Disclaimer: This post will probably stir a flame war, so please realize that this post certainly is not a siding in the “Aperture vs Lightroom debate”.

If you “believe” in DNG (as only time will tell if the belief had merit) then I would contend using a photo organizer that stores metadata outside image source files constitutes a significant comprise of that belief. A stock photographer can easily spend a significant amount of time captioning and tagging images, and that investment will experience the same platform and vendor lock in, as choosing a proprietary raw format, if that metadata cannot easily be exported. The same argument could also be made for image adjustments performed in such an application.

When deciding on something as important as your image organizer of choice, you first read up on the topic through a multitude of online resources, then download and test 3-5 select candidates, and finally make an informed choice of application, that best suits your needs, right?

At least I started with that approach when I needed to upgrade my manual Finder-and-Photoshop workflow to something reflecting the current century.

Then I discovered that only Lightroom provides something resembling acceptable support for writing metadata to source files, and that pretty much decided for me. Not that I didn’t boil it down to a few select candidates, which I invested significant time in testing. I’m also very fund of my Mac, so I even selected Aperture on the totally subjective criteria that “Made by Apple is better”.

In the end, however, I realized that my need to store image metadata in the actual source files, vetoed pretty much all other requirements.

I don’t believe that strongly in the lock-in issue to discount a solution merely on that basis if it was a perfect match for my needs. However, I do need a practical solution to:

  • Working on both Mac and Windows
  • using several different image editing applications
  • work with image files in- and outside the image organizer
  • not having to worry about, or take many special steps to keep images and metadata together.

and only an application that synchronizes metadata back to the source files can effectively support this. Iview was an acceptable solution, but it’s becoming outdated, and doesn’t correctly synchronize all IPTC fields. That leaves just Lightroom, which I think is much too slow compared to e.g. Bridge or Photo Mechanic.

My wish list for an image organizer is an application that:

  • has the speed of Photo Mechanic
  • has the interface of Aperture
  • has the DNG and XMP support of Lightroom

And obviously can synchronize metadata back to source files.

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10 September 2007