Breeze Systems Downloader Pro Really is a Pro
There are plenty of programs that will help you download and manage your digital camera images. The feature is built into countless programs. But Downloader Pro from Breeze Systems stands head and shoulders above the rest. Here's why.
Adobe Lightroom will download your images for you. So will Adobe Bridge, Photoshop Elements and even Microsoft Windows itself. Depending on what software you have installed, you could be greeted by several popup dialogs from various applications every time you insert a memory card or external drive. It seems like everybody wants in on the act. But the problem I have with most of these download capable programs is that they treat the act as an afterthought — an add-on feature designed to pad out the marketing campaigns for their respective companies rather than a truly well thought out feature for the serious photographer.
Not so with Downloader Pro. Developed by Chris Breeze of the eponymous Breeze Systems, this thing was designed from the ground up with one job in mind: getting your images from one place to another as efficiently and effectively as possible. It's easy to use, and provides so many features and options there's no way I could even cover them all here. But in the interest of trying, here are the highlights:
First, you can easily configure the program to run automatically when you insert a new memory card or drive. You can also run it yourself and point it to an existing folder. This lets you make use of what the program offers regardless of the source of your images. You can even point it to a folder of images you copied some other way years ago and have it do its thing so your old images come out the same as your new ones.
The program uses tokens to allow you to specify how you want it to rename files as it downloads them. While this is certainly optional, there's nothing worse than ending up with a folder full of cryptic file names straight out of your camera. You can use numerous variations on the date and time, the original image name prefix and number, sequence numbers generated by Downloader Pro, the camera model and serial number, literal values, and more. If you shoot with more than one camera, you'll appreciate the ability to register them with the program, mapping them to yet more tags you can use when renaming files. Tokens also exist for values such as ISO, aperture and shutter speed. You can also have the program prompt you for a "job code" to include in renamed files. The combined flexibility of all this is quite powerful.
The download folder path can also be specified using tokens. An included plug-in can automatically create subdirectories underneath this too for "original," "working," "final" and so on to help you manage your workflow.
With many cameras now shooting video as well as still images, Chris has added a number of new tokens to distinguish movie types and so on.
You can automatically write IPTC and XMP copyright data to your images as they are downloaded. Newer versions also let you use tokens as IPTC keywords.
You can have it change the downloaded images to read-only so you won't be able to mess them up later even accidentally.
The program automatically detects whether an image has already been downloaded so you can avoid wasted time and duplication of files if you download from the same source directory more than once.
Geo-tagging support is extensive. If coordinates are not already embedded in your images, they can be read from a track file you specify. Place names can be looked up via www.geonames.org and added as metadata.
You can optionally create backup copies of downloaded images to another directory, auto rotate jpeg images based on embedded orientation data, generate Adobe DNG versions of each image, and perform other automation tasks. If you're up for it, the documentation to create your own automation plug-in is available.
The program sells for $29.95 and comes with a year of free updates. After that you have to purchase an upgrade for $20 but this is still reasonable since you shouldn't need to upgrade very often. Even if you miss the end of your initial year you can still download any version released within that time frame at any time in the future. If you download one newer than that the program will revert to trial mode.
About the only downside to Downloader Pro is that it runs on Windows only. Sorry Mac folks. Reports are that it will run under both Boot Camp and Parallels, but that does start to take away at least some of its convenience. The program runs fine under both 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems. Chris Breeze is a Canon shooter but Downloader Pro fully supports current cameras of all makes.
I've been a committed user of Downloader Pro for over six years now but discovered that I have rarely mentioned it here on Earthbound Light. Someone asked me about how I handle downloading and renaming my images and in searching my own site realized my omission. If you haven't given Downloader Pro a try, I highly recommend it.