Thursday, August 18, 2011
Software Review - Daminion (more photo tagging)
A couple of weeks ago, I told you about PicaJet FX, and left you with a little teaser about it's successor - Daminion. Well, I've been playing with Daminion a bit during that time, and although it isn't ready for release yet, I thought I'd give you a taster on how it is turning out, and how it stacks up against PicaJet FX.
So, my first impression was that it was the pretty much the same but with a nicer looking interface, but there is quite a bit more to it than that. The first thing I noticed was that the default categories looked a bit more organised - the reason for this is that you now have predefined types of categories - one of which is called Categories, so I'm going to have to change my terminology a bit... So at the bottom level, you have the photo which can have one or many 'tags'. Tags can placed into groups, and the top level groups are all fixed and predefined. Some groups get populated with tags automatically, while others allow you to create your own sub-groups below them, as with PicaJet FX.
Sound a bit confusing? Let's look at some real examples...
There are two tag groups called Camera Model and Camera Lens. These get populated from the exif data on the picture automatically, so after importing my test pictures, the Camera Model has two tags - one tag for my Nikon D3000 and one for the Canon EOS 30D used by the photographer at my son's wedding. However, I will eventually also import pictures that I took with my daughter's D40x, and my little P&S, so this tag group will allow me to isolate images from each camera.
You can also see here that the 5 shots with my Nikon (probably) all used my 18-55, while the photographer's pictures used a Canon 17-85 and another 'Unknown' lens. I assume that lens wasn't a Canon brand, and the EOS 30D was unable to add a name for it in the exif data. Unfortunately, even if I knew what the lens was, I can't change that 'Unknown' label in Daminion. However, I guess if I had an exif editor, I could change it in the pictures themselves, and then re-import them to Daminion... Note - in my opinion, this is a failure of the Canon camera to identify the lens in the first place, not a problem with Daminion.
Above these, you can see a tag group called Media Format. This allows you to filter out all the JPGs from the PNGs, find your original RAW files, or find all the PSDs where you've done some PP work, etc. There is also a Folder tag group, that allows you to filter based on where all your pictures are stored, and a Creation Datetime that allows you to find all the pictures you took on 23rd October last year (while my son was getting married). Don't be fooled by the 'time' part of this label though - it stops at date. I guess it might be nice to be able to search for all the photos taken at a particular time of day - but you'd need to setup some other tags to do that (say - Sunset, Noon, Night, etc). You can't do it with the Creation Datetime.
The Label and Rating groups provide quick access to a couple of other ways to categorise your images... Labels are just like colour coded luggage labels that you can add to your pictures, so you might give all your sunsets an Orange label, and all your landscapes a Green one... and the Ratings are a simple star rating system that allows you to award 5 stars to your best photos, and just 1 star to your worst (or least best...) You can see that I haven't rated any of my pictures yet.
Moving down the list, we meet up with our old friends from PicaJet FX - People, Places, Events, and Keywords. All of these work in the same way as PicaJet FX and are fully configurable. Then there are two more called Categories and Collections just to give you even more flexibility, so maybe you could have a Cars category and a 'Fiji 2010 Holiday' collection.
Of course, there are times when you want to filter by more than one tag - for example, an architectural photographer might travel the world photographing all kinds of buildings and structures. Let's say that he adds the country and city to each photo, and then the kind of building or structure. If he wanted to find all his pictures of English bridges, then he'd want to select both the England and Bridge tags. A really neat feature in Daminion is that if he selects 'Bridges' first, and then holds down the Ctrl key ready to add a second tag, all the other tag counts change to show only those pictures that also have the Bridge tag. So he then knows that he's actually only tagged bridge pictures in England, China, and America; he only has one 5-star picture among them; and three of them have Orange labels so according to his methodology, they would be sunset or sunrise pictures. All of this becomes available just by holding down the Ctrl key. You can use the Ctrl key to add together as many tag filters as you like.
So - that's just the tagging side of things, but Daminion still has some more surprises, which I'll write about next time.
Until then - Happy Taggin'