With Luminar 4 Skylum scored one hell of an own goal. Slow, inefficient, lacking features, the list goes on. For me, it killed off a relatively good editor and I moved on to other software, ON1 PhotoRAW and Darktable for example. It didnt mean that Luminar 4 iteself was a bad product, just that without a robust, fully featured Digital Asset Management (DAM) tool it was always going to be lacking in my eyes. Of course this doesn’t apply to everyone. I have a very good friend who shoots many hundreds of thousands of images each year and he doesn’t use any sort of DAM. How he knows where to find everything I have no idea but he manages. You might be like him of course, have an encyclopedic memory and an excellent image filing system. You don’t need a DAM to manage your digital assets but it does help greatly if you do.
With the release of Luminar Neo it became clear very quickly that an included DAM was not on the cards. The catalogue system is rudimentary but it works. If you have a good image filing system then you’re going to be halfway there. Where you’ll likely come unstuck is trying to find that photo of a shetland pony from a couple of years back. You can’t remember where and when you photographed it but it’ll be perfect for the competition you’re about to enter. Of course, if you had tagged the image “shetland pony” then a quick search with any meta tag focused viewer will find it in seconds and you’d be on your way to your first win of the new season.
Luminar Neo doesn’t provide you with the opportunity to tag images or add or undate metatags or add keywords!! Sadly, if you want to manage your digital assets effectively, then you are going to need a way of doing this. Now in fairness, there are other image processing software tools that don’t provide for tagging, Affinity Photo for example. You”l have the same problem here at times. Well there are a couple of ways around this that I have tried, both of which work well. There are more of course but they can be quite expensive so I am focusing here on free software or at worst, nearly free software. The first of these is XNViewMP which is a totally free DAM while the second is Photoscape X which comes in both a free and a paid for version. These are for the PC although there is a version of XNViewMP for the Mac so all good. Let’s take a look at each of this in a bit more detail.
XNViewMP is a free, full featured DAM. It’s fast, customisable and easy to use. It has way more functionality than many embedded DAM systems so it does offer a real opportunity for Luminar users, and others, to be able to manage their images with minimal effort. In addition to being able to fully edit XMP, IPTC and tags for each image, both singulalry and batch, XNViewMP also provides you with the option of opening any image in any software application with a single click. You can can also edit the image within XNViewMP if you so wish. It displays around 500 different image types, including RAW so you won’t be struggling to open any image you might want to work on. I also use it to add comments to individual images for when I am considering these for competitions.
As can be seen in the above image you also have access to a host of useful tools to enable you to aquire, capture, share, print or search through your images. And it does all this amazingly quickly, you are never hanging around irrespective of how many images you have catalogued.
Photoscape X & Photoscape X Pro
Photoscape X is software I tend to overlook but it’s amazingly good at what it does so I really should try to remember I actually do own it. Like XNViewMP iit’s an easy to use metadate editor, in fact it’s probably even easier to use than XNViewMP plus it also offers a suprising range of really useful tools including a comprehensive range of editing tools. You really shouldn’t be fooled by it’s clunky unsophisticated look, this editing tool is pretty classy and while it might not have all the belles and whistles of say Photoshop or Affinity Photo, the quality of its output is excellent.
With regards using it as a DAM and a front end to open Luminar Neo (or practically any other editor) it offers everything you are likely to need. You have the ability to tag and rate your image, add comments, keywords and a description. Unlike XNViewMP I haven’t yet found a way to search on any of the metadata which is a bit limiting.
As for XNViewMP you can right click on your image and choose Open With… to open the image in your favourite editor eg Luminar Neo. I guess that Photoscape X is really an all-round editor rather then a full DAM but for free, or a modest outlay of just £29 for the Pro version you do get an aweful lot for your money.
In summary then, while Luminar Neo is somewhat hamstrung by the lack of an integrated DAM, this shouldn’t be seen as a major problem. Both of the products described here do a good job of allowing you to manage your digital assets, XNViewMP in particular and both offer a little bit more should that be of interest to you. There are others of course, ACDsee, Adobe Bridge, DigiKam and Canto DAM to name just a few. The key thing to remember is that a good DAM is there to help you manage your digital assets efficiently. Whether you feel you need to do this is another matter but in my experience, it does pay to use keywords as a minimum to help you locate your preceious images when you need them.