I believe this product is only available as a Public Beta for which I am a tester. Despite my very limited use of beta-products, the OS X betas after the retail release have been very stable. I have only had 2-3 issues for which I filed RADARs on and those issues were fixed in a subsequent update.
I thought it would be interesting to post a few thoughts on Photos but first, what’s my current workflow for photography?
- I shoot on an Olympus EM-1 M43 camera
- Editing is done in the latest version of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom but I fully delete the Lightroom data store once a month on my iMac & MacBook Pro.
- Edited photos are exported once to JPEG with a Watermark and uploaded to Flickr.
- Then those same photos are exported again as a JPEG without a watermark at highest resolution and quality setting and sent to DropBox until I’m ready to import them into iPhoto which lives on my 27” iMac @ home.
- iPhoto storage is in my User/Photos folder which is the default and gets backed up to TimeMachine regularly.
- iPhoto is also configured to cache any Photo Stream images from iPhone / iPad and, iPhoto users know about the once a month Event in iPhoto called “March 2015 Photo Stream” or whatever month just ended. It’s actually a nice way to store all Photo Stream moments in an organized way so as long as you don’t take more than 1K photos on your iOS device in a month, you’ll have a permanent disk backup on your computer.
Enter Photos for Mac and iCloud Photo Library. These are really two components.
Photos for Mac is running on my MacBook and iMac. Because Six Colors did such a great job with the overview of how Photos handles iPhoto migrations, I’m not going to waste any space here. Read that guide instead if you’re curious. Since I don’t do any editing, publishing or much at all in Photos, I can’t speak of how the tool will work for those of you who intend to do everything in the application. I can say that Photos is very reliable, very fast at navigation and kicks the pants out of iPhoto in every way. There’s not a lot of power today compared to iPhoto but if you’re like me and have 100K photos, Photos is really amazing for just enjoying pictures again. They load fast, scroll fast and you can zoom in and out like butter. I’d have to count the seconds between tabbing through pictures in iPhoto and that was after many iPhoto rebuilds and moving my library directly onto my built in Fusion Drive on the Core i7 iMac.
iCloud Photo Library is something iOS 8 users have had in their Photos settings for some time. It’s an evolution of Photo Stream and it makes managing pictures really easy if you take a lot of photos and if you have multiple devices. The ability to snap a photo on any Apple Device and have populated everywhere instantly feels like magic. Making edits on your Mac and then posting that photo to Instagram on your iPhone instantly is really special. It also works with my Olympus if I choose to bring photos shot on a camera into Photos for Mac, it’ll appear on all devices instantly (as fast as the Internet speed will allow it).
This sort of synchronization is incredible and it feels like living in the future. You’re no longer penalized for owning 5 different Apple devices
In addition to the syncing, iCloud Photo Library is also intelligent in how it uses storage on your devices. On the Mac, it’s a no-brainer to tell Photos to “Download Originals to this Mac”. On the iOS Device, you may want to “optimize” the storage and this setting will keep your iOS device from being clogged up by many thousands of photos that are stored on your Mac.
There’s one caveat to this system. iCloud Photo Library utilizes the storage you have in iCloud which you have 5 gigabytes of it for free by being an iCloud user. When I opened Photos on my iMac (the host system with iPhoto Installed). I received a message that with my library being 480 gigabytes, I would need to upgrade my storage to a $20 a month 500GB tier to use my iMac (and iOS/Macbook devices) with all of these photos. I was tempted to upgrade but then I thought…$240 a year is steep considering I’m paying $99 a year for DropBox, another $100 or so for BackBlaze and that I have about 10 terabytes of storage in my NAS located in the basement.I don’t need to have my library available everywhere. It would be nice but not a necessary item. Sure I have to login to my NAS through a web-browser & VPN to see a photo of my sister taken in 2007 but a lot of my favorites already live on Flickr where I’m using about 85 gigabytes of my unlimited storage as a $25 a year Pro Member. There’s actually no shortage of fail-safe backups of my photos on-site, off-site and on-line. What iCloud Photo Library provides is the convenience of accessing your entire library wherever you are and on any Apple device.It’s very similar to iTunes Match in that regard.
What’s the workaround to having iCloud Photo Library without paying $20 a month?
I would need to move my iPhoto Library today to my NAS and sort of freeze it in time and then start fresh with Photos for Mac but eventually, I’d hit a cap and it would ask me to pay again (albeit for a cheaper/lower tier of storage).
I think for now, I’m going to stick with Photo Stream and iPhoto with iCloud Photo Library disabled until the pricing goes down. I think that’s really the route I have to go. If any of my readers have alternate suggestions, I’m all ears.