Besides Capture One, I also use Photo Mechanic in my workflow for managing metadata. Here I discuss all related configurations to successfully sync metadata between Photo Mechanic and Capture One. Embedded metadata and sidecar files, as well as IPTC versus XMP are discussed.
Sync Metadata Between Photo Mechanic And Capture One
At the Image Alchemist, I almost exclusively write about Capture One. This time I break with that tradition and discuss how I use Photo Mechanic in conjunction with Capture One. My experience with both Capture One and Photo Mechanic goes back many years.
I appreciate Photo Mechanic for its ingestion, renaming, culling, and metadata features. And despite Capture One’s expanding capabilities over the years, I still love Photo Mechanic for what it does.
I discovered that I am not alone in using this combination. Many Capture One users I meet also have Photo Mechanic in their toolset.
In case you are not familiar with it, Photo Mechanic is a product made by the dedicated team of Camera Bits.
This post is not a brief review of Photo Mechanic. It is an exploration of how Capture One exchanges metadata with Photo Mechanic. I look into what you need to set up, and which settings you must configure to achieve this goal.
Information in this post may also be helpful in case you like to setup Capture One and another tool to sync metadata.
More on Metadata
With this post, I focus on the user who is already using metadata. I have more posts on metadata to cover this vast area from different angles.
- Using Metadata In Capture One
covering metadata in general, and the Metadata tool in particular
- Using Keywords In Capture One
discussing the use of keywords; includes both the Keywords and Keyword Library tools
- Sync Metadata Between Photo Mechanic And Capture One
this post; looking into a metadata workflow with a tool outside Capture One
- Geotagging Your Images
showing different tools and workflows to geotag your images
- Filter And Search Your Images in Capture One
about rating and tagging, filtering, and searching images
Synchronization of metadata between programs, like Photo Mechanic and Capture One, can be either one-way or two-way. Let us have a high-level view of both options first and review configuration details later.
One-way Metadata Sync
I typically use Photo Mechanic before opening my images in Capture One. I include all metadata with the photos in Photo Mechanic.
Next, on opening in Capture One, the program reads all that metadata. In this scenario, the default metadata options in Capture One work best.
However, sometimes I missed a few keywords, or I made a mistake in the metadata description that I want to correct later. At this stage, I go back to Photo Mechanic and make the necessary changes. Next, I take care that Capture One includes these changes.
Here, I have two options to have Capture One catch up with the changes I made in Photo Mechanic: automatic and manual.
The Load option in the Preferences tells Capture One to load metadata each time I open my images. The distinct advantage is that it is fully automatic. The disadvantage is that it can make opening each Session or Catalog slower.
My second option is to load the metadata manually for the selected images. This option is better for accidental metadata changes as it has not the performance penalty that the automatic option has. I prefer to use this method.
You right-click on the selected thumbnail(s) and choose Load Metadata. You find this command also in the Metadata tool (3-dots action menu), and the Image menu. The Load Metadata command lets you read the metadata of images after first opening the photos.
Alternatively, I could make the changes in Capture One and synchronize it back to the images in a way that it appears in Photo Mechanic as well. I cover that in the next section on the two-way metadata sync between Photo Mechanic and Capture One.
Two-way Metadata Sync
With two-way or bidirectional sync, you can enter the metadata with either Photo Mechanic or Capture One and see it in the other program as well.
You still have the advantage that Capture One always reads metadata on the first opening. But after that, you have to sync either automatically or manually, just like in the one-way scenario.
The Full Sync option in the Capture One Preferences gives you automatic synchronization for both reading and writing. As with the automatic loading of metadata discussed above, you again have the ease of use advantage, but a more pronounced performance penalty in Capture One because it now reads metadata on opening and writes metadata on closing your Session or Catalog.
The other option is to synchronize manually with the Sync Metadata command. This command affects the selected images only and is a one time action. Like the manual Load Metadata option discussed above, this option is better for accidental metadata changes as it has no negative side effect on performance as the automatic option.
You right-click on the selected thumbnail(s) and choose Sync Metadata. You find this command also in the Metadata tool (3-dots action menu), and the Image menu. The Sync Metadata command lets you both read and write the metadata of images after first opening the photos.
Unless you have a specific need for two-way sync, do not set the Sync Metadata preference to Full Sync. Opening and closing extensive collections over slower connections, like network-attached storage (NAS), with Full Sync enabled, can bring your setup down on its knees.
Embedded Or XMP Sidecar
To exchange metadata between Photo Mechanic and Capture One, you look for a way that both applications understand. In general, you can embed metadata in the image file or save it in a sidecar file. That sidecar file has the same name as the image file, but a different extension, XMP.
When you like to exchange metadata between applications, you look for common ground. Both Photo Mechanic and Capture One can read and write to XMP sidecar files. Let’s have a look at some details.
Photo Mechanic Options
For both reading and writing metadata, Photo Mechanic offers two storage options:
- embedded, that is inside the file
- XMP sidecar files
Please note that Photo Mechanic does not always use the XMP sidecar option. Photo Mechanic embeds metadata in processed images, like JPEG and TIFF, as well as DNG raw photos. Only for non-DNG raw files, like CR2, NEF, ARW, and so on, Photo Mechanic writes to the XMP sidecar file if you ask it to do so.
I discuss this in more detail below.
Capture One Options
It is essential to understand that Capture One never writes to the original file, whatever type it is. Capture One stores metadata like any other adjustment in its .cos settings files, in the case of Sessions, or the catalog database, when you use a Catalog.
Therefore, when you exclusively use Capture One for entering metadata and keywords, you do not have to think about where metadata is stored.
Capture One reads both embedded metadata and from XMP sidecar files. Capture One can optionally write metadata to an XMP file for exchange with other software. As a result, you choose the XMP option if you want additional software to see the metadata you entered in Capture One.
Another reason to choose for XMP is that the software does not write to the original file, which guarantees the integrity of the data, in contrast to embedded metadata.
On some occasions, the XMP sidecar option is mandatory, like with the IIQ files from Phase One digital backs. This is because Photo Mechanic can not embed metadata into these files.
DNG, however, is a different animal. Due to its open standard, Photo Mechanic always writes metadata in the file; it embeds the metadata. Fortunately, Capture One can read this. I
f you do a full sync of metadata from Capture One with DNG raw files, Capture One creates an XMP sidecar file. Photo Mechanic reads the XMP metadata in addition to the embedded metadata in the DNG file.
It might be necessary to make proper configurations in either Photo Mechanic, Capture One, or both. The required configurations depend on your synchronization scenario.
Photo Mechanic Color Classes
In Photo Mechanic, you open the Preferences. On the General tab, you can configure the Color Classes or Color Tags as Capture One calls it. Maybe I must explain the issue first before you understand how it is solved.
The issue is that unlike star rating, which is standardized, color tags or classes are not. As a result, you get a different color tag in Capture One than in Photo Mechanic. You can not configure Capture One for this, but in Photo Mechanic, you can.
The screenshot below ensures that color tags applied in Photo Mechanic appear identical in Capture One.
Note that Capture One does not use the text labels with the color classes, so you can neglect these unless you use them elsewhere.
Photo Mechanic IPTC/XMP
In the Photo Mechanic Preferences, open the IPTC/XMP tab. On this tab, there are two areas of particular interest.
At the top, there is a section called When writing IPTC/XMP. This section relates to writing metadata. Photo Mechanic differentiates between two types of image files. Below that section, you see an option that is interesting for RAW+JPEG shooters.
JPEG, TIFF, PSD, DNG
See the checkbox on the left. Photo Mechanic will always embed metadata in these file types, and will always write metadata as XMP. You have the option to add IPTC data as well. Note that the XMP scheme is an extended scheme over the older IPTC. I suggest you uncheck this option and go for XMP data only unless you have other (older) software that is not compatible with the XMP scheme.
TIFF-based RAW photos (non-DNG)
On the right, you see three checkboxes. Here you determine how Photo Mechanic deals with your NEF, CR2, ARW, RAF, IIQ, and other types of RAW files. As I suggested earlier, it is best to use XMP sidecar files instead of embedding metadata.
Uncheck the first box Allow RAW files to be modified. You do not want RAW files to be changed. This setting will automatically untick the second box and tick the last box Always create and/or update XMP sidecar file.
Please note that this setting also affects which metadata you see in Photo Mechanic. I have older RAW files with embedded metadata. Now that I work with XMP sidecar files exclusively, Photo Mechanic does not show the embedded metadata. However, Capture One does show both, embedded and from the XMP sidecar file.
In case you shoot RAW+JPEG, there is an option in Photo Mechanic that will interest you. Photo Mechanic displays a RAW+JPEG pair of images as one thumbnail.
When you view the metadata of that pair, should Photo Mechanic show you metadata from the RAW or the JPEG file? You can set that here.
Note that when you write metadata, Photo Mechanic writes to both the RAW and JPEG files, according to your settings discussed at the beginning of this section.
Configure Capture One for XMP
I already discussed the synchronization feature of Capture One in the sections on one-way and two-way metadata sync. Capture One reads both embedded metadata and from an XMP sidecar file. It writes, however, only to XMP sidecar file and only when instructed to do so.
Regarding the XMP sidecar file, there are three options, None (default), Load, and Full Sync. Because of potential performance penalties, you should carefully select other options than the default.
Configure Capture One for Embedded versus XMP
In addition to the synchronization settings you find two checkboxes. These are a bit harder to understand at first glance.
The first option, Prefer Embedded XMP over Embedded IPTC, let you decide which metadata scheme you prefer for embedded metadata. To elaborate, embedded metadata or metadata stored inside your image file can follow the older restricted IPTC scheme or, the newer expanded XMP scheme. In case of a conflict, you tell Capture One which one to choose.
This first option is not checked by default. I assume this is because embedded metadata comes from the camera and is mostly recorded in the IPTC scheme. However, in case you write embedded metadata with Photo Mechanic, I suggest you enable this option.
The second option, Prefer Sidecar XMP over Embedded Metadata, let you decide what Capture One must do when there is both embedded metadata and in XMP sidecar file. This option is not about the IPTC versus the XMP scheme but about internal (embedded) versus external when there is a data conflict.
Since I earlier suggested to use XMP sidecar files, I recommend enabling this option.
Test And Save
You now made custom configurations that are very important to your workflow. I suggest you make some notes about these configurations for future reference. Because you once may need to reinstall your computer, discard a preference file, or else that may delete these settings.
Next, before you go into full swing, test, and check whether this works as you intended.
You can sync metadata between Capture One and other software like Photo Mechanic, which follow the IPTC standard. One-way sync is, in general, easier to configure than two-way sync.
Look into the options of both applications and repeatedly test on new images in either a Session or Catalog to be sure your scenario is bulletproof.