Today there are a ton of photo editing software programs to choose from, but there is one in particular that is worth the investment if you’re in need of speed. Developed by Camera Bits, Photo Mechanic is a standalone image browser that offers the very basic features of previewing, selecting, and importing digital images (culling). While the software might seem like a questionable investment since all it does is cull with no photo editing capabilities, Photo Mechanic has long been vouched for by many professional photographers. In fact, it was debuted in 1998 and used by The Associated Press to accelerate its coverage of Super Bowl XXXII. Since then, Photo Mechanic has been a popular choice by professional sports shooters and photojournalists, and it has also been made available to amateurs at a price of $150.
Whether you are a pro or not, here is why you may want to consider looking into Photo Mechanic for your post-processing workflow:
The core benefit of using Photo Mechanic is its wicked fast speed and ingest utility that allows for copying files from multiple flash or SD cards cards simultaneously, as well as renaming the files and adding IPTC information to them. Photo Mechanic also has a Live Ingest feature that is ideal for shooting tethered or using remote cameras and seeing your shots as soon as they are taken.
As soon as you connect your SD or CF card to your computer and pull up Photo Mechanic, you will immediately see compressed JPEG previews of all of your card’s contents on your contact page. It won’t matter if you shot a couple thousand RAW photos – each one will be almost instantly available for preview. There isn’t the three to five second delay that is common on other photo browsing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and Bridge. When you double click on a single image in the contact page, the image will enlarge in a preview screen, and you’ll be able to immediately view your photo in high resolution, including zooming in to check the focus of tiny details. All of this is done without having to load the image, meaning it happens with little to no lag time. You’ll be able to preview the entire contents of your card with the same speed.
Once you begin ingesting (importing) files from your cards to your computer or external hard drive, you can immediately start editing the photos. There is no need to wait until the copy process is complete. You can even initiate up to three other ingest sessions at a time, meaning up to three cards can be culled at the same time. The latest version 5 of Photo Mechanic was released in 2013 and it enhances the ingest feature by giving you the option to automatically import images when a disk is mounted to your computer.
To speed up the image sorting and organizing process, Photo Mechanic includes an IPTC Stationery Pad for adding captions, credits, metadata, and copyright information to batches of images. Version 5 of Photo Mechanic includes dozens of new IPTC fields and extra sorting options including color class, rating, and tag values.
Photo Mechanic’s main disadvantage is that it does not convert RAW shots, meaning you’ll still need to use a separate program such as Lightroom or PhotoShop to perform any edits or convert RAW images into JPEGs. Some photographers might find it a hassle to go between programs, but if you’re in the market for speedy imports and downloads, then Photo Mechanic will be your preferred image browser. It also offers a free 30 day, fully functioning version if you want to test it out first.
Have you tried it of a similar solution? What are your thoughts? Please share your comments with us.