Photography/processing and converting .nef files
I have a Nikon D7100. I have 2 questions.
1 Workflow - I have a few hundred .nef photos and am confused about processing, editing, converting, and in what order and with what software - this would include working in batches. I'd like to end up with files small enough to send around. I have accumulated lots of software - Adobe Photoshop Elements 12 and Lightroom 5, onOne Perfect Photo Suite 9, Nikon's NX-D and Aperture (which is being discontinued).
2. Organization - I'd like something simple that doesn't require a lot of importing and detailed cataloguing.
My brain has become tired thinking about all this. I'd rather be playing with the photos than thinking about software.
Workflow, backup and image database management are always a daunting task for any photographer. I know where you're coming from and I once shared your confusion and frustration.
First of all, I'd highly recommend sticking to just one or at the most, two programs. Multiple software programs chosen to do the same thing will inevitably lead to problems at some point of time. Other than Nikon's NX-D (which isn't bad but the other programs are way better) and Aperture, which program you pick to do the job is entirely up to you.
My vote would go to Lightroom.
Personally, I use Photoshop+Bridge to manage and edit photos and Lightroom to manage my photo collections (i.e. database management). For most people Lightroom acts as a photo editor, database management tool, and metadata editor all in one neat little package.
If you decide that you need something a little more powerful for editing, then you have Elements or onOne. I've never used either but both programs have positive reviews.
1. Lightroom will do all of this for you, provided that you set it up well. You might have to check out a few tutorials to get the hang of it, though. Phlearn has an excellent video tutorial for this very purpose:
Here's an overview of what each Lightroom module is designed to do:
Once you've familiarized yourself with its innards, processing, editing, converting in batches, and saving smaller files for the web will be easy. You just need some practice.
2. I share your general sentiment. I find importing, tagging, and defining libraries and catalogs infinitely boring. Lightroom does take most of the pain out of this process, but make no mistake: you really should be adding at least a few details on every import. There really is no way around this.
You could, say, just dump everything in one folder if you wanted to. Initially you might even be satisfied with this kind of workflow (it surely takes less work on every import), but once your image library starts to get larger and larger, it's going to get more and more difficult to manage. Trust me, you don't want to be trolling through folders for "photos from Spain from the vacation you had some time in September 5 years ago". If you do it right, just putting in two to three keywords (e.g. Mediterranean vacation Spain) will instantly show you all photos from that library.
You don't have to tag each and every photo, but ideally you should add keywords to every import so that Lightroom "knows" where everything is. The advantage of doing this is that searching for images or pulling up image libraries from, say, 5 years ago is an absolute breeze. You don't have to stare at a screen while waiting for the computer to retrieve your images. Lightroom arranges everything in a database so that you don't have to.
If you're adamant, the "dumbed down" version of Lightroom is Picasa, and it's free.
I know it's daunting and tiresome, but I promise you that once you get into the flow of things, Lightroom is an excellent solution for everything you describe. There will be times that you'll be frustrated -not everything is intuitive- but you'll encounter those moments with any software that you choose.
I'd advise setting aside some time every day to mess with Lightroom. It's mostly intuitive but not everybody is going to use it exactly the same way. There are dozens of really good tutorials on Adobe's site, as well as on Youtube.
I wish you luck and hope that you don't have to gnash your teeth together too often!