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Photo Supreme, the best DAM ever ?

Updated on July 30th, 2021


I'm not affiliated with any software maker aforementioned in this blog neither monetize sellings from them. All posts here reflect my personal impressions and experiences with products, programs, and equipment.


For a considerable time, Phase One Media Pro was my favorite digital asset management program (DAM). It was reasonably priced for 139 Euros in 2012 when I started to use it. I used it mostly on Mac.

It worked very well with OSX 10.8 Mountain Lion and then an update was launched in late 2016 to address compatibility with OSX 10.12 Sierra and 10.13 El Capitan, but it was a PAID update that was offered for 39 Euro, a total absurd since it didn't offer any improvements. This last update still works on OSX 10.13 High Sierra and I have no intention to test it on higher versions since Media pro was discontinued killed about one year ago.

Phase One sort of merged it with Capture One, but of course, if you want to still use it, you must pay for a full license of it and it's no cheap. The perpetual license of Capture One Pro 12 cost at this post date,  299 Euros, or if you're crazy enough you can join the subscription plan for 20 Euros/month.

The problem is that Capture One is mainly a photo editor and raw converter with some DAM features and the once excellent user interface was changed to a way I don't like it.

For a long time, MP worked well with my image library but it started to be very sluggish and slow to start when my catalog passed 75K images. 

At the migration time, my MP catalog had 140K images, it took almost 8 minutes to load the catalog. 

I also noticed some instabilities with High Sierra. MP was always a bit tricky. I got corrupted catalogs more than once and I was saved by the backups I did periodically.

The MP catalogs were stored in the computer internal HD, an 1 TB Samsung EVO 850 SSD, and the images on an external USB-3 LaCie storage or on a CentOS Linux NFS server with a gigabit ethernet connection capable of a high-speed transfer (about 100 MB/s sustained). Of course, being in a network server slows things a lot, at least 10-20 times slower than if it was stored in a local drive, even more, if this drive is an SSD.

My computer is not new but perfectly adequate for my work. It's a 2.7 GHz i5 Quad-Core iMac with 32 GB of memory and a 1 TB SSD. Note that I repeated this using a Windows Acer i7 2.7 GHz Quad-Core notebook with very close results, so clearly it was not a hardware or operating system issue.

And to complete, MP is a 32-bit application that will not run on OSX 10.15 and up.

Time to change, and quick...

The problem is that all my images were classified using hierarchical keywords and although MP was excellent at doing this, most of those other programs simply convert the hierarchical relations to a flat list of keywords, completely useless to me.

After a long and tedious series of tests with lots of DAM programs (Picasa, Photo Mechanic, Digikam, Corel Aftershot Pro, Adobe Bridge, Acdsee, and other ones) I thought it was a good opportunity to give Photo Supreme (PSU) a try.

The main challenge was to test if PSU would import all my images and preserve the hierarchical keywords correctly, although with star and color ratings. This gave me creeps.

Other important things to be evaluated were the user interface, how well it handles large collections, and the search engine.

The Migration Process

My needs:
  • Must have Mac and Windows versions
  • Must not be cloud-based. Period.
  • Must not be subscription-based, aka SAAS (software as a service). Period.
  • Must support hierarchical keywords in the proper way
  • Must be able to handle large collections
  • Must be fast
  • Must be rock stable
  • Desirable to have a decent scripting language
  • Be affordable
  • Easy to import from other programs
  • Must have a powerful search engine

I decided to test the migration with a smaller catalog, with "just" 30K images. To play safe, I copied the files from their original hard disk to an empty one and did a backup of the original MP catalog, of course.

The first thing was to resync the MP catalog folders with the new disk. Fortunately, it's a simple task. You just need to right-click at the root folder of the catalog folders and reset the path, informing the new disk. Easy peasy.

The next step was to "Export Annotations". You need to select all images, go to Action then Export Annotations and check all the boxes except the last one, then click to Export. And wait, wait, wait, wait, wait... (This was seriously slow and took 3 or 4 days for my entire 150K images catalog !). Remember that my image archive was in a network file server, not in a local, fast SSD !

After this, I was ready to start importing to Photo Supreme. Fingers crossed.

Photo Supreme opened and started to import the files, from their root folder. It took ages to import and for some reason, the progress bar was not being updated so I thought PSU crashed. I killed the process using the OS Activity Monitor and started the import session again. Bummer, same thing!

After the third time, I decided to go out for lunch and spent some time out from home. When I arrived, to my surprise, PSU finished the import without any issues. At that time I had no idea how long it took to import the 30K images. It was maybe just a minor but annoying bug with the progress bar.

According to IDimager, sometimes Media Pro creates inconsistencies in XMP and Exif/IPTC and it's recommended to convert the metadata to XMP. This is done by selecting the thumbnails and then right-click on one of them and select Metadata - Convert Metadata to XMP.

But be advised that this operation can take a very long time to finish. 

All the above-mentioned steps are documented on IDimager website 

The "small scale" test went ok and to my surprise, everything was imported correctly even the hierarchical keywords structure. I'm not exactly sure of how long the test took to finish, but it took at least some hours.

The next obvious step was to do the full import of the 150K images from my NFS server. Note that this file server is faster than my USB-3 disk in sustained transfer rate (but not even close to a built-in SSD !)

Well, it took ages to export the annotations from Media Pro, something like 4 days and another 4 days to import to Photo Supreme and generate the XMP files, but in the end, everything went perfectly.

It's scary to not see a properly working progress bar. after some time you start to imagine if the program crashed.

The next surprise was the size of the thumbnail cache. After the process, this file was more than 80 GB in size and the catalog itself 3.7 GB. The Media Pro catalog file was 1.2 GB in size.

I asked IDimager support why this and I was told that was because of the thumbnail size. The default size was set to the native resolution of my monitor (2560x1440). They said that the default size was to improve performance.

Well, I really don't like the idea of having such a large cache file and decided to change the default thumbnail size to 800x600 and generated all the thumbnails again, after making a backup of the original cache file just to play safe. The size dropped to 16 GB, still huge but more palatable.

Now, my impressions about the usage and features...

  • Photo Supreme is fast. From launching it to the point it's ready for work, it takes seconds instead of the 8 minutes that Media Pro made me wait.
  • It's robust. Working very well with my 150K image set on my network server with no lag.
  • The hierarchical keywords worked flawlessly.
  • The search tool is very capable, with logical operators and complex searches!
  • It's very affordable for $129
  • Customer support surprised me. They're fast to answer, very helpful and gentle.
  • Works on Mac and Windows, so you will not freak if someday you need to migrate between them.
  • It has a very powerful scripting language (object Pascal) It's possible to make very complex scripts.
  • It's well documented.
  • It has a powerful geotagging function, on par with Apple Aperture, one of the best.
  • Easy to import image sets from other programs.
  • Can do simple and useful things like watermarks, crop, resize, etc.
  • A nice user interface, easy to adapt.
  • Not cloud-based neither subscription-based ( a must, at least to me).
  • There is a very active user community and even a forum.
  • Easy to send a selected image to an external program for further operations. Actually, it's possible to add as many external programs as you want on the toolbar (with icons!)
  • Has basic edition tools, like rotate, straighten, curves adjustment, sharpen, auto-levels, heal, retouch and many more.
  • The file renaming feature is by far the best to my knowledge. Easy to use and ridiculously powerful!
  • Lots of meaningful updates and fixes.

To MY needs and personal taste, Photo Supreme was, by far, the winner due to a better user interface, a more logical workflow, and a very powerful scripting language followed by ACDsee, Photo Mechanic and Digikam.

  • ACDSee and Photo Mechanic are cool options but they couldn't handle the hierarchical keywords structure made by Media Pro. Not sure if it was my mistake or something with the programs.
  • Digikam proved to be very unstable on my Macs (running Mojave and Catalina), but it's a powerful program. Maybe it's a specific build version issue, but I can't risk and I'm not in the mood to try everything again.

Until now I have no complaints. Not a single crash and proved to be fast even with my images being on a network file server.

Again, note that the very long time on certain operations was due to the fact I'm using an external network file server connected by gigabit ethernet. Of course, it will be much faster if your data is stored on a local hard disk. Like I said before, my NAS is capable of 100 MB/s and a local SATA SSD may easily reach 3 GB/s and depending on its type, exceed 6 GB/s or even more.

Update on July 30th, 2021

I changed my computers setup.

Now I have:

M1 Macmini (512GB disk and 16GB RAM)

This is my main computer for image processing. 

The file library was copied from my CentOS NAS (gigabit ethernet) to a Thunderbolt 3 LaCie 2Big RAID device with 4 GB (mirror). 

Things speeded up a lot, maybe 50% or more faster.

A spare Windows PC (Xeon 4-Core, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB System SSD and two 4 TB conventional hard disks for the images)

Why this spare ? Because I don't know for how long Apple will support the Rosetta 2 compatibility layer for Intel code on the M1. I don't want all the eggs in the same basket. It was inexpensive to build it.

A spare Intel i7 Quad-core MacMini (1TB ssd and 16GB RAM) 

Again another spare, running Catalina. This one has almost the same specs of the M1 and has the same software installed. The reason for this is the same. Got it second hand.

The data workflow:

Simple. Work local and sync to the NAS in both directions every time you use a different computer. Doing this all images and catalogs will be the same in all computers.

If I want, I can use just the NAS, no big deal, but of course it will be slower.

Photo Supreme's late July version 6.4.3845 is proving to be excellent. The catalog filter improved and the stack detection feature is very useful at least to me.


  1. Your 9th comments say it is well documented. Can you elaborate? I haven't been able to find manual or tutorials, etc. Thanks

    1. Did you look at IDImager website ?

    2. Click the [?] icon in the left side panel of the application to get access to the manuals. Start reading at the top and work your way down.

      In addition, if you need to know more about screen elements then you can use the Tips system that can also be started from the ? icon. With the Tips system active, hover the mouse over the element that you'd like to learn more about.

  2. How is your nfs connection configured? Mine keeps disconnecting. It will even when importing a single photo without success.
    I have tried several mac with same issue.
    Thanks in advance

    1. I'm using a Linux CentOS NAS, working perfectly on all Macs I have. What do you want to know exactly ?