digiKam 2.x - Amazingly Good Photo Management

digiKam 2.x - Amazingly Good Photo Management

Summary: If you are interested on digital photo management, I would encourage you to take a look at digiKam, and specifically at the newer 2.x version.


If you are interested on digital photo management, I would encourage you to take a look at digiKam, and specifically at the newer 2.x version. The 2.0 release announcement was made at the end of July, and they are now already up to version 2.2. Here is a short recap of the reasons I choose to use digiKam rather than the other obvious candidates:

- F-Spot: uses Mono. End of consideration, end of discussion.

- Shotwell: I actually tried this, in parallel with digiKam, while we were in Iceland. I found the user interface and commands to be rather confusing, and it was missing some of the major features that I was looking for. The most important of those was the ability to sort by date taken, not date modified, and the ability to adjust date/time information in individual pictures or groups of pictures.

- digiKam: very nice user interface. good basic image editor include (for the most part I want to rotate/crop/resize, add text, fix redeye, other simple tasks). excellent slide show presentation. excellent date/time adjustment capability, operates on one or a group of pictures, can set a selected date, an offset from the date, a date taken from another picture, and others.

Now that I have the 2.x version (I had been using the more commonly available 1.9.0 version), I'm quite pleased with some of the improvements and new features. The most obvious of these is probably Face Recognition. Admittedly this is pretty much of a "gee whiz" kind of a feature, but a lot of people seem to find it useful, or at least interesting. The idea is that you can tell digiKam to analyze your pictures, and find the ones which have faces in them. The pictures that it finds are added to the Tag group "People", which you can then go through and add specific tags with the people's names, if you want. As might be expected from a relatively early release of this sort of thing, it is far from fool-proof in finding pictures with faces. It seems to be specifically convinced that the wheel of our truck was a face... but it also chose some which had nothing but a blank or indistinct background, and in one case it identified the legs of a horse as a face (I've known some people who I would identify with other parts of a horse, but never the legs).

Another significant new feature, since the 2.1 release I believe, is the panorama creation tool. It looks to me as if this is an integrated version of the hugin program, which I learned about from a visitor this summer. It is a very nice, and very useful feature, and I will be putting it to work on some of our Iceland pictures very soon.

In summary - I have found digiKam to be so useful that I am seriously considering changing my primary boot to a KDE-based distribution because of it. If you are interested in photo management, or digital photography in general, or you just have a bunch of pictures that you want to organize, digiKam is well worth a look.

jw 26/10/2011

Topic: Linux

J.A. Watson

About J.A. Watson

I started working with what we called "analog computers" in aircraft maintenance with the United States Air Force in 1970. After finishing military service and returning to university, I was introduced to microprocessors and machine language programming on Intel 4040 processors. After that I also worked on, operated and programmed Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-8, PDP-11 (/45 and /70) and VAX minicomputers. I was involved with the first wave of Unix-based microcomputers, in the early '80s. I have been working in software development, operation, installation and support since then.

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  • JW:

    Excellent write-up on this new version of digiKam. I am also on 1.9.0 and look forward to trying these new features. In fact, integrating Hugin into digiKam is very exciting. It will be interesting to see how digiKam integrates it in. Hugin is definitely good for panorama shots, and I used it to join scans together from a poster size image which worked fairly well. It is funny you mentioned Shotwell, which I tried also and it just can't do what digiKam does and is not user friendly at all, especially when you want to re-organize photos among folders. And anything to do with Mono is definitely out here as well, too bad for F-Spot but unfortunately the whole Mono project is wobbly since it's Microsoft-based.

    For those that have not used digiKam, another nice thing that I love about digiKam, is that you can add "Collections" or "Albums", and point them at any folder either on the local system or network. It will quickly scan for image files the first time and you can browse to those folders inside digiKam and manipulate the photos and their tags very easily, even in batches where it can use a film-strip view with a large preview of each photo as you go. Yet, it doesn't mess with the actual file structure and you can drag & drop your photos either in digiKam's interface or within Nautilus or whatever file manager you use. I'll stop now, as I could go on for days about digiKam and the virtually endless functionality it has. There's no doubt that it's the best photo management software available for GNU/Linux, Mac, and Windows (although the digiKam implementation for Windows has its quirks from what I've read).

    Incidentally, I've found no issues running digiKam in Gnome 2.x, since yum (in Fedora) installs all of the KDE libraries that are needed for it to run. Although that's a thought about switching to KDE with Gnome 3 being pushed at us now. :)

    As always thanks for the information!
  • One thing I forgot to mention - digiKam is also able to upload to a variety of online photo sharing services. I use Picasa, and I was very pleased to find that digiKam can resize pictures on the fly as they are uploading.

    @apexwm - you are right about digikam working well under Gnome, until this release I had been using it on Linux Mint, which also has a software manager that takes care of getting all the necessary libraries and support files when it is installed.

    As you said, digiKam really is so good that it is all too easy to go on and on about it...

    Thanks for reading and commenting

  • JW, now that you mentioned uploading images and resizing them on the fly, it reminded me that I wanted to do the same for emailing images with Thunderbird. There was no doubt that digiKam could do this, but I never took the time to figure it out. I looked today and finally discovered how to do this. I thought I'd include this information here in case anybody else might be trying to do the same thing.

    In Fedora it involves installing the "kipi-plugins" package, otherwise there is no option to email images in the "Image" menu in digiKam. It looks like the kipi plugins are used by other applications as well, it seems to be a KDE specific group of plugins, not specific to digiKam which is probably why they were not installed by default. After installing the "kipi-plugins" package, a whole bunch of new items appeared in the "Image" menu in digiKam, including one for "Email images". Select the images you want to email, then select "Email images" under the "Image" menu, and a new dialog box pops up where you can select which email program to use, as well as recompressing options and sizing options. The settings will stick after you set them, for the future. Very very good stuff.
  • @apexwm - Great stuff, thanks for adding this. I just checked digiKam 2.2 on openSuSE 12.1 RC-1. It appears that the kipi-plugins package is installed there along with digiKam, and the option to email (and resize) is in the "Export" menu, along with a whole lot of other things such as uploading to a variety of locations and formats. Really nice.

  • I've only tries F-spot and shotwell. F-spot was far too slow to be useable, though shotwell worked well with a large image database. To be honest, I find folders seem to work fine.
    duncan j murray
  • @duncanjmurray - I agree, simply keeping photos in well-organized folders, and viewing them with any of the excellent display programs on Linux such as Gwenview, Eye of Gnome, Gthumb or various others, is adequate for a lot of purposes and a lot of people - including me, until recently. But to be honest I had also been put off, or at least discouraged, by the fact that the other Linux photo management programs I had looked at, including those you mentioned, just didn't seem to offer enough of an advantage compared to the "simple" method to justify using them. I changed my mind when I tried digiKam.

    Thanks for reading and commenting.