Digital Photograph Processing and Managing Software

By Robert Correll

This type of application focuses on photo processing and management. Photo enthusiasts can work with these applications, but they have features and capabilities that appeal to professionals, too.

Camera manufacturer software

Most camera manufacturers include free software that enables you to organize and process the photos you take with that camera. Canon calls its software Digital Photo Professional. Nikon’s free software is Capture NX-D. Sony’s is Image Data Converter. Pentax ships Digital Camera Utility with its cameras.

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Digital Photo Professional is Canon’s photo management and editing app.

These applications all have their strengths and weaknesses. Their main draw is that the same people who encode data into the camera’s Raw file are the people who created the software that allows you to decode it. The camera manufacturer knows more about its files and proprietary settings than anyone else. If you are dedicated to a single brand and don’t plan on changing, you should consider this approach.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

The most popular photo management and processing application is Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. It’s moderately priced and available by monthly subscription. It’s my tool of choice.

This Macintosh/Windows application is made for photographers. It has just about everything you need in order to import, manage, develop, and publish Raw and JPEG photos. The following figure shows the Library tab. (Look at all those cool photo-management tools.) From this tab, you organize, sort, tag, rate, select, and more.

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Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is a fantastic tool for photographers.

In Lightroom, you can create a single massive, all-inclusive catalog or create different catalogs based on different cameras, projects, or years. When you import photos into an open catalog, they show up as thumbnails in the Library tab, where you manage them. You can view, sort, filter, rate, delete, search for, compare, create, and assign keywords, quickly develop photos, and edit metadata. You can also export photos in a number of different formats.

To work with layers, masks, adjustment layers, artistic filters and effects, vector shapes, 3D support, text, frames, and other aspects unique to photo editors, you need to get a photo editor other than Lightroom.

Other applications

There are a host of other products available. This list is by no means all-inclusive:

  • Capture One: Created by Phase One, Capture One isn’t well known outside of professional circles, but it should be. Its bevy of management features are comparable to Lightroom. Import photos and then sort, rate, preview, organize, tag (add keywords to), develop, and publish them. Organize your photos in catalogs or work one-on-one with photos by using sessions. Capture One also has albums, which are virtual collections. It’s fantastic, powerful, and professional, and it focuses on workflow and photo quality. Capture One Pro also has a very useful tethered shooting feature, which lets you control your camera from within the application and import the photos (and even apply processing to them) as you take them. It even supports Live View mode.
  • Google Photos: Google’s new photo organizer (with minimal editing tools) is called Google Photos. It replaces Picasa, which has been retired. All your photos are stored online and organized in albums. You have unlimited storage in the cloud for free.
  • Photos: Apple has recently come out with its Photos app to replace iPhoto. It features photo editing and managing tools, and integrates seamlessly with the iCloud Photo Library. Import and organize photos, view, rate, tag, title, edit, and publish them. Photos is excellent for Macophile hobbyists.