Towards the end of last month I was excited about the arrival of the production version of Camera Bits new update to their excellent (and indispensable) workflow application Photo Mechanic. I have been using this version (with two updates and counting) for the last five weeks and I am about ready to say that I have settled into enough to put my early opinions down here in the blog.
It’s very good.
People say that they like short and concise reviews and that, ladies and gentlemen, was it. For those who prefer an expanded and more considered opinion I guess that I am going to have to write on because it hasn’t all been lovely. Camera Bits have been asking everyone for feedback and the fact that they have released two extra builds since the launch of version 6 five weeks ago tells me that they are working hard to make this the best version so far and free from faults and niggles.
Let’s start with a few of those niggles:
- My first attempt at using the production build was frustrating. It was a bit slower than 5 and the application quit on me a few times. It was suggested to me that I should delete version 5 and then see what happened. That turned out to be very good advice; I did an uninstall using Clean My Mac X and saw an instant and significant speed bump whilst browsing and no more crashes.
- A silly thing but Camera Bits had changed the colours in the colour-tagging palette. Quite why they did isn’t important and the fact that you could revert in the preferences to “Photo Mechanic Classic” colours makes it a tiny niggle. Interestingly, a colleague who downloaded one of the later builds before installing any other builds had the old classic colours right out of the trap – so that might signal a change in Camera Bits approach
- The icon to start an upload has gone from the top bar of the contact sheet. Again, a minor niggle as I have started to use the keyboard shortcut instead.
- The Photoshelter uploader (uploading to both a Libris account and a Photoshelter one) appears to be fractionally slower than the old version although the FTP client built in appears to be a bit faster.
- There’s a new eye icon next to the crop tool in preview which allows you to see a crop that you have applied in the full window. That’s great but you have to remember to click it off and I’d prefer it if it became deselected when you click on the crop tool icon again instead of having to use the eye icon. Tiny, tiny niggle but after five weeks I haven’t got the hang of it yet.
- The way that GPS is integrated into the IPTC captioning is great but it has some odd preferences which I’ll go into later.
- It took me about five minutes to realise that the default delimiter for code replacements had changed from \ to =
- The colours used to indicate upload in progress, upload successful and upload failed have been dulled-down from simple bright green, orange and red to much less saturated versions of the same colours. Not sure why but the orange has become a bit brown and isn’t as easy to see as it once was.
Niggles over with.
What’s good? Well pretty much everything else. Whilst I’m not a Mac “dark mode” fan I quite like the new darker interface on Photo Mechanic. The move from bottom to top for the colour and star tag bars is a long overdue change and everything feels very familiar already.
The addition of the GPS icons in the IPTC windows is great and, as a user of GPS enabled cameras, I hope that I will be able to make use of it. Sadly, the few attempts that I have so far made haven’t been so favourable in the area where I live. My home comes up as Queens Park (a suburb about two miles away) rather than as Bournemouth (the town) – which isn’t mentioned at all. I haven’t had the time to dig into this, to find out where the application gets the information for converting latitude and longitude into place names from or whether I can edit that database. Put simply, it’s a great idea that would prove extremely useful but not if the data set used isn’t that good.
Photo Mechanic 6 is, in my opinion, a little bit faster to browse with, add bulk metadata with and to move files around with than Photo Mechanic 5 (but then it should be – it’s 64 bit rather than 32 bit).
The upgrade is certainly cheap enough and, as always, the team at Camera Bits are working hard to keep everyone happy by providing their legendary support. They have to be busy with tens of thousands of users all trying to work out what has changed and what hasn’t at the same time as working with the new application.
The $89 question
So, the question that everyone is asking; “should I upgrade now or wait?” I am going to sit on the fence here a little and say that if you are OK with the old version, don’t need the speed bump and are cautious about software updates, then you could easily hold off. If you want the speed increase and you want the GPS options then go right ahead. Three public builds of PM6 means that the early bugs are all going or gone and we are now using a stable and well produced application.