Can you recommend a free software for cataloging a family photograph collection? Some of them are born digital, some are slides, negatives or prints that I have scanned. I would like to enter basic information of each photo, such as description, date, place, photographer, subject key words and formats that I keep (slide, negative, print, and file format of digital photo eg. tiff or jpeg). Would also be good of course to attach a digital image. A feature like tagging and search with keywords would be useful too. I have thought of Flicker but I'd like to keep my images & information on my own computer, and keep track of image formats. (How will I keep track of my tiffs and jpgs of the same image?) I understand tiff format is better for long term storage and future needs and jpgs for viewing images on screen. [Originally asked by Miia on June 22, 2009, on www.digitalnz.org]
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You don't need software; the 256 character filename protocol allows plenty of room for technorati - flickr type tags. We use this system for cataloging and geo-tagging historic images. Canterbury Heritage
The 255 character file name limit in Windows strikes a problem if you archive files with long folder paths. The limit applies to the whole path length, not just the filename. If exceeded, it can break files in a backup, especially to CD-ROM, making them unreadable. Controlledvocabulary.com have a good article on file naming strategies at http://www.controlledvocabulary.com/imagedatabases/filenaming.html At DigitalNZ we are big fans of open standards, so our "must have" for any image software is support for open metadata standards, namely EXIF (digital camera data) and IPTC Core (for keywords, descriptions etc). Associated with both of these is a third standard called XMP, which allows metadata to be read by all kinds of image software. Ideally, any software you use will allow you to correct EXIF metadata and embed IPTC Core metadata into both JPEGS and TIFFs. We have tested a number of popular free packages for metadata support, such as Picasa, XnView and Irfanview, but they either do not write and embed IPTC Core metadata properly or only do so for JPGs. If your needs are fairly simple for adding metadata, assuming you are on Windows, you might want to try Microsoft's free Windows Live Photo Gallery http://download.live.com/photogallery. This supports writing the kinds of things you describe (title, date, place, photographer, key words) to IPTC Core of both JPEGs and TIFFs. It embeds that information in the images, so if you move them or change software, the information will be retained. Photo Gallery does not allow you to edit EXIF information however. An alternative is PixVue, which plugs into Windows Explorer, allowing you to edit both EXIF and IPTC metadata and add annotations. This may be useful if you prefer to manage your images directly in their own folders. PixVue version 2.01, while no longer supported, is readily available on the web, and you can download it from http://www.photo-freeware.net/pixvue.php.