Although I’m really not more than a happy amateur as far as photography goes I’m still adding a couple of thousand photos to my collection each year and the rate seems to be accelerating. I passed 10 000 photos already last year. Keeping track of all those photos entails a non-negligible effort. I have started to go trough all my old photos and bring them into some order using the same cataloging system as I use for new ones. Naturally I do not want to find out that I picked some software that was not up to do the job half way down the road.
Ideally I would have liked to do all the tagging an cataloging in Adobe’s Lightroom and then just browse the photos in Microsoft’s Photo Gallery but Lightroom doesn’t support face recognition. So I’m stuck with Lightroom for geo-tagging, keyword-tagging and rating but need something else for face tagging. Photo Gallery do face tagging but its face recognition is actually mediocre at best and with Microsoft’s screw-the-users-let’s-drop-that-and-do-something-else attitude today you never know how long that software will stay around.
So the “other” big (and free) photo organizing software today is Google’s Picasa so I decided to try it out a while go even though I am generally somewhat anti-Google. The short story is that I went back to Photo Gallery (this is in no way intended to be a full review of the two tools by the way).
Picasa did indeed seem to have (slightly) better face recognition and a few other features that I did like but it fell short on others and had one major show stopper. One thing I liked with Picasa was that you could tell it which folders you wanted included instead of being stuck with whatever folders that are included in the Pictures library of Windows. I never managed to like Picasa’s user interface though. It also does not understand Lightroom star rating tags and have Google integration only. You can, for instance, not publish files to SkyDrive.
Live Photo Gallery simply has a much better user interface as far as I am concerned. It integrates with SkyDrive and other services and, here we have the major show stopper with Picasa actually, it stores the metadata in the photos for standard file formats. Picasa can be made to write some information into the files but after it has written it, it do not seem to care about it any more.
This has the effect that once Picasa have read the file information, for instance after the file have been published from Lightroom for the first time, it does not care about this data anymore. It only uses the data in its own database. So if you update you photos in Lightroom and changes the tags, then re-publish them, Picasa will still show whatever tags that where there when it first analyzed the photo. This is just unusable and a total show stopper for me.
So, I went back to using Photo Gallery and are now churning through the photos folder by folder. Unfortunately my PC is beginning to misbehave more and more so I think a replacement is imminent but that’s probably going to be material for some future post.