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If you have Lightroom you might assume that you have all you need for managing your images. That may not be the case and many professional and keen amateur photographers benefit from combining Lightroom with the image management software Daminion.
Daminion is an image management solution which helps you do large library management with Lightroom. You can think of it as being the rough equivalent of the Lightroom Library module operating on steroids. Daminion’s biggest advantage is that it is true multiuser software so, with Daminion server installed, multiple users can access a single catalog. This is something that Lightroom is notoriously poor at doing and which Adobe has so far failed to address despite multi-user/multi-computer access being one of the top ten feature requests for Lightroom.
You can download a version of Daminion here using the Download link. At the time of writing the current release version is 2.5 and version 3 is still in beta. Daminion comes as both a standalone and a server version. The Daminion standalone Free version handles up to 15,000 images per catalog. The paid versions are Basic, Standard and Pro which give you 25,000, 75,000 and unlimited images in a catalog respectively. There are also multiple Daminion server versions, one for non-commercial use and others for individual professionals and small teams.
NOTE: Daminion is available for PC only and not currently available for Mac.
You can install both the server and client versions on the same computer – the server version will run faster than the client version so it has value when you have a lot of images in a catalog. When you consider that some Daminion users have catalogs of a million or more images, speed of accessing and filtering these images becomes important.
Once you have downloaded and installed Daminion, launch it and you can create a catalog. Like Lightroom you must import the images you want to manage with Daminion into the catalog. If the Add Files dialog doesn’t open automatically you can find it by choosing File > Add Files and then select the folders to import from.
While you can create and manage multiple catalogs in Daminion, like Lightroom, you can’t search across multiple catalogs so you should be careful about how you organize your images in catalogs. What makes sense in terms of catalog organization will depend on how you work with your images and if it makes sense to have them all in one catalog or in separate ones.
Daminion will recognize and manage a wide range of file types including common raster and vector formats as well as camera RAW images, video, music, and PDF formats. This gives it a broader scope as a management tool for digital media collections than Lightroom which is limited to photo and video formats only.
You can copy the images to another location on import or import them from their current locations. You can also group images by folder, date or file type on import. As the images are being imported you can begin to work with those already imported.
When you have some images imported into Daminion you can investigate the tools you have for managing and organizing them. The Catalog Tags panel on the left of the screen (see image on the right) is pre-populated with tags. Some of these are created from the image metadata, such as Camera lens and Camera Model, and others are those that you may have applied to the images in other programs such as keywords, ratings and color labels.
To filter the images by any catalog tag click the tag group and the tag to view and click the circle icon to view images that match that tag. You can perform AND and OR filtering using the Find dialog which you can find by clicking the Advanced link immediately to the right of the search box on the toolbar (see image below).
You can also add tags and keywords to your images using the Catalog Tags panel. These can be written to the image XMP metadata so they will be accessible not only within Daminion but also in other applications such as Lightroom and Bridge.
There are benefits to using Daminion for image management and filtering in preference to Lightroom. Daminion provides multiple ways to categorize your images including Categories, Collections, Events, Places, People and more. It also supports hierarchical tags, with no limitation on nesting levels. So you can configure hierarchical tags for categories, people, places, keywords, events and so on whereas in Lightroom you can create hierarchical keywords only. You can also create your own custom user defined tags in Daminion to categorize images by criteria that are meaningful to you. Daminion can write metadata directly into the RAW images rather than needing to do so to sidecar .xmp files, and it makes it easy for you to filter your image collection by writing complex searches using Boolean (AND/OR) operators.
You can view your filtered images in one of a number of ways. You can sort them using a range of sort options including by shutter speed, file size, file name and so on. You can also view the images as thumbnails, using a compact view, details or filmstrip view.
In Thumbnail view you can customize the information displayed above and below the image so it is easy to see the image properties that are meaningful to you. At any time you can view an image full screen by pressing Enter or click View.
You can select any image and view and edit its properties using the Properties panel. While Daminion is not an editor you can use it to rotate your images.
As you work through your images you can drag images you want to do something with into the Tray. The Tray stores these images until you are ready to work with them such as by sending them to an external editor or using the multiuser checkout feature. The checkout feature helps you manage multiple people working with the same catalog, it maintains an audit history and gives you the ability to undo changes if, for example, a newer version of an image is replaced by an older version.
One handy feature of Daminion is the ability for you to publish images from Daminion direct to Dropbox so they are viewable on your iPad or other device. The Publish panel can be set up to convert and resize images including raw format images and then export them to a Dropbox folder on your computer. When this folder syncs to Dropbox the uploaded images can then be viewed on other devices.
If you’re looking for a way to allow multi-user access to your image collection then Daminion is a great tool. It can be used along-side Lightroom for managing and organizing images which you then develop in Lightroom. The metadata changes made in either program can be easily viewed in the other program and the two work in tandem very well.
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