Last weeks I tried to rate some photos using open source software. I wanted to try the rating system I mentioned in a previous post and to be effective, the fist steps should be fast paced. To accomplish this I like to use the keyboard instead of the mouse. I found exactly one open source application that was able to do this out of the box, digiKam. The problem I have with digiKam is that it requires some other applications that I don’t want to have installed. Other applications either don’t have support for ratings, or don’t support keyboard short cuts, or simply don’t support Raw files. For me this was a reason to look back at Bibble. Bibble allows me go through my photos very fast and rate them by simply pressing the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5.
Another possibility that Bibble would give me is using a catalogue. A catalogue is basically a database where information about photos is stored. In the case of Bibble (and many other similar applications) this contains the Exif information that the camera stores inside the photo, like camera brand, used lens, shooting information like aperture, shutter speed and ISO, and a lot more. It is also possible to add more information to the photos such as keywords and ratings. The advantage of storing this information in the database is that it allows you to search for photos using this information.
Although I still love open source, I think the open source applications for managing photos is not that good. digiKam is the right tool for the job when you are using the KDE desktop engine on Linux, because (at least on ubuntu) a lot of KDE packages are installed when installing digiKam and this is not what I want. The only application I found that works on Linux is Bibble. Because Bibble is an extremely good and fast RAW processor and because of it’s capabilities for managing photos I have decided to buy a license for the Lite edition.
My next step is to find a good structure for adding my photos to a catalogue. Until I found a good way to organize my catalogue I can still use most of the options inside Bibble like rating and adding keywords to the photos.
Bibble is a commercial project for a complete digital workflow. Bibble Pro is one of the fastest programs I have tested. It comes in two versions, a Lite version and a Pro version. Both versions have the same functionality, but the Lite versions has more restrictions, but these are hardly noticeable when you only use it for basic manipulation of photos. When you want to work with multiple catalogues and import photos, it could be useful to look at the Pro version. but at this moment I can’t find any reasons to justify buying the Pro version.
When I look to the needed and wanted features I come to the following conclusion:
- Raw support: Bibble not only supports Raw, it also supports JPEG and TIFF. On the website there is a list of supported cameras.
- White balance and colour correction: Both are available, for white balance there are several presets and it is possible to select a white colour. Colour correction is mainly sliders, and you can choose the colour you want to correct, but I didn’t really use this option.
- Lens correction: Bibble has excellent support for lens correction. If the used lens is known to Bibble, it is possible that distortion can be automatically corrected, if the lens is not calibrated the corrections can be made manually. It is also possible to correct Chromatic Aberation (unwanted colours around edges) and vignette (dark parts in the corners of the photo)
- Tools for straightening, cropping and perspective corrections: Straightening and cropping can easily be done using the mouse. Perspective correction is not available by default, but there is at least one plugin that could be used for this.
- Export options: Bibble has several export possibilities. By default there are 6 profiles for exporting and you can change and add profiles if you want. In a profile you can tell Bibble to what format it should export, which size the output file should have and which meta data should be included in the output file.
- Non destructive editing: All changes are Non destructive in Bibble.
- Easy and clean interface: I really like the interface of Bibble. There are two sidebars. The one on the left shows libraries and the file system where you can select what photos you want to see. All the adjustment tools are located on the right side. There is a menu bar which contains a lot of options for editing the photo and changing the user interface. There are also several toolbars where tools can be selected for photo editing. After you learn to know the interface it is really easy to work with, learning it is a bit more challenging.
When using sliders for colour correction or white balance, you can also use the keyboard to give a number you want to use, which could be very useful for setting the value back to the original value.
- Photo browsing: Bibble lets you browse photos on the file system as well as photos in catalogues, when the photos are in a catalogue you can also browse photos based on metadata, like keywords, or shooting information.
- Simple ranking system: Bibble has 3 ranking systems: Ratings where you can give each photo 1 to 5 stars, Labels where you can give each photo one or more colours and the easiest one Tagging where you can Pick or Reject a photo.
- Multiple versions of a photo: Bibble lets you create multiple versions of a photo so that you can experiment, it doesn’t create a physical copy, this is all handled inside Bibble.
- Adding copyright notice: There is the possibility to add a copyright notice in the metadata of the photo, but there is no build in functionality of a watermark like copyright notice. There is however a plugin which you can use for this purpose. I don’t know if it is possible to add a watermark when exporting the photo…
Bibble is a very solid and fast program. Al loading and preview generation is done in the background and you can easily work on a photo while other photos are loading. A great addition is that Bibble makes it possible to make simple edits to the photo. You can easily heal and clone parts of the photo, and you can create regions to make some selective changes, so you can blur part of the image, but leaving the rest of the image sharp, or make part of the image black and white. Of course these changes can also be done using Gimp, but than you need an extra editor and it take a little bit more time to do it.