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digiKam’s website states that it is an “advanced digital photo management application for Linux” which understates the programs abilities. It does everything from auto-detecting your camera, importing the photos, sorting your collection in useful ways, and does some basic - or even creative - photo editing. It is only available for KDE, so Gnome users miss out. It is Integrated into KDE applications using KIPI (KDE Image Plugin Interface), and can drag-and-drop into other KDE programs.
DigikamImagePlugins is an add-on that enhances the basic digiKam Image Editor into a much more powerful tool for playing with pictures. My favorites are the distortion effects, oil paint, and the adjust levels plug-ins. There is a Create Calendar section in digiKam’s Tools menu, which is a lot of fun and the end result can be printed or saved as a PDF.
digiKam uses dcraw 8.41 to decode “more than 200 proprietary camera file formats”, and the Gphoto2 project supports “over 700 digital camera devices”. Cameras using USB, serial connection, and USB/IEEE Mass storage connections are supported.
The camera interface is fast and smooth, with thumbnails to preview the pictures before downloading and, at least with Canon cameras, you have the option to only select new pictures for download.
Photos can be organized by albums, date, saved searches, and a completely customizable tagging system. This makes a big difference when trying to find and organise your photos as opposed to the simple date order of some programs.
Once in the main window, a left click opens the photo in the digiKam Image Editor. Right click for more options, including opening the photo in other editing programs (such as the Gimp). Movie files are opened in your favorite multimedia software.
In comparison, I have been using Gnome’s camera import using gthumb image viewer for 6 months and there are noticeably less camera interface options. It feels a little disjointed and doesn’t have the options of sorting your photos into albums, tags or ratings. In-fact, I feel that digiKam handles my camera better than the original Windows XP software.
Version 0.9.0 is available in Debian (experimental) and Ubuntu.
digiKam won the 2005 TUX Readers’ Choice Award for “Favorite Digital Photo Management Tool”, and for good reason. It is powerful, easy to use, and intuitive.