Separate Metadata Read and Write options

Currently, PhotoLab offers a possibility to switch metadata synchronisation on or off. This can create all kinds of issues and several posts comment on it in the forum. For better control of what PhotoLab will (or won’t) do, I post this proposal.


Optional bonus feature

  • add radio buttons that let us select the leading source (file/database/sidecar)

Thanks for your initiative.

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Nice idea but my vote remains for simplicity.

  1. Store metadata exclusively in an XMP sidecar (where according to public official standards it belongs).
  2. Search uses the database.
  3. Opening a folder refreshes the database info from the .xmp files by default.
  4. Any change to metadata changes the XMP sidecar immediately, not on quit (what happens if DxO crashes for instance). Arguably metadata could be written every time one moves to the next image, although what happens in the case of changing metadata for a whole set of images.

A clear workflow is better for almost everyone than a conditional and complex workflow. Certainly better for the developers.

The only switch might have a place would be one to turn off metadata handling in DxO PhotoLab completely (for those using external DAM who just want to make sure PhotoLab can’t break what’s not broken).

For those who are interested, I’m a PhotoMechanic Plus owner would prefer to use PhotoLab for entering IPTC data (which I have to do, for simplicity and to keep it together with the RAW files). PM+ still has value as a catalogue app so moving primary metadata entry to PhotoLab only improves matters.

PhotoLab now is so close yet so far with their metadata features. Alas, if reliable standard-compliant, cross-compatible, resilient metadata storage is not solved, all the good work will have been for nothing.

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I agree completely with @uncoy’s approach. XMP for metadata, DOP for edits, and the database as a cache.

The slight twist is DNG files which many like to directly update (including me). Perhaps that could be one additional switch as it is peculiar to DNG only (I think?) Such a switch could simply be put as “Write metadata to DNG?”

This us definitely relevant. If I should use DNG intensively I wonder I hadn’t used Lightroom instead. Lightroom has a menu choise that offer the possibility to write metadata back to the DNG-file and uppdate the baked in JPEG as well in the same process.

When it concerns Photolab I don’t think we shall complicate things with special sync options for DNG. I think the Lightroom solution is simpler and better.

No one beats Adobe Lightroom when it comes to manage DNG.

On principle, I’m against building in changes to either RAW files or DNG. Historically, altered RAW files/DNG have not fared well in terms of application compatibility. I’d rather the originals (RAW/DNG) were not touched by any of the photo applications. With manufactured RAW (DxO PureRAW), it’s not such a big deal, assuming that one keeps the original RAW.

But that leaves a sports/portrait/wedding photographer with two sets:

  • huge originals set
  • four/five star set of culled DNG1

@Stenis Of course Lightroom support for DNG, including with modifications, is first rate. DNG is Adobe property, one of the few digital darkroom innovations of Adobe (mostly Lightroom absconds with features from other innovators). DNG has in the whole been a colossal failure.

Thanks, but even with DNG, I’d prefer to have an XMP sidecar. And honestly, I’d rather have the original RAW and the XMP and DOP sidecars. While the neophyte or casual photographer might like the idea of all-in-one, any of us who have been taking and processing and managing photos for decades know from experience how much time and stress is saved by maintaining identically named sidecar files.

Those sidecar files not only contain robust, standards compliant data, they signal to a photographer:

  1. has a set been rated (presence of XMP)
  2. has a set been processed (presence of DOP)
  3. offer a quick way to check metadata status (open up an XMP file in either a text editor or with a QuickLook plugin on Mac)

I see PhotoLab as professional level tool. Pro tools should be robust and durable and standards compliant. Hard-coded embedded data is anything but.


1. Even if some photographers would keep three star for completeness/good photos of future stars, the basic idea of keeping just one in three or one in four photos snapped in this digital age, makes a big difference in keeping an archive manageable. There’s no point in keeping out and out bad photos, unless they are very specific examples of camera or lens failure.

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You’re swaying me towards preferring XMP instead of writing back into the DNG, and even considering switching back to (Pentax) PEF files.

The problem with DNG is that one is still compelled to keep the original RAW files. When DNG came out, I (mistakenly) thought all RAW developers and even camera manufacturers would consolidate around a standard and started to convert my Pentax *st DS or Canon 20D files to DNG (those were my first DSLR, not sure which was my DNG phase).

It quickly became apparent that only Adobe fully supported DNG. I have about three months of photos from 2006 which are only in DNG format (after conversion, I didn’t keep the original, the goal was partially to save space) and which cannot be opened with anything except Photoshop and I’m not sure if a current version of Photoshop would still open them.

Both *ist DS and especially Canon 20D files are still supported by virtually every serious RAW development tool.

There are still hundreds of languages in use around the world, as well as at least three major measurement systems (Imperial, US, metric). It’s probably too much to hope that we could all agree on a single RAW format. My camera manufacturer of choice (Nikon) continues to play strange games with not sharing information about their RAW format with other camera manufacturers (somewhat understandable) and RAW development tool publishers (incomprehensible).

I had an *ist DS and had since converted the RAW files I shot on it to DNG (using Lightroom I think). Lightroom Classic (latest version) opens them just fine. PhotoLab does not, but then does not list it as a supported camera. I also loaded one in Luminar 3 and Affinity Photo with no problems.

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