The Digital Photo Dilemma
Meag and I have been married for almost 14 years and over those years we’ve taken a lot of pictures. Those pictures first started out being taken with a simple 1.5 megapixel digital camera. When we started to have kids 5 years into our marriage we decided to buy a digital SLR. The camera is a Canon Rebel XT. It was way faster than our digital camera it replaced, significantly faster, which means we took a lot more photos as it was more convenient to do so. As the years went by the SLR started to show it’s size, it’s clunky and difficult for a Mom with kids to carry around and be able to take photos easily.
Meag wanted a smaller point and shoot camera to pack in the purse and be able to take photos more easily and quickly and rid herself of the bulky SLR. So we bought the Canon PowerShot S95. This was a great buy, it’s a fantastic camera and performs really well in all types of scenes. However, convenience wasn’t yet fully satisfied with this solution as there was still two devices that Meag would take along with her, the camera and her phone. The phone she had at the time was an iPhone 3GS. This in itself was an ok camera but Meag never used it as the quality was so much better with the S95. When our contracts were up we upgraded to the iPhone 4s. This phones camera was much better than the 3GS. The photos were clearer and the photos we took were higher quality. However, again, Meag tended to fall back to her S95 for taking good quality photos, such as close ups of the kids drawing or playing or whatever.
A little over a year ago Windows Phone 8 was released and with that I splurged and bought the Nokia Lumia 920. I was so impressed with the photo quality of that phone that 6 months later I bought Meag the 920 by adding my mother to our plan and using that new contract to get the 920 (I gave my mom an old iPhone). For the past 6 months Meag’s been using the 920. As I look through all the photos taken she’s increased her usage of the 920 over the S95 because of the photo quality, due in part to the camera tech in the 920. However, again she falls back to using the S95, but again her usage of the S95 has decreased even more as it did when she got the iPhone 4S.
This year Nokia released the Lumia 1020, the phone which I think will finally replace her S95. For Christmas, Meag’s contract was up so I upgraded her phone to the 1020. Time will tell if she continues to fall back to the S95 or stay with the Lumia 1020. I believe she’ll stick with the 1020 for most if not all of her photos. The combination of Nokia Camera App which has a great ability to adjust many camera settings on the fly like White Balance, and ISO is something that will help the camera stand up against the point and shoot. Also the post-processing options with the 1020 are a huge plus. Being able to zoom in to and crop a photo to only the parts desired without the photo losing any quality is a big deal. Here is a sample shot that Meag took at the local park of one of our kids.
Note: This is a reduced image of the full size. To view the FULL SIZE (21 MB) go here: http://sdrv.ms/JI2Y7K (Click the “Download” button in the top left corner of the page loaded to download the full res file)
NOTE: This is a zoomed in section of the photo taken (previously shown). The zoom capability is amazing on the 1020 for a smartphone!
Convenience and Quality
As I look back at our catalog of photos I noticed a trend occurring that was quite obvious. The growth of our photo libraries increased year over year with the different types of devices that we’ve used. Two critical parts to our photo catalog size was convenience and quality. With increased convenience comes an increase in photos. With an increase in quality (particularly in the smartphone) comes a decrease in the # of devices used to capture those precious moments.
I’ve always wanted to consolidate our devices to one for each person. I’ve found that since we rely on our SLR, Point and Shoot, and Smartphones for different photos that I tend to forget about one or the other device and it becomes tiring trying to manage and import photos from all those devices. I’ve continually searched for the one device that delivers both convenience and quality. I believe I’ve purchased the device that fully satisfies both, the Nokia Lumia 1020.
Photo Management – iPhoto
Over the years our catalog of photos has increased in both number of photos and the size of photos. I bought Meag a MacBook Air a few years ago, it has a 128GB hard drive. I put all of the photos we’ve taken over the last 13+ years in an iPhoto library. However, over the past year we discovered that Meag had less than 100MB of disk space left!!! I had to figure something out.
I searched the web trying to find different ways that people managed/organized their files that used MacBook Air’s as their primary computing device. I found that most people didn’t use the MacBook Air as their primary computing device, which was unfortunate since Meag doesn’t care to have a second machine.
I then discovered the AirPort Time Capsule. This device houses a 2TB hard drive and includes a USB port that you can plug a second hard drive into. I purchased this device and plugged in a 2TB hard drive that I had attached to my PC.
Purchasing the AirPort Time Capsule was part of the solution. The other was figuring out the best way to organize the photos leveraging the space I just opened up.
iPhoto Library Manager
I discovered a VERY handy and I believe critical tool to maintaining multiple iPhoto libraries. iPhoto Library Manager allows you to open multiple iPhoto Libraries and has two critical features: merge libraries, search for duplicate photos. I use this tool to create an iPhoto library for each Year.
The workflow is not ideal. With Windows Phones you can take a photo or video and it would automatically upload to SkyDrive. There is one problem with using this as the automatic workflow is that it doesn’t automatically import those photos into iPhoto. Also, the limitation of SkyDrive prevents Meag from downloading my Camera Roll to her computer for importing into iPhoto. So I do the following every few weeks to ensure all of our photos are together.
- Ensure all Meag’s photos from her phone are imported into her iPhoto library
- Do the same for my phone
- Do the same for our SLR and point and shoot
- Merge the changes from Meag’s iPhoto library with the one on my MacBook Pro using the iPhoto Library Manager software.
- Backup this iPhoto library to the AirPort Time Capsule.
Each iPhoto library has a naming convention where the name of the iPhoto library is simply the year that the photos were taken.
Problem #1 – With upgrading Meag’s phone to the Lumia 1020 the higher resolution photo is NOT uploaded to SkyDrive. This introduces a new problem, we need to now plug the 1020 directly to her computer to import photos. With the SLR and Point and Shoot our approach has always been this, plug the camera into the computer, import the photos, then delete all the photos from the camera. We’ve decided that this is the best approach with the 1020 given the increase in size of photos taken will significantly affect the local storage on the phone.
Problem #2 with the 1020. When you’re phone is set to JPEG (5 MP + 38 MP) (which it is by default) it creates two photos for every picture taken. When plugging the phone into the computer to import into iPhoto BOTH JPEG photos are imported. This makes maintaining the photos more tedious as you have to go through and delete the smaller photo, I care about that stuff and want only the larger JPEG in my iPhoto library, some may not care about that. There is currently no way to prevent the creation of two JPEG’s. However with the Nokia “Black” update for the 1020 you can now capture RAW DNG images. This creates problem #3.
Problem #3 is the ability to capture RAW DNG photos. This is definitely a plus but causes even more maintenance. To grab the DNG photos from the 1020 you have to do the following:
NOTE: Do this after you’ve imported all of the JPEG’s using the Windows Phone software and iPhoto.
- Open Nokia Photo Transfer (make sure iPhoto is open, seems to work better with iPhoto open for some reason)
- Plug the phone into the computer
- Copy the DNG photos to the hard drive
- Open them in Adobe software like Elements or Lightroom. (I use Photoshop Elements Editor)
- Save as a JPEG after processing the photo
- Import into iPhoto manually
This is definitely not ideal and it’s a real shame that iPhoto doesn’t support DNG out of the box. I could move to using Adobe Photoshop Elements and it’s Editor and Manager but I find that the iPhoto managing and organization approach is far easier to use so the additional steps are not too much of an inconvenience. Plus we only plan to take RAW photos for the moments where we know we want to do heavy post processing of photos.
In the end the overall consolidation to a single device for Meag and I (1020 and 1520 respectively) is a great choice. There are obviously downsides to it that I believe will mostly be fixed with some time. I’m excited to create more moments with my kids with even higher quality pictures. For anyone looking at Windows Phone or have one already and have a Mac hopefully this post helps give you some ideas.