimager

I’ll come back to these things in a moment. First, let me list why Idimager is Awesome.

Idimager Has Excellent Points, Too

Things that make Idimager Awesome:

  • Tagging methods: Simply stated, the way that Idimager goes about tagging and categorizing your images is slap-bang, hands-down awesome. This one feature is the reason why I purchased the software in the first place.
  • Highly malleable: You have control over Idimager that you won’t get from Adobe. Also, the developers are responsive to features requests. Again, something you won’t get from Adobe.
  • Not expensive: I think the basic version is $40 and the professional is $140. I have the professional version (v5.0 as of this writing)

Things that make Idimager less Awesome:
See my previous post, but to summarize

    • Unexpected errors that don’t have good documentation
    • Slow and laggy at times, especially when doing large database operations
    • Not at all intuitive and you have to learn by screwing up
    • Too many damn features that are overwhelming
    • Difficulty finding that one thing you want; the help files don’t tell you where the buttons are
    • What all of the above boils down to is: Phenomenally Steep Learning Curve

What I should have mentioned in the previous posting is my other top requirement in a piece of photo-database software: Ease of Use. I don’t (didn’t!) want to spend a lot of time going through the torturous process of making dozens of mistakes to learn how the thing works. I’ve been a PC user since MS DOS and I know from personal experience just how painful it can be to learn new software, especially one with so many features. I wanted a database that was intuitive and easy to use so I could get on with creating. I don’t like being an IT monkey.

Sticking with Idimager (for now)

However, once you have taken the time (which wasn’t desired) or been forced to take the time (which is equally undesired) to learn a software package through the expedient of breaking things, fixing things, swearing, cursing, howling, and breast-beating, you’re most of the way past the majority of “why Idimager isn’t awesome” items. Through the process of trying to figure out how to get my database working for portation to Lightroom, I’ve come back around and decided to stick with Idimager.

Idimager and Lightroom Together?

One of the reasons—actually a main reason—for this turnaround is because of the fundamental awesomeness of Idimager’s tagging and cataloging function. It’s great and I’m loathe to give it up, especially because I’ve already paid for it. So, I thought, “Maybe I can keep using Idimager for downloading and for tagging, but use Lightroom for everything else.” Alas, no.

Well, I suppose I could, but it would invalidate the reason I want to use the two programs together. In my personal workflow scenario, I’d use Idimager to download images from my camera(s) and tag the individual images. These tags would get synced to the various image’s XMP/IPTC metadata files, at which point I would import the lot into Lightroom and off I would go on actual image modification, if necessary.

Here’s where that scenario breaks down: When you modify an image by (say) altering the whitebalance, Lightroom saves that to its own catalog entry for that image. It does not alter the image itself, it merely makes a dabase entry which says “when showing this image, change the color temperature to 2400 K”. This is non-destructive and allows you to come back later and recover the original image, doing other (different) things to it. Which is fine. However let’s take a wild stab in the dark that (say) yours truly was in a rush and didn’t tag all the images he needed to before doing some quick modifications in Lightroom. So, he goes back to Idimager, pulls up the images in question and slaps some new tags on them. That should work fine, right?

Right! Except that when you sync the tags back into the Lightroom catalog (which is easy) it will overwrite the image modifications you did previously, leaving you with an unaltered image—with new tags! All of the creative mods you did in a rush are now gone and you’ll have to redo them. This is not a good thing. In fact, it’s one of those “fatal flaws” that creep up in workflow. The only way this could work in the real world is if I were perfect in my tagging during download and prior to importation into Lightroom.

Yeah. Right.

So, at this moment in time, I expect that I will not be finalizing my purchase of Lightroom. I still have 23 days left on the trial, though, so expect to hear a bit more about it.

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7 Responses to Idimager vs. Lightroom: Part II

  1. Pingback: The Evil Eyebrow » Craft Weekend

  2. Timido says:

    Hi !
    regarding sync-ing back tags into Lightroom and loosing the LR recipe, just wanted to share my experience with another processing software.

    I have a Canon camera and use Digital Photo Professional (DPP) – the software bundled with the camera – for RAW processing and also JPG processing.
    (not making artist-like work on images so no need for Photoshop power)

    DPP does not alter RAW and JPG. It stores the recipes within the image but without altering the original. You can revert to shot settings whenever you want. Yeah this stands for JPG as well.
    Back to the point, if I apply some metadata or keywords with IDImager, the DPP recipe is not altered. Plus, DPP can read meta modifications coming from IDImager.

    Thank you for your article .

  3. Timido says:

    just for precision sake :(
    DPP does NOT read XMP…

  4. Bill Ruhsam says:

    Thanks for the comments. I’ve actually gone with IdImager alone. It does what I need it to do, although it’s not as handy as Lightroom.

  5. Pingback: IDimager is Dead! Long Live Photo Supreme? | The Evil Eyebrow

  6. Pingback: Idimager Upgrade to Photo Supreme: Not Right Now | The Evil Eyebrow

  7. Tarcisio says:

    I ‘m in very similar scenario beacuse idi stopped to update idimager and photosupreme is still a little toy compared with idimager features….
    So I’m evaluating if and how to migrate to LR hoping to be able to operate the entire workflow inside only one dam software, working for images editing by ACR and not more by Nikon products.
    Unfortunately changes made by acr are not seen from native nikon nef editor, and nef recipes operated in the past years by nik viewnx or capture are invisible to lr and acr, while idimager istantly updates thumbs and previews as soon as you save changes inside nikon software.
    So I’m very disappointed and confused about my next workflow.

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