Lightroom or iView for DAM? It's such a big question, an amorphous one too, and I've not had much spare time recently. But I spent a bit of time giving an answer and thought I'd add it here too. The devil is always in the detail of one's personal needs and right now I am not controlling my pictures with Lightroom and still rely on iView. After all LR is only a version 1, iView is more mature, and DAM is all about certainty.

If forced to rely on LR, I could just about do so. My view is that LR's glass is half full, not half empty, and the following “why iView not LR” comments should be read in that light.

iView's performance is fine. Specifically, I refer to the speed with which thumbnails become visible after changing to a certain folder, or keyword filtration. LR's performance on my main PC is well below what I think it should be on that machine (2.2 ghz P4 with 1 gb ram and 25g mb video card). I don't mind the time it spends building its previews, and can do something else, but thereafter I expect the app's scrolling speed to match programs like iView. And I'm just not getting it.

I need to manage a wider range of file types than LR accepts. It would be OK if I simply wanted to manage photograph file formats, but for my writing I also have png files (screengrabs off the Mac) and Word documents. I'm not into video or audio, but LR is only intended to manage a photograph-only workflow.

But within a photograph-only workflow, there are other file type limitations that may be relevant. LR doesn't import images that are over 10000 pixels in any direction - not normally an issue, but a problem if you shoot panoramas. Photoshop CS3 is very much better at stitching and I can see that I won't be the only one to do more of this type of stuff. The Photoshop team have shot the LR team in its foot….

LR will not write metadata into raw files. That is Adobe's stance, but I see no problem writing directly into working raw files IF you are wise enough to keep virgin backups too. It's my call, and I like that iView sees it that way.

With iView I see my Nikon raw file's preview, while with LR I see Adobe's interpretation of it. In general, this is no bad thing because you often shoot to capture all the highlights for example, not to make the camera-generated preview equate to the finished article, and I do like to see my raw adjusted version of the image (some people like a Nikon Capture and iView combination for this reason). But it's not so welcome when you've done things like use your camera's b&w setting - in iView I see the preview in b&w, while LR shows Adobe's colour rendition of the raw data. While I accept LR can't get at Nikon's secret sauce, it can and does display that mono preview and so it should be able to store it. Now I only use the mode to get rid of IR captures' purplish cast, and as a b&w man I've always shot on the assumption that the negative or digital file isn't the finished article. But if you believe you get your shots absolutely right in camera (eg WB, sharpening etc) then you would get value from being able to compare the camera-generated previews.

I prefer iView's catalog sets, custom fields and people fields, to LR's collections. One can just about replicate the functionality, so my objection is more to the immaturity of the interface. For example, I hate how when I add a collection in LR, the database filters down to that collection. So imagine I'm using a collection for a wedding or vacation, and dividing it up into phases or themes, each time I add a new subcollection I then have to go back to the main one. It's the same with keywords - add a new one in the left panel and the whole database filters down to it.

I could go into lots of other details, but I'd be going too much into my own needs. You know what you need. Both products have free trials, so I wouldn't listen to me!