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At the moment I have many folders of photos, each folder representing an occasion. The photos were mainly taken by DSLRs and are in JPEG/RAW pairs. I would like to have some better way of viewing and indexing the photos with the following requirements:

  • The process should be non-destructive and the images unchanged unless I explicitly allow this (see points below).
  • The images should remain in their current location and not duplicated elsewhere.
  • I would like to be able to add geotags to the EXIF data in the images, via GPS tracks or by using a map on multiple images where a GPS track isn't available.
    • I would like to be able to tag people in the EXIF data by using facial recognition.

From talking to a friend, I get the impression that Lightroom 6 will probably be the tool for me. Can anyone confirm this or offer any relevant advice or insight?

Many thanks!

  • What operating system are you using? – vclaw Sep 16 '16 at 13:56
  • I don't know. What do you think? – Michael C Sep 16 '16 at 15:44
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Yes, it is. Lightroom can do all the things you asked for (and more).

The process should be non-destructive and the images unchanged unless I explicitly allow this (see points below).

Lightroom does this. All the adjustments you make are stored in the Lightroom database, the original RAW files are never touched in any way (though you can chose to convert proprietary RAW files into DNG, but this is optional). It may overwrite your accompanying JPGs, but only if you tell it to export JPGs into the same folder where the RAW files reside and it will ask your permission before overwriting any files.

The images should remain in their current location and not duplicated elsewhere.

Upon importing, you can choose whether to leave the pictures in their current locating, or to move or copy them to a new directory of your chosing. Make sure to select Add in the import window to have them remain in their current location. This way, you will also be able to browse your photos using your existing folder structure inside of lightroom.

I would like to be able to add geotags to the EXIF data in the images, via GPS tracks or by using a map on multiple images where a GPS track isn't available.

Lightoom has a Map module for this purpose. I have never used it, but you should be able to do anything you want with it. See here for using the Lightroom map, here for an introduction to Geotagging and here for an in-depth introduction to the Map module.

I would like to be able to tag people in the EXIF data by using facial recognition.

Lightroom has an automatic face recognition that you can turn on for all imported photos or only for selected folders. You can also manually delete recognised faces or add new ones. Lightroom will try to learn faces and suggest a name for recognised ones, you can either confirm or override the suggestion.

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No I do not think Lightroom is the tool for you. Or rather, is too much tool for you.

You want the ability to index and tag images, add GPS tracks, and basically view images non-destructively.

Lightroom is a RAW Image Editing tool, and a quite powerful one. It does offer extensive indexing, sorting and tagging capabilities. However, Lightroom may be 'overkill' to gain viewing and tagging capabilities. It is indeed a fine choice for managing images, but that use case is a bit like buying a car to drive to the end of your driveway to check the mailbox.

Alternatives:

If you are on a Mac, the built in Photos application is a fine choice, offering all of your requirements plus synchronization between devices and other options,

If you are PC, then Infraview is an excellent image viewer/sorter, however I suspect it does not support face recognition. Another option is XnView (also for Mac).

  • I thought that Photos copies images into its library. Does it have an option to leave the images in place, and not copy them into its own hierarchy? – scottbb Sep 16 '16 at 18:40
  • No. you are correct, Photos does copy to its own data library. That library is easily accessible, but hidden. Simply rt click on Photos icon, Show Package contents, then look in Masters. – cmason Sep 16 '16 at 19:32
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Lightroom can do all of these things, but it also has many features that it seems will not be important to you. Lightroom's Develop Module is where most LR users spend the majority of their time, and it seems like you are not really interested in the tools and capabilities of the Develop Module. You may want to look for something that will focus specifically on the organizational side, although you

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