Workflow using Photo Mechanic and Capture NX 2
I have my D90's image quality set to RAW and I don't think that will ever change. I have purchased both Capture NX 2 (Mac OS X) and Color Efex Pro 3.0 Complete to post process and convert the NEF files. I absolutely love how Capture NX 2 works. It wouldn't hurt if it were faster though! Here's to hoping Capture NX 3 is released soon.
Anyway, I am leaning towards purchasing Photo Mechanic to ingest and manages the images. I know it integrates well with Capture NX 2. I also know that Photo Mechanic will have a robust catalog feature sometime by the end of this year. I can wait that long to get the cataloging feature since I won't have enough images to overload a manually maintained catalog.
I would love to hear how those of you using these two products together are managing your workflows today. Specifically, what do you have Photo Mechanic do and how do you set it up to do it.
#1. "RE: Workflow using Photo Mechanic and Capture NX 2" | In response to Reply # 0Tue 19-Jan-10 02:18 AM
I use Photo Mechanic as my ingester, browser and metadata editor. First of all, if you haven't found the Photo Mechanic Manual, you should download it from here. There is a section in there about the best settings to use for NX2 compatibility. Also, there is an excellent post by Hayo Baan that explains how to set up the color classes so that PM and NX2 will see the same thing.
When I ingest the pictures from a shoot, I will use the local stationery pad to apply my global metadata (name, copyright, etc.) as well as the general metadata that applies to the whole ingest, like location, main keywords, etc. Once the ingest is done, I will use PM's contact sheet to browse through the images and give a rating to the ones I want to work with further. I tend to use color classes rather than stars because I find the colors easier to spot when looking through a large contact sheet. I sometimes apply a different color to the ones I definitely want to delete. When I'm done with my first pass, I use the filter by color to select the ones to delete and delete them all at once.
The next part of my workflow depends on the type of shoot it was and how much extra post processing I intend to do. PM is key to my workflow for sports shooting. I will make a second pass through to do soft crops using that feature in PM. I then make a third pass through to identify the players in the selected images. I use an abbreviation to minimize typing. After that pass, I use another stationery pad that converts my abbreviations into code replacements for the player's full name and information in the appropriate format for my photo fulfillment site (ExposureManager). In one step, I get the player's name in the caption and their name and number in the keywords in a format that makes it searchable on my ExposureManager site. I then use PhotoMechanic to do a batch upload of the selected images to ExposureManager. During this upload, PM extracts the jpg from the nef, sizes it appropriately and converts it to sRGB. Later, when/if I get an order from a parent, the order identifies the image which I browse to in PM and then use PM to launch NX2. I do all the final image adjustments to the image and make it look its best in NX2. I will then either use NX2 to do a save-as to get a jpg or I will simply save the nef and then use PM to extract the updated, higher quality preview that NX2 wrote into the nef.
For my landscape shoots, I use the PM browser to select my keepers and add additional keywords to those images. Then I make a pass through launching NX2 from PM to do my final edits on the selected images. When I'm done with my edits, I use PM's web album feature to create a web album which I then upload to my personal web space to share with others. There's probably a way to get PM to upload the album, but I typically use Filezilla to upload the whole album to my webspace.
I'm looking forward to the cataloging feature that Camera Bits is working on. It has been discussed quite a bit on their forums, and Kirk Baker has said it is their top priority. I don't know when it will be out though. Photo Mechanic is a great application, and the support on their site is excellent. In my opinion combining PM with NX2 makes the workflow. If it weren't for PM, I would have probably gone to Lightroom a long time ago.
A Nikonian in North Carolina
#2. "RE: Workflow using Photo Mechanic and Capture NX 2" | In response to Reply # 1Tue 19-Jan-10 05:38 AM
>In my opinion combining PM with NX2 makes the workflow. If
>it weren't for PM, I would have probably gone to Lightroom a
>long time ago.
I have downloaded the Photo Mechanic software and have been playing with it to see how it works. Chris Sgaraglino has some videos on using Photo Mechanic that have helped quite a bit as well.
Based on what I have seen in regards to ingest, IPTC data, etc., I think Photo Mechanic is going to work quite well. I don't think I care that there is no cataloging feature as of yet. I don't know that I will take enough pictures that it will matter. The search abilities built-in to Photo Mechanic are good and Spotlight on the Mac can be used for more sophisticated searches.
I need to be diligent about filling out the IPTC data. I need to use meaningful names and appropriately populate the keyword field.
I am going to purchase Photo Mechanic.... it should be fun!
#10. "RE: Baan's Post?" | In response to Reply # 1sfbillm Nikonian since 15th Jun 2004Tue 26-Jan-10 03:10 PM
>There is a section in there about the best settings to use
>for NX2 compatibility. Also, there is an excellent
>post by Hayo Baan that explains how to set up the color classes so
>that PM and NX2 will see the same thing.
When I look at Baan's post, I don't see any info on what he did. There's a statement to the effect 'here's what I did', but there's nothing that elaborates on that.
What am I missing? Thanks.
#11. "RE: Baan's Post?" | In response to Reply # 10Tue 26-Jan-10 08:56 PM
I thought the same thing. But then I remembered that some forums are setup so only registered members can see included images. I signed up for an account then I could see the two images that Hayo Baan included.
Basically, the key point made was that you had to setup Photo Mechanic to "Synchronize Color Class with IPTC/XMP Urgency field" which is done in the "General" tab under "Preferences".
That worked for me.
#3. "RE: Workflow using Photo Mechanic and Capture NX 2" | In response to Reply # 0
I would just add a touch to Danny's useful comments above. In my case, ratings are used for quality, while colors are used for stages of processing. The latter means copying archived nef files to specific mirror folders dedicated to post-processing. I change the file names to signify that, and then proceed through stages of processing, first running an initial batch to get the basics in place (thanks to Jason Odell for starting pointers on this)and as I'm happier with each image, the color class rises a notch until finished with level 8--the highest in the PM system (you must keep the names and colors the same with PM and NX2). Three of the colors are designated as tags in my system, just so I can identify several images that are related in some way so as to keep them linked until deciding which is best, what to do with them, etc. Then the winners proceed up the color classes.
I also use the stationary pad to save lists in several of the categories. That provides a pseudo-cataloging function if one is consistent. You don't need to keep typing the same stuff repeatedly if you can obtain items from lists. I even swap copyright info., since my wife also uses the system.
#4. "RE: Workflow using Photo Mechanic and Capture NX 2" | In response to Reply # 0
Photo Mechanic is a great program. I use it primarily to ingest images, change file names, add IPTC, add ratings (which flow directly to NX2), and delete images I am not going to post process.
Consider taking the Photo Mechanic webinar on Nikonians. This will only add to your comprehension.
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#5. "RE: Workflow using Photo Mechanic and Capture NX 2" | In response to Reply # 4
#7. "RE: Workflow using Photo Mechanic and Capture NX 2" | In response to Reply # 6Fri 22-Jan-10 07:49 PM | edited Fri 22-Jan-10 08:14 PM by sidewinder
Okay, I think I intruded enough in that cataloging thread so I'm back to this one.
I was inspired by TiggerGTO (Danny) to really figure out the power of Photo Mechanic for photograph ingestion.
I have Photo Mechanic setup so that it will rename my photographs using the YYYYMMDD_HHMMSSss.nef structure. It will place the renamed files in a directory structure as follows:
MyLibraryPhoto Mechanic will create any part of the directory structure in the "MyLibrary" space that it needs to. In other words, I don't have to do anything when ingesting photos other than setting the "Event Name" and filling out the IPTC data which includes keywording. As each month and year comes along, it will create the proper directories in the proper place.
YYYYMMDD Event Name
I think a chronological storage structure is the best way to proceed. Trying to use the file system to categorize my photo library is a big mistake. When I need to find a photo, I will either have to know the date I shot it or rely on IPTC data to find it. When Photo Mechanic does come out with their cataloging software, I will be well situated to use it.
Now all I have to do is consistently and completely fill out the IPTC fields and good at keywording properly and quickly. Well, that and start taking lots of photographs!
#9. "RE: Stars and Colors...." | In response to Reply # 8JonK Nikonian since 03rd Jul 2004Sat 23-Jan-10 12:03 AM
For me it depends on what kind of shoot I'm editing. If the shoot has several subjects — different kinds of birds on a bird shoot, several actors in a play, etc. — I usually use the colors to label each subject and the stars for ranking. That way, after a few passes at all of the shots, I can view by one color at a time to compare shots of a single subject.
Please visit my website and critique the images!
#16. "RE: Stars and Colors...." | In response to Reply # 9
#17. "RE: Stars and Colors...." | In response to Reply # 8Wed 27-Jan-10 12:55 PM
I pretty much use colors only, because I find them easier to see when looking at a large contact sheet. I typically make a pass through my pictures marking the keepers with 1 (red) and the trash with 8 (magenta, I think). The trash is stuff that is out of focus or has serious defects that can not be fixed, like sports pictures where there is too much motion blur or another player obstructed the picture. After doing that pass, I select only the magentas and get rid of them.
After that I typically don't do much more with the colors. If it is a sports shoot, I'll make one more pass of the reds to add soft crops and metadata using PM's code replacement. Then I'll select all the red's, and upload them to my Exposure Manager site for players and parents to view making sure to check the apply crop box. I suppose I could change the red to whatever maps to 2 after I do any NX2 editing on a picture. However, NX2 tends to overwrite the setting if I don't change it in PM at the right time, so I tend to skip changing reds to something else for sports pictures. For landscapes and nature shots which tend to be smaller in number and more selective, I usually manage the color tags a little more carefully and set the reds to something else after doing the NX2 edit. If I have a bracketed set for HDR or a pano, I might mark the set with green or yellow to visually group them in the contact sheet.
I hope I haven't jumped around too much with this description and made a confusing mess out of it.
A Nikonian in North Carolina
#18. "RE: Stars and Colors...." | In response to Reply # 17Wed 27-Jan-10 03:03 PM
The responses from Gary, Danny, and Jon regarding the stars and color system have been thought provoking.
I think I will use the stars to rate the photographs and the color system for whatever marking system I need at the time. I see the star ratings being permanent and the color labels being cleared once done with a photograph or set of photographs. That means a photo with any color label is not finished.
Can you setup Photo Mechanic to set a default color class on ingest?
#19. "RE: Stars and Colors...." | In response to Reply # 18hrbaan Registered since 29th Oct 2005Wed 27-Jan-10 06:35 PM
I think tou and I are also discussing this in the PhotoMechanic forum?
I'll provide the link here for reference to others: http://forums.camerabits.com/index.php?topic=5086.0
Hayo Baan – Photography
#20. "RE: Stars and Colors...." | In response to Reply # 17dohearne Registered since 07th May 2007Fri 29-Jan-10 09:25 PM
Danny and others have described a nice system for using the color ratings. I would add one other feature - the use of tags. I use tags similar to Danny's red. After, I have ingested photos I will select all and go to slideshow to get a full screen look at each photo. Stepping through the photos, I can "tag" keepers simply by pressing the + key (or untag with the - key. I may make more than one pass, but the idea is to eliminate unwanted photos. I can then simply select the untagged photos and delete. Now I can go back and begin to rate the keepers. I tend to use the stars because I like to color code anything I have processed in NX2 with Red because it is very easy to see. I use color ratings for other reason, but Red is reserved for post-processed images.
#21. "RE: Stars and Colors...." | In response to Reply # 20Fri 29-Jan-10 09:49 PM
Yes, I plan to use tags to weed out obvious throwaways. I could do this either prior to ingesting or after.
For example, prior to ingesting, I will open a contact sheet showing all photos on the card. I will run through and tag the photos I think I want to trash. Then I will change the display to show only tagged photos. Then I will verify that I want to throw the tagged photos away. Once that is done, I will delete the photos still tagged and then ingest.
#22. "RE: Workflow using Photo Mechanic and Capture NX 2" | In response to Reply # 0
This is a great thread. I am relatively new to this and trying to find my way along the twisting turning road. There are many possibilities and solutions out there, and it can be confusing and costly to decide upon the best solution that meets ones needs.
Could someone explain what the shortfall of using Nikon Transfer to do some of things that Photomechanic seems to do?
#23. "RE: Workflow using Photo Mechanic and Capture NX 2" | In response to Reply # 22Tue 09-Feb-10 06:45 PM
Many people do use Nikon Transfer for this part of the workflow. After all, the price is right
Photo Mechanic is much more functional. I'd have to say that it is about the best application there is for ingesting, metadata editing, browsing, rating, sorting and uploading that there is. It is fast, very functional and works extremely well with Capture NX2. It can extract the preview jpg from the nef file, so you do not need to run conversions from NX2. It can produce web albums and upload them or individual photos directly to many of the various photo sites. Their support forum is very active and one of their key developers answers questions and problem reports daily. The only downside to PM is that it is not cheap, but I feel you definitely get a lot of value for your money.
A Nikonian in North Carolina
#24. "RE: Workflow using Photo Mechanic and Capture NX 2" | In response to Reply # 23PAStime Nikonian since 10th Feb 2009Wed 10-Feb-10 11:07 AM | edited Wed 10-Feb-10 11:07 AM by PAStime
I want to echo that this has been a great thread. It seems one of the key features of PM is that it integrates with NX2 in that the colours and ratings are compatible and PM is able to read NEFs that have been processed by NX2.
So here is a loaded question (and hopefully not hijacking the thread): at better than half the price, is Imatch as good? I've got a trial version installed and so far it looks OK. Would it do more or less the same as described by Danny and others?
#25. "RE: Workflow using Photo Mechanic and Capture NX 2" | In response to Reply # 24Thu 11-Feb-10 01:14 AM | edited Thu 11-Feb-10 01:17 AM by TiggerGTO
My understanding is that IMatch is more of a cataloging program. Photo Mechanic is a front end program for ingesting, browsing, keywording, etc. It has some search capabilities, but you must search a folder or hierarchy of folders. Unless I am wrong, IMatch is a cataloging program designed to maintain a database of your images so that you can quickly search and find specific images wherever they exist in your collection of images. The database stores the keywords and other metadata along with the image location. If it is like other cataloging programs, it even stores a preview of the image so that you can see what the image is even if it is not currently accessible (i.e. on an external drive that is not connected).
So to get a complete workflow from ingesting, keywording, sorting and browsing (PM), editing (NX2) and cataloging (IMatch), you could use all three programs together. I have never really investigated IMatch, so I may be wrong about some if its capabilities, but I do know that it is intended to be a cataloging application.
Edited to add: Here's a recent thread talking about cataloging applications including IMatch.
A Nikonian in North Carolina
#27. "RE: Workflow using Photo Mechanic and Capture NX 2" | In response to Reply # 25PAStime Nikonian since 10th Feb 2009Sat 13-Feb-10 12:13 PM
A belated thanks Danny for this information on PM versus iMatch. What you are saying matches what I'm learning while I use trial versions of these two and ACDSee.
Just this morning I have learned that ACDSee will only use the embedded jpg in a NEF for the purposes of viewing the thumbnail or viewing the image full screen. It will not use the embedded thumbnail for save as jpg or upload to web or send via email, etc. Instead, it uses its own "develop" utility (raw converter).
This is a pain because in my workflow I want to use and stay with the Capture NX2 raw converter. So a negative point for ACDSee and, gathering from your comments on PM, a big plus for PM.
#26. "RE: Workflow using Photo Mechanic and Capture NX 2" | In response to Reply # 22
>Could someone explain what the shortfall of using Nikon
>Transfer to do some of things that Photomechanic seems to do?
While I agree with all the good said about PhotoMechanics (including virtual one on one assistance from them) when I assesed their trial copy I found that most of the powerful features it had would not be used by me and some of the features I was looking for were not there.
Thus, I have continued to use Nikon's (free) ViewNX which, for my purpose, does what I would have used PM to do. A point I do like about VNX is that when I SAVE an edited pic from NX2 I just press Alt-Tab (of course with both programs running) and I can immediately see a full screen image with ALL my NX2 edits reflected. Also for small tweaks to RAW files where NX2 may not be needed I just use VNX's array of editing tools.
I am aware that VNX cannot further manipulate or convert the saved NX2 image(s) and I am hoping that future upgrades will at least rectify this.
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