Digital Asset Management software selection

Mike Briggs is a London based photographer with a particular interest in travel photography, reportage and street photography. Mike needed to select a new DAM, digital asset management system, to manage his collection of 100,000+ images. He started looking at a very broad range of DAMs. Soon he narrowed the selection down to three candidates: digiKam, Photo Supreme, and Daminion. Here’s the story on how he selected his best DAM.

Every photographer will have different requirements on a DAM so which one is “best for you” is not necessarily “best for me”. This is a guest article where Mike Briggs, of Mike Briggs Photography, explains how he found what was best for him. You can find more info on Mike at the end of the article. A big THANK YOU to Mike for sharing this extremely interesting story!

Please respond to the DAM poll here: “Which DAM do you use?

By Mike Briggs:


Digital Asset Management – otherwise known as DAM – isn’t the most glamorous topic in photography. I’ll not detail all the benefits here, but if, like me, you want to be able to easily view or retrieve particular images from among thousands, it’s an indispensable tool.

So, how to select DAM software? I’ve recently been through the process myself and, even if you disagree with my final choice (yes, I have made one), my concerns and experience may be of interest.

Finding the holy Grail of the perfect DAM

The altar in the cathedral in Logrono, Spain
The altar in the cathedral in Logrono, Spain, copyright BKWine Photography


As the DAM market has been consolidating over the past few years, one key concern was that I didn’t want to be stranded if my software was abandoned, or if the license model changes to a subscription model. Consequently, my first question when looking at any DAM package was not ‘is this good software’, but ‘is there a good escape route?’ Since there are no guarantees about software lifetime, the ability to write the catalogue data into the image files as metadata, in a form that can be read by other software, is what I’m after. And I know that not everyone likes to do it, but for me that includes writing metadata to RAW files too. You’ll perhaps have guessed by now that Lightroom was never an option. If you’re wondering, I use DxO Optics Pro for RAW conversion.

Of course, it’s still worth trying to pick software that’s likely to stay around for the long term, so the developers of the software and the frequency of past releases were also factors that lead me to discount or demote a few products.

Cost was another factor that ruled out a number of products evidentially aimed at departmental or corporate use; I was expecting the price to be in line with other SOHO software.

Thousands of oak barrels in a wine cellar, Rioja
Thousands of oak barrels in a wine cellar, Rioja, copyright BKWine Photography


In terms of functionality, I wanted it to:


With the above questions to the fore, my first task was to identify and check out the potential packages. Of course that involved reading the specifications for the various products, taking a look at the manuals or online videos, and, in promising cases, quickly testing out the software where free trials were available.

I also spent time tracking down leads and user opinions from others on the Internet, some of them interesting, others dead ends. Not a very quick or exciting process.

But over the course of several months I gradually narrowed down the field.

The packages that made it to my long-list were

Those that made it to the short-list?

All three are full database-centric DAM applications.

Thousands of old bottles in a wine cellar in Rioja
Thousands of old bottles in a wine cellar in Rioja, copyright BKWine Photography


As a Linux program, digiKam ( goes back over 10 years, but since 2009 has also been available as a port for Mac and Windows too. In terms of its future longevity, the fact that it is open-source and apparently has a thriving team of developers and contributors working on it is a big plus – and it’s free of charge too. Subject to the database choice, it can also be used as a standalone or multi-user system.

digiKam offers most of the functionality that I want, including audio and video file support, and the ability to group versions of the same file together by dragging one thumbnail onto another.

It also offers a range of other features, if you want them, including non-destructive editing. Innovative features include a reasonable attempt at automatic face recognition, and fuzzy image matching – finding images based on a rough sketch – though scanning images for this reliably crashed the program. The digiKam developers do warn that it’s not as stable under Windows as under Linux. Maybe I was lucky, but I didn’t experience other crashes when running version 3.4.0 during testing.

Overall digiKam gave a good impression, but a couple of things demoted it in my rankings.

Firstly, I couldn’t find a way to import or export my list of hierarchical keywords.

Secondly, although it should be able to write metadata to CR2 RAW files, I couldn’t persuade it to do so under Windows.

Thirdly, on a support issue, my related query on the mailing list ( went unanswered. I get the impression that the digiKam project team could do with some more Windows contributors. Perhaps the Mac version has better support.

Somewhat unusually digiKam do have a user forum on the web site (at, but it is entirely unused. Perhaps posting a message would elicit a response, but all the support is currently on a mailing list; though effective, this may be off-putting for some.

At the time I was assessing the software version 4 was being released, but by the time the Windows version eventually came along (two months later) I’d already decided on another package. In case you’re wondering, version 4.1.0 (the latest version at the time of writing) still isn’t writing metadata to CR2 files under Windows.

DAM, a tool to find the one image you are looking for

Sorting grapes on a sorting table
Sorting grapes on a sorting table, copyright BKWine Photography


Daminion (, a Windows only product, has been around for a couple of years and comes in two flavours; a ‘small teams’ version, and a ‘standalone’ version. It’s the latter that interested me.

Like digiKam, Daminion provides almost all of the functionality that I need, including writing metatdata to RAW files (or sidecar files) without problems. It was also stable under test.

A particular like is that Daminion can import and export hierarchical keywords to and from Photo Supreme (and no doubt other compatible packages) via a generic text file.

I also liked Daminions’ ability to switch the ‘Catalog Tags’ sidebar between ‘Filter Items’ and ‘Assign Tags’ modes.

In common with digiKam, it’s also possible to drag and drop images onto a map to geotag them, which makes geotagging easy.

An interesting extra feature is the provision to insert the license expiry date for each file, to help track licence usage.

On the other hand I found that it wasn’t easy to see which images had been tagged or with what.

I also wasn’t able to find a way of grouping versions of the same file – an image management feature that I particularly liked in digiKam.

At this stage I still preferred the way that digiKam worked, but for practical reasons would have chosen Daminion out of the pair. But there was still another package on my shortlist.

In the wine cellar: thousands of bottles
In the wine cellar: thousands of bottles, copyright BKWine Photography

IDimager Photo Supreme

Like Daminion, Photo Supreme ( also comes in a single user and server versions, but is also available for Mac-OSX, not just for Windows.

I must say that I approached Photo Supreme cautiously.

The developer had stopped developing its original well-regarded DAM product – IDimager – in 2012 and, when this happened, there were clearly a number of users who were very unhappy with the decision, and with the capabilities of Photo Supreme, its replacement. However Photo Supreme was also under active development, and several updates had been released since IDimager’s demise. And there were also users who liked it too.

And, with Daminion newly on the scene, I could also see at least one reason for retiring the older product. But would it be good enough?

The first surprise is how few menus Photo Supreme has – just 4 – and one of those is ‘help’! Surely this couldn’t be a fully featured package? By way of comparison, digiKam has 11 menus and Daminion has 8, though all of them have additional controls around the various windows too.

Nevertheless, as I made my way through the (sparse) user manual, supplemented by the user forum posts, it became apparent that yes, it did have very similar core capabilities to digiKam and Daminion and could also do most of what I wanted. Despite the lack of menus, it didn’t take too long to master the interface – and the built-in ‘tips’ system helps (hit the ‘tips’ icon and hover over something).

However, as is so often the case in selecting software, it’s not the just capabilities of the software that matter – it’s how easy it is to use. Here, Photo Supreme is ahead of the competition.

In digiKam, I liked the ability to group versions of the same file together by dragging one thumbnail onto another; in Photo Supreme I can do the same, but (if you set it to do so), it will automatically group images with the same core file name together on import – an excellent innovation. Added or changed metadata will then be applied simultaneously to all images in the group.

Thousands of oak barrels in a wine cellar, Rioja
Thousands of oak barrels in a wine cellar, Rioja, copyright BKWine Photography

A good deal of thought has gone into the interface for keyword tagging which is, for me the heart of the software. Until automatic recognition systems become available, Photo Supreme makes it about as pain-free as it’s going to get.

In addition to assisted manual entry, ‘recently used’, ‘favourite’, ‘suggested’ and ‘nearby’ tags are displayed for selection. Keyword groups that I’ve pre-defined are also displayed, enabling images to be tagged with multiple keywords using a single click. There’s even the ability to add geo-locations to towns or other keywords, so that tagging with the keyword automatically geotags it too – another useful time-saver. It’s also easy to see which images have been keyword tagged, and with what.

In addition to setting up your own keyword hierarchy, or using a controlled vocabulary, keywords from imported files are fed into the catalogue (in a ‘miscellaneous’ category) ready for reuse. And, as mentioned previously, it’s possible to import and export the hierarchical keyword list to and from other compatible DAM software, so keeping my future options open.

Geotagging individual images isn’t drag-and-drop, as it is with the other short-listed packages, however it’s almost as simple, and multiple other ways of entering the data are possible, including using the automatic tagging via keywords described above, automatic tagging from smartphone GPX logs, and copying and pasting from other images, which the other packages don’t support.

Custom XMP data fields can also be added, so if you like the idea of Daminion’s license expiry field, you can add it in Photo Supreme too, though it won’t be linked to a calendar.

Metadata can be written to RAW files (if you select that option) and video is supported (though only through sidecar files). It’s also possible to catalogue off-line files, and to switch to ‘travel mode’ to facilitate working on the road with a laptop.

There are two ways of searching, several ways of browsing, and also a filtering bar and light table, so finding and selecting images is easy, and searches and search results can be saved. And there’s a scripting option and a variety of pre-written scripts, though I’ve not yet explored their capabilities.

So, are there flaws?

Well this is software, so yes, a few – but I’ve not found major problems yet. When moving between screens, some returned-to-screens loose track of the previously selected object(s), and forget that they’re supposed to be maximised, which is somewhat annoying.

And I can’t print direct from the software. These are known bugs that I hope will soon be fixed.

I’ve also had a couple of images that the software claimed were out of sync with the database, even though they weren’t. Backing up and compacting the database solved these.

But, after using the software extensively for a couple of months, including cataloguing several thousand new images, there have been no stability problems.

One omission is the ability to view and select geotagged images from a world map, as you can with the other two packages. [update:] This is actually possible via a right-click menu.

Another is the lack of audio file support – though not entirely surprising in a product aimed at photographers.

I would, however, like more granularity in selecting which metadata is (or isn’t) included when images are exported or uploaded.

And I’d like a more comprehensive user manual (I had to experiment to move the configuration files to a hard drive and folder of my choosing). Of course I could make similar lists for the other products too.

For me, there is no doubt that Photo Supreme is a clear winner in this contest and, particularly on the core function of keyword tagging, it’s ahead by a good distance. Not only does it do almost everything I want but it also does so with style – and with escape routes. I look forward to the next release with interest.

In the underground wine cellar, Champagne
In the underground wine cellar, Champagne, copyright BKWine Photography

The missing feature

As a final note, there is one feature that I was hoping to find that is missing from all three short-listed packages – fixity checking – the ability to monitor files for image integrity.

At the moment, if the image data (as opposed to the metadata) within the file becomes corrupted, none of the packages warn that this has happened. Third party fixity products, such as ExactFile, are incompatible with DAM software, since changing the metadata flags all the files affected as potentially corrupt.

The only photography product that I’ve come across that has limited support for fixity checking is Lightroom 5 – limited because it only applies to DNG version 1.2 files, using their internal checksums to do the checking. It’s not my area of expertise, but it would seem possible for DAM software to calculate, store and verify checksums for multiple image file formats, albeit other formats aren’t protected from alteration in the way that DNG images are supposed to be. If so, in my view this would be a very worthwhile enhancement.

About the Author

Mike Briggs recounts his recent experience of evaluating the Digital Asset Management software currently available – and how he came to a decision.

Mike is an independent photographer based near London, UK. You can see a selection of his photos at

Other than as a user, Mike has no connection with the authors of any of the software mentioned in this article.

© Mike Briggs 2014, all rights reserved, all moral rights asserted. Published on by permission.

72 Responses

  1. Mike,

    I am interested in your journey and results with DAM software, but your approach demonstrates just how many ways there are to skin a cat.

    I have run a stock library since 1971 when everything was totally ‘handraulic’ and physical images, in the form of prints or colour transparencies, were sent out to clients with typewritten delivery notes. Up until the early 90s everything was filed (if that’s the right word) using the ‘Shoe Box’ system and card indexes, allied to just knowing where everything was – in other words using the key man principle!

    During the first Gulf War demand for military images ramped up frighteningly fast and we invested in a DOS-based library package that was part delivery and invoice system, and part DAM for the sum of over £3500 – a great deal of money in those days. However all this did was allow data for images to be linked to bar codes that enabled physical ‘File Info’ descriptions to be printed for the images being sent out and cross-referenced with both the image database and the billing side. In fact up until starting to scan images in the mid-90s this remained our primary DAM tool and was only finally dropped in 2004 when support ceased.

    However, as soon as we had digitised files – long before I first starting shooting with digital – we needed a DAM program. SCC PhotoGrid was the first one, running from a single floppy disk on Windows, but it was only a matter of time before Portfolio appeared on the scene – firstly on Windows before we changed to using Macs in 1999.

    However, the one key factor in all this, that seems to differ from many of the other correspondents in the DAM issue, is that ALL the metadata that we added to image files was ALWAYS done using firstly File Info in Photoshop and latterly with Adobe Bridge. This applies to all the RAW files that we shoot. Thus the DAM programs that we needed ONLY had to extract metadata – NEVER add any. That is what made my hunt much easier – apart from needing a cross-platform browser for clients as well.

    All the hard work is accomplished in Adobe Bridge using a wide range of File Info templates that can be modified on the fly if required or used again and again with minor revisions. We use a standard range of Keywords that we have developed and find that it works extremely well. Sure, it takes a great deal of effort and time to add the metadata to the RAW files, but this is time and effort that have to be spent somewhere in the life cycle of the images to be documented.

    All the critical exposure adjustments etc are also carried out in Bridge at this time, meaning that Media Pro (for example) can read the edits and display RAW WITH the corrections, allied to searching after extracting all the metadata, which is a brilliant bonus. Portfolio could read RAW files but not extract any exposure adjustments nor metadata. Of course the latest generation of RAW files are not supported by Portfolio, making it useless for this task now.

    All output is accomplished by importing the adjusted RAW files, with their sidecar xmp files, into Adobe Lightroom where nothing else, apart from cropping and adding GPS coordinates if necessary, is done before the files are output using a wide range of presets that we have developed. This ranges from outputting to high resolution TIFFs or JPEGs, through producing newspaper-sized files, right down to web media sized files.

    This approach still allows us to output files through Photoshop where critical retouching or other image manipulation is required.

    However, the big deal for me is that ALL the metadata is already in the file when it’s output from Lightroom or opened in Photoshop. My DAM program never has to add anything.

    From what I read of others using DAM programs I believe that many are making life harder for themselves than they need. For example, if I do subsequently need to alter the metadata in a file I prefer to add it through Adobe Bridge and document the changes through an update in Portfolio or Media Pro, without ever physically opening the image file in any program.

    Even today Extensis offer some brilliant documentation on DAM, whilst a great deal more information can be gleaned from IPTC.

    Keep up the good work – there seem to be very few people actively using small/single user DAM solutions – and not enough are talking to each other or developers about the requirements. Having read you excellent article I can see why so many people – both users and developers – are confused!

  2. Hi! Thanks for your article. I’ve never heard about Photo Supreme before. It’s really simple to use, especially their interface for keyword tagging! Daminion has similar functions too. However I understand why you possibly didn’t find them. For ‘recently used’ you should have opened ‘Window– Recently Assigned Tags’ and choose any of them. Instead of ‘Favorites’ and ‘Suggested’ (honestly I didn’t understand the principal difference between them) Daminion suggests tags after typing some first letters. For tag presets – ‘Window – Assign Tag Preset’.
    But I wasn’t satisfied with Photo Supreme’s server version (we are using the server version of Daminion that’s why I wanted to compare). It’s funny but the installation as super-difficult as their interface is super-simple =) With Daminion it just took some seconds to install. And there are some more drawbacks in their server version which we noticed.
    Nevertheless, I liked some of the Photo Supreme options so much that I’m going to vote to have them in Daminion (like Info, geo-tagging by the file name and Nearby tag).

    1. It’s probably too late for Mark. I *strongly* advise others to take full advantage of PSu’s 30 day trial. I found the program to be extremely flakey on importing my Aperture library. The hierarchy of my keywords was ignored. Thumbnails were imported in addition to the images.

      In addition if you ever need to search by exif data you are hooped.

      I installed it, and ripped it out two days later.

  3. Thanks for wonderful article. Was curious as to why ACDSee Pro did not make the cut into the final 3 and what version did you evaluate?

    I have also been doing recent research on this topic. My short list came down to Daminion, ACDSee Pro, and Photo Supreme. I am still evaluating.

    One thing that is surprising about some of this vendors is why they don’t also add PDF support as that would give users one tool for both DAM for photos and DAM for documents.

    Daminion is the only one that has taken that approach and is along the lines of a full DAM as opposed to primarily Photo management and I like that they still provide a home user desktop solution.

    1. Hi Jeff

      I’m pleased that you (and the others above too) found the article helpful.

      In reply to your questions about ACDSee Pro, I was evaluating version 7, and I quickly found a number of mismatches with my criteria. Unlike the three that made it to my shortlist, ACDSee’s DAM capability was an addition (albeit some years ago) to what started out as a RAW processing and image editing program. My research suggested that it is these ‘original’ areas of the program that get most of the attention. I see that version 8 is now being marketed as “the first digital asset management software with layers” – again putting the emphasis on improvements to image editing, not to its DAM.

      While I didn’t do a full software test, ACDSee’s DAM capabilities seemed to be rather limited. I wasn’t able to find a way of importing my existing catalog of hierarchical keywords – which, along with exporting them again was one of my key screening criteria – and it didn’t appear to allow the automatic assignment or writing of keywords to industry-standard fields. As a result, my research into the product didn’t need to progress much further.

      My overall impression was that, despite its undoubted strengths in other areas, ACDSee’s DAM functionality didn’t challenge the capability and sophistication of the shortlisted contenders, and that major improvements in this area were perhaps not likely to be a priority. Having taken a quick look at version 8, I haven’t seen anything to change this impression. It’s probably fairer to think of ACDSee as strong challenger to Lightroom, rather than to Photo Supreme or Daminion.

      Regarding the use of photography DAMs for more general purposes, Photo Supreme can be used to manage PDFs (and any other kinds of file, if you register them in the program options) by using sidecar files, though without previews – something that I do make use of from time-to-time. I believe that Daminion can indeed also handle PDFs and various other files, including providing previews for some file types.

      Both Photo Supreme and Daminion have both made significant enhancements since I wrote the article, by the way.

      Good luck with the continuation of your own research.

      1. Hi Mike,

        I see your article is now dated since you first published it, but, I happened to chance upon it because your concerns are exactly similar to what I have in 2020. So, fast forward five years later now to 2020, I’d be curious to know your current thoughts on:

        * ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate 2020 (not v8)
        * DigiKam v6.4 (not 3.4)

        Both applications have had several iterations for improvements and was wondering if you had any change of heart on the above two.

        Also, your article does not seem to clarify writing metadata to JPG images, but only focused on raw files. I seldom shoot raw, so I am more concerned about whether or not metadata can be written to (embedded) to JPG image files as well. For similar reasons, I’d like to see that data future-proofed such that it carries along with the original image rather than being tied down to a proprietary application via sidecars. I know that with ACDSee Photo Ultimate 2020, metadata you add to IPTC will carry along with the image as I’ve seen the same data display in at least some fields in Windows 10 file explorer. I also like that ACDSee includes video files as well as PDF and other data.

        1. Hi Jerry

          My view of ACDSee hasn’t changed; it’s DAM functions have been enhanced, but is still limited in scope and isn’t the core of the product. Even their latest tutorial on the DAM aspects of their software mainly runs through non-DAM topics ( and there are few changes in their release notes (e.g.

          A comparison against the release notes of the other products may give a very rough indication on the amount of effort being expended elsewhere – & for example.

          I couldn’t find a comprehensible change log for digiKam, but they have been through several revisions. I’ve not kept up with the details but I’d probably still include it for cautious consideration. Though they still don’t seem to have a dedicated user support forum.

          However I would now add iMatch to my shortlist. They have been actively developing their software over the last few years (release notes and I’ve heard good reports. Though I’ll not be changing.

          Photo Supreme, Daminion, iMatch and digiKam can all be configured to write metadata to JPGs; I strongly dislike sidecars too.

          The ability to write metadata to RAW files is less common than the ability to write to JPGs – RAW files are proprietary and there is no ‘approved’ way of writing to them. However the common RAW formats are very well understood and easily written to (and read from) if the software supplier chooses to do so. Less common RAW formats may not be supported though, so it’s worth checking this if you might shoot RAW in the future (and probably worth asking if they’ll add support, if they don’t currently).

          1. Hi Mike.

            Thanks for taking your valuable time to give me your thoughts on ACDSee. It is much appreciated.

            Yes, I see your points regard even the latest release of ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate 2020 with an emphasis primarily on non-DAM features of the release per their tutorial video and new features list. There is almost nothing in terms of any enhancements on the DAM function aspect of the application. They do mention briefly about adding keywords. This of course is a very useful and important function but nothing new whatsoever for most programs. Even with Windows 10 using file explorer, when I bring in a new batch of photos into my PC, just by the mere capability of Windows 10 file explorer’s view pane, I can add keywords, title, and author information to any single or group of files and have that information embedded without using any 3rd party software whatsoever. I checked using Exposure X5 and the information surely is there without doing anything in that application. BTW, Exposure, X5 does have somewhat of a DAM too. The downside there is the lack of any support for video clips, as is the case with most applications. I am not expecting full NLE functionality, but minimally, I would at least like to be able to assign a poster frame, add a title, short description, and keywords to describe the clip. That’s all.

            I may give DigiKam another look as to what it can do. They do have a version 7.0.0 release candidate btw, that is scheduled to be released 2020-0531. So, I imagine that release should be imminent. (I wonder if it can change file creation dates too. I scan a lot of old photos.) They don’t have a user support forum, which is unfortunate, but, such is the nature of open source and free software. At least it has been around for a long time. If it has the ability to embed metadata along with the original file I am happy. This is most important so that if any application should become non-existent for whatever reason, at least that metadata will carry with the image. We both don’t like sidecars. I surely don’t need/want thousands of extra files just for that.

            I seldom shoot RAW so, not being able to do metadata embedding is a non-issue for me. My needs are primarily for JPGs and the embedding thereof.

            I have not heard of Daminion until I came across your article, so I will have a look at that.

            I’ve already been looking at Photo Supreme. One issue I have with that application already is, the GPS and Google Maps data for GEO tagging. I am running in this error message: “This page did not load Google Maps correctly. See the java script console for technical details”. If things like that start to happen and I am not literate in things like javascript and programming, etc., it is a turnoff and is a minus point so far. I know it is your first choice, but this geo tagging point is a sore pain for me. I think they might want more money to have Google plugins for maps or something like that as well.

            iMatch is fast and good. It’s an independent developer and I’ve seen him post to user forums at DPreview on occasion as well. I will have a look at that along with Daminion. Thanks.
            Jerry Suppan
            Tokyo, Japan

  4. Hi Mike,

    Another vote for Photo Supreme. Like Peter Russell, my DAM efforts harken back to the pre-digital age, to the computer era of DOS and back to handwritten 4×5 index cards, etc.

    First off, my hard drive filing system is sacrosanct to DAM set up. Software-wise, if all else fails, that filing system is always going to be there. Also essential for any backup and archiving operations,

    This filing system is strictly date based – year, month, day. Elsewhere, others have suggested place and other sorts of filing and naming taxonomies. Too long as I see it. Way back then, there was this thing of database “normalisation” – as in the least redundant way to refer to any item of data. In days of DOS, there was that 8.3 file naming convention. Today, things are little better, but the habits from that time still stick.

    Back to DAM and workflow. Like Peter, I still rely on Adobe’s Bridge as my first port of call. Use Bridge to rename my images and to apply basic metadata – as per various templates made for the propose. In Bridge may also do some image rating. Why Bridge? Bridge is one of the few applications that store’s the original file name in the metadata. Why’s this important. A few years back used to label and number my selects sequentially. Big mistake. All I was doing here was creating a huge disconnect between the selected images and those in the RAW archive. Now, I use the original file number in the renamed image file. Now, its easier to get back to the original RAW file which I never rename.

    Next stop, Photo Supreme (PSu). Need to add here that prior to the PSu, was using IDImager from about version 3.xx. Before this and in between have looked at various DAM and other filing type applications as they have come up and, keep on reverting back to PSu.

    While I have issues with PSu, there’s one area where it rules supreme (pardon the pun) and that’s with keywording. As someone once said, “keywords are king and they’re key to the door”. In the present day and age, images are found based on their appled keywords.

    Also, PSu works well with my hard drive based filing and archiving system. This is the tool with which I manage my image archive.

    To add to the complexity of my digital workflow – as opposed to my DAM system, Capture One (C1) is my preferred RAW processing tool and that’s all I use it for – RAW to TIFF master file conversion. Up until C1’s version 9, C1’s handling of metadata was not IPTC compliant. This now seems to be fixed in version 9.

    And then, use Lightroom CC (LR) to manage the distribution of my images and, that’s all – nothing else. Why? LR promises a lot but then, and that’s the problem. As a RAW processor, I get better results with C1, something that I’ll concede is subjective. Keywording in LR is lackluster. Again, a subjective view. As for the other LR modules – rarely use them. But, the export feature is great – this together with the file management system that I’ve brewed up for the purpose. And yes, its strictly based on what I can see on my hard drive. If LR disappears for whatever reason or something better comes along, I’ll have no issue in switching.

    As I see it, there’s no one DAM based or orientated application out there that can do it all. All in all and in the greater scheme of things, all this comes down to the lowest common denominator – as to what I have and can access on my hard drive – active working drive or archive hard drive. Nothing else matters. Each of the applications mentioned above handles an essential component in my digital workflow. If any of the applications heads south and disappears off the scene – read Apple’s Aperture – this is not likely to affect or have a negative impact on the way my images are stored on my hard drive. This image filing system is essentially my DAM system.

    Need to add here that this hard drive set up is not too far removed from the way I manage my pre-digital negative files and colour transparencies.

    Just another point of view in the greater scheme of things.

  5. What a really inspiring, well-written article!

    From the moment I read your disclaimer that ‘one [which] is “best for you” is not necessarily “best for me”’, I knew I was bound to read something miles away from those usual, run-of-the-mill ‘best of the best’ lists.

    I also particular ennjoyed the way you cut to the chase by, delving straight into the only three that in your opinion mattered, instead of taking us through several pages of ‘why this or that title is no good’.

    I couldn’t help identifying myself with your narrowing down which DAM actually ticks your boxes regarding all your requirements and preferences

    I must say that seeing Digikam among the best was both a curse and a blessing, as I do intend to stick to Linux for operating system but, at the same time, I can’t even keep the bloody thing of refusing to work with other Linux distros other than the KDE-based ones it was innitially designed for – as it is the case with Linux Mint, which I currently happen to have on my brand-new machine.

    At least that settles my mind on trying to make it work with my OS and not giving up.

    Only time will tell whether I’ll succeed on keeping Mint or not, but your article’s definitely set my mind on getting Digikam working – whatever the Linux flavour it is on.

    So, thank you ever so much for a pleasant and informative read!

    1. Hi Nilson. This is a fairly old article, by years even, so I just thought I would bring to your attention that Digikam is now up to version 7.0.1. Perhaps you may already know that yourself if you are a committed Digikam user.
      Compared to what it used to offer, the current version might meet your expectations better than in the past.

      I am relatively new to DigiKam, but I like it in that it seems to be the most thorough DAM, metadata and organization. I wanted to use ACDSee as the AIO (all-in-one) for DAM, photo editing, etc., but somehow it’s just not quite as thorough enough for DAM and metadata I still keep it though for photo editing although Digikam also has photo editing support but not as thorough.

    2. Hi Nilson. I am curious to know where you stand with Digikam nowadays since it has progressed to v8.2. as of 2024-02-20 I use it as my first choice because it has been around for the longest time and constantly gets improved. Being free and open source with no subscriptions makes it even better.

  6. Hi Per,

    Great article. I also use DXO Optics Pro for editing and I was curious to see how you handle the export from DXO back into Photo Supreme. I tried it but it opens a new PS software instance instead of going back to the original screen.



    1. Hello Martin

      My reply is perhaps a little late to help, but my workflow involves using both programs separately.

      Photo Supreme is normally used to catalogue the RAW files first, then – often some time later – I swap software to process them in DxO. After files are exported from DxO I swap software again and import them into Photo Supreme – so I’ve not experienced your issue…


  7. This thread is somewhat old, but I thought I’d chip in anyway.

    I think IMatch 5 could be an excellent match for your preconditions. First, it’s designed from the ground up to use open standards and not lock you in to a proprietary solution. And it meets all of the items in your functionality checklist. It’s highly flexible, allowing it to be adapted to your workflow. For example, I’m also a DxO user, and IMatch integrates very well with DxO. It will even allow you to add metadata to your CR2 files, though I’d never do that; in any event, it transparently handles ‘buddy files, including ,xmp and .dop (DxO) sidecars. And, coming soon, a new product, IMatch Anywhere, will allow you to share an image database over a network and even the internet if desired. Fabulous software!

  8. digiKam is now at version 5.10, Daminion is at version 4.6, and Photo Supreme is at version 3. This article is rather dated. Has anyone found/created a current comparison, possibly with IMatch as well?

    1. Hi Fred

      I can’t help with an alternative comparison, but as the author of the original article I thought you might appreciate a mini-update.

      Since choosing Photo Supreme I’ve not revisited digiKam properly, but it would still remain on my shortlist, and it seems that the authors have been doing a lot of backroom work to update the code. However the download page does mention that the Windows and Mac versions are not as stable under Windows (although, as mentioned above, I didn’t hit stability problems when I tested the earlier version).

      Based on my suggestion I now have a friend who uses the latest version of Daminion for light-weight DAM work, and hasn’t mentioned any problems so far – but personally I wouldn’t want to swap to it for my heavier usage.

      Photo Supreme has indeed been updated, the most obvious change being the addition (in version 3) of a very useful browser-like multiple tabbed layout, as well as various minor improvements and bug fixes. At the present time it’s on version 3.3 and continues to suit me well.

      As for iMatch, I’ve seen some good reports about the latest version, and I’ve taken a quick look around it too. My initial impressions are that it seems capable, is aimed at the wider DAM market as well as photographers, but for keywording and geotagging (the two areas I particularly looked at, as a heavy user of both) I prefer Photo Supreme’s approach. However it would take a lot more research to see if enough has changed – in relation to my wider evaluation mentioned in the article, not just the functionality and usability of the software – to make it through to the shortlist.


      1. You may want to revisit and review of Digikam as it has evolved to version 7.0.1. Quite a number of advancements since this article posting.

        1. Times moves on and so do the iterative advancements in software and technology. Digikam now at v8.2 as of 2024-02-22

  9. I am also in the process of evaluating various DAM software packages. First tried iMatch and while the UI is nic,e I was having issues with it displaying some imported images. The importer said it was done but I was just seeing a small icon in the main window. Interesting that the Quick View window was displaying them correctly. Removing and re-importing seemed to resolve most of the issues except for one larger folder with over 12,000 files that seemed to choke the importer. It sat at about 98% complete all day and never finished.I guess it didn’t like my system.

    That is when I saw your review of Photo Supreme. I too am mainly looking for a keyworder so I can find my images. I use Downloader Pro to get they off the memory card and give them standard names and DxO to process the raw images. So far in my testing, it is looking good.

  10. Hi Mike,
    thank you for wonderful article.
    I am choosing now between digiKam and Photo Supreme. So can you tell please, (1) how does it go on a long run, and (2) what advantages has Photo Supreme over digiKam, from your point of view?

    1. Thibault,

      Thanks for your comments!

      I am familiar with Fotostation although I have never used it. It used to be terribly expensive, if I remember right, but now I see that it is much more affordable!

      Phraseanet even more so since it is open source and free, if I understand it right.

      Have you used any of them? Do you have any opinions or comments?

  11. great article, even in 2018. but if we assume the top 3 list are still mostly the same, i wonder if some of the shortcomings of the first two are no longer an issue thus am interested in a top 3 showdown update (leaving the rest aside minus perhaps some bonus entry). as of now, photo supreme seems a safe bet re metadata/keywords, import/export exit plan, DAM, etc.

  12. This article helped me decide to buy Photo Supreme end of 2015. Currently I’m managing my 110k images quite happily and integrating Affinity Photo into my Workflow.

    As to the point of detecting for file corruption – I’ve solved it by running on OpenZFS (on Mac). The rest of my challenges are personal – how to select photos to keep vs to trash….

  13. As an adjunct to DAM software, I would also need some way to categorize all of my thousands of images by their contents. Instead of me viewing and applying keywords one image at a time, having an app scan and sort images by what they contain would be really useful. I could then approve or reject the classifications bu at least the first step would be done. Anyone know of such an app that runs locally without an Internet connection for a reasonable price? Being able to be integrated into a DAM like PhotoSupreme would be a big plus but even not, it would still be great.

  14. Thanks for the review of these applications. I like a complete feature-set in this type of product with, at a minimum, basic functionality for ingest, organization, management, processing, output (to JPEG). You didn’t cover those capabilities and chose to spend all the review on ingest and file management. Sadly, your top pick was very poor at processing. Also they had just released the 64 bit version (several years after MacOS had 64 bit) and the results were less than ideal. You can have a look at my forum posting on this subject after a ten day trial. It does offer a thirty day full version trial, which was a good thing as the documentation and help menus are pretty poor as well.

    1. Hi Henry

      From your link you seem to be looking for a replacement for Lightroom – which isn’t a DAM (though it has some very basic DAM functionality). DAMs tend to be the other way around – good DAM functionality and maybe some basic editing capability, so you’re probably looking at the wrong product for your needs.

      I’m not a Mac user, so can’t comment on how well it works under that OS.

      I didn’t have much trouble learning the software myself, but if a manual’s a priority then digiKam has the fattest with over 300 pages. Daminion shares Photo Supreme’s light-weight approach.

      1. Yes, Mike. Most of the posting to my initial review point out that I am looking either for nirvana or at the tail end of the donkey… In my perfect world, I’d have the best DAM and the best basic editor all in one!

        I think my other general comments were recognized and to what ever point of view (good or bad aspects), shared. Those being documentation (none), ingest features (many, learnable by trial and error), multi-platform differences (Mac being poorer of the two options) and output control (less than ideal or currently available in LR).

        A manual, straightforward workflow for my use as a DAM- ingest filing and output and decent pricing would be my unmet features of any primarily DAM requirement. I’m beginning to back off the editing as long as the library is accessible for editing through the DAM somehow. It sounds like some users haven’t gotten the hang of that, so I don’t feel that I am alone in that.

    2. Photo Supreme (4.1 64bit):
      I am on day 20 of my trial and it’s been a bit of a bumpy ride. I love the minimalistic GUI, pleasing to my eyes and keeps focus on the important information, the IMAGE. Very big plus.
      It has a full featured ingest tool that can be fully customized if you want move or import, change file or subfolder name, gpx waypoint addition, delete source file, rotate, etc all on the fly. IPTC information can also be added to files during ingest using similar complexity of macro variables as in Photo Mechanic. Import and export of structured keywords are also available in PSU. Location, event and people keywords are automatically added to metadata once it is tagged to the image. PSU follows a different approach for tagging. Instead of the traditional Metadata -> Catalogue path it’s generating IPTC / XMP information from the software and writing out to the metadata making it easier.
      Keywording is really made easy with PSU. You need to do a bit of setting up, let say first 500 – 1000 images, then for the rest it will be done with ease. During this setup period I advise save as many templates as possible, later you can eliminate the redundant ones.
      Through numerous levels of customization you can simplify and automate keywording.
      Sharing is also quite powerful, from your master image the software can generate lower resolution jpeg copy, strip off or add certain meta data, watermark and email or upload.
      You may wonder what are the flaws then? It has one file menu and a hamburger menu but I only found out from tool tip help after trialing the product for 20 days. As already mentioned help is the weak point of the application, especially for powerful under the hood services, such as scripting. Menu structure needs a bit of getting used to. Easier to print the shortcut reference and use that instead of the menus.
      There is a user to user forum where you can search for help and ask. It’s fairly active. There is also a bug report page, where you can contribute to make PSU better.

      At the beginning when I was trying to follow a similar route as in Photo Mechanic I encountered a lot of small bugs in creating various profiles and Details (IPTC) profile. Clipboard is limited for PSU only and won’t interact with text copied from other applications. RAM usage is also relatively high, that I found a problem on a 4GB only MacBook Air. Clipboard limitation is cumbersome eg when you Google up the scientific name of species and want to create a new tag. You have to type manually.
      This DAM was clearly not designed for manual data import of typist maniacs.

      The file sync settings of the preference menu customisable, but not fool proof. I messed up my test catalogue several times using wrong settings, not understanding what option meant what. Many ‘access violation’ error messages or photos out of sync that would never sync again and loosing already set information is gone since I discovered the tool tip menu and understand what option is doing what and how to configure them. One time I deleted all the photos and compacted the database still resulted a 10GB thumbnail database file.
      Import is also relatively slow, because PSU is generating mid res (2560px or of your choice) thumbnails and no option to defer them other than at import.
      Sorting and dynamic search is very powerful and you could not wish for anything more.

      Will I purchase it after 10 days? I am not sure yet. I need to find good working stability in database operations for me to confidently invest time into processing all my images into PSU. It has everything I would need from a DAM, just that stability was not there yet. I discovered the settings and functions by now and for the remaining 10 days will be running stability tests and I will see.

      1. I bit the bullet and bought PSU last fall and have added it to my workflow. All-in-one programs might be simpler to use with all the parts well integrated but I have usually found that not all parts are created equal or that I don’t appreciate them as much as the designers do.

        I start by using Downloader Pro to get the images off of my card, rename them and save them to date labeled subfolders. Then I use DxO to make non-destructive adjustments to the RAW files and create various JPG versions for general viewing and distribution. If more extensive adjustment are needed, I now use Affinity. especially if various types of stacking are needed. Since I work locally and only later transfer the files to a network drive, I save PSU for when the images are on the network. I could do it earlier but I would have to constantly have to re-point the database to changed locations. As well, until the adjustments are finalized, PSU would be constantly resynching as the images change. So far I find the DAM in PSU to be easy to use and have not had a problem with it. Probably only using a few of its many features which is where a better user manual might come in handy. The online user forum is a great place to ask and learn when I get stuck.

        So for each step in my workflow, I use the application I find the most convenient and easiest to use. YMMV

  15. Interesting that you wanted one that would write to raw files. The problem with this: If you change a keyword, and want that new keyword to replace all occurences of the old keyword, it takes a long time. If you add a keyword to 2000 images then 2000 large files have to be opened, modified, and closed.

    My current preference is to have a program that writes a unique identifier to raw files — my preference is Camera make+model+timedate+shuttercount. This sorts in shooting order even if you use multiple cameras (assuming the cameras have the right time set.)

    Beyond that I want a program that maintains metadata in a database for speed, AND in sidecar files for backup. The unique ID allows good recovery for renames and external editing.

    My full rant about what a photo manager should do is here:

    I tried PSu, and dropped it within about 2 hours. This was some time ago — last spring, but the first hint that it wasn’t for me was that I was unable to search exif data. I actual *do* searches “Focus distance < 2 meters" or "Lens=18-140mm" or "Camera=iPhone" I am also wary of any product that is a 1 man shop. What happens if he gets hit by a bus?

    I've used IMatch when I was on windows. Almost 20 years ago. Good product worth checking out if you are on a windows box. I may try it and try Damion in a windows virtual machine.

    Like Mike I gave up on Digikam due to interface issues on Mac. i would say that it's probably best of breed right now for *nix.

    Since I'm a Mac user Damian hasn't had a trial.

    Lightroom's interface is clunky.

    Fotostation may be worth investigating. It's on my list for next fall when the tree farm is put to bed. They have two versions, and stand alone and a server version.

    1. Photo Supreme can search on exif and any other metadata.
      Please check the Searching Quick Start manual (Help menu in the hamburger menu) and look for Dynamic Searches.

  16. So, Sherwood… I guess you haven’t found something to use? I assume you are using something though. What is that and how does it meet with your requirements?

    1. I’m still using Apple Aperture. It has a reasonable keywording interface, some support for heirarchical keywords, indexes a lot of exif data, and allows complex searches. So far head and shoulders above anything else I’ve tried.

  17. With the announcement that MediaPro SE is to be discontinued, what are the sensible options for a 64bit app that can run on macOS High Sierra or macOS Mojave? As I’ve just spent a couple of years refining my use of MediaPro, having spent years refining Extensis Portfolio, I’m worried that there might not be anything that fits the bill. What are everyone’s thoughts?

    1. Yes, saw that announcement. Not entirely surprising given that Phase One has not done anything with it since they bought the SW a few years back.

      Glad to see that they keep developing Capture One though, that I find is fantastic.

      I don’t have any answer to your question Peter.

      But I think that this underlines the importance of making sure that whatever DAM you choose to use, you have to make sure that the information you put in there is exportable in some useful way. And that the metadata is embedded in the image files (or maybe sidecars?) as much as possible.

      1. Spot on Per. Making sure that your data can always be extracted has always been my number one goal: Your data is Your data.
        As a result, Photo Supreme uses industry standard database formats, can export (meta)data to CSV, and Photo Supreme even writes its catalog data to XMP in an open and readable format. With this you can reconstruct catalog hierarchies, and Portfolio/collection structures.

        As all is written in open formats, this Photo Supreme catalog information can also be extracted with ExifTool :

        Search for IDimager on this page:

  18. Very useful article Mike, thanks. Wasn’t really aware of Photo Supreme but have investigated it based upon your review. I’d just bought StudioLine Photo Classic 4, but immediately ran into issues with it in terms of usability & import issues crashing the app, so am now seeking a refund on that which’ll go towards my purchase of Photo Supreme.

  19. I come here to see if there any other software good for organize image than one I use for almost 2-year, digikam. I believe that I’ve picture around 1x,xxx – 2x,xxx. Don’t know how much digikam can handle that concern me little. However I love this software that every image that I adjust is there in folder, also can be group together. So that I keep the original jpg or raw there, then adjust then save with other version then group together for easy navigate and no confuse in different folder like import, export. The other is since I’ve that output version in folder suppose I corrupt the database file, all the image still there unlike lightroom that everything in database if I corrupt them somehow then my hard word is gone. Live my life in fear every day. Then other feature is found in this software like other even though that raw adjust is not superior that is why I use digikam only for management and raw therapee for adjust raw and jpg file then save back to folder of digikam take care of. Raw therapee, Gimp, Digikam, Xpiks then it complete solution for me and free! Don’t want to pay every month for Adobe. If I can choose to pay I like to pay once.

  20. This post is at least 6 years old. Would you please review current versions of the DAM packages?

    1. Hi Fred,

      I’m just a photographer who voiced some opinions some time ago, not a professional reviewer.

      A lot has happened since then it seems. (And not that much it seems too.)

      What’s your own experience of DAMs. Maybe you’d care to share?


    1. Jerry,

      I suppose you’re right on the evolution.

      I am not familiar with Magix so I had a quick look. It looks more like a fairly simple photo browser and editor and not really a DAM (cataloguing and metadata management). It does not seem to have much in terms of managing photo metadata, which is the key feature of a DAM for me.

  21. Some very interesting and useful info here, thanks! I’ve been driven to find an LR alternative not because of the subscription but because recently it’s just been getting slower and slower (yes, I have optimised the db etc.) and a couple of times my folders disappeared from the nav bar, for reasons I can’t figure out. I used Daminion a few years ago but found certain things very frustrating, such as no indication of indexing progress. Just now downloaded IMatch, Photo Supreme, digiKam and PhotoStation, fingers crossed one will work out for me.

    1. Lawerence,

      Glad you found it useful.

      It would be really (!) interesting to hear your thoughts after having had a look at those four. Would be great if you could drop a few lines back here when you’ve had the time to run with them for a little while.

      1. OK so it was easier than I expected! My thoughts on the four contenders follows but first a few words about my PC: I’m running Windows 10 on an HP ProDesk with an Intel i7 and 16Gb RAM and a GeForce GT 1030 2GB GPU, so nothing fantastic but should be adequate for most things. As for the apps, there are a few things that are particularly important to me:

        Speed & Stability
        In this day and age software shouldn’t fall over easily; if I want to be able to scroll down thousands of photos if I feel like it.

        User Interface
        This is a less objective criterion but equally important. If I’m to spend hours in front of the screen I want the software to be friendly, elegant and intuitive. I don’t want to be annoyed by the design every time I open it up. Easy navigation and nice fonts are essential.

        I prefer an application that does one or two things really well to one that tries to do everything and doesn’t excel at anything; for the things it can’t do I’ll use something else.

        This used to be my DAM years ago but I haven’t evaluated it recently and I don’t intend to. The issue I had with ACDSee was that it kept falling over and despite many users complaining of the same issues nothing was done and later versions had just the same bugs. While things may have improved I wouldn’t touch ACDSee with a barge pole, another reason being that once you installed this software it was almost impossible to get rid of completely and required messing around with the Windows Registry to finally do this. Plus they continued to bombard you with marketing material even when you’d unsubscribed; not really my kind of product or organisation.

        I’ve used a few open source apps in the past but never stuck with them, the issues usually being the user interface, bugs and lack of support. As far as the user interface goes, dK is pretty average for this type of software: basic, functional and uninspired. I tried to build thumbnails of the JPEGs I took back in 2004 (Albums > Thumbnails) and it got stuck at 4%. My experience is that you can spend a lot of time messing around with this type of software and in the end go for something else, so much as I wanted to support the lovely idea of not having to pay anything I gave it a miss.

        FotoStation Pro
        At the other end of the price spectrum we have FotoStation Pro. For this app you can get a 14 day trial licence – British spelling here! – which is not as generous as either Photo Supreme 6 or IMatch, strange considering that you will be spending a great deal more money for it. FotoStation renders JPEGs very fast and after browsing a few folders I decided to do a search, figuring that when you select a folder in the nav bar and then click Search in the menu it would search that folder and subfolders. As soon as I selected Search the software hung so I waited while my external HD did a lot of whirring…and waited and waited and waited. I took a look at things in Task Manager – FSP was shown as not responding so ‘end task’ and it disappeared and the whirring stopped. Sorry folks but if you’re going to charge a premium price, your product will have to do better than this.

        So this is the first of the two contenders and stability-wise it seems pretty good as is the online help at however I’m not too thrilled by the user interface, which for me it’s just too colourful and dated, reminding me of the way apps looked back in the Naughties. Anyway, I thought I’d give things a go and started by highlighting a folder in the nav bar and at this point a message appeared on screen: ‘No Files…to include files from sub-elements, enable the hierarchical display mode with the toolbar button.’ Hmm, couldn’t have been written by a techie now could it? Underneath the text was a graphic to assist with locating the hierarchical display option at the top of the screen, which I quickly enabled. Now let’s try to find something: Search > Duplicates. At this point a dialog box is displayed telling you that you have made an ‘Empty Selection’ and that IMatch cannot determine which files to use for the query and that you have to select at least one file in the file window.’ So I clicked on one of the previews and then did Ctrl+A to select all of them and tried again. This time the following was displayed: ‘Duplicate Search: One or more of the Originals used for this search are matches for other Originals. These Originals are only included as matches in the search result’. Frankly, this is the kind of sentence that keeps me awake at night and at this point at the top of the screen a tab appeared: ‘Search Results (Duplicates) [1]’ however the path to only one file is listed. OK so now I’ve had enough, I’m sure IMatch is capable of great things but just not for me.

        Photo Supreme
        So now we come to the aptly-named Photo Supreme and here we are in a different league altogether. A smooth, understated and modern user interface with a simple and logical layout. Clicking ‘Categories’ and immediately I’m nesting all my shots labeled ‘(Someone) Wedding’ under the category ‘Wedding’ with a simple drag and drop. Sub-categories are cleverly displayed as discrete groups in the main window, each clearly labeled at the top, some of which are flashing as the thumbnails are built. While this is going on I click on ‘Folders’ just to see if I can confuse it but no, the folders are displayed and when I go back to Categories the thumbnail creation resumes without a murmur; it would have been nice to have the option to pause this process but I couldn’t see a way of doing this. A nice touch, by the way, is that icons for two other installed apps appeared automatically at the top right of the screen: DxO PhotoLab and NX Studio. Selecting a photo and then clicking on the icons loaded the apps however in the case of PhotoLab the photo was also loaded but in the case of NX Studio the app loaded but not the selected photo, which isn’t too surprising as at the time of writing NX Studio was only released for a couple of weeks ago. In summary my initial impressions of PSU are extremely positive, I’ll evaluate it till my trail is up but as for the others, I’d really rather stick with LR.

        1. Wow. Thank you Lawerence. Very interesting.

          What to me is most important with a DAM is, I guess, two things:

          1) How easy it is to do keywording and descriptions, that are then embedded in the files

          Since I usually do keywording with fairly large batches of files (a few 1000s), how I can manage keywording with many images is also important.

          2) How I can keep track of my workflow with the DAM

          E.g. to know which files have been fully keyworded, which have been submitted to an agency etc.

    2. I’ve settled on DigiKam. There are so many options available and there is no such thing as THE perfect software. Personal bias, likes and dislikes pretty much defines what software is useful or not. If I were to make a second choice, I’d probably choose iMatch. It’s also thorough and a one time paid solutioon for life.

      I’m retired and not regarded as the so-called ‘professional’ photographer, so to speak. On occasion I’ve done a freelance work here in Japan. I just need a tool that’s good for organization and search, to find what I want, when I want for personal organization and management. So, for myself, I find Digikam fits my needs quite well. It’s thorough, and best yet, free. There are NO monthly subsciption, fee-based software rentals. Being free and open source, it has been around for a long time, continually evoluves and improves, and will continue to be around for quite some time. No trials, no upgrades, no subscriptions. It just works, without nags. FYI and my two cents FWIW.

  22. Although part of what I do is photography, I still deal with a wide range of files types when engaged in graphic design and video editing. I’m wondering which of these support a large gamut of files types (.jpg, .png, .tiff, .pdf, .psd, .ai, .eps, .mov, .mp4, etc.). I’m looking for strictly a viewer/management solution. Many have free 30 day offers but need to narrow it down to some solid choices. We need to keep servicing clients and don’t have the time to test out endless amounts of software. I’m sure you are all in the same boat. Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks!!

  23. Hi Mike,

    Thanks for sharing this story. You have saved me much time and aggravation. I am an amateur photographer. I have used Photoshop then recently ACDSEE but no satisfied with either. Realized that DAM was crucial aspect and went looking for specialised CAM software that was not to expensive that could be integrated with photo editor of choice.

    Found your story. Went straight to Photo Supreme and downloaded the Lite version. I have previously worked in information technology and have some training in database design. Photo Supreme is a beautiful piece of software, so elegant and minimal yet delivers rich and powerful functionality. Everything you need and nothing you don’t.

    So glad I found your article.

    Cheers and thanks for sharing, Paul

  24. It’s an old article indeed, but since no one came up with something radically different in terms of DAM, (I’m looking at you, A. I.!), I guess, unlike me, most people posting in here have stuck to their software of choice.
    I, for one, have yielded to the simplicity and lightweightness of a simple image organizer XnViewMp. An old friend since the noughties, when I was living in the UK, and, though mostly a one man-show, has got a very responsive feature request system at play, like when, half a year ago, I spoke to the developer himself about image thumbnails not displays their label colours according based on file type: in a matter of weeks the thing was included in one of its constant upgrades! And that in a totally free software, mind you! Though I chose to pay for it under the old shareware’s ‘pay as much as you like’ tried and trusted system.
    Speaking of thumbnails, that’s one of the main reasons (along with IPTC tags editing) why ended up I choosing it over DK or Adobe Lightroom: unlike those two, you can practically throw any kind of info (EXIF, etc) at it and it’ll display them properly!

    1. Yes, this article post is quite old indeed. It has become fundamentally inactive, And I’m surprised it has not been deprecated yet. But it continues to exist online. Since I received an email notification alerting me to your very recent post, I thought I would at least offer my two cents worth.

      Since my previous post of March 2021 By which I advocated digikam, (I still have that installed and use it on occasion) I also discovered XNviewMP. I like it for similar reasons Of simplicity, fast loading, lightweight, most important, the ability and ease to edit IPTC, EXIF metadata which can be embedded and also ride along with the file. The toolbars and main interface can also be customized to one’s liking and workflow. And yes, it’s completely free It has been around for a long time, and still gets updates from time to time. I still keep digikam around because it also can edit metadata in addition to being able to do some extensive editing. However, the GUI interface is fairly complex and has some learning curve.

      There are many commercial packages available. Perhaps the closest to a commercial one I might consider would be ACDsee photo ultimate. And Lightroom I won’t even begin to consider As it is affiliated with the name. Adobe. I will not subscribe to Adobe’s forever recurring, monthly fee-based, software rental subscription model. So for my simplistic needs, the combination of XNviewMP. Along with DigiKam work just fine.

      1. Perhaps deprecated is a wrong choice of word. Since there is no edit options in this thread, I will correct that to discontinued, terminated, etc.

  25. A follow up on my adventures in DAM land. After trying several different DAM programs, I opted for iMatch. That lasted for a few years but eventually I was having too many issues with some imported images not being displayed properly. Never did find a root cause. Switched to Photo Supreme and have been upgrading all the way to the current version 2024. With almost 400k images I was starting to have “Not Responding” issues, when the program would go walk-about without any elegant way to interrupt besides brute force via Task Manager. Having had previous experience with iMatch, I decided to give the current version a trial. Impressed with the performance, even with 400k images. Having been spoiled by the keywording capabilities of PSu, I was rather underwhelmed by how iMatch did it. Perhaps it was a case of getting used to a new workflow but after studying the help file and trying for a few days, it was not really working for me.
    Now my problem, do I put up with the performance of PSu to get its keywording, get the performance of iMatch and live with its keywording OR is there another choice that combines the best of both?

    1. BUT for the requirement:

      Mac OS X 10.12 “Sierra” or later
      64-bit Intel or Apple ARM M1/M2

      Too bad, it looks to be a very interesting replacement.

      1. However, looking a bit deeper, I see

        “Yes, our sister product abeMeda for Windows uses the exact same database format, …”

        So there is still hope.

  26. I know many are on older systems but those requirements aren’t that unreasonable. Sierra was released in 2016 and 64-bit Intel has also been around for a while now.

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