Use of Catalogs

Started 3 months ago | Discussions thread
DerKeyser Contributing Member • Posts: 736
Re: Use of Catalogs

I think it’s important to distinguish between what applications (using catalogs) we are talking about. Some delivers monumental advantages by using a catalog for EVERYTHING, fx. Like Lightroom Classic - very well explained above

Others delivers much less so because they make a sort of “hybrid” with a catalog but also creates new image files with every edit, and sidecar files with additional metadata.

But your real question was about disadvantages, and there really is only two:

1: The first is time. It takes time to import/add/index new image files so they are present in your catalog and ready for editing. That would be a non-issue for most but it can be a major obstacle for others. It dependes heavily upon how you shoot and edit (and to some extend the speed of your computer): Those with hundres of images pr. Session where they quickly pick only a few images to edit, tend to dislike this waste of time waiting for import.
There’s also time spent keywording and organising keywords.
Mind you - a catalog can make great sense even if you don’t use keywords. Just the fact you can “meta” organize in folders without moving/coping files - and that images can belong to several folders - is worth it.

2: The second disadvantage is where most people derive their dislike of catalogs from: Complexity
If you are not comfortable with your software and how the catalog feature works, it adds a layer of complexity that leads to the inability to understand whats going on. Then mistakes happen and data gets lots.

So you really should ask yourself: Do I understand the concept of a catalog/database with metadata and pointers to the actual image files? Are you willing to accept that by using catalogs you should ALWAYS add/move/delete image files within your DAM unless you really know what you are doing. Otherwise inconsistensies arise, and when files are lost you always blame the software even though it’s 99.999% certain it was your fault.

PS: I dont accept the “incompatibility” argument that says you cannot move to different software. Sure you can, you export all your files - orginals and copies with edits baked in -, and you are in the EXACT same situation as from any other non catalog software. You just had the pleasure of having A LOT of extra features and advantages while you were using a catalog. If being able to move in the future is REALLY important to you, then you just have make a decission when starting with catalogs and either select:
1: Not to use the some of the advanced features cataloging gives you, because you want to be able to migrate to a simple files/folder based system. Mainly it’s only the meta organising in folders that you have to stay away from. Keywords and other metadata works fine when exported to sidecar XMP files an image copies with edits baked in.
2: Accept that you will have many physical copies of the same file in different folders in the new software, and then export your meta organisation as filesystem folders when migrating.

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