NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, February 2012
Digital Asset Management Software
By Mike Morris, Editor,
Front Range PC Users Group, CO
February 2011 issue, k-Byte™newsletter
twriterext (at) gmail.com (click to email author)

What is interesting to me is that many of today’s digital imaging software applications offer both image editing and what is called “Digital Asset Management” (DAM) capabilities.

In the not-so-distant past, the only image software choice was what image editor to use (Photoshop or something else). But with the “explosion” of digital camera use, keeping track of all the images (and protecting intellectual property rights) has clearly become a significant issue. While this is certainly an issue especially for professional photographers, with digital cameras, even the most casual photographer will soon find hundreds, if not thousands of photos on their computer.

Perhaps you are thinking, as you read this, that you don’t need image management of any kind, because your digital camera provides all the necessary information.

Actually, that is NOT the case. The camera provides information about camera settings (including date and time of the photo). But not included in that data is information such as the event (e.g., parent’s 50th wedding anniversary), or the names of the people in the photo. Yes, you may have an excellent memory, but your children and grandchildren probably won’t remember or know the names of all the people in the photos of those special events (I can verify that from personal experience).

That is why image management software is so helpful—it allows you to capture that information. You have a wide range of software choices for this application:

1. DigiKam (http://www.digikam.org/), an image management application claimed to be designed by photographers, and is open source and therefore free. This application offers both DAM and image editing capabilities (which are significant, although not equivalent to the editing features of Photoshop or GIMP). For Windows users, you can download the Windows version from download (http://bit.ly/hWfFrt).

2. DigitalPro (http://bit.ly/hWfFrt), also claimed to be designed by photographers, and is proprietary ($179). This application is primarily for image management (and primarily for professional or advanced amateur photographers), not image editing.

3. Bibble Labs (http://bibblelabs.com/) Pro (and Lite). This proprietary application ($199.95) offers both editing and DAM features. One major claim on their website is that this application is faster than any other. For a list of editing tools this application provides, connect to features (http://bit.ly/82JzsV).

4. Adobe CS3 (and later) applications. The Adobe Bridge program is bundled with the CSx (the latest release is CS5) series of Adobe products. In my case, I received it when I purchased Adobe InDesign CS3. Adobe Bridge brings DAM features to the Adobe products, all of which, as I am sure you know, are very expensive applications (full retail price for Photoshop CS5 is $699). They are, however, designed for professional/business use, originally commercial printing, but now expanded into electronic publishing as well. The Adobe products (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign among others), despite the many competitors, are still considered industry “standards.” For more information on these products, connect to Adobe (http://www.adobe.com).

5. Adobe Lightroom. From Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/3wnGqF) is this description: Lightroom is an application “...designed to assist professional photographers in managing thousands of digital images and doing post production work. It is not a file browser like Adobe Bridge, but rather an image management application database which helps in viewing, editing, and managing digital photos, the same way photographers used to do in the non-digital world.” Connect to Lightroom (http://adobe.ly/6dBIz) for a list of features. Full retail price is $299.

6. For the casual computer user/casual photographer, there is Google Picasa (http://picasa.google.com/). It offers simple image organizing features and a few simple editing features. It is free, and “automatic.” After you download and install the program, it will, when you first launch it, catalog virtually all the images (with a few minor exceptions) on your computer.

7. Most, if not all major camera makers provide some software with their cameras that include some basic image organization and image editing features.

There are many other choices, some of which you can find in the Wikipedia comparisons at: image viewers (http://bit.ly/asWUi), image organizers (http://bit.ly/CNnwr), and graphics editors (http://bit.ly/10xtOU).

I ended up with Adobe Bridge “by default.” Since I make no claim to being a professional photographer, or even (yet) a knowledgeable amateur, I would very probably have picked a free application (such as DigiKam) for “Digital Asset Management” if I didn’t already have Bridge.

For me, Picasa does not have enough features. However, I expect it will be sufficient for many digital camera users.

I have not tried to compare in detail either editing features or DAM capabilities of these programs. I have, however, scanned through the DigiKam manual (http://bit.ly/hZaFX9). My conclusion is that if you download and install DigiKam and GIMP, you will have a very powerful, very feature-rich set of image editing and image management tools.

Thanks to FRPCUG member Bert Broekstra for his comments on DigiKam, and for finding the DigiKam PDF manual link.

Click here to return to top