Digital Asset Management in PhotoLab

Its all rather a wast of time as only votes for can be done and comments, looks to be many more, are ignored.

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I agree. I am finding “the new way” useful for browsing my images but I do need keyword support. I think it is coming but I would like a standard approach so that the keywords from other products (LR, Photo Supreme et al) write. I would also like to be able to declutter the folder panel so that it only shows the folders I want to see - maybe a favourites tab?

There are two pieces to the DAM puzzle Obetz.

  1. Part one and the most important one for me is culling and triage and rating. I.e. choosing the photos for processing. What we don’t process, we should generally throw away (otherwise, you end up with terabytes of inadequate images going into triplicate backup). I’m working on becoming more ruthless and efficient myself. It’s a work in progress.
  2. Part two is managing the finished product, the managed catalogue.

DxO Photo Lab lies in between these two processes as the RAW processing engine with some limited local adjustment tools. Another missing piece is the pixel editor (depending on the kind of images one creates, a bitmap editor is either essential or occasionally needed or entirely unnecessary, I’m in the occasional category).

FastRawViewer only fulfills part one of the DAM mission, the culling and rating section. But FRV does culling, rating and moving of images superlatively well. There is some minimal amount of image pre-adjustment possible within FastRawViewer which gets passed on to Adobe compatible applications as Bridge processing instructions but pre-processing in FRV seems an superfluous waste of time to me. It’s supposed to help you preview the potential of your images. Anyone shooting and processing images for more than six months probably knows the potential of his/her image just looking at an uncorrected RAW. Pre-processing is a solution in search of a problem.

After RAW processing and pixel editing, a master image is created. If one builds elaborate images that master is certainly a multi-layered tiff file (commonly with a .psd extension). If one creates simpler images (usually my case) directly in the RAW processor, then that might be either a very low compression jpeg (100 or 12 depending on the scale used in the tool) or a single layer tiff. These finished images need to make it into the managed catalogue.

At this point, it’s time to rename the files very carefully, add additional metadata, keywords, labels, copyright info. These are your masters which are available for reuse, sale, publication, sharing with your great grandchildren. Ideally, the images themselves would not be inside a database where future generations cannot read or access them but in an OS level folder structure.

DxO is tinkering with adding part one of the DAM (a rating and culling system). It’s conceivable DxO might succeed in this ambition in the short term. The add-on would be slower and less capable for many years than the existing solutions on the market.

Solving part two - the long term catalogue - would take decades. That’s how long Adobe Bridge, Lightroom, Aperture, Apple Photos, iMatch, iView MediaPro, neoFinder were developed. Most of these programs have significant flaws as a long term cataloguing and DAM system. It may be performance, it may be database corruption, it may be limited export capabilties, it may be poor EXIF and IPTC manipulation tools. I don’t have a recommendation in this area as none of them have fully satisfied me. I do have a licensed copy of both Aperture 3.6 (runs on High Sierra) and Adobe Lightroom 4. Lightroom 4 does not require any login or
Adobe ID and can be blocked from the internet and intrusive Adobe spyware practices. Lightroom 4 may be fit for purpose as an image catalogue of jpegs, PSD and tiff files of long term masters. I like how easy it is to filter images based on lens or aperture. I also have a licensed copy of NeoFinder and lifetime Better Finder Rename/Better File Attributes (the latter two are very powerful for manipulating image metadata and can be used directly from the OS X finder, without depending on a cataloguing tool).

Eventually I’ll find a long term, stable, simple and non-intrusive system for managing my finished images. However it works internally that solution will rely primarily on folder structure within the OS and must leave its keyword and metadata directly within the files or via sidecar (EXIF, IPTC, keywords, any additional rating data).

For now, I’m very happy that I’ve found a solution for part one of the DAM issue (ingestion, culling and rating) in FastRawViewer and a suitable RAW processing engine with promising local adjustment extras in DxO Photo Lab and a stable and sophisticated bitmap editor in Affinity Photo.

Hopefully the very capable image processing software minds at DxO intuitively understand the
complexity of the image management task and just how very different image management (more like accounting or bookkeeping) is from image processing (more creative, more science, more like art).

For me, Obetz, like you, the less resources and limited developer time DxO wastes in chasing the Holy Grail of DAM, the better. DAM is a bottomless pit which brings nothing to users and little to its publisher. Monolithic applications like Apple Aperture and Adobe Lightroom have failed as RAW processors while they collapse under the load of regular ingestion. They are fit for purpose as neither RAW processors nor DAM. Lightroom’s performance is so lamentable (worse with every new version) that there are whole articles documenting how performance worsens with every version.

Performance with existing functionality seems to me the key area where DxO could win hearts and minds, both of existing users, and those outside looking in. Photographers want to be able to work with their images in real time and spend less time in the digital darkroom. What frustrates me most with DxO Photo Lab is that when I move a slider, in most cases, I have to wait between 5 and 20 seconds to see the result.


PS. I’m going to work on eliminating that lag (perhaps one needs only turn off all noise reduction and Lens Sharpening Tool while doing the a first pass, doing a second pass to turn on Lens Sharpening and Prime Denoise). It would be great if DxO had a simple toggle for real time performance (automatically turning off Lens Sharpening/Prime Denoise/whatever else is necessary) and full preview (re-enabling them).

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I do not think that Lightroom has failed by looking at the number of followers on Facebook 1.5 mio compared to 50k from DxO. Even On1 and CaptureOne have 75-80k. So there is something these tools have, that DxO does not. It is definetly not the image output quality. What remains is:

  1. Initial price in case of On1
  2. Fuji and general lens availability
  3. Maybe better masking tools for local adjustments
  4. Basic DAM with keywording, that is enough for the average user, who does not want to deal with OS level interna or regular expressions to setup something.
  5. More money for making buzz, marketing.

I think, DxO must work on each of these points.

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Largely agree with uncoyAlec Kinnear except I use FastStone Image Viewer at one end and Photo Supreme the other, DxO One looms

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At first: Welcome on the forum. :slightly_smiling_face:

Second, it looks like it you know your way in photosoftware on more then one brand and type.
Good pointers about strenght or losses when implement a DAM in a rawconverter/developer.

As i wrote somewhere else i am not a heavy DAM user or a target to sell me one.
Searching though archive of raw files can be a pain if you don’t know date’s.
So a DAM can help with this.

One thing i can’t oversee but i think it can be a issue is when having a DAM guarding your rawfiles and a DAM guarding your endproduct (jpeg) could this bring a conflict in database?
(i understand that the sidecar xmp file is transfered from raw to jpeg so all original metadata is present in the xmp of the jpeg.)
I wouldn’t think of using dpl for watching and organising my finished jpegs. I use PSE for this. suits me fine.
So i light tag and search function would be fine.
If DPL’s tagging is written in a XMP and copied in PSE’s DAM , it will speed up my cataloguing i think.
multi select, change “location field” or “GPS field” that would be a nice tool.
In PSE i can make tags and multi select to apply this tag, so if i can choose to do this in DPL or afterwards in PSE without any trouble well, bring on that DAM in DPL. Unless it slows my workflow of developing down by processingpower then it could be annoying if i can’t turn it temporally off to speed up screen changes.
(you see i am not a skilled DAM-er :wink:)

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A good DAM like IMatch knows the relations between the RAW file and the derived file(s). If you change metadata of this “set” or “stack” of files, the changes may be applied to the whole set (depending on the settings).

See https://www.photools.com/help/imatch/#rel_config.htm for example.

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And how about two different DAM’s like dpl and pse?
Can those different dam’s work together?

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Thanks for the warm welcome Oxidant. There’s some very smart people using DxO Photo Lab and related tools and participating on these forums. You asked:

One thing i can’t oversee but i think it can be a issue is when having a DAM guarding your rawfiles and a DAM guarding your endproduct (jpeg) could this bring a conflict in database?

That’s the whole point. I’d suggest only tagging, naming and indexing finished product. Raw (RAW) images would just be in named folders by date. Those RAW folders would only contain the selects (everything else would be thrown away) for potential reprocessing.

Finished images would be carefully catalogued, named, key-worded, labeled, face ID’d, IPTC filled in. Whatever the individual photographer feels is necessary or helpful for the long term use, preservation and sale of his archive.

Saves a ton of busywork on incoming thousands of images and makes it realistic to achieve a well-organised archive of finished images.

Where that archive is kept - Aperture, standalone Lightroom 4 or 5, iMatch, PSE, Bridge - doesn’t matter. What’s important is that the finished catalogue suits the photographer’s needs and that the images can be stored in folder structure at OS level in case something happens to catalogue tool. With good backups, if the tool allows perfect nested folder output of original ingested images, one could allow the catalogue to store the originals in its own hidden internal structure.

Curiously the software which doesn’t let you use OS level folders are the same ones with broken export (not just in image management). Otherwise known as vendor lock-in. Once you put your images or data in here - you’re never seeing them/it again in one piece if you leave.

Original RAWs in this simplified system

The original RAW changes would be stored in sidecars with the RAW file. You’d find it again for reprocessing by date and by potentially including the original file name within IPTC. The original RAW files would not live in the catalogue.

Relational Management, Versioning, Intermediate File: Obetz

The link you sent is really useful Obetz. My head spins and my stomach churned reading through all of those contortions to try to keep keyword data in some kind of sync. Relational data like that is extremely fragile and is certain to fail or go out of sync (probably silently at some point in the future). iMatch is very brave to even attempt image management of this sophistication.

Everyone inside DxO who thinks it’s a good idea to build a DAM should be forced to read that link [Configuring File Relations](See https://www.photools.com/help/imatch/#rel_config.htm) five times and pass an exam on the contents. Complex headaches like this are why DxO should stay as far away as possible from the DAM side, instead building out partnerships with the best in category and/or simply popular triage and DAM tools. There’s at least five years of hard work with good programmers to get to the starting line of where iMatch is now.

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Market Position, Adobe and Adobe Lightroom

Asser, your analysis of market position ignores several key points. Adobe has enjoyed decades as the world’s leading supplier of image manipulation and other digital creative tools. Their flagship product Photoshop has been the uninterrupted category standard at least thirty years. So when Adobe says, we’re going to offer a DAM for photographers, the entire media sits up and pays attention and offers flattering press.

Adobe has also been one of the biggest advertisers among software makers for many years at a time (I don’t have the exact numbers but I certainly remember seeing lots of their ads in Apple related publications and elsewhere). In short, Adobe has a huge head start in any image related software category which they choose to enter.

Adobe’s Lightroom in its first two iterations was fairly awful (I know first hand as I toyed with it while enjoying Apple’s Aperture). Adobe just kept throwing resources, money and advertising at until pushing it uphill.

Lightroom is reasonable capable all in one software now. It would be extremely hard to deplace. Moreover, Adobe’s current DAM offer - $9/month - includes Photoshop, the gold standard in bitmap editors with full plugin compatibility with everything. Unlike DxO there’s no great upfront fee so students, artists, small businesses don’t even have to weight the purchase. They just sign up and can get to work and can cancel later if they don’t like it.

Adobe very cleverly has the consumer DAM market sewn up, by:

  1. outinvesting everyone else
  2. outlasting everyone else
  3. underpricing most potential competitors

Potential Remaining Market

There are two categories of people who are open to an alternative RAW converter or DAM.

  1. anyone but Adobe people (usually related to the subscription issue) - I fall into this category
  2. pros who live or die by
    1. the quality of their images
    2. the speed at which they can prepare them
  3. affluent photographers (capable gear is not cheap, as we all know) who share the same pro taste for quality, and have even less time available to work on their images. Most certainly this category don’t want to have to spend a year learning a tool (Photoshop, Capture One would be examples) to be able to use it correctly.

So the available audience for DxO as long as it chooses to price the full solution at €289 and not around €100 has very little to do with Adobe Lightroom’s wider market. In fact many of DxO’s paying customers have Lightroom available for free: if you wish to have access to up to date Photoshop, you’re already paying Adobe (I’m not and never will).

We’ve established that at the current price point, DxO can only target pros and affluent photographers who are also very demanding about their images. No students or penurious artists welcome.

Respecting Existing Workflow

This audience already have a workflow, already have workflow tools and won’t settle for compromise solutions. What has attracted these people to DxO is knowing that their RAW files and their lenses will get the best processing and the best noise reduction. We are also impressed by how capable and automatic DxO Viewpoint is in correcting perspective (it’s not infallible - put in the wrong images and uh-oh, but with the right images, which are most wide angle images, it’s brilliant and oh so fast). There’s apparently also a crowd who like to play with film emulations (not my cup of tea). DxO Film Pack is competitive but not best of breed in this category. What appeals me about Film Pack (besides the Fine Contrast tools for sharpening, I don’t understand why they are not in Photo Lab) is that the film emulations are done directly on the RAW style in a single RAW converter. Saves creating a whole bunch of huge tiffs just to put film grain on them.

For me though Film Pack is not worth paying another €70 and has been causing me some stress on which DxO package to purchase. Film Pack as a separate product in this case at least is a barrier to purchase, not an incentive. Adding a half-baked DAM product may just create more confusion among potential purchasers. Imagine buyers saying things like:

I would have bought DxO Photo Lab but I didn’t want to pay for yet another DAM product.

or:

I seriously considered DxO Photo Lab for the image quality but the integrated DAM is so mediocre 1. I decided to stick with… 2. I decided to buy X RAW processor.

This literally happens in the case of Capture One.

So out of your shopping list, the DAM is not a gimme or necessarily an asset at all. DAM is a lot of time and work and whatever DxO comes up with will not necessarily please everyone or even anyone. As you point out, On1 is under the $100 mark, allowing it to compete directly with Adobe’s Photographer offer. DxO would be giving up a lot of revenue and an established premium market position by competing on price. Lowering the price is really a one way street as well. You can’t go back.

Important Areas for DxO Photo Lab to advance

I do agree about:

  1. improving masking tools
  2. potentially Fuji availability (looks like Fuji is dropping X Trans next year, as X Trans was great up until 16MP vs Bayer, is about a draw at 25 MP and is worse beyond that on APS-C as there’s enough pixels to defeat moirée issues). GFX is already Bayer so there’s no barrier except psychological and time to picking up GFX if GFX looks like it’s going to make it in the market place (I’m not sure it will, as I decided to double down on Canon instead of moving up to GFX, despite my fondness for Fuji X and if I hadn’t doubled down on Canon I would have bought a D850 and/or a Nikon Z6 instead after doing the arithmetic on image quality, lens quality, lens availability and cost).

Where DxO has additional room to roll are with:

  1. improving interface speed: real time sliders is a must. Part of improving speed should GPU acceleration at least for live preview as GPU these days are so powerful. I say interface speed, as I mostly could care less about output speed - live event photographers would feel differently. There needs to be a faster output option if they are to be included under the tent
  2. improving interoperability with other tools (already good as Photo Lab mostly doesn’t try to be a DAM or manage my images or get in my way)
  3. continuing to improve noise reduction and image quality
  4. keeping up with lenses

If DxO is the fastest RAW converter, with the best automated tools, keeps up with all a photographer’s lenses, offers the best noise reduction of any solution (including stand-alone plugins), it almost sells itself.

DxO is almost here right now at that stage. Improving image editing responsiveness (should be mostly real-time), steadily improving masking and local editing and keeping up with lenses would get them over the finish line.

USP: DxO Unique Selling Proposition

Of course when DxO arrive in terms of quality, tools and speed, there is the question of marketing. Marketing should be focusing on the USP.

DxO Photo Lab creates the highest quality RAW conversions and best looking images.

The secondary benefits:

DxO Photo Lab is very attractively designed, is intuitive to learn and helps you create great images in one quarter of the time of any competing product.

As DxO is almost here (just real time and improvements to the local editing tools stand in the way of being the clear cut choice as the very best RAW converter in the world at any price), the marketing can start now. DxO does need to decide who and what they are, to whom they are marketing though and where they plan to spend their limited resources. A wrong step with software development (huge DAM effort, stagnating local edit tools, neglecting to keep up with the latest lenses) could quickly (within a year or two) make Photo Lab uncompetitive in any market.

Key Competitor: Capture One

You mentioned Capture One - Capture One are a clear competitor occupying the same mindspace (best RAW converter at any price, also European, also premium priced). Capture One offer tethering which is well reviewed (I haven’t tried it so I don’t have an opinion) which DxO does not have. This is a bit of an issue. A partnership with whomever competes on tethering may be in order.

Capture One’s DAM and workflow I do not look at as an asset. I hate Capture One’s cataloguing features. Phase One also shuttered DAM tool Media Pro after seven years of very poor management of Media Pro. Phase One Media Pro performs worse in 2018 than it did as iView Media Pro 3 in 2006.


This was supposed to be a night off. May the heavens smile kindly on DxO and DxO Photo Lab!

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As I fear DAM leads to another DxO One

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Yes, I agree with all that you said. I came from LR6 to DxO, because I did not want to rent software and I found the output quality was really good in PL. But I found it hard, to organize everything without hierarchical keywords, which is a key feature in my workflow. This complaint I also heard from many other people on facebook groups and so on.

My journey led me then to buy IMatch as DAM, spending another 100€ just for hierarchical keywords. It was hard to press the “Buy” button. In the end I did not like the IMatch eco system, because there is only one single developer, who decides what is good and worth to implement. In addition IMatch depends to much on the ExifTool and other OpenSource and is implemented in a way, which caused freezes on my system, no matter what I tried to do, including dealing with the “Windows Defender”. I also evaluated Photo Supreme, but found it counter intuitive to deal with the data base setup, to complicated, bad UI. I just need a panel for hierarchical keywords and XMP import/export, like in LR. So I went on and bought Acdsee Pro just for DAM, which is not perfect, but OK for its discounted price.

I do not say, that PhotoLab is the tool, that has to offer this functionality. I cannot decide that. But I think, that there might be some people, which are fine with paying a one time fee, which is equal to 2 years of Adobe subscription, like me, if they are also ready to use Affinity Photo for pixel editing. But expecting people to find and use 3-4 right tools, that work with each other, just to process photos, is maybe a little bit too much. But maybe I am thinking wrong here. Like you said, it is all about the target market. If the On1/LR home customers are not of interest for DxO, no DAM is needed. Personally, I can live fine with AcdSee/PhotoLab/Affinity Photo interoperability. For the case, that DxO will not succeed, I will either use AcdSee’s RAW features or … start to rent software, because too much money is wasted for tools, which might not work as expected.

I hope DxOStaff is reading all your extensive writing.
They could learn some things about decision’s to develop or buying part of the toolset.
If i be just blunt fastforward: just contact rawfastviewer, ask them if they like a coörperated DAM- application.
Let them build that DAM-kind structure based on DxO key points, use a interface structure to get a third tab next to the good old Organisor (add in here some simple searchwords/keys). Done.

If done:
you got a fast and easy culling device, rating and documenting, renaming and redating all OUTSIDE there own software, so it doesn’t fill up memory /cach space during developing. (If you make the tab button just a exe button so it opens a extra screen which you can close when done.)
Maintaining the DAM is there job. making it a option like viewpoint or filmpack or NIK, so the extra money you need to spend building and maintaining can be earned by the fee of the option.

I think that would be a great solution to clear agenda for tool enhancement. There main survival strength.

But that is plain simple thoughts. Maybe too simple.

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Yes, too simple. The tools do not even look the same. All software, I have ever used, that hosted some external UI, was garbage. Focus problems, refresh problems, styling problems is all, that you get. In additon FRV is not even a DAM, I would have bought it, if it was one. It is only a good tool for culling, not more or less. Event the free Adobe Bridge is more of a DAM.

There can be problems with collaboration. Look at Nikon (Capture NX) and Nik.

I ment mainly outsource the DAM thing. (no fun intended)
Seak for a developer which can help building a DAM which is implemented as a plugin.
Keep it outside the main software structure. Not every one needs a extended DAM functionality on there RAW file side. A simple folderstructure with some keyword search is enough.(yes xmp compatibelity would be keyfunctionality.)
I suggested FRV because they already display many raw types. Could be any other software providers.(I only use Adobes damstructure in PSE so don’t know others.)

i don’t think Adobe would like to help in this matter…:wink:

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Alec,
you are perfectly right, thanks for your detailed and correct analysis.

I like DxO PL exactly because it’s ONLY a RAW developer and it does this job extremely well.

Fixing the existing bugs and flaws and increasing overall performance are MUCH more important than adding some new feature that only few people want or need.

Tilmann

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Not sure why you need a plug-in at all - either have an onboard DAM or don’t. I prefer an onboard DAM but not at the expense of other functionality. The only issue with the third party DAM is that it will not recognise the edits in the DOP file thus thumbnails will not be updated. That said, the browser we have now is a nice overlay to a stand alone DAM so just run with free Bridge or the like for asset management and use the DPL browser tab when editing. Adobe Bridge is a pretty good DAM for free and has Open With functionality.

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It seems that more than just a “few people” want this capability (DxO are responding to user requests, as votes in this forum) - but, I am generally with you on this point … I have absolutely no interest at all in DAM features in PL … I just want it to be the best possible RAW processor/image editor.

John M

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Hi John,

the votes don’t say anything at all in this case. Just have a look at all the warnings and the negative comments (with many good arguments against DAM) that are completely ignored by the voting system (and, apparently, by DxO as well).

OTOH, urgently necessary bugfixes or missing camera/lens support don’t get any votes.

Tilmann

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