Browsing vs. Cataloging: The Ins and Outs

One important question we keep seeing deals with differences between cataloging and browsing and how this will be handled ON1 Photo RAW. 

Let’s dive in…

How some raw processors work
First, I think it’s important to know how some other raw processors work. Most require a cataloging step right in the beginning – before you do anything. Sometimes this is also referred to as “importing”. You have to tell the app where the photos are that you are interested in, and then wait for it to read-in those photos to extract some valuable information (like metadata, camera info, etc…), and build a preview so you can view it. If you’re cataloging a lot of photos at once, this step can take a while. We’ve all ended up buying a new photo app or computer at some point, and want to catalog all our photos. Or you come back from a wedding shoot, or even a long vacation and have several thousand new photos. And catalogs also tend to be locked to the computer they’re on, or are at least hard to move around and share the photo viewing / editing process with other people you’re working with.

That said, the cataloging process isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it enables some cool features like fast searching, smart collections, and viewing photos offline.

512How a browser is different
Okay, now let’s talk about a Browser based photo app. Browsers are super faster when it comes down to simply looking at your photos. Some high-volume photographers use browsers, like ON1 Browse, to sort and cull their photos before they send them to other cataloging apps like Lightroom®. Browsers don’t give you fast searching or smart collections though. And if you go back to the same folder frequently, it’ll probably have to build new thumbnails every time because there’s no catalog behind the scenes to store things. Again, not necessarily a bad thing – just different. Sometimes if you just want to look at photos quickly, a photo browser is the fastest way to go.

You get the best of both in ON1 Photo RAW
Now let’s talk about ON1 Photo RAW and where it fits. Photo RAW will combine the best of both cataloging and browsing. You can simply point it to any folder and it works as a photo browser. You can quickly view tons of photos and do your sorting and culling really fast. You can still search and sort within the current folder and create normal albums (like collections in Lightroom). Then when you want the benefits that a database provides, like fast searching across all your photos, creating smart albums or offline viewing, you add your photos to what we call, a “Favorite”.

A Favorite is simply a watched folder. ON1 Photo RAW continuously watches the photos in a Favorite, so that it always has up-to-date metadata and a preview ready to show. It gives you all the benefits of cataloging, without making the photo import and browsing experience cumbersome.

Easier to work with others
If you work on multiple computers, or share you photos with other family members in a home, or co-workers in a studio, ON1 Photo RAW makes that easier. It can store each photo’s metadata, settings, and adjustments along with the photo so anyone who views it will see the same changes. When someone else adjusts a photo, and then you view it on your computer, it will automatically pick-up the changes so you can see them. You don’t have to worry about moving a catalog back and forth or fixing broken hard drive paths. Plus your photos can live on network drives. We’ve really spent a lot of time talking to our users and diving in to what they want. When it comes down to it they want three things when managing their photos: fast, easy, and searchable. We’ll combine the best parts of a photo browsing app with the best parts of a cataloging system in ON1 Photo RAW.