- cataloguing almost any kind of image or video file, including PNG (note to LR users)
- opening files including NEFs with any external editor on your system
- hierarchical keywording
- metadata for persons and places
- intuitive methods for complex search terms
- multiple catalogues open at once
- search and display even when original images are off-line
- integration with a Capture One session-based workflow
- support for huge catalogues
- original NEFs (or other files) are not pulled into the database
- automatic synchronization for watched folders
- support for "catalog sets" based on criteria such as clients, client jobs, keywords, etc.
I use a lot of texture and graphics files, frequently in PNG format. One of my favorite features about Media Pro is that I can have a catalogue of this material (again note LR3 users) *and* a catalogue of image files at the same time. I can then browse and select PNGs to open in Photoshop as well as processed image TIFFs or PSDs to which I want to add textures or graphics. LR3 doesn't support PNG or multiple catalogues simultaneously. I can use distinct keywording and cataloguing models for textures and graphics than I do for images and photo sessions in a natural way.
For some bad news... Phase One has hobbled integration with a Capture NX2 workflow, which was one of the reasons why I started with it back in the day. I liked NX2 and used it for a long time, together with iView MediaPro. The original product allowed you to specify almost any RAW converter on your system for images. Now you can only choose (on the Mac) the built-in Apple version or the Capture One version. This means that Media Pro no longer is a great choice for an NX2-based workflow. This is at least true in the sense that the images you see inside Media Pro would not reflect edits done in NX2 or ACR.
Similarly, one has to be careful about viewing Photoshop files (do a layer merge in order to get a proper view or be prepared to see a pale yellow for transparency on the top layer). Media Pro does not export its metadata to the original file's sidecar by default, unless you make it do so. It keeps this information internally; so if you do updates, you must remember to synchronize your changes out. Once you grok the notion of a catalog as distinct from directly operatiing on the original files, this makes some sense. It is very different than LR3 or Aperture though. You are not operating on the files, you are working in a database about the files.
This is perhaps the most basic concept to grasp, unlike LR3 or Aperture or whatever. The Media Pro DB is a very distinct structure from the original files on disk. Information from the Media Pro DB can be pushed back out to sidecar files as and when you want that to be integrated with the originals. Likewise, if you make ranking changes, for example, in an external editor, you can easily import these back into the catalogue. This mode of operation allows you to work within a catalogue without having to have the originals with you. The catalogue builds thumbnails and medium-sized images from the originals for you to work with. This also means that you can, say, do searches on photo shoots that you've archived years ago, identify images using DB search tools, and retrieve an old image from archives for subsequent work as and when necessary. This can save a significant amount of disk space.
What took me a while to grok, vis a vis Capture One and Media Pro, was the notion of importing my original files into a Capture One session first, sorting, ranking, and developing them in C1, then and only then pushing the resulting file structure over to Media Pro. C1 has a menu item for this operation.
In summary, I'd recommend Media Pro to anyone using Capture One. I'd also recommend Capture One to anyone using ACR or NX2 as well. For an NX2-based user, Media Pro probably isn't going to take you to a happy place right now. I had been very happy with NX2 (versus ACR) for a long time, based on color conversion and lens issues (distortion and chromatic aberration). I became comfortable with using LR3 since it was a better DAM than anything associated with NX2, and I'd adopted the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport system to improve color conversion with ACR. That still left me with having to escape LR3 and go back to NX2 for any image that had lens issues. Adobe just hasn't delivered lens profiles for many of the lenses I use.
In Capture One Pro, I have been more than surprised and pleased by its support for my Nikon lenses; not in terms of having built-in profiles, but rather its automated correction for distortion, flare, and CA just by clicking an "analyze" button. Likewise, its builtin profiles for my D700 are so good that they are, IMHO, better than the calibrated profiles that I was doing with my X-Rite. Likewise, its white balance seems better than anything I've found in ACR. For example, I had struggled with a photo shoot I'd done last summer for a client family. I had done some shots in studio and others outside in sunlight and open shade. The gentlemen were all wearing white shirts and jeans. One of the ladies had a off-white blouse. The gentlemen's shirts were somewhat bluish, presumably because of whiteners in the laundry process. The lady's blouse was somewhat warm. Getting accurate white balance across all three photography settings was critical since the prints were to hang together. In ACR, even with using the X-Rite system in all three settings, I could not get uniform white balance, especially in the open shade setting, without going into LAB in Photoshop after the fact. With Capture One, this was as easy as grabbing white balance off the X-Rite Card and pasting it into the appropriate images from the shoot. C1 just got it right coming out of the blocks. I was completing this work just as I was beginning to use C1. It saved a ton of time on this client's job; and I haven't looked back.
Now, I understand that the whole Capture One fan boy material is a digression from comments about Media One. However, I think that it's a natural one. The question was, is Media Pro ready for prime time. My answer is "yes" but with qualifications about what kind of workflow you use. If you want to integrate Media Pro in a workflow where Capture One is your RAW converter, then my yes is unqualified. If you're using NX2 or ACR, as most folks would be, you're probably better off sticking with PhotoMechanic or LR3. Having said that, it would be remiss of me not to mention where C1 shines as a converter relative to NX2 or ACR. So, this is more of a package deal as far as workflow is concerned.
That package, Media Pro and C1 Pro together, is not inexpensive. You can get trial versions, though the C1 trial is *not* the Pro version. The basic version does not have the lens features, skin tone correction, keystone correction, sessions, and other advanced goodies that I think are really important for pro use. So, the trial version is kind of hobbled (dumb for Phase One to do really). Still it would give you an idea of how the two work together. To a newbie using then, let me emphasize again that you want to begin with importing images into a C1 session, and you don't get this model in the C1 trial version. Again, dumb for Phase One to hobble their trial versions in this manner. Really dumb. It kills off the best feature (IMHO) of the integration of the two products. So, bear that in mind if you're doing an evaluation. Look at some of their video tutorials on workflow to see how this should work.
One last point. A respondent here mentioned poor performance on an XP SP3 system. I can't speak to how well Media Pro would work in that environment. On my system, I've got 64-bit support in h/w, OS, and app, which likely goes a long way towards performance for a product like this. That's also worth considering in any evaluation. I have also not run this under Lion. I am pretty conservative about taking the OS upgrades from Apple as many apps I'm using still aren't ready for OS 10.7. I believe that Phase One is saying that C1 and Media Pro are Lion-ready now; but I can't speak to that. Roaringapps.com agrees, for whatever that's worth. Oh, and I've got no connection with Phase One in any way.
Visit my Nikonians gallery.
Visit my Nikonians gallery.