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Ralf Jurrien : April 17th 2007 - 14:20 CET

Photo mechanic software update

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Camera BitsPhoto mechanic software update : Camera Bits, Inc., a pioneer in the development of software for professional digital photographers, announced a significant update to its popular Photo Mechanic photo browser and workflow tool. Version 4.5 of Photo Mechanic, which is expected to ship before the end of March, is loaded with new features aimed to please demanding photographers who work with large numbers of digital photos. Since its original release in February 1998, Photo Mechanic has been a mainstay of professional photojournalists in need of software to help them efficiently browse, caption, and manage digital photos. Photo Mechanic is by far the most popular photo-editing tool used by newspapers and press photographers in the USA.
Photo mechanic software updatePhoto mechanic software 4.5
When it comes to IPTC/XMP metadata editing, two of the new features in version 4.5, full support for Unicode IPTC and Structured Keywords, will likely solidify Photo Mechanic’s position as the tool of choice for the demanding field of photojournalism. “Photo Mechanic is one of the few applications available that can be trusted to flexibly, properly, and safely handle IPTC and XMP metadata editing for photos, especially RAW photos,” claims Dennis Walker, President and Founder of Camera Bits. One example of Photo Mechanic’s flexibility is the ability to control how IPTC and/or XMP metadata is read and written for different formats such as JPEG or RAW. Now with Version 4.5 of Photo Mechanic, a user can choose to encode IPTC characters as either Unicode (UTF-8), or with a specific character encoding (e.g. Mac Cyrillic) depending on their preferences or their international locale. This enhanced flexibility allows IPTC metadata to be entered in practically any language.

Photo mechanic Caption Safe
Photo Mechanic uses a unique technology called Caption Safe that lets users undo metadata changes it makes to RAW photo formats from Canon, Nikon, Olympus, and other popular camera models when other software fails to properly parse modified RAW photos. “Our customers can rest assured that IPTC and XMP metadata edits made by Photo Mechanic are correct and flexible enough to work with applications and operating systems that have a limited awareness or fragility with regards to metadata formatting. Camera Bits has been working with metadata for a decade now, and companies with products both new and mature haven’t been able to figure this all out yet,” says Walker.

Photo mechanic software - Version 4.5
New in Version 4.5 of Photo Mechanic is the ability to efficiently apply keywords from a user-customizable hierarchical keyword database to groups of photos. With the new Structured Keywords window, users can apply keywords, and optionally synonyms and those keywords along their hierarchical path, to various IPTC fields such as Keywords and Caption. By using a consistent catalog of hierarchically organized terms to apply metadata, one can expect a larger variety of subsequent searches to match photos that contain a variety of relative terms. An additional feature of Structured Keywords interface is the ability to search through the keyword database to find relative terms or synonyms.

Structured keywords feature
According to David Riecks, author of the Controlled Vocabulary Keyword Catalog (CVKC), “Photo Mechanic’s new Structured Keywords feature is the most elegant and efficient means of applying a hierarchically based set of keywords that I’ve seen so far. I am pleased to have worked with Camera Bits to make Version 3 of the CVKC compatible with this popular software.” Photo Mechanic 4.5 includes a sample hierarchical keyword database of animals and world regions provided by David Riecks, and the entire CVKC database can be purchased separately. A groundbreaking new feature in Photo Mechanic 4.5 is the ability to create highly customized web galleries using dynamic plug-in templates that are written in Ruby, a powerful scripting language. An HTML exporter plug-in template for Photo Mechanic is actually a Ruby script that dynamically generates both an interface for gathering the parameters for the exporter within Photo Mechanic, and the resulting HTML and associated files. The export template is free to use the full power of Ruby (but only within its “sandbox” for security).

Photo mechanic - Sample HTML export tamplates
Photo Mechanic includes a number of sample HTML export templates in Ruby that generate an interesting variety of web galleries including the Flash-based slide show viewers SimpleViewer, PostcardViewer, and AutoViewer from Airtight Interactive. Users can customize their web deployment by creating new HTML export templates for Photo Mechanic, or by using templates from third party developers. One example of a third-party HTML export template, sold separately, is the Enhanced Ordering System (EOS) Template for generating web galleries with a complete stand-alone shopping cart system.

Photo mechanic software update - Features
• New resizable IPTC/XMP dialogs that also include additional IPTC and XMP fields such as Location, Scene, Subject Code, Intellectual Genre, Rights Usage, and Contact Info fields.
• Ability to arrange photos in an arbitrary order, including across multiple folders.
• A five star rating system, compatible with other applications such as Adobe Bridge, in addition to the existing color class labels. Plus a Remap command to convert color class labels to star ratings or vice-versa.
• A Live Slide Show command to watch a folder for incoming photos and display in a slide show.
• Optional sharpening of thumbnails and previews within Photo Mechanic.
• A Show Map command to plot a photo with embedded GPS coordinates using Google maps.
• Customizable multi-line thumbnail labels.
• Tabbed contact sheet windows with the ability to move tabs within a window or to other windows (Mac only; the Windows version already has a single tabbed window).
• A new tool for converting IPTC metadata between various character encodings (e.g. from Mac Roman to Microsoft Latin1+Euro) or to Unicode (UTF-8).
• A new Ingest Progress window that combines all active ingest processes.
• Preliminary support for Microsoft Windows Vista.

Photo mechanic 4.5 - Free update
Version 4.5 of Photo Mechanic is a free update for users who purchased licenses for Photo Mechanic on or after March 1, 2006 (or March 1, 2005 for educational licenses). Upgrades to Version 4.5 from older 4.x licenses purchased earlier than the above dates cost US$90. New licenses for Photo Mechanic cost US$150. In order to help curb the expected inundation of upgrade orders once Version 4.5 is released, Camera Bits is offering an extra 3 months of free updates for orders placed prior to the release of Version 4.5 (e.g. an order placed today will get free updates through June 2008 or June 2009 for educational licenses).

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