Whether you take photographs as a part of your profession or you do so well as a hobby, you will likely take hundreds, if not thousands, of photographs every single year. Advances in modern technology mean that we are no longer confined to taking photographs on film. There now exists the ability to store our photos digitally using memory cards. Depending on the size of the memory card, you can hold hundreds or thousands of photos on each card.
Anyone who used to primarily take photographs using film but now uses digital means understands that storing photos digitally has made the world an easier place to take pictures in. It has become easier to access photographs, it encourages creativity, and it reduces clutter. However, when it comes to cataloging and indexing your photos, the digital revolution has created a challenge.
One of the biggest frustrations that many photographers have is trying to sort their way through hundreds of folders of photographs with the hopes of finding the one shot they were looking for. Sure, Windows Explorer does a decent job of helping us organize and catalog our photographs. But as a photographer, I’m sure there have been times when you thought that there has to be a better way.
Well, there is. In the same way that there have been improvements in the memories used in cameras, there have also been advancements in technologies designed to complement this extra memory. These are referred to as photo organizers.
When you look online, you’ll see an endless supply of these programs. Which one is going to work the best for your needs? Well, the answer to that question is going to vary depending on exactly what you’re going to do. We have looked at a bunch of digital photo organizers and have selected three that we feel stand out from the rest.
If you have read some of our other reviews, you will understand our format. First, we will talk about the product we feel is the best overall. Then, we look at one product that might fall in the premium range. Finally, we will discuss a budget product that will be beneficial if you are working with limited resources. As always, if you have questions or comments about our reviews, feel free to let us know in the comments section that we have included below.
Our Best Overall Pick: On1 Photo Raw
In November 2018, On1 Photo Raw 2019 was released. This is a high-quality program that is designed as a standalone program. It can be used regardless of the level of the photographer. If you are a complete novice, the program is intuitive enough to get you going right out of the box. If you are a professional, there are enough tools to allow you to professionally edit your photographs. The goal is to help you achieve the best possible image.
The 2019 version of this program has a lot of nice upgrades. Still, a lot of the features that users loved from the previous versions are being used. One thing that you are going to notice right off of the bat is that there has been a change to the user interface.
One complaint that users had about previous versions is that there were different modes that you had to switch as you processed your image. All of this has been streamlined and is now easier to use. You are able to access everything from the same window.
One of the nice things about ON1 is that they have always been attentive to their users. They listen to what their users want through their feedback, and they try to make improvements based on that feedback. As we mentioned, in the previous models, you would have to wait for a chance to get saved and then move from one module to another when you were editing your photo.
For example, you would have to move to the layers module, but that would mean that the non-destructive settings you used when creating your image were lost. In the newer version, you have access to the settings from the start of the editing process all the way to the end.
Many of the adjustments that you will make to your photograph are now found under the effects tab. You can simply click “Add Filter” and a pop-up will appear that has a number of filters that you can use. This idea isn’t completely new. In the past, the locations of the filters were split between the “Develop” and “Effects” modules.
So you would find yourself switching back and forth, depending on how you were using them. With the 2019 update, all of the effects are in one place. You will be happy to see that they have also included some new effects that you’re going to like.
Another change that you’re going to notice if you’ve used previous versions of this photo organizer is that the toolbar is now found on the left side. At first glance, you might think that there are not as many tools as there were before. That’s not the case.
There are all the tools that you enjoyed in the previous versions as well as a few more. All you need to do is click on a tool and then look at the top of the window. You’re going to find the settings for the tool you’re using as well as similar tools, allowing you to select the ones that you need.
One of the fun new tools you will enjoy is the “Text Tool.” This allows you to add text to your images, make a fun meme, or do other designs. There is even a stellar option for putting watermarks on your work.
If you are currently using Lightroom to catalog your digital photos, you may be hesitant to switch to Photo Raw 2019. You might be worried that all of the cataloging you did in Lightroom will be lost. You don’t have to worry about that anymore.
The 2019 version of this program has some awesome AI algorithms that allow you to migrate your photographs from Lightroom without losing how you’ve had your photos catalogued or your descriptions, labels, orientation, etc.
Other advancements in the 2019 version of Photo RAW make it easier for you to edit HDR images. While the ability to edit HDR images was available in other versions of the software, you can do it a lot faster now.
One of the major pluses we feel that this program has over those offered by Adobe is that you pay a one-time fee. Monthly subscriptions add up very quickly. Over the course of one year of monthly subscription payments to Adobe, you will have paid more than what you would have paid if you simply purchased Photo RAW. With Adobe, you do not end up owning anything.
We feel that a lot of thought went into the development of this program. It’s clear to see that ON1 truly cares about their users and have tried to build a program that is tailor-made for their needs.
Pros and Cons
Things We Liked:
- High-quality filters
- A number of tools to fine-tune your images
- Lens profile adjustment
- The ability to migrate category information from Lightroom
Things to Improve:
- The program lacks online sharing for windows
- No features to do Geotagging or face tagging
- We found that some of the operations in the program were a little bit slow
Our Premium Pick: Adobe Lightroom
Adobe Lightroom is photo software that is designed to help you manage and control your workflow. The software is now available in two applications. There is the Adobe Lightroom CC as well as Classic CC. We’re going to focus on the Classic CC version in this review as it is the gold standard for organizing your photographs, making adjustments, and doing output printing.
There are a number of products that are competing for the marketplace, but none have been able to provide exactly what Adobe Lightroom has. It offers a smooth workflow, an intuitive interface, a great way to organize your photos, and a wide range of adjustment tools.
Adobe Lightroom is a lot faster than the other products of its type on the market. It offers face recognition, it integrates with mobile tools, and it offers lens profile-based corrections as well as lighting and color corrections that you are not going to find anywhere else. It is very rare to see a review of Adobe Lightroom where the product is not given a near perfect rating.
Adobe Lightroom takes advantage of separate modes for organizing your photos or for adjusting them as well as other functions. You are able to activate or deactivate different modes on the top left of the screen when you’re in the program.
Adobe Lightroom supports camera raw file conversions for all of the major DSLR high-end digital cameras. This program uses a database, which Adobe refers to as its catalog. This way of organizing and cataloging photographs makes a lot of sense, especially if you have a huge photograph collection that consists a lot of large images. You’re able to store the database files apart from the actual image files.
Adobe Lightroom has a cool tethering feature. This lets you tether the camera to your computer via a USB or a firewall cable. You can have complete control over the shutter release from your computer.
Adobe Lightroom’s library mode provides you with the ability to organize your photos, group pictures into collections based on thumbnails you select, or use Smart Collections that allow you to group photographs based on whether or not they meet certain criteria.
Lightroom has a nice face detection program. You are able to start finding the faces of certain people throughout your entire catalog or can find a face on an as-needed basis. You are able to assign a name to a person’s face and then can search for that individual throughout your entire collection.
If Adobe Lightroom is not sure, it may provide a number of faces that look similar, giving you the chance to weed out the ones that are incorrect. You’re able to use this information to create smart albums based on a person’s name or a person’s face, or you can even use the map mode to make selections based on geo-locations.
When it comes to performance, it’s good to remember that Adobe Lightroom is going to rely on your computer’s graphic processor to make adjustments to photographs. If you have a decently powered computer, you’re not going to be waiting too long for any of Lightroom’s operations. The program’s start of time has also improved. It takes around eight seconds to get the classic version of this program up and running.
Adobe Lightroom classic is considered to be the gold standard when it comes to photo organizing and editing. It is a well-loved program that has been used by professional photographers for a number of years. It is likely to continue to be at the head of its class.
Pros and Cons
Things We Liked:
- Amazing photo management/organization
- Face detection features
- A number of fine tuning tools
- A product built on years of experience
- Works with mobile apps
- Camera and lens-based corrections
Things to Improve:
- Although faster than previous versions, the import is still slow
- Paying the monthly subscription means that you’re always paying but never own the product
Our Budget Pick: Magix Photo Manager
This is an inexpensive file management program that has a number of time-saving features. It does great at getting rid of duplicate images, and it makes it easier for you to compile and filter your photographs. The batch processor allows you to update the metadata on a number of photographs simultaneously. There are also a host of shortcuts for tasks that include organizing, optimizing, archiving, and presenting.
You are able to share your photographs directly from Magix to a number of social media sites. Emails can be sent directly from the photo manager, including photographs that you have stored and organized. This program has very few editing tools, but you get some of the basics.
This program definitely does not have the editing features that you’re going to find on the other software is that we have reviewed. But you can use it to do simple things like tagging and storing your images as well as looking at the metadata of your photographs.
Pros and Cons
Things We Liked:
- Simple interface
- Free software with the ability to upgrade to a premium paid version
- · Excellent program for beginners
Things to Improve:
- Limited editing tools
- You cannot share your photos directly to YouTube
- Limited support
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How can I organize my photos and make them easier to find?
A: When you save your photographs, your camera is going to automatically assign them a generic name and number. It is best for you to personally name each photo and save them in a specific place in your computer’s hard drive. Take advantage of keywords and tags to describe what is in the photo. A number of the photo organizing programs we’ve reviewed have a face recognition feature. You can use those to organize your photographs by face.
Q: What is the best file format to save your photos in?
A: You usually start by importing RAW files to your PC. From there, you have more than 20 file types to choose from. JPEG is the compatibility standard. Whether you’re going to use it in print or social media, JPEG will work. PSD is the Photoshop format. This allows your photo to be compatible across Adobe products. PNG is a file type that preserves your image without loss in image quality. These are just a few of the more popular file formats to save your photos in.