Today I want to talk about Photo Mechanic - one of my favorite image browser softwares. I don’t waste any time searching through photos I like and which ones I want to edit. I just get straight to the software, so check out my Photo Mechanic review for photographers who are looking for a good photo sorting software.
This is a specially designed image browser, front-end photo ingesting, tagging, and browsing software that lets you load, view, organize, manage, mark and export digital photos.
You may cut your workflow time in half using Photo Mechanic. It will help make managing RAW and JPEG images faster and easier.
Official website: Photo Mechanic
Developer: Camera Bits, Inc
Alternatives: Adobe Bridge CC
Platforms: Windows/Mac OS
Price: FREE Trial or $139
Despite the aforesaid words about Photo Mechanic not being an image editor, it still has some instruments for basic image enhancement, such as cropping and framing. But if we talk about color correction: exposure settings, color, balance and many other functions, you have to use Photo Mechanics in combination with other softwares. Is it worth it? Let's figure it out!
Quick import and export. What is the essential difference between uploading a photo by means of Lightroom in 3 seconds, and by means of Photo Mechanic software in 1 second? It matters if you are an experienced photographer that processes hundreds or even thousands of RAW photographs a day, whose time is equal to earnings, only in reverse. In other words, the quicker a photographer uploads, views, organizes and marks the images, the sooner he/she gets money for the job.
Ease of use. It is very easy to understand how to use Photo Mechanic. Upon installation, you can upload hundreds of RAW files, organize them, mark and do more without any difficulty. The interface and tools are designed to maximize the simplicity of each task.
Support of any image format. Any image format, ranging from simple JPEG, PNG to RAW files and GIF can be processed with this program. To crown all, the software does not care what file format you use, the speed of uploading and displaying thumbnails will greatly surprise you, even when dealing with heavy RAW files.
Lack of tools. Regretfully, the software is capable only of viewing and sorting through your photos. Even though it offers some basic functions like cropping and framing, these are not enough.
What I like is the offered Photo Mechanic price policy. The company avoids the trend of a monthly subscription, you buy a $139 license once and use it forever. I want to note that even future updates are free. The license is cross-platform (Mac and PC) and is allowed to be activated on three computers if they all belong to you.
When you click the icon, it starts within a few seconds. Well, let's test it, can it keep up with the launch speed?
As I expected after reading Photo Mechanic reviews by other users, the interface is quite easy to navigate even by beginners. The left panel contains the structure of your computer files. Use that or the additional menu to upload images by opening the parameters and selecting “Open contact sheet ...”.
Upon selection of the needed folder, a window appears to allow you to view thumbnails and images displayed in the right (central) screen section. On the top toolbar, seven separate tabs are spaciously set out. Using them you can perform various functions:
The preview interface allows performing parallel (or higher and lower) comparisons. It will provide an image histogram that will point out bloated or lost dark areas. That helps when you decide which shots to keep. One factual editing opportunity – cropping is featured. Framing tool is not as complex as in Lightroom and won’t even frame your picture view. It comes into force (optional) when you perform the export. Being unable to see the action’s effect seems meaningless, but the area outside the frame can be darkened.
As I have already said earlier, it has two methods of uploading and displaying photos.
Download via Navigator. On the left window side, select the navigator, then navigate the software to the folder containing the needed files. In my case, I used RAW files more than 20MB each, the upload and display of images was successful and took 2-3 seconds.
Open contact sheet. The second way to download files is less simple and takes more time. In the top panel, click File - Open contact sheet, specify the path to your folder and click OK. Download speed is equally quick, but as for me, the first method is simpler.
Not to be too verbose, pointing out that this software loads photos faster no matter what file format you work with, I made a Photo Mechanic vs Lightroom comparison. I uploaded the same files into both editors.
Here is a table of the time it took the programs to display thumbnails:
The table shows that the difference in time spent is considerable, although that wasn’t my biggest interest. I was pleased with Photo Mechanic’s time that practically did not fluctuate while Lightroom showed a significant drop in speed. In other words, we can say that it takes a few seconds to load 1000 RAW photos into Photo Mechanic, and minutes into Lightroom. It is impressive, isn't it?
They developed and built in the most interesting function, which by the way I had previously seen only in Capture One Pro. That is uploading from multiple sources at once, either from 3-4 memory cards or several individual external drives. All this will be performed in seconds and I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised.
Basically, the software works with the help of the Ingest process. At this stage, you may add several elements to photos: keywords, signatures, IPTC info, etc. Photo Mechanic features fixed and variable IPTC pads to make the upload process more flexible. The variables can record specific data for every file. You may specify the location, keywords and also add a copyright to a photo, which is an essential tool for modern times. Add data from release forms for models or property. There is other software that can perform that too, but the functions are not merged or too complicated.
The Live Ingest function monitors folders and instantly imports photos that fall into the specified folder. It also performs tethering directly off the camera. Set this option to wait for the full RAW + JPEG couple or only the indicated time until the RAW files stabilize. However, the problem with its tethering is that you still need other software to run it. Lightroom and Aperture allow you to monitor the camera, but Photo Mechanic simply monitors the designated folder and accepts what gets in it.
I compared this program to very popular Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Bridge CC. Nevertheless, Photo Mechanic is the best.
To tell the truth, in some situations Lightroom is slower. For example, creating a preview of RAW files occurs within a considerable time span. For creating a smart preview, the time difference will be enormous. I tested it on 20 RAW files, the average size of which was about 8MB. In the case of Lightroom, it took me about 2 minutes. Photo Mechanic completed the task faster – in about 40 seconds.
Lightroom is an incredible working tool with the help of which you can process, organize and edit RAW images. To pick multiple photos for a closer look, press Shift + N while choosing them. Either software can add keywords and metadata. However, in Photo Mechanic, the process is more complex.
Adobe Bridge CC is a photo managing software that is supposed to act as a bridge between the unprocessed pictures that you shoot and the edited final versions.
Unlike in Lightroom or Photoshop, image editing is unavailable here. Instead, you can search, store and tag the shots. You can look through the gathered media and then perform needed alterations in different Adobe programs. It reduces junk, speeds-up task performance and is user-friendly.
There are people who consider such software a bit unnecessary. Lightroom is provided with an amazing organizational system thanks to its library module. If you compare Photo Mechanic vs Bridge, the latter lags sometimes. The strongest issue is speed. Photo Mechanic generates thumbnails quicker than Bridge.
Microsoft Windows minimum requirements
Apple Mac OS minimum requirements
If you have already decided to download Photo Mechanic and start working with it, see the following video tutorials from people who work with photos using this software.