cacawcacaw wrote in post #18422749
But there is still no one tool, or even a simple "recipe" for taking old image collections, including duplicates, backups, and edits, and moving them into a single consolidated folder structure.
True, and there probably won't be until we make some major advances in AI because pattern recognition is one of those things that current computers simply aren't ever going to be good at. Sure, if you have an NSA mainframe and a million dollar software package you can do it but that is a long way from being something that you and I can afford and it won't run on your desktop. Compare that to the human brain and there is no contest. We can recognise someone who is barely visible based on the smallest details of facial feature recognition or posture. We can even recognise people from the back.
Lightroom has a proprietary catalog, preventing the use of any efficient duplicate finders.....
Never used the other packages you mentioned but Lightroom's catalog certainly doesn't prevent the use of any duplicate finding software. The catalog is just a list of image file locations. It points to your image files and associates it's list of image adjustments with the correct image file. If you want to run a duplicate finder on those files LR couldn't care less.
Why isn't there a simple way to start with a master photo library (in a regular folder structure, not a proprietary catalog) and then add to it from different sources (old computers, hard disks, online accounts, etc.) without creating layer upon layer of duplicates.
There is - that is exactly what Lightroom does. It allows you to put your files almost anywhere you want in any file structure (regular or irregular) and it allows you to add images from other drives. It can even publish images to your online collection such as Flickr etc and keep track of those.
Of course there are limits. It can't keep track of all your images across different computers because it isn't a networked app (and making it so would be a far from simple task) and it can't detect duplicate images for the reasons I mentioned above.
Even better would be one that converts Lightroom and Aperture edits into self-standing files (by using a sidecar file) and handles them in the same way.
Can you explain what you mean by this? Lightroom does use Sidecar files (if you select that option) as I believe do other packages. But what do you mean by a "self-standing" file and how do you think they would help you?
Yes, I know what I ought to do in the future. What i want is to know how to organize my existing photos in an efficient and safe manner.
I suggest you get started sorting them yourself because, unless you can buy a Cray you are unlikely to have the raw processing power to do a brute force image compare and AI is some way off from being able to make the cognitive leaps necessary for what you want (and when it does it will probably decide it would rather exterminate us than do our monkey work).