Large Library Management with Lightroom and Daminion [for Advanced LR Users]

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daminion-opener

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.

Setting up Daminion

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.

daminion-import

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.

daminion-work-while-importing

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Organizing and tagging

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).

daminion-searches

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.

daminion-boolean

Viewing your images

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.

daminion-compact

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.

daminion-properties

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.

daminion-publish

Is Daminion for you?

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.

Do you also need some Lightroom organizational help? Try these:

Read more from our Post Production category

Helen Bradley is a Lifestyle journalist who divides her time between the real and digital worlds, picking the best from both. She writes and produces video instruction for Photoshop and digital photography for magazines and online providers world wide. She has also written four books on photo crafts and blogs at Projectwoman.com.

  • Dean Kruger

    Great article, Helen!

    We have been using both Daminion and Lightroom in our production office and the synergy between the two applications simplify workflow tremendously. Photographers and creatives do their developing and manipulation in Lightroom and my Research department tag and archive using Daminion…

    The metadata integrates seamlessly!!!

  • Helen Bradley

    That is great to hear Dean.

  • Murat Korkmazov

    Helen, thanks for the nice article!

    BTW Daminion 3.0 was released recently and Daminion 3.2 (unstable) version is available for testing on the Daminion user-forum.

  • MichaelB

    Can you suggest a similar program for Mac please?

  • Murat Korkmazov

    The only affordable solution for Mac is Apple Final Cut Server. But it was discontinued.

  • AliNoorani

    I’m really confused
    As far as I remember Lightroom only opens photos when they are imported inside its own catalogs. So does that mean that we have to import the photos both in Daminion and Lr? How can one send photos from Daminion to Lr as an ‘external editor’ when they are not cataloged?
    I mean how can I combine Daminion as a library manager and Lr as a photo editor? Is that possible?
    And doesn’t Daminion metadata writings create any conflicts/problems when you open them in Lr the next time?
    Thank you

  • Murat Korkmazov

    Ali, you need to import the same images to both programs. But you can do this once. There is a feature called “Auto-Rescan Folders” in the Daminion Server version that allows you to automatically monitor specified folders for new additions and file changes.

    Daminion can automatically write all your tag changes and assignments into the metadata. However you need to manually invoke the “Read Metadata” command from LR to read these changes.

    I’ve recorded a short video explaining how information can be exchanged between two programs:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izor_6GaQ9k

  • Gerrit

    Helen, many thanks for the article.

    Murat, thank you for the video on this.

    As far as I understand LR and Daminion (server), they each run a database underneath containing major image info (and maybe meta data). Now the workflow between both applications suggests to use side car files to update the LR catalog and Daminion database respectively? (I am not sure, if this is technically correct, though)

    Isn’t this workflow extremely redundant, time consuming and moreover, chances are big, that read (write) from(to) side car files will introduce errors once I forget this step? I am thinking of hundreds to a few thousand of RAW images after a busy day of panorama hdr shooting.

    LR may have its strength as RAW file converter (and many more) but my major concern with LR is, that it lacks EXR-support and it does not support real network access.
    openEXR is one of the best image formats for HDRI and postproduction in 32bits. This format will flood digital photography too, sooner or later.

    This is why – at least for me – daminion looked promising in the first place. But with a workflow of importing the same images twice (except for EXRs) and data transfer via reading / writing xmp files I don’t see it as a handy solution.

    Thank you,
    Gerrit

  • naldo

    Few words about compatibility issue in exchanging metadata between LR and Daminion. Here says not only raw can be managed via xmp, some only in reading xmp, not writing, for example panasonic rw2.
    http://www.daminion.net/feature-tour/daminion/broad-format-support

  • naldo

    Ops… “not all raw”

  • It’s good tool but speed of indexing photos is pretty slow. Media Pro rocks when indexing photos to catalog but very unstable to me in Windows

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