Sunday, May 01, 2011

Stuck in Apple's photo management Limbo

I suspect there aren't many of us stuck in Apple's photo management Limbo. Maybe a few hundred geeks. Perhaps we should develop a secret handshake?

We are early iPhoto adopters who have our images distributed across several Libraries. Sometimes we did this deliberately because iPhoto was pretty wimpy in the old days; it couldn't handle large numbers of images. At other times Library multiplication was the result of travel or partnerships (ex: marriage).

We, the Lost, would like to put all the images together in one place. Once upon a time we thought Apple would add Library import to iPhoto, but about four years ago we realized that wasn't going to happen. Since then some of us have used iPhoto Library Manager to merge iPhoto Libraries but others are too chicken.

For years we thought we might join libraries in Aperture, or that Apple would create an 'iPhoto Pro' with Library management. By this time price had become irrelevant, but instead Aperture languished.

More recently Apple reinvested in Aperture, and dropped the price dramatically ($80 via App Store). It is clearly intended to be iPhoto Pro. iPhoto itself is becoming simpler and losing features.

The problem is, Aperture 3 doesn't really import iPhoto Libraries. Yes, I know it claims to do it. I know many people say it works. Wrong both times. The import process has not only been buggy in the worst possible way (indetectable loss of very valued data), it can't work correctly. Aperture 3.x doesn't even have a place to store some of iPhoto's metadata, such as comments on events. In other cases Aperture 3 does have a place to store iPhoto metadata but, astoundingly, the import process ignores this.

So we're in Limbo. Even if Apple tries to fix Aperture, it might be years before they succeed. I have a bad feeling they won't bother -- there aren't enough geeks like me. Most of us own Aperture anyway.

I'm guessing I'll have to stay with iPhoto and use IPLM's merge feature. I'll be approaching that with the same enthusiasm as juggling antimatter. Merging iPhoto's monstrous data structure would be a hard problem even if Apple tried to help ...


Anonymous said...

I have older photos (20,000+) in iPhoto and new RAW in Lightroom 3 as it was better for my purposes when it first came out than Aperture. If you follow David Marx's Lightroom blog you can set it up such that the catalog is on an external HD and the program can be on multiples Mac such that you can use the catalog with multiple computers. I still export out jpgs to iPhoto from LR for slideshows and the like.

Andy Kopp said...

I too am among "the lost". I'm currently undergoing the painstaking process of reverting from iPhoto 11 back to 09. I've learned a lot about iPhotos' shortcomings in the process and no longer feel safe using it to manage my family photos. iPhoto 09 is about 90% there for my wife and I's use... sadly I don't think the other 10% gap will ever be filled. Once I have my downgrade stabilized, I supposed I'll have to look at LightRoom.