I’ve been playing with using Picasa from Google for the last week or so and overall I’m quite impressed with it. It’s already better for managing a big pile of photos than the software that came with my digital camera, and that’s without making use of all the metadata, plus it provides good basic photo editing features and makes it easy to tweak and resize photos for sharing via e-mail.
I just discovered something I don’t like today though: The way it imports new photos from a digital camera. I’ve just built a new PC, and rather than installing the software Canon provided with my camera, I thought I’d use Picasa to pull the photos over.
Yuck. Before I can actually save the photos to disk, Picasa forces me to name a folder to put them in and prompts me to add various bits of metadata. This requires thinking I’d rather not do. I hate having to remember to upload my photos in the first place and would rather they just magically flow to my computer whenever the camera gets close enough. Requiring any more thought is an entirely unwelcome imposition.
Even if I wanted to think about how to categorize my photos when I upload them, Picasa imposes a flawed model. I don’t upload from my camera after ever activity, as a result, there may be a week or more’s worth of images taken on different days of different things. It’s stupid to steer me into tagging a group of unrelated photos with the same metadata.
Even worse, they practically force me to tag it with incorrect metadata since I have no choice but to assign a single date to all the photos in the batch I import. I don’t even see the point in assigning a date, since the camera time stamps each file in the first place.
As much as I resent being forced to think at a time I’d rather not think at all, I do see the value in making it as simple as possible to add metadata to photos when you are downloading them from the camera. Unfortunately, Picasa seems to have made it too simple to be of much use.
1. That Picasa has the option of automatically downloading the photos from my camera with no effort on my part other than hooking up the cable. Sticking them in folders by shooting date (either by day, week, or month, as a configuration option) seems like a reasonable bit of automatic categorization to do.
2. That Picasa stops after downloading the images and allows me to choose to add metadata, or to just click Ok and have the images imported without further effort.
3. The Picasa actually make it easy to select related images at import time and quickly tag groups of them with relevant info.
All in all though, I’m still like with Picasa, I just wish its import functionality was more sensible so I don’t have to install some other package to download stuff from my camera.