When I first set out on building this site, I'd resolved that I'd go with a native Drupal solution. But I kept running into the same problems: Any given solution had most of the features that I wanted, but was missing a few. The one that came closest to a complete solution was Acidfree, but near as I can tell it's currently unsupported, and the dev release hasn't been updated in over a year.
So I went with Menalto Gallery.
It's a standalone gallery package that can be integrated into a number of CMS systems. There are two major drawbacks to it:
1) It's not drupal. Pictures and albums aren't a part of the node system, and thus are separate from the rest of the site content in terms of search, tagging, rating, etc.
2) No submission approval process. This is a standard feature for all Drupal content, but stock Gallery has no means of putting a new submission into a review area before it can be approved. Luckily, there's a module that implements enough of this that I can live with it.
Once I accepted the limitations, I got farther with Gallery than I have with any of the other Drupal solutions. Several of them look promising for future versions, but that's exactly what I said about Acidfree.
So, for my own edification, here's what I was looking for in a gallery:
Mass Upload - This should be a standard feature in any photo gallery package. Many people adopting the software will be migrating from an existing gallery and will already have a large collection of images. And uploading two thousand pictures one at a time isn't practical.
Nested Galleries - A single layer of organization is insufficient for any gallery of significant size. Additionally (and this is the major appeal for me), inflation sequences can be put in their own sub-galleries so they don't get lost in the mass of images.
Different sort order for each gallery - Probably not a high priority for most systems, but important for this site. Any general gallery or artist's main gallery needs to be sorted by date, descending so that the newest pictures appear first. Sub-galleries that contain a sequence of pictures should be sorted by name. That way the user can start with Comic1.jpg, and proceed to Comic2.jpg, etc.
Permissioning on both a gallery and picture level.
Review process for images: Anyone can upload an image, but it isn't visible to the public until an administrator has approved it.
Comments and ratings on pictures.
I'm sure there are a few more, but that's what I have for now. Menalto Gallery can do all of the above. Note being Drupal based is a bit disappointing. The main reason i wanted a Drupal implementation was to gain the advantages of the Drupal Content management tools. If Gallery used nodes, then I could classify, search, and sort the image collection like I do with stories.
Ironically enough, some of the Drupal galleries forgo using nodes. This is, simply put, dumb. No, really, it is. Of the two that I can recall using this approach, one ditched it after the first major version, and the other is going to.
So it looks like I'm going with Gallery. Acidfree had just about everything, but it appears dead. Node Gallery would have been an easy choice if it had mass import and nested galleries (both on the to do list). Fast Gallery looks like it has lots of potential for the Drupal 7 version, but I'm not going to hold out for that.
I'll likely revisit the issue in a few years. We'll see.