These software programs can help tame large and unruly digital libraries.
While axle can handle still photos, it’s also a robust asset manager for video files. It creates proxies of your video files so you can quickly search and tag your digital assets without having to wait for the full file to load. The program is accessed through a web browser but runs on your own PC and local storage drives. With axle installed, you can search across your digital library, add metadata to what is automatically collected when files are first imported, mark up and comment on clips and export directly to Adobe Premiere Pro, Apple Final Cut Pro or Avid Media Composer (with a Pro license). The Starter version of the software supports two users and a library of up to 300,000 assets.
PRICE: from $495
Cumulus is a robust, enterprise-level digital asset manager that helps businesses not only track a large library of digital files, but easily access them from mobile devices and share them via secure links with expiration dates. It’s a cloud-based tool ideal for larger photo/video production houses. The program has markup tools so multiple users can add notes to assets and collaborate remotely. An administrator can assign a number of roles and permissions to manage access to files. It’s integrated with Adobe Creative Cloud via the Adobe Drive Adapter, so you can check a file out from Cumulus, edit in your Adobe app of choice and re-link the file back to the Cumulus database with your changes saved. Cumulus can be installed on your own equipment, on Canto’s private cloud or on Microsoft Azure or Amazon S3 web servers.
PRICE: from $30,000
This asset manager is an open-source, cloud-based system—accessible through a web browser—and it has the ability to upload files from any device. Files (or “resources” in the software’s nomenclature) can be linked to Collections that can be made public or private, depending on your desired accessibility. You can upload scanned documents to ResourceSpace and have the text parsed so you can search the software for documents by their contents. You can run ResourceSpace on your own server, where you’re responsible for backup and tech support, or pay for storage in the Resource Space cloud where all that is done for you. If you opt to install yourself, you can purchase on-site training to supplement the included eight-hour on-boarding process.
PRICE: starts at $1,260 for perpetual license/ $3,150 for subscription.
While Phase One’s Capture One software is built to ingest and organize images during a tethered shoot (and edit them after the fact), the company’s Media Pro SE is designed to manage a sprawling image library across multiple storage volumes and media cards. You can drag-and-drop to import new images, add hierarchical keywords and browse through your library even if a particular set of images is stored on an offline drive. Beyond organizing, the software offers HTML presentation templates, batch processing capabilities to resize, rename and reformat multiple images at once plus support for ICC color profiles. If you own Capture One, you can enjoy tight integration between the two programs so that color corrections and edits that occur to files in Capture One propagate to Media Pro. A single user license can be used on as many as three computers.
Daminion is an asset management tool for small teams, and it’s sold as either a standalone software or a server edition. It supports multiple file formats including JPEGs, RAW images, video, audio, vector files and more. It can read and write IPTC, XMP and EXIF metadata tags. The software can also output images that are optimized for Flickr and Facebook or PowerPoint. It supports admin roles, version control to track authorship and editing history, as well as the ability to open files in external editors. A standalone edition is available for free but allows only 15,000 files to be imported into a catalogue. A Pro version of the standalone software lets you store an unlimited number of files in a catalogue. If you wish to install Daminion on your Windows server, you’ll be able to access the software from multiple computers and import an unlimited number of files into a catalogue. The Pro Server option provides access to a single user at a time while the Team option lets you buy licenses for multiple concurrent users.
PRICE: $100 (Pro Standalone); $199 (Pro Server Edition); $25/user (Team Server)
Photo Mechanic delivers a variety of time-saving tools for busy pros, including the ability to ingest files from several memory cards simultaneously. During import, you can start editing files in the Contact Sheet tool before they’ve completely transferred over. If you shoot tethered, the program’s Live Ingest feature monitors and automatically ingests new files as they appear, even across multiple locations (up to three). You’ll be able to apply watermarks, tags and IPTC metadata to images individually or in batches, as well as embed ICC profiles in JPEGs and adjust file names, capture dates and times. Finished files can be uploaded to the web or FTP sites, sent via email or archived to disc, all from within Photo Mechanic.
PRICE: $150 (lifetime license)
Adobe’s asset manager was refreshed in the winter of 2016 to juice the speed and add new capabilities. One of Bridge’s newer features is the ability to automatically purge the image database/cache of stale items when the application is idle, as well as an option to set a cache size so that the program can clean up the cache if it exceeds a given target. Both cache tools help the program operate faster. The program generates thumbnails of images only when those photos are on screen, so images load quicker and metadata filtering becomes functional sooner. The most recent update to Bridge (v. 6.31) adds the ability to directly upload images to Adobe Stock via the Publish panel. Adobe Stock automatically extracts any keywords or sub-keywords you’ve added to your images in Bridge so you won’t have to re-tag images when they’re loaded into Stock.
While ACDSee began its life as a digital asset manager, it’s been steadily gaining sophisticated image editing features with every new release. The most recent update delivers a customizable user interface plus a bevy of editing tools—skin tone, dehaze, gradient map, color overlay and 20 photo effect presets—that can be tweaked with variable opacity and blend modes. There’s also a new “preserve detail” slider to use when working with the noise reduction tool. The program also gets a tune-up in the speed department with a GPU-powered Develop mode and layered editor. On the organizing front, Ultimate 10 delivers new ways to filter images from specific portions of a hard drive. A new Dashboard mode lets you browse your digital library by camera use, your monthly or yearly file counts or your favorite camera setting and provides a birds-eye view
of your database size, location, backup information and more.
PRICE: $149 (lifetime license); $69/year (annual subscription)
iBase is a flexible asset manager which, in addition to managing private image libraries, also supports public-facing online libraries with e-commerce and watermarking functions. Custom branding is available for any forward-facing implementation of iBase so it’s your logo the public sees. The software supports multiple file types for stills, videos, audio and document files, and can be integrated with social media accounts. Metadata, including EXIF, IPTC and XMP, can be mapped to images and GPS metadata can be plotted on Google Maps from within iBase. Administrators can set permissions to regulate access to files and create an audit trail that tracks logins, uploading, editing, downloading and ecommerce orders. You can opt to host iBase on your own servers or on iBase servers free for a year with a two-year contract. The service supports an unlimited number of concurrent users, unlimited storage and an unlimited number of records. You can purchase the software outright or rent it.
Mylio helps users organize and access images that are spread across numerous devices. The organizer, now on V 1.8, has added a number of cloud-friendly tools, such as the ability to sync libraries with Amazon Drive and import images directly from Google Photos. The software’s algorithms can now detect, match and collect images of the same person even if the user has not previously tagged them in the software. You can use Mylio to perform non-destructive edits to images to sharpen them, adjust tone, remove redeye or more. Any edits you make are automatically synced to every device that Mylio is monitoring. Mylio is available in three tiers based on the number of devices you want to sync, the number of images in your collection and whether you require RAW photo processing. The free tier syncs three devices and up to 25,000 images. The Premium option syncs five devices and up to 100,000 photos and offers Lightroom integration, RAW editing and 10GB of storage on Mylio’s own cloud. The Max plan syncs up to 12 devices and supports up to 500,000 images.
PRICE: $10/month (Premium); $25/month (Max)
Libris is a cloud-based asset management system that lets multiple users access a centralized pool of digital assets. Images and videos can be uploaded, tagged and keyworded to aid in retrieval. Libris can also extract keywords, descriptions and licensing metadata from any image you upload. Libris enables you to set permissions to control access to files. You access Libris through a web browser and there’s both a public front end that displays images and a backend where files are organized privately. You can upload images via drag-and-drop, a mobile app, FTP or from Lightroom’s Publish module. Images are grouped into galleries, and the service supports multiple terabytes of storage and thousands of users. The service is available as a subscription with the opening tier offering 2TB of storage for still files—video file storage costs $2,500 extra.
PRICE: starts at $3,999/year