If you use a digital camera that is capable of saving RAW (ie., NEF) image files, then I hope you are indeed using that format. It takes more space and is in many ways more trouble but it is worth doing. The RAE files (and this is a slight oversimplification) save all of the data (the pixels) that your camera is capable of collecting. You might as well save all of the data.
You can crunch it down and compress it and manipulate it later to suite your needs, but if you save the files (in your camera) as compressed files or anything other than RAW, you are throwing out information.
In fact, if you have a nice SLR digital camera and you don’t routinely save the data as RAW, please give your camera to someone else who will make proper use of it and get yourself a PHS* camera. (*PHS = “push here stoopid”)
Once files are on your hard drive (or, for the job of moving files from camera to hard drive) there are a number of album-like image sorting/organizing software packages. I hate them all, and I’ve used all of the commonly known packages on a Mac, Windows, and Linux, so my disdain is platform independent. I’m not particularly sure I need these packages anyway. I keep my photos in directories, and I can see them there, and if I want to do something with them I’ll copy them out to a working directory, play around, and produce some kind of product that uses them.
I don’t need no stinking album software .
I had a very bad experience with iPhoto, the most horrific of the album apps. iPhoto told me my photos were in the album, and I could see them there and everything. So when I deleted them from the camera I assumed they would be on the hard drive. But they were not. Nor were they on the CD’s I had backed them up to. They were just gone.
Anyway, if you use Linux, and you must use an album sort of application, and you are using a Gnome system, F-Spot is tolerable .