A first comparison of PSU and LR4

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maurizio
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Location: cagliari, sardinia, italy

A first comparison of PSU and LR4

Post by maurizio » 17 May 13 17:47

I am carrying on some tests on PSU and LR4 . Actually, I have my photo archive on both platforms and I can manage quite well keeping metadata aligned (but not version sets, unfortunately.
I know I will have to decide in a few months which DAM better fits my workflow, but in the meantime I would like to share some (partial) results.
Maybe I have been wrong on some points, so other PSU users can suggest a better way of doing things on PSU. Or maybe my notes could be useful for improving PSU in the future.
So, let's start.

IMPORT
Both offer similar features. PSU is a bit more customizable, e.g. allows to define the folder hierarchy when making a second copy in import. PSU also allows to copy images without adding them to the catalog, so it can be used as a pure ingester together with another DAM.
---> Winner: PSU

EXTERNAL APPLICATIONS
A DAM should be at the center of the image workflow, so the integration with other applications is important. LR4 does not provide an easy way to open RAW images with external applications. It first create a TIFF and then opens the TIFF with the external application! Of course there are some workarounds (the best one is using a plug-in, or writing its own), but a direct command like the buttons provided by PSU would be much better.
---> Winner: PSU

VERSIONS
Both DAMs provide versions (stacks in LR4, version sets in PSU).
LR4 has a cleaner and easier user interface.
PSU provides version placeholders, which can be used for addressing a specific version when exporting an image or using it in a script.
LR4 has no version placeholders.
In PSU is also easier to assign labels and ratings to the whole version set. LR4 requires more actions (or a plug-in) for that.
---> Winner: none

FOLDER VIEW
Both platforms offer a folder view of the images as organized by the file system.
I strongly prefer the LR4 approach, where a version set (stack) is shown as a single image (the one which is on top of the stack).
In PSU I need to map folders on catalog labels in order to achieve a similar (desirable) behaviour.
Winner ---> LR4

CATALOG VIEW
Both platforms provide a keywords hierarchy.
PSU provides a better UI and the possibility to automatically set metadata when assigning a catalog label.
Winner ---> PSU

EXTENDIBILITY
Both can be extended and (partially) customized: PSU with scripts (in Delphi), LR4 with plug-ins (in LUA).
LR4 provides better documentation and plenty of available plug-ins (but most of them are not free).
Winner ---> LR4

COLLECTIONS / PORTFOLIOS
Collections (LR4) and portfolios (PSU) offer comparable features and can be used together with the catalog to organize images.
Winner ---> none

SEARCH:
PSU provides a fast and powerful search, both provide a good set of filtering options.
Winner ---> PSU

THUMBNAILS
Both platforms allow some customization of thumbnail info. LR4 customization is simpler, but a bit limited. PSU customization is more powerful, allowing to show all metadata and to define styles, colors, fonts, etc.
LR4 thumbnail info, however, have a much cleaner aspect. Also LR4 thumbnails quality is better.
Winner ---> none

PREVIEWS
PSU does not cache 1:1 previews. So in order to achieve a 100% view of the image you need to switch on an option every time.
Winner ---> LR4

SPEED
PSU is considerably faster.
Winner ---> PSU

USER INTERFACE
Both UIs have pros and cons. Saying which is better is rather subjective. All UI features related to presenting images are better in LR4, the catalog UI is better in PSU. At least IMHO.
Winner: ---> None

RAW PROCESSOR and EDITOR
Both platforms provide a non-destructive editor for processing raw images and for parametric editing.
I haven't tried in depth these editors, since I prefer to use DxO or Picture Window Pro.
However, it seems that the editor provided by LR4 is quite good. I do not like the fact that opening Photoshop has a dedicated menu entry in LR4.
Winner --> None

EXPORT / PUBLISH
LR4 provides more export / publish features, which can be easily extended with plug-ins.
Winner ---> LR4

METADATA
Both DAM support XMP. I am still investigating on other features / issues related to metadata.
Winner --> None (for now)

tstoddard
Posts: 578
Joined: 07 Sep 12 12:51

Re: A first comparison of PSU and LR4

Post by tstoddard » 17 May 13 20:59

Maurizio,

Thank you for taking the time to share all of this with us. Your analysis reinforces my feelings that each program has something it does better than its competition but none of them does everything well enough to satisfy all of my wishes. Naturally, everybody is looking for something different so what you or I perceive is probably a lot different than what others perceive.

I would like to add a comment or two to your observations. I should preface my comments by saying that I only spent a little bit of time experimenting with LR last year and that much of what I understand to be true of LR is from reading documentation as opposed to real world experience with the product.
maurizio wrote:CATALOG VIEW
Both platforms provide a keywords hierarchy.
PSU provides a better UI and the possibility to automatically set metadata when assigning a catalog label.
Winner ---> PSU
I agree completely. For me, PSU's handling of labeling and metadata is what sets it apart from its competition and makes it integral to my workflow.
maurizio wrote:VERSIONS
Both DAMs provide versions (stacks in LR4, version sets in PSU).
LR4 has a cleaner and easier user interface.
PSU provides version placeholders, which can be used for addressing a specific version when exporting an image or using it in a script.
LR4 has no version placeholders.
In PSU is also easier to assign labels and ratings to the whole version set. LR4 requires more actions (or a plug-in) for that.
---> Winner: none
One thing you have overlooked is LR's "virtual copies". You can make adjustments to an image and save those adjustments as a virtual copy, similar to a recipe in PSU. You can have as many virtual copies of an image as you like. I believe the copies displayed in a manner similar to stacks so that you can collapse them to show only one or expand them to view all of them side by side. Each copy can be used independently to do all sorts of things. I feel that virtual copies, in addition to stacking, gives users much more flexibility. Perhaps I'm missing some functionality in PSU that would compensate for this but I haven't found it yet.

Finally:
maurizio wrote:RAW PROCESSOR and EDITOR
Both platforms provide a non-destructive editor for processing raw images and for parametric editing.
I haven't tried in depth these editors, since I prefer to use DxO or Picture Window Pro.
However, it seems that the editor provided by LR4 is quite good. I do not like the fact that opening Photoshop has a dedicated menu entry in LR4.
Winner --> None
I don't have a lot of experience with LR but from what I understand, it's a pretty good raw processor. From what I understand, PSU is not really designed to be a raw processor.
Tom Stoddard

maurizio
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Re: A first comparison of PSU and LR4

Post by maurizio » 26 May 13 22:40

Tom,
thank you for your clarification, which I find very useful.
I looked a bit more into how these two DAMs manage metadata and I summarize here my findings.

Both platforms cover a very large set of XMP metadata, which can be easily accessed in a panel on the right ('Details' in PSU, 'Metadata' in LR4).
In both cases metadata are grouped into logical sets which only partially match the XMP namespaces.

LR4 provides a very clean and readable user interface for editing metadata.
Instead, the metadata panels of PSU wastes a lot of space. Making it more similar to LR4 (e.g. aligning the captions on the right, reducing the distance between lines of text) would be not difficult and would improve a lot the user experience.

Both platforms allow to define presets (LR4) / profiles (PSU) and to extend the metadata set with plug-ins / scripts.

I also ran some tests to understand how these two DAMs manage those metadata which are embedded in the image file using different formats (e.g. XMP:Creator, EXIF:Artis, IPTC:By-line). Both platforms seem fully compliant with the guidelines of the Metadata Working Group.

However, I noticed that PSU writes ratings both to EXIF:rating and to XMP:rating, while LR4 only writes to the latter.
This should not be an issue, since (AFAIK) EXIF:rating is not defined by the EXIF standard. However, Microsoft uses EXIF:rating, so if you modify the rating with LR4, windows explorer will keep showing the old rating.
Actually, windows writes to both fields but favours EXIF:rating when reading. This problem does not arise with PSU.

I noticed another issue when modifying ratings in an external application: Fast Picture Viewer. FPW is a perfect companion of a DAM: extremely fast, it allows to review and rate a large set of images in a very short time. FPW writes ratings directly to the image files, in compliance with XMP.
Unfortunately, LR4 is not able to detect that these ratings were changed. Neither it can detect that the images are out of sync. I don't know why, maybe because FPW does not change the file modification time and LR4 is notified by Windows only if this happens.
On the other hand, PSU works perfectly together with FPW. Ratings changed in FPW are immediately updated in PSU, without any need of a user action. Great!

CONCLUSION
LR4 has a better UI for viewing / editing metadata.
PSU has a better interoperability with other applications of the workflow.
It seems you can't have your cake and eat it too!

Maurizio

Hert
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Re: A first comparison of PSU and LR4

Post by Hert » 27 May 13 8:23

You're comparing apples with lemons: Lightroom and PSU are additional to each other, not competitors.

If you need a RAW converter with limited DAM capabilities then use LR, ACDSee, or any of the many Lightroom clones. If you need more extensive cataloging capabilities then you go with PSU. If you need a good RAW converter *and* good DAM capabilities then you select LR *and* PSU.

LR is a great RAW converter with (very) limited DAM capabilities. PSU is a DAM tool without RAW converter capabilities.

fyi; Microsoft is not using EXIF:Rating. They are using their own XMP schema to store their ratings and PSU supports that schema. Microsoft always tend to do things "their way" and so they did with ratings :)
This is a User-to-User forum which means that users post questions here for other users.
Feature requests, change suggestions, or bugs can be logged in the ticketing system

DirkS
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Re: A first comparison of PSU and LR4

Post by DirkS » 27 May 13 13:07

If you need a good RAW converter *and* good DAM capabilities then you select LR *and* PSU.
Exactly. So you *can* have your cake and eat it too!

Gr.
Dirk.
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Preston B
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Location: Columbia, CA

Re: A first comparison of PSU and LR4

Post by Preston B » 27 May 13 17:34

DirkS wrote:
If you need a good RAW converter *and* good DAM capabilities then you select LR *and* PSU.
Exactly. So you *can* have your cake and eat it too!

Gr.
Dirk.
I use Photo Shop CS6 and PSu. I don't expect either program to do all the things I need for my images; they are adjuncts, and both are critical to my work. I think the same applies to LR and PSu.

I appreciate that PSu is 'lean and mean', i.e. it has the features and capabilities we need from a DAM, but has not bloated into an unwieldy, and slow, behemoth.

--P
Preston Birdwell
Columbia, CA

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fbungarz
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Location: Arizona, USA

Re: A first comparison of PSU and LR4

Post by fbungarz » 28 May 13 4:30

Hi Maurizio
very interesting comparison indeed.
A question: it seems that LR4 addresses most of your DAM needs and it actually is a very powerful Raw-Converter. If it is quite sufficient for your DAM needs, why do you still use DxO? Would it not be just perfect to be able just one piece of software instead of three?
Currently you use:
PSU = mot powerful DAM, not a raw editor
LR4 = moderate DAM (but apparently sufficient for your needs? at least I do not see anything essential that you are missing, why you would need PSU?), powerful RAW converter
DxO = powerful RAW converter

Since you are basically barely using what LR4 was designed for, I would either consider switching to a DxO+ PSU combo or spend some time getting to know LR4 and throw out PSU and DxO. The first option potentially is more powerful, but the second one might significantly reduce unnecessary overhead to your workflow.

Cheers,
Frank

maurizio
Posts: 41
Joined: 04 Sep 07 17:16
Location: cagliari, sardinia, italy

Re: A first comparison of PSU and LR4

Post by maurizio » 28 May 13 22:12

Hi Frank,
I mainly use the following software:
- PSU for Digital Asset Management
- Picture Window Pro (raster editor)
- Fast Picture Viewer for culling/rating images AFTER the ingestion phase
- occasionally Photomatix, for tone mapping

Since I work both on film and digital, I use two distinct workflows:

FILM:
I scan films and produce big 16-bit TIFFs which are ingested in PSU.
I catalog my images in PSU, which is at the center of my workflow.
I review my images either with PSU or with Fast Picture Viewer.
I edit my selected images with Picture Window Pro and save as a master TIFF (in the same version set of the original).
I mostly export derived images using PSU.

DIGITAL:
I shoot RAW and ingest in PSU. I review my images either with PSU or with Fast Picture Viewer.
I edit in DXO. Being a parametric editor, it does not change the original RAW, but saves all editing in a XML file (.dop extension).
At this point, I can decide whether to leave PSU, continuing the workflow in DxO or to generate a TIFF in DxO and going back to PSU.
The first option could be interesting, but it would be useful if I could automatically flag in PSU the originals I edited in DxO (I should write some external script which sets a metadata if a .dop file is present alongside the original, and show a flag in the thumbnail info of PSU).

I also have Lightroom. I bought it when IDImager was dismissed, but I didn't use it a lot since then. Only recently I started doing some more thorough analysis on it.
At first, I tried to use it as a standalone parametric editor, invoking it from PSU (similarly to what I'm doing now with DxO).
However, it is not possible to use it just as an editor. An image must be first imported in LR, before it can be edited, and this is quite annoying if you are using another platform (PSU) as the DAM.
Now, I am just evaluating the feasibility of a different workflow, where both LR4 and PSU can fit.
Maybe I'll end up with the decision of giving up one of them, or using both of them for different functions. I'm still in the middle of my analysis.

Kind regards,

Maurizio

fbungarz
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Re: A first comparison of PSU and LR4

Post by fbungarz » 28 May 13 22:22

Hi Maurizio,
thanks for that update. I can see why you do not like LR. I also constantly have my issues with it being a database (still using IDI form my DAM). I wish there was a standalone RAW converter version of it.
I tried PhotoNinja and liked it a lot more then DxO, but then I still think LR is more powerful. PhotoNinja gives great rapid results, but Lightroom has more under the hood...
Cheers,
Frank

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