"Daminion Review" Thu 05-Sep-13 03:47 PM by esantos
I have been using iView MediaPro, later bought by Microsoft and renamed Expression Media, for cataloging my images (mainly digital photographs). On the side I also used Nikon View NX. View NX has a great transfer tool to copy files from my flash card. It offers renaming, backup etc. The browser is fast for Raw (NEF) files and it has a nice GPS log matching function. However View NX is not strong on adding metadata file keywords etc. And filtering can only be done on rating, label and image type/format. In the last years my workflow changed from handling everything in iView(ME) to importing in View NX, first selection/rating and GPS Geo-tagging. Keywords were added in iView, which was also used to find images in my library. However development on iView(ME)has been almost non-existent since MS( and later Phase One) bought it. And it is becoming outdated. So I went on the hunt for a new cataloging/DAM tool. First look went to LightRoom. However since I use/and payed Nikon Capture NX2 with The Color Efex filters this was a strange combination. After checking out some open source DAM tool, I ended up, via some forums etc with evaluating Daminion stand alone.
After some times trying the software I had to put thing on paper just to summarize help me with my decision to start using it.I though: 'why not share it if anybody else is looking for cataloging software'. Hopeyou find it useful.
The last couple of I days I have been evaluating Daminion stand-alone (they also have a server solution) as a possibility to replace Microsoft Media Expression (formerly know a iView and now owned by Phase One under the name of Media Pro) and Nikon View NX. The version I tested was 1.0 RC2.
Here we'll have a quick look at the main GUI window. At first sight the GUI is not much different from for example iView/Microsoft Expression. There is: a thumbnail window, a properties window for 1 of more images, a filter window, a map window, a preview window, a last tags window, a tags preset, a folder window, a tray in which images can be collect to perform actions on, In it self are last tag and tag preset new for me and seem useful. Have yet to find the use of the tray window. The very nice thing about the main GUI is that it is very configurable. It window in it self is configurable, but each window can be placed/docked in any configuration one would like. Windows can be docked or tabbed.
A quite standard set-up
Creating more thumbnail room by tabbing tags and properties
In case you like a more chaotic approach
It would be very nice if one could have several GUI layout presets, configured to fit the phases in ones workflow. Like importing, selecting, geo-tagging, key wording, editing, finding back images etc. Other users might be interested in changing the color scheme used for the windows.
Multi-display use works fine. Full screen image is always shown on the primary screen.
Images can be added to a existing or new catalog by either copying and renaming them, like from a flash card, or by leaving them where they are and only add them to the catalog. When copying the can be renamed with configurable field like time/date etc. Also one can add metadata from a user defined tag preset.
A quick test of importing 1200 NEF images from hard disk showed a importing time of about 20 minutes. In comparison it takes about 3 minutes for Microsoft Expression to import the same amount of images. So this is a huge difference and leaves lots of opportunities for improvement on Daminions side.
Even if I was to use Daminion, I would still use Nikon transfer for importing my images from a flash card. This because it give me possibility for automatic backup upon transfer.
The importing process is quite slow which make me want to add only 'keepers' to my catalog. View NX imports NEF files from compact flash really fast. Also the full screen viewing of a NEF file is a bit slower then through View NX.
Another reason keep using View NX is that Daminion doesn't, yet, support syncing of images with GPS logs. Which make Daminion for me only suitable for cataloging after the geo tagging and selection process.
Daminion offers a good comparison tool which is useful in the selection process. Something View NX doesn't offer.
All in all he import possibilities are decent, although quite slow, and there is certainly room for improved/new features.
The thumbnail window as largely as to be expected. It provides sorting on most fields one would like to sort on. The user can configure which tags are shown above and under the thumbnails. In the thumbnail window one can quickly set rating,label and flag. Daminion it self doesn't provide an image editor, which is fine since everybody has their preference of which editor to use. External editors and viewers can be configured.
An nice thing is that it possible to use a simple type of version control. Before editing it will store a copy. Even though it is simple, is works and I will certainly use it.
There are a bunch of actions/possibilities that I haven't discussed here, but what I really miss is slideshow. Double click on an image will show a full screen version and you can manually flip through the images but sometimes a simple slideshow comes in handy.
Search and Filter
The Catalog tags can be use to select which images will be show in the thumbnail window. Default the are the most common ones as shown below. Creating more thumbnail room by tabbing tags and properties
But the user can customize which tags can be used for a quick search/filter. This functionality is way better than Media Expression. The are more fields available like Lens and Focal Length for which I had to write script in Media Expression. There far more tag types available to use in the filter. Tags queries can be both ANDed and ORed The searches can be saved for later use, and are easy accessible.
More advanced searches can be performed to searches in description text etc.
I had a brief glance at the preview window, which works fine and due to the way one can configure the GUI layout can be seen at the same time as thumbnails and other windows. The Map window is a Google map by default but other like Bing, Open Street etc are available. It is just a pity it always shows a hybrid view of the world at start-up, that only shows names of the continents. It would be nicer with a plain map view.
There is certainly a lot more functionality that could be reviewed here but my first impression is that it is a mature product even for a version 1.0(RC2). The only real bug I discovered is that RAW images that are cropped from landscape to portrait are not shown correctly in the full screen view. Even better, the version for 15000 images per catalog is for free which makes it easy to evaluate. And a good start for beginners. One can upgrade to versions able to hold 25K, 75K, or unlimited number of images. These are in my opinion reasonably priced. So improving the import speed, adding geo-tagging, a slideshow could make the tool to support my whole workflow, except the actual editing of course.