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Digital Pro 4 Cataloging Software for Windows

Discussion in 'General Technical Discussion' started by Mike Buckley, Jul 6, 2008.

  1. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who uses Digital Pro 4 to provide helpful tips. Comparisons with competing programs are also welcome because they provide helpful perspective. Anyone with questions about the program should please feel free to ask them in this thread. I'll begin with the first question, which requires some background information.

    I'm a first-time user still on the 30-day trial period. My primary interest is being able to sort on metadata. Using DP4's powerful search mechanism that can be limited to a particular folder or not, I can sort on categories, subcategories and keywords. That total solution is not possible using Nikon software.

    I'm concerned that Nikon doesn't publish the vital information in the developers' tool kit about the exact use of XMP data fields. (I am making a distinction between EXIF, XMP and IPTC data.) Metadata applied to them today by non-Nikon programs might adversely affect the file if Nikon changes something about its use of those fields in the future. In fact, Tomas provided in a separate thread an email from a developer of a competing program about that risk with regard to all such third-party products.

    One main reason I have selected DP4 is that it writes XMP data either to the sidecar file or to the NEF at the user's option, as opposed to Photo Mechanic which apparently writes only to a sidecar file. (Many thanks to Bill for making me aware of that, which is what got me interested in DP4.) EDIT: Thanks to Micky and Pesto for pointing out that apparently Photo Mechanic does indeed write to either the NEF or the sidecar file at the user's discretion.

    One solution I'm considering is applying all metadata using DP4 as the very last step in my combined post-processing, image-management workflow. I would have two versions of each image, one with the XMP data applied to the sidecar file and one with it applied to the NEF. I don't mind the commitment to the storage space that would be required.

    I'm also considering applying all metadata using Nikon products and using DP4 to read and sort on that data. Using that method, I would not be able to read Nikon's stars or labels but I would only have to save one copy of the NEF.

    Finally, my questions: Am I thinking this through properly? Do you folks have any additional ideas?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 9, 2008
  2. rsprouse


    Jan 25, 2006
    Encinitas CA

    I have been following the discussion closely, and appreciate all the information and ideas that have been explored and shared. I bought a copy of PhotoMechanic on the advice of DrJay, and initial experimentation seemed promising. But as you have uncovered, the lack of a way to search on combination of keywords and ratings would be fatal. I haven't gone so far as to explore this within PM yet, but based upon the recent discussions this seems to be the case.

    It looks like the proposed workflow you have outlined above may be the best alternative available for us windoze / NX users.

    Thanks for all the work and thought on this important topic. Maybe someone sharp at Nikon or NIK will pick up on this and provide another solution. It seems that adding this functionality to View NX would ultimately be the best of all worlds.

    -- Russ
  3. Russ, considering that you're interested in maybe evaluating a third-party solution, I've gotta tell you that using DP4 to cull images is really powerful.

    The images load even faster than in View NX. Better yet, the slide show (which can be viewed manually one slide at a time rather than using a pre-determined time) has a compare feature that freezes one image on one side allowing you to compare it to other images as you click through them. I mention clicking to the next or previous image because they really do show up instantaneously.

    For checking sharpness, all you have to do is hold down the left mouse key. It instantly places a virtual magnifier glass over that particular portion of the image using whatever magnification the user determines in the preferences section. And you can move the magnifier around all parts of the image to check for sharpness throughout the image. You don't have to redraw the screen and you don't have to mess with the hand tool.

    Much more powerful and quicker than View NX's capability, though I'm not ignoring that View NX has the distinct advantage of being free.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 7, 2008
  4. rsprouse


    Jan 25, 2006
    Encinitas CA
    Thanks for the insights, Mike. It looks like it is time to take a look at DP4. Are you satisfied with the search capabilities?

    -- Russ
  5. Micky


    Feb 29, 2008
    Are you sure about PM and sidecar files?

    It has been my experience that only certain IPTC info cannot be embedded in the .nef file, requiring an xmp.

    I have been using PM for a couple years now, and have never needed to write an xmp file to embed data, especially keywords.

    Searching metadata is another story though and I think you may be correct in that regard.

    You have peaked my interest in this though, enough to make me wanna try DP4...

  6. I don't pretend to be an expert on this, but my current understanding is that certain metadata is exclusively XMP data. Other data is both XMP and IPTC data. See the two lists in my next post showing how the two sets of fields relate to each other. The DP4 dialog boxes show which fields are XMP only and which are XMP and IPTC data.

    The reason you may not have needed to write keywords to a sidecar using Photo Mechanic might be that keywords are both XMP and IPTC data fields.

    I don't know which data requires a sidecar file when using Photo Mechanic. I only know that Jason Odell's ebook explains that Photo Mechanic writes to sidecars and that Capture NX does not read sidecars. His information has been confirmed numerous times in the threads by users.

    I look forward to getting all of this properly sorted out. Sheesh! :biggrin:
  7. XMP & IPTC Data Fields

    This post is copied from the DP4 Users Guide. I will contact DP4 to ensure that they are okay with it appearing here. I think they will be pleased. If not, I'll delete it.

    IPTC + XMP Fields:
    Contact Information for the photographer (New with XMP, stored with XMP):

    Region (State or Province)
    Postal Code
    E-mail (Work)
    Telephone (Work)
    URL (Work)

    Other XMP Fields & How they relate to IPTC fields
    XMP City = IPTC City [City the content is focused on]
    XMP Copyright Notice = IPTC Copyright Notice
    XMP Country = IPTC Country
    XMP Country Code = IPTC Country Code
    XMP Creator = IPTC Byline
    XMP CreatorContactInfo NEW (per Contact Info Structure above)
    XMP Creator Job Title = IPTC By-line Title
    XMP DateCreated = IPTC Date Created
    XMP Description = IPTC Caption
    XMP DescriptionWriter = IPTC Writer/Editor/CaptionWriter
    XMP Headline = IPTC Headline
    XMP Instruction = IPTC SpecialInstructions
    XMP IntellectualGenre = IPTC ObjectReference (Field #04)
    XMP JobID = IPTC OriginalTransmissionReference
    XMP Keywords = IPTC Keywords
    XMP Location = IPTC Sublocation (Field #92)
    XMP Provider = IPTC Credit
    XMP Province/State = IPTC Province/State
    XMP RightsUsageTerms NEW (Free text on usage)
    XMP Scene NEW (Describes the scene with 6-digit scene/news codes)
    XMP Source = IPTC Source
    XMP SubjectCode = IPTC Subject Reference
    XMP Title = IPTC ObjectName
  8. Very much so, Russ.

    To capitalize on the search capability, I'll need to get a handle on categories and subcategories. That's because the search mechanism sorts first on those two fields. Subcategories seem to be subsets of categories just as subfolders in a directory tree are subsets of folders. If you want to do a search that includes all categories and subcategories, there is no need to select one.

    Another set of criteria includes keywords. If you list two or more keywords as criteria, the program finds all images that have all of the selected keywords. NOTE: The DP4 Users Guide seems to mistakenly state that it finds all images that have any of the listed keywords. Big difference!!!!!

    You can select a folder to sort on, which limits the search to that folder and all of its subfolders. You can decide not to select a folder, in which case it searches the entire hard drive. If you buy the professional version, you can also search all archived media such as CDs and DVDs, I think without placing them in the drive slot.

    There are many other possibilites for defining the search criteria as well.
  9. Pesto126


    Apr 13, 2006
    Northeast USA
    Hi... I believe that Photomechanic does provide the choice to only write XMP data to the NEF in the same manner that NX2 does... this is the main reason many photographers use PM and NX2 together.. PM first to cull photos (it is fast) and add IPTC data to the NEF's directly (no sidecar needed).

    I will have a review of this program available on Monday on my website: DAMRoundup.com - if you are interested. I will be review DP4 in the near future as well!
  10. Correction!

    Thanks to Pesto's and Micky's posts, I reviewed Photo Mechanic information and determined that I provided incorrect information in the first post of the thread where I wrote that Photo Mechanic only writes XMP data to sidecar files. Not true!

    I also need to clarify that inexact wording might give people the impression that I came to that understanding from Bill. Also not true! I learned of DP4 from Bill but I don't remember him ever commenting about Photo Mechanic.

    My understanding is that NEFs are TIFF-based RAW files. If that's true (I did my best as a non-techie to verify that it is true), it's clear that Photo Mechanic does indeed write to either the NEF or the sidecar file at the user's choice. The preferences dialog box in Photo Mechanic that attends to the user's control of reading and writing XMP and IPTC data makes that clear.

    My apologies for any heartburn I gave anyone. Pass around the Tums. :biggrin:
  11. Clarification about the Windows Version

    I just realized from reading a couple of posts that I forgot to clarify an important point about why I am inclined to purchase DP rather than Photo Mechanic. The Windows and Mac versions of DP search on keywords. That's as opposed to Photo Mechanic in which apparently only its Mac version does that, thanks to the Mac operating system that also searches on metadata. I'm a Windows user.
  12. Pesto126


    Apr 13, 2006
    Northeast USA
    No problem Mike - that's one thing about PM that separates from other DAM applications - it is truly a photo browser first and not a photo catalog... the main difference between them is how they search and since PM does not have a catalog, it can't serach in the same manner.

    To be honest, I've tried using PM as my main "browser" in conjunction with the Copernic search engine.. copernic creates a database constantly and does search photo metadata.. a quick keyword entry brings up your photos. A unique combination for sure.. but not bad given the speed of both applications.

    Good Luck!

  13. That's a really important distinction, Presto. Jason Odell sings the praises of Photo Mechanic, yet suggests that most people don't need catalog software. That's because PM isn't a catalog.

    Actually, I don't need catalog software either. However, I have certain needs that DP4 apparently meets. The fact that it also catalogs the files is neither here nor there to me.
  14. Chip


    Oct 13, 2005
    Glad you posted this thread and I will be watching it for good info as well.

    I wanted to point out a website that may help clear up some terminology and explain all of the property fields of IPTC IIM metadata and XMP core. And to throw another wrench in it... there is another schema on the horizon called IPTC extension which adds fidelity to locations and more robust rights related properties. The site is IPTC.org and if you spend a couple hours there hopefully you won't have a headache when your through :)  Particularly find the Photo metadata 2008 draft PDF on the site. Also you may want to check out Peter Kroghs book on DAM. Hes kind of the Guru on all of this DAM stuff.

    As far as DP4 beta, I have been using it for a couple months. It does have good search capabilities based on any metadata that is either in the cataloge only, or embedded in the file. There is an important distinction here because when you compare browsers to cataloging software (DP4) they really are apples and oranges. In a browser (NXView, Bridge, etc) search capabilities are limited to the files themselves. In other words the search routine has to search files for images to find a match (slow). in a catalogue program like DP4, it searches a text database (much faster) and points you to the image where it is located on your hard drive. In DP4, merely clicking on a folder of images cataloges those images in the database making their imbedded metadata available to search. The other important distinction in cataloging software is you can "write" other metadata to the database that is not imbedded in the file but IS included in the search routine. This is useful when you want to make a private search category but dont nessesarily want it imbedded in the image for anyone to read.

    DP4 writes XMP Core Metadata via the XMP sidecar files to Nefs, but it does write IIM metada right to the Nefs. So really other than contact info, DP4 writes it to the Nef.

    NX2 and NX transfer "writes" XMP core metadata right into the NEF file, as well as IIM metadata. This is a good thing at least for me because I dont like the sidecar files that other programs produce. It sounds like PM also writes XMP core to the Nef file. Remember, NEF is not a public RAW format so many companies including Adobe write in the sidecar file not in the Nef. And then you have the problem of not all software reads XMP sidecar files. But one thing for certain, there are a lot of software programs that read imbedded Metadata.

    So, DP4 will read the XMP data that NX2 and PM put in the file and PSCS will read it as well. In fact most cataloging programs and popular browsers will read imbedded metadata.

    One thing you may want to know about DP4 is it does not work with offline media. (disconnected hard drive or cd/dvd's) It will tell you that the cataloge is offline but you can't search for an image that is not online. This was a big deal for me as I have lots of external HD's that I wanted included in searches but I think DP version 5 will include some of this capability. David Cardinal has been very responsive with comments/ suggestions on his DP4 program.

    Hope this wasn't mucky, but do visit IPTC.org and check out the info there.
  15. Thanks for joining in, Chip. I think I've seen your posts in the DP4 users' forum.

    Thanks for trying to clear up some of the confusion that exists about IPTC, XMP, sidecar files, etc. I'm gradually cleaning out the cobwebs from my brain about all that stuff and will keep your recommendation to visit the IPTC website in mind. Thanks also for explaining why DP4 is so fast.

    However, there are a couple points you made that I would like to bring to your attention.

    I'm very confused by that comment. The current version being sold is Are you beta testing an upcoming revision of Version 4? Maybe you're beta testing DP5?

    I also don't understand that comment. Though I haven't used DP4 for offline cataloging, my understanding is that the professional verssion, as opposed to the standard version, does indeed do that. The DP4 website states that one of the capabilities of the professional version is "cataloging of offline images." (The bold font providing emphasis is at the website.) A dialog box for cataloging offline media is accessed via the Tools menu. Also, the following is from the DP4 User Guide:

    "Cataloging your Offline Media
    DigitalPro 4 (Pro Edition) has a powerful facility to allow you to keep track of images located on your offline media, such as CDs, DVDs, DVD-RAM, or any other device which can look like a Disk drive to Windows.

    To create a catalog entry for your offline archive, you simply:

    Burn the CD or DVD using your normal burning software

    Make sure the disk is accessible to Windows

    Bring up the DigitalPro Cataloging Tool, using the Tools->Catalog Offline
    Media command

    Navigate to the path of the offline media using the Browse button. (By default DigitalPro 2 will show your first CD drive as its initial location, so the dialog may already have the correct information)

    Give the Catalog entry a name that represents the archive

    Then just press Catalog and DigitalPro 2 will do the rest!

    From then on you can simply navigate to your Catalog to browse all your offline images. When you view them you'll be seeing a giant thumbnail for quick previewing, but if you need to edit one of the images simply use the regular Edit command (Control-E or Alt-DoubleClick) and DigitalPro 2 will prompt you to insert the disk with the image on it and launch the archived version for you to edit."

    EDIT: Notice the last paragraph shown immediately above. That seems to me to clearly state that the offline images can be browsed. I can't imagine why a search can't be conducted on them considering that the data about the images is stored in the online catalog. What am I missing?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 7, 2008
  16. Chip


    Oct 13, 2005
    I downloaded the pro version a couple months ago and on the website was the version 4.3.07 available as a beta or updated download. I asked David which one to download and he suggested this one. It may still be there I dont know.

    As for the offline cataloging, DP4 will cataloge an offline media, be it cd/dvd, or Hard drive. And it will make thumbnail images in the offline folder you create when you do an offline cataloge. Once you "unplug" the devive or take the CD out those thumbnail images are still in the offline folder. You can browse these images and if you double click it will tell you what offline media to go get, so in my case I had a few external hard drives that I tried to cataloge. When you click on an image it will tell you (drive letter) E: and the name of the folder.

    What you can't do is search this offline media folder area and have DP4 find a specific image. So therefore you can't search the offline media by metadata. I hope a later release will have some of this functionality. Try it on your version and let me know if you can search and find offline media.

    Hope this answers the questions.
  17. Chip, thanks for the quick answers to my questions. I was hoping, though, that you are beta testing DP5. :biggrin:

    Regarding the catalog issue, if my understanding of that last paragraph that I copied from the User Guide is accurate, apparently the information in the User Guide is wrong. Considering that there are some blatant mistakes in the Guide, that's very possible.

    As I write this, it occurs to me that if indeed offline searching was one of the capabilities of the Pro version, that would be highlighted in bright lights on the website. I notice that the website only mentions offline cataloging, which is different as you mention.

    I doubt that I'll bother trying to search offline media. I really don't have a need for it. My current plan is to purchase the standard version, which unlike the Pro version makes no attempt at the offline cataloging, much less offline searching. The purpose of the discussion was simply to get an accurate understanding of the facts, and you have been very helpful about that.

    By the way, I understand from Bill that you have been communicating with him for awhile about the merits of DP4. I sent him a PM inviting him to participate here and he plans on joining us soon.
  18. TomaS


    Aug 3, 2006
    Corrales, NM
    no intent to hijack this thread but just wanted to report on another DAM program that is highly recommended on the DAM Roundup site, IDimager. I downloaded the trial and did the following tests on copies of some NEF files.
    1. Write XMP/IPTC data using Capture NX2 including star rating, label, keyword, copyright, etc. Open the NEF in IDimager and view the XMP/IPTC written in NX2. It is all there. Huzzah. So far so good. :smile:
    2. Write XMP/IPTX data using IDimager including all of the above fields. Choose the Synchronize data option and the option to write data into a NEF file although the program warns against doing this. Open the file in NX2. It is all there! My holy grail of keywording / searching / asset management has been found.:biggrin:
    3. I am probably missing something important since this topic seems so prone to glitches.:rolleyes: 
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 8, 2008
  19. Mike, given that in your initial post you mentioned we could ask questions.....I have one. Most of the asset management software products being discussed seem to only run in a windows environment, including DP4.....is that accurate or have I missed something?
    I have a PowerMac so I'm not looking to run virtual PC given the older technology. Only PM seems to run on the Mac....

    Great thread and learned a lot.....just not sure I've located a solid DAM technology for the PowerMac however....I continue to look.

  20. Chip


    Oct 13, 2005
    Hi Mike,
    No not a beta tester. Not even close:smile: just a casual photo hack trying to figure all this out like the rest of us. There are some quirks w DP4 (like anything) but overall it performs well.

    Initially when I started to research DAM software, I liked the idea of having an offline capability to do cataloging. My initial impression of this type of software was that it would be able to be used with offline media. I could see great utility in being able to say tweak my catalog on an airplane during a trip or in the field with my laptop when my entire file system isn't available. So I could load the smallish catalog library and still do cataloging functions on my laptop without being connected to the actual files... Then once back to the files I could "sync" the catalog to the files. I think there is software that can do this but its all about give and take. DP 4 however does have a cool feature called Travel and return, where you can load your folder sytem to be used with new shots on the laptop and sync it back to your main catalog upon return.

    What David Cardinal at DP and Bill who you reference above has almost:smile: convinced me of is to go buy a larger online storage system like the popular NAS or DAS or JABOD. A whole nuther' discussion but with storage prices dropping and some cool new products out there I may just as well go to something like this. One particular product that I have been looking at is the Drobo. from data robotics. I suppose I should start another thread or search on this in this forum and see what folks are saying.

    Hope to hear more from folks who use these DAM apps.
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