Like most photographers my workflow has developed over the years and there are some bits of it that are more to do with convenience and habit than they are to do with efficiency. Cataloguing my archive is definitely something that I haven’t given enough thought to. Well that’s not entirely true; every time I look at Lightroom one of the things that attracts me to it is the cataloguing function that it brings with it. The idea of having an application that does so much and that is effectively free (as I subscribe to Photoshop CC anyway) is a good one but every time I have given it a go, I have decided that it isn’t as convenient at Media Pro as a catalogue. I have had Media Pro in its various forms for a very long time now and it has served me well. Phase One’s decision to stop supporting it has made me look around for an alternative.
Being a long-time fan of Photo Mechanic I have been holding out and waiting for them to bring out a new version of the application that forms the core of my workflow with a cataloguing function. Camera Bits have been saying for years that “it is coming” but I have decided to look around for other options.
A few months ago I was reading a thread on a Facebook photographers’ group that mentioned NeoFinder. I thought to myself “how come I have never heard of it?” A quick search on the web brought up their site and I realised that this was a newer name for the old CD Finder application that I tried and quite liked half a dozen years or more ago. They offer a free trial and I had some time on my hands and so I downloaded and installed it. I made a quick catalogue from about 20,000 old images and I was shocked by how easy it was to use and how good the searches it allowed were. The question popped into my head “why keep trying to make Media Pro work when this is available?” All of my pictures have their metadata intact and I have tried hard over the years to get my captions and keywords as good as I can make them. Moving from Media Pro to NeoFinder was a doddle. The developers even offer a “sidegrade” discount for people making this transition.
Two days later I paid US$39.99 + sales taxes for the Mac Private License and I created a catalogue for my main 5TB external USB drive overnight. I kept trying to trip it up – going for searches that I knew other applications had struggled with and it passed every test I threw at it. This basic version isn’t perfect: it doesn’t automatically update when you add new images for example. To get that you have to pay US$149.90 + sales tax for the business edition, which also offers extra functionality. The interface isn’t pretty but it is familiar and it does a decent job. The great news is that it is fully 64bit and so it should be compatible with the next version of the Mac OS
So, for now, I have a new catalogue application that does the job well with no fuss. I have also bought the iOS app which allows me to keep a copy of the catalogue on my iPhone and iPad ready to search for images when I’m not in the office and when I don’t have a computer to hand. Quite how often I’ll need this isn’t obvious but it is something that the application supports and so I’ve added it to my photo apps folder on the phone. The idea is that I have a full set of JPEG edited files on a cloud server which I can identify by file name having searched on the iPhone or iPad and get them to where they need to go that way. There are probably loads more options to this application than I have thought about yet and so I look forward to playing with it some more and finding new things to do with it.
I am now waiting to see what form the Photo Mechanic catalogue takes when it appears. If it’s good then I’ll use it but if I think that NeoFinder is superior then I’ll upgrade to one of the multi-user business license options. Unfortunately cataloguing and fun still don’t go together but it has become far less of a chore.