So, after my podcast with Kevin Mullins, I’ve been tinkering around with the Demo version then the NFR version of Photo Mechanic from the folks at Camera Bits…and I’ve gotta say, I am impressed.  For sheer volume management, Photo Mechanic blows Lightroom away.  You can process so many images on a straight basis of “keeper/reject” using a quick glance at the thumbnail and when I have high volume shoots, a program like Photo Mechanic can make things go so much more quickly.  Think I am exaggerating?  Check out this case study:

Photo Mechanic from Camera Bits

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of being the photographer for an annual charity drive for Ducks Unlimited.  Over the course of three hours, I captured about 300 images.  Naturally, some of the shots were before things started (sort of behind the scenes), others were of the attendees, and then others of the auction itself, including products, bidders, and (naturally) the auctioneer.  Afterward, I took the time to run some comparisons.  In order to get as close to a side-by-side comparison as possible, I imported to Lightroom in four different ways:

  • Lightroom with 1:1 previews – from USB attached Drobo
  • Lightroom with 1:1 previews – from local hard drive
  • Lightroom with minimal previews – from USB attached Drobo
  • Lightroom with minimal previews – from local hard drive

The initial import kind of told me some interesting information:

LR – 1:1 – Drobo LR – 1:1 – C Drive LR – minimal – Drobo LR – minimal – C Drive
34 minutes 29 minutes 90 seconds 60 seconds

What does this tell me? Well, for starters, that the rendering of 1:1 previews really adds to the processing time for Lightroom. No surprise though, we already knew that, right? This data just kind of validates the theory. But from the Drobo versus the C drive, this tells me that the difference even with USB really is negligible. SO many people have expressed concerns over the data transfer rates for a cable-attached Drobo, the need for Firewire, SATA and all that jazz. When honestly, it looks like the difference isn’t all that significant at this level.

So, how did Photo Mechanic do?  Well, pretty well, considering.  In Photo Mechanic, it’s not “importing” photos, the software “ingests” them.  Probably just semantics, but the speed is marked, to say the least.  My ingest rates (there is no minimal thumbnail size – it’s always full size), was four minutes for both the Drobo and the C drive!  That’s right, four minutes! A 300 image import took literally 10% of the time it took Lightroom.

Making the first wave of picks and deletions using Photo Mechanic is a no-brainer for me anymore.  I will likely restrict PM to just doing initial imports and deletions though as the editing tools from Lightroom past the initial import/ingest stage are significant enough to merit making the move from PM to LR.  The savings in import time is enough that I finished my post production in less than half of the time it would normally have taken me.  In fact, the Ducks Unlimited event is now out the door, and in the hands of the Chairman!

So, take my advice, if you have the extra $150, consider adding this to your software arsenal – it’s going to save you tons of time in post production!  Oh wait, what’s that?  You don’t have that kind of money?  Well, no worries, there’s still time in this months’ Flickr giveaway to enter.  Just submit your “Speed” themed photo to the June Contest thread for your chance to win!  Thanks to the folks at Camera Bits for their generous contribution and to give me the time to kick the tires on this great software solution!


One final reminder – the first 250 buyers of the DIY Legal Kit fulfillment has almost ended.  There’s literally only a couple left, and if you don’t take advantage of this awesome offer to get the kit at half off, they are expiring at the end of June, so it’s pretty much now or never!  Stop here to pick up the 6 page set of legal forms for a limited time at $15!

5 thoughts on “Software Review: Photo Mechanic

  1. Linda Williams says:

    I’m a big fan of Photo Mechanic, it’s a piece of software somehow underrated. Just great for photo management.
    I also use BatchPhoto for things like converting, watermarking and resizing multiple photos at the same time. It’s really a productivity booster.

  2. @photogoofer says:

    I’m a sports photographer shooting pro and college sports. I shoot over 1000 images at some events and have to upload 5-10 edited images at halftime/intermissions and get back to catch the action for the next period. It’s GREAT for adding IPTC metadata that is required by wire services and media outlets. It’s amazingly fast at rendering both RAW and jpeg files. I only wish it would do minor editing like exposure and contrast adjustments. I still have to use other editors like Aperture or Photoshop for some images. This would speed the process up even more.

  3. Thanks for your review of Photo Mechanic, an editing software I have been using for close to 7 years. Every so often I think I should move to Lightroom but then I ask myself “Why?”. I shoot high volume sports – 350-450 would be typical; from 2 to seven events a weekend (Thru- Sat evening) Using the SD card (I shoot a Canon 1D MK IV with two cards) in a new MAC Pro (newly acquired) I can load the images very quickly between quarters, intermissions. One of the great ingest features is to be able to use the same card without dups by checking the new images only feature in the ingest. I don’t need to use folders on the camera. PM with a direct link to PS 4 allows me to do all the edits and prioritization, and produce 4-6 finished images by the end of the game. At most I might miss 5-10 minutes of the game The star rating system allows home team images to be separated from visiting team images so both teams can have appropriate images for their websites by EOG (end of game). It just a great tool for high volume time critical projects.

  4. Please note – the original post had said the retail value for PHoto Mechanic was $199, that is incorrect. The correct pricing for Photo Mechanic is $150 – worth every penny!

    My apologies to the folks at Camera Bits for the original error in the review. Thanks agian so much for your participation, and good luck to everyone in the contest!

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