Intial feedback during evaluation

I am desperate to quit using subscription software, so thank you for adding Fuji camera support. I am extremely likely to switch to Photolab, even with some basic usability issues that are hampering me. I may have overlooked some features, so please reply with tips if I’ve missed something.

  1. The weakest part of the product is keywording. I need two features right quick: a) Filter to display photos with ZERO keywords. b) Quick filter by right-clicking on a keyword in the Keywords list and choosing “Show images with this keyword”. I spend a lot of time keywording my images. I am hobbyist wildlife photographer and I want to quickly see photos tagged “Wood Duck” as well as all images tagged “Ducks - Geese - allies”.

  2. In the folders list, I need to toggle between including subfolders or excluding them. I have my hierarchy set up by Year > Month > Day-of-Shoot. Sometimes I want to see all the photos shot in a month but, as far as I can tell, clicking on the month folder shows only images directly in that folder.

  3. Logic to control the search capability seems missing. I’d like to see all images that meet a criterion but exclude certain images. For example, all ducks with no mallards. My keywords are ready to go but I find the simple input box for Search to be quite limiting. I would expect an Advanced Search that brings up a dialog.

  4. Mapping interface is missing. I will try using an external editor to add GPS coordinates to my images but I’d love to see an integrated Mapping module to allow me drop thumbnails onto a map.

  5. There is no Compare module?!? Wow. This is a basic function in DAM software. I plan to use external software to cull images but I’m shocked I need to. Displaying and zooming in on 2, 3, or 4 images is so import to me. I always shoot bursts but don’t want to keep extra, unwanted images around. I know that I can arrow from one to the next image but that hardly helps.

I’m sure there will be more but these are my initial thoughts.

Mark if you plan to do serious keywording and filtering and enter a lot of metadata, the logical choice is PhotoMechanic Plus. CameraBits and DxO do communicate so the programs are kept interoperable.

The PhotoMechanic command-E will open up an image directly from PhotoMechanic in PhotoLab with no problems (tested with PhotoLab 4 and PhotoMechanic Plus).

There is no Compare module?!? Wow. This is a basic function in DAM software. I plan to use external software to cull images but I’m shocked I need to. Displaying and zooming in on 2, 3, or 4 images is so import to me. I always shoot bursts but don’t want to keep extra, unwanted images around. I know that I can arrow from one to the next image but that hardly helps.

There’s been quite a bit of debate about whether PhotoLab should add multi-image compare.

PhotoLab’s render tool is pretty slow and PhotoLab more often shows an image directly from the RAW than Lightroom or CaptureOne which increases fidelity when adjusting an image but slows PhotoLab down when processing an image. I.e. if DxO simply added compare four images it would be slow enough to be unappealing.

Recently released FastRawViewer 2 has added two-up and four-up comparison viewing. PhotoMechanic offers just two-up comparison viewing. It’s equally possible to open up an image in FastRawViewer directly in PhotoLab by just pressing R.

The price tag for PhotoMechanic Plus and FastRawViewer are quite different: $230 vs $25. FastRawViewer is just for triage, while PhotoMechanic Plus offers triage, metadata editing and an amazing catalogue feature which compares well with enterprise level DAM. The non-Plus PhotoMechanic is less expensive ($130) but it does not include the catalogue feature which you need to manage your archive.

Apparently Adobe Bridge and the Lightroom Library module will continue to work even with no subscription so you could also use Lightroom for culling/library management (not sure if keywording works when subscription is expired) and do the actual editing in PhotoLab.

The keywording and metadata editor in PhotoLab 5 seems to be fairly well-conceived but it’s very new. Alex from DxO has answered some hard questions here.

Lightroom does many things moderately well. Leaving Adobe’s subscription garden requires more moving parts but the plus side is that each well-chosen piece is better built and more capable than Lightroom’s generalist equivalent.

The affordable short term solution would be to do triage with four image compare in FastRawViewer and explore the keywording, metadata edit and search in PhotoLab 5 to see if they are efficient and capable enough for your needs.

Despite owning PhotoMechanic I still prefer to do initial triage in FastRawViewer as FRV is working from the original RAWs and gives more accurate RGB histograms. It may also be as I’ve been using FastRawViewer for many years (before I discovered PhotoLab 2) and I’m very fast working with FastRawViewer with the information set up just the way I like it.

Here’s how FRV looks with its palettes visible.

The histogram can be detached and put on a second monitor large.

I suggest you do a search for the GPS question. There’s lots of conversation about GPS but I don’t use GPS features.

Thanks. I’ll look into FRV because the app I just downloaded works from embedded JPG which is not a great solution, IMHO.

If you want to go the separate DAM route, and it makes a lot of sense, I suggest you give Imatch and Photo Supreme a serious look. They are very popular amongst a lot of photographers, have Enterprise level databases, and are about $100 less than PhotoMechanic.


If Mark wants to add lots of metadata, the templating is more powerful with PhotoMechanic. After reading the recommendations here, I tried PhotoSupreme on Mac and didn’t like the look and feel at all. It did not feel at home on Mac OS. That the product sales videos also use a robot voice bothered me. Pricing is not much better than PhotoMechanic as the cheaper license is personal use only and non-collaborative.

iMatch is Windows only and suffers from Clip-It level graphics inside. I couldn’t stand looking at iMatch but PhotoMechanic is no beauty queen. I couldn’t stand the look and feel of PhotoMechanic 5 (trialed only) but PM6 improved to at least industrial minimalism.

Praise from people using PhotoMechanic professionally is incredible and PM is an industry standard for sports and event photography. My final decision for PhotoMechanic came when Plus was out with the first class cataloguing with multiple catalogues. When I made the decision it was more about power and longevity than price. With the amount of time I spend in my photo library and the value of that photo library to me, the difference in price did not matter finally (although price was a barrier for me for a long time). I didn’t want to save money and end up with:

  1. a tool which disappeared
  2. a tool which is second best and that I might ever want to switch from
  3. a tool which I didn’t like looking at (and hence wouldn’t use)

No one has come close to the look and feel of Apple Aperture, particularly v2.x before the iPhotoization set in (chunkier, more rounded icons) with v3.

Before purchasing I did a full month long trial of PhotoMechanic Plus to make sure I really felt at home after getting used to it and building some custom templates. I would recommend you do the same before choosing an alternative DAM. You’ll spend a good part of the rest of your life living with it.

FastRawViewer is such an inexpensive and useful Swiss-army knife image viewer and triage tool one can safely buy it after a very short trial.

I agree with your evaluation of PM Plus.
While not a keyword power user, I wanted the ability to easily apply keywords and use searches. And have those keywords seen by other apps.
Side by side comparison of images was also a criteria.

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If you don’t want to spend any money you can still use Adobe Lightroom Classic as a DAM at no cost — you just need a free Adobe account. You do have to put up with their nag screen every time you launch and some passive aggressive messaging, but 100% of the Library module works.

I already had a Lightroom keyword setup I liked (and I like the way it fits in my workflow) but if Adobe pulled the plug I would almost certainly pay for PM Plus.

Hello, do Lightroom and Photomechanic read PL Keywords for Raw Files? Second question: does PL read the crops of Photomechanic? Who use this combination and ist satisfied/ or has issues?