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hpr4071 :: Migration to digiKam as Digital Asset Management (DAM)

I describe how I migrated from Adobe Photoshop Elements to digiKam as my photo catalog software.

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Hosted by Henrik Hemrin on 2024-03-11 is flagged as Clean and is released under a CC-BY-SA license.
photography, photo, digiKam, Digital Asset Management, DAM. 1.

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Duration: 00:08:21


I talk about my migration from Adobe Photoshop Elements to digiKam as photo catalog software, or DAM Digital Asset Management as it often is referred to nowadays.

My latest was release 14 which I bought 2015, which also was when I migrated from Windows to macOS.

Photoshop Elements is without hesitation a good software. One major drawback is that is a proprietary software from which I cannot export data on my conditions.

After a few of years on release 14 the geotagging stopped working. The error message told that this was caused by a change by Google. Adobe Photoshop Elements had a fix for this error - but only incorporated in the next release of the software. No fix was planned for my release. So to get geotagging working again, I would have to buy a new release.

I also got problem that it now and then crashed and needed to be restarted. Something needed to be done.

I considered if I should buy a new release of Photoshop Elements or change to any other software. At the same time I also became more attracted to Linux. I also became more interested in free and open software.

A big drawback with changing to something else than Adobe is that I most certainly will loose some of the work I have put into photos in Photoshop Elements.

  1. The Photo editing data and raw conversion settings for individual photos will be lost. This is almost impossible to migrate between software. What can be done is to save what I have edited as new photos. I am fine with this, it will not stop me from changing software.

  2. Meta data is very important to me. Meta data contains not only information about the shooting from the camera itself. But also my tags, description texts and more I had added in Photoshop Elements. Meta data also includes face tagging. This goes both for digital camera photos as well as digitized analog photos.

  • Criteria for my new software:
    1. Preferable free and open source
    2. Available on multiple platforms, in particular available on macOS and Linux
    3. That meta data can be migrated including face tagging

The one that I found to best meet my criteria is digiKam.

DigiKam is mostly known for its catalog capabilities. But digiKam also includes import and export functions as well as raw conversion and photo editing.

My migration.

Photoshop Elements stores the data in a data base. It is possible to export metadata to files and sidecars. But not all data. Face tagging cannot be exported. The name of the person can be exported but not the coordinates of the face tag which only is stored in the data base.

The data base itself cannot be read by other software, except by Adobe software: Adobe Lightroom Classic can import the data from Photoshop Elements data base into its own data base. This was very important for my migration success. Lightroom can export also the face tagging.

I discovered an issue with the time- and datestamps. In Photoshop Elements it is possible to give incomplete date and time, for example only state the year if I do not know all details. Already Lightroom had problem to interpret this information correctly and I had to implement a workaround with tags. In general, several time and date attributes exist and it is something to understand what is what and how each of the is defined, displayed and managed in the software.

From Lightroom Classic I exported meta data including face tags to files and sidecars.

And migration to digiKam worked good enough. I still have access to my Photoshop Elements database if I want to go back and check anything.

My next step was to migrate from digiKam on macOS to digiKam on Linux. This migration was relatively easy. My current settings in digiKam is to always write data to sidecars, in addition to the digiKam data bases. So I copied photo files and sidecars from macOS to Linux. I took the opportunity to rearrange my folder structure. Then I imported into digiKam and digiKam built new data bases in Linux based on photos and sidecars.


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Comment #1 posted on 2024-03-15 10:56:43 by Kevin O'Brien

Good show!

Digikam is the software I use, and I'm glad to see that it works well for others. I take a lot of photos when I travel, and digikam helps me sort it all out and manage it. If you haven't tried it, give it a look and see if it works for you. It is free, open source software.

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