IDimager Professional- IDimager Systems
IDimager is photography workflow software centered around digital asset management and featuring non-destructive editing, advanced operations for off-line images, printing, online publishing and a slew of unique features. IDimager comes in a $69 USD Personal and a $139 USD Professional edition, both available for Windows only.
The Professional version - evaluated here - is a superset of the Personal version. The most important features lacking from the Personal version are Offline support, Geolocation, face and speech labeling. The Personal edition also puts certain arbitrary limits on the size of its databases, number of light-table images and printing resolution.
IDimager is capable of working with unmanaged images using a built-in file-system browser, although much of its functionality does not apply in that case, it can be useful when looking for images to catalog.
IDimager Professional is an extremely powerful software with perhaps more capabilities than any other one reviewed here. That is not to say it has every feature imaginable but it does hold a number of unique capabilities.
IDimager presents a busy yet uncluttered panel-based grey user-interface. A central image and thumbnail area is found surrounded by panels, toolbars, palettes and more toolbars. There are quite a few UI elements here, most of them are not permitted to overlap to avoid constantly moving them around. At the same time, the default image area ends up being a bit small compared to other offerings. Like with most other DAM software, the interface is highly customizable and many parts can be closed or minimized.
A toolbar controls the main UI elements. On the left side of the image area, either the catalog browser or the file system browser can be shown. The catalog browser is the gateway to various catalog views. There are 11 such views including a label view (which includes keywords as a sub-category), a rating view, metadata view (includes EXIF and IPTC), a rating view, a folder view and timeline view.
Nearly every UI elements has tool tips and extensive help is available directly from the application. This helps deal with a number of UI elements which are less than intuitive due to a highly complex feature set. Take the catalog browser as an example, it can perform a number of advanced operations like selecting based on multiple criteria, trigger backups and store predefined queries by example. One can also select in the folder view a single-folder or branch view depending on where you click. Remember that having a branch-view speeds up labeling and metadata editing by allowing operations to be performed on an entire hierarchy of images.
The file-system view shows a standard folder-tree. This lets one find uncatalogged images or peek at images on disk. As one explores images through the file-system view, IDimager can add images to the catalog, automatically or on-demand directly from the file-system browser.
The retrieval of images from the catalog and file-system is quite fast and certainly the fastest aspect of IDimager. Most queries, regardless of filters used, are performed in under 2 seconds. Unlike most DAM software, the image viewer is an overlaid window which is user-invoked on a specific image. This means that IDimager does not load full-size images to respond to a catalog query which could explain the speed of the results.
The metadata section of the catalog browser is divided into 5 sub-sections, one of them representing EXIF data. This one allows the selection of 12 criteria. Among those one can see orientation in terms of standard, clockwise 90-degrees and counter-clockwise 90-degrees. These is probably no point in distinguishing these last two but together they serve to keep track of portrait images. Aspect ration and resolution are both absent from the metadata filters. Lens information is there as a mysterious quartet of numbers, which we can presume is what is stored in EXIF. This avoids the software taking any guesses as to what the lens actually is, which most do not get completely right anyway.
Importing is done through a small dialog with a few options. The basis is a single directory folder or branch, with options to create thumbnails, storing metadata and create default labels. Here IDimager takes slowness to a whole new level. It took over 28 hours to import the same 18000 images that Bibble 5 Pro did in 2½h. The import process is implemented as background threads but the entire application becomes much less responsive and freezes from time to time while importing is in progress. Files are always referenced from their original location.
After importing the catalog can still be modified, something that only a few DAM software allow. Images and folders can be removed from the catalog or they can be relocated. This is useful in case files have to be moved because of disk space. Catalog folders updated by scanning for new images or the images that are there can be scanned to determine if any of them are missing.
Keywording works reasonably well is is generally efficient for most operations. Any selection of images get its keywords shown in grey or orange, depending if the particular keyword is applied to all images in the selection or only some. Adding a new keyword simply involves typing it in an entry field and dismissing a dialog of advanced keyword features. Clicking on a highlighted keyword removes it from all images in the collection. To apply it to the entire collection, one must first remove it and then apply again, so that it affects all images. It takes several seconds to apply keywords to any sizable set of images.
IDimager has exceptional keywording capabilities. One is that it allows the application to be controlled using speech. The other is that it supports face-tagging, so that it extracts faces from images automatically and makes it easy to assign names to each face.
Being non-destructive and database driven, like all modern DAM software should be, IDimager supports the read-only and off-line media. One can search, view thumbnails and even edit metadata for all such files. Thumbnail rotation is supported as well, in case images on read-only media do not have the correct orientation. IDimager also supports the application of display sharpening, to counter the softening caused by scaling down images to fit the display area. Both these features are excellent touches which show that a lot of thought was put into IDimager.
IDimager claims to be optimized for performance but in use it feels rather sluggish to say the least. Besides the very quick queries, everything else is extremely slow. Images appear slowly, UI elements expand at glacial speed and the speed of import is simply ridiculous.
The data set showed one problem with IDimager. It seems that the import process skips larger images. This is the case with most stitched panoramas. No diagnostic is issued, the images in question simply do not appear when their folder is imported. Now, we had a similar problem with Bibble 5 Pro but at least IDimager has a workaround. Using the file-tree view, one can navigate to any folder container large images and see those images. As soon as such an image is clicked on, IDimager prompts whether to import it or not. Once it is imported this way, it does appear in the catalog along with everything else. These images can be tagged, rated and labeled, so there is no loss of functionality, just wasted time.
The bottom line is that IDimager gives a mixed impression. On one side it has plenty of rich and unique features, on the other the interface is cluttered, mysterious and responds very slowly in many cases. If speed is not an issue, then the UI clutter can be ignored because it does provide access to a few powerful capabilities. The main issue left is the annoying process for getting large files imported which requires knowing which all such large files reside.
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