DAM tools that embed metadata directly to file

Started May 29, 2009 | Discussions thread
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cstephens Forum Member • Posts: 66
DAM tools that embed metadata directly to file


Not quite sure where best to post this - please let me know if this fits better elsewhere..

I have a question about DAM tools. I'm currently an Aperture user, but looking for another solution, and I'm hoping to get some feedback from users here.

I have an OK workflow that has served me well until now, but one thing I'm striving for is to be application independent. That is, I don't want any of my critical image information (e.g. IPTC location/keywords, etc) to be tied-up in some application specific database (e.g. Aperture library), I want it written directly to the files.

Basically, I don't want to have the rely on the presence of some particular software to be able to "see" my metadata. This would (in theory) make it easier to switch application in the future. I think this is not a question of 'if' but 'when'.

Currently, with Aperture, any user added IPTC information/keywords are stored in the database, and only written to the file if explicitly exported with a particular option enabled. What I'm looking for (and I'm not sure if this exists) is this, DAM type software that satisfies the following criteria:

  • It writes/embeds metadata (e.g. XMP/IPTC information, like keywords, location, etc) directly to the files, whenever I enter it, and it must conform to industry standards so other applications can "see" this data.


  • Provides some sort of cataloging feature to enable fast keyword searches, smart albums, etc (sorry, Aperture has totally spoiled me with its capability here, and I don't want to give this up just yet).

[NOTE: I do NOT need a RAW converter function, I now use Capture NX2 exclusively for editing/converting my Nikon RAW images.]

Does such a program exist?

Here's what I've gathered:

Aperture - Great organization tools, but doesn't write keywords/metadata to file unless explicitly exported, instead they are stored in the Aperture database. In order to get them written to the file, I have to do a manual export/re-import, not practical.

Photo Mechanic - Reportedly great for ingesting/culling/metadata but doesn't offer cataloging feature (yet). I know as a Mac user with PM I can leverage Spotlight as a quick search function, but I'd really like SmartAlbum-like capability. I know everyone who actually uses PM seems to love it, and so far seems like this is my best bet despite its current limitations of not being a true-DAM tool.

iPhoto - Several issues here prevent me from using it as my primary library tool (e.g. can't write basic IPTC fields, but the list goes on...).

Lightroom - ???
ACDSee (now for Mac) - ??
Other (for mac)??

In short - I need a DAM program that writes metadata directly to files and gives me DAM-like cataloging capability. Is there any software out there currently that does this? I'd really appreciate any feedback or experiences from folks here.

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