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Duplicate Photos - Image Overload?

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It seems a long time ago when I first purchased a "proper" camera, with changeable lenses, adjustable everything and depth of field preview. OK it was a cheap little Pracktica from East Germany but compared to anything I've had before it rocked. This was back in the days of celluloid film, where you had to be careful because great or ghastly, you were paying for every shot! Duplicate photos were a waste of film.

It wasn't until I compared images with a friend's Canon that I realized just what I was missing with my cheap camera. No matter how perfect the focus or high quality the film and so on, it just couldn't duplicate photos of the same scene the way the Canon could. My credit card took a battering but soon I was the somewhat bewildered owner of a Canon EOS10. Yes, this was still a film camera.

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I then discovered a sneaky secret of professional photographers. When you've paid $1500 for a camera and accessories you don't really care about the cost of film! My new camera had an "auto bracketing" feature, meaning it would take additional duplicate photos, extremely quickly, above and below the set exposure level. This kind of "machine gun" effect meant you were much more likely to capture a perfect moment with perfect exposure. So that's how the pros did it!

Since then I've moved to digital and film costs are not a problem. With a powerful digital SLR you can shoot of dozens of images, far too rapidly to check each one in the viewfinder. This is a great thing for ensuring you get the shot but it creates its own problem. Let me introduce you to the cheapest but most useful photography accessory since a roll of film.

Image Comparer is some slick software from Bolide Software that does just what its name suggests, though what is not so apparent is just how much time and disk space this can save you. It checks for and finds duplicate photos, within a folder or your entire drive.

Without the cost restriction of physical film, shooting the same scene repeatedly makes sense but you can be sure that of the images you've taken, only 1 or 2 are real "keepers". The rest are just duplicates or fuzzy or poorly framed etc. This would be no problem if capturing a singe image, comparing them and picking a favorite but in reality you soon find you have half a gigabyte of images, often in different folders! Using Image Comparer it's easy to sort the wheat from the chaff. How? Well it uses some funky programming to actually compare the image (hence the name image comparer) and its speedy search means you can soon find every duplicate photo of the same or very similar images. Not just file names but the image itself!

It wasn't until I downloaded the demo at a friend's suggestion that I realized just how many copies I had of duplicate photos or images so similar that most could go to the recycle bin. Now I have a lot more space and most importantly, every image in my collection is a keeper!

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