When Jennifer finds a charge to iMatch on our credit card statement, hopefully she doesn’t think I joined some computer dating service. Despite the name which to me sounds like a dating service or Apple’s latest entry in their iLife suite, I’ve found iMatch to be a quite capable photo management and organization solution on my Windows PC.
A couple months ago, I reached a frustration point with Adobe Photoshop Album 2.0, which I’ve used for cataloging my photos for the past couple years. The program was just getting slower and slower. I only had around 2,500 images in the system… it needed to scale. The Fisher-Price-esque GUI had always bothered me, and I found it slightly disappointing that the only way to add metadata to the photos for later filtering and searching was through the use of categories. The fact that Photoshop Album limited me to how many levels of categories I could have had also been a sticky point.
A few weeks ago I started searching to find a better management program. I looked at a few online, downloaded a couple demos, and considered the very steep price (hundreds of dollars) for some of the software packages. I decided the one I was going to give a full workout was iMatch. I started by working on my category taxonomy, figuring out how I was going to want to search. When I setup my Photoshop Album categories I was working purely on guesswork. Now I was able to set the categories up based on my real-world experiences of the past couple years.
After setting up the categories I started out by importing one DVD (about 4.5GB) of photos and I went about adding them to the appropriate categories. I also set up a custom image property called RoadNumber to note the lead locomotive in the railroad shots. Later on, I can go back and search and see if I have photos of a certain unit. Overall the tagging into categories I think went just a tad faster than with Photoshop Album, probably due to the less-graphical interface which let me get to more categories faster. iMatch also includes the ability to set up “Category Splashers” which are shortcuts that assign a set of categories to a group of images in one action. These can be placed on a shortcut toolbar or assigned keyboard shortcuts.
The geeky side of me likes the ability to create any sort of custom properties for the images in my collection, and then being able to filter or sort on those properties using regular expressions.
iMatch handles all common image formats as well as the RAW image formats from major manufacturers. It manages images on removable media (CD/DVD, etc) by using the disc’s internal serial number so that a large library of offline storage can be managed with ease.
Overall I have found that I can get my images into iMatch faster than with Photoshop Album, and that iMatch should scale well to my growing database of photos. The ability to perform detailed, flexible queries far exceeds the limited point-and-click, AND-only query abilities of Photoshop Album. Is the improved speed, flexible keyword organization, and scalability enough to make me recatalog all of my existing collection? Given that Photoshop Album is a dead product, I just plunked down the $60 to purchase iMatch from Photools.com.