Best Photo Viewer for photographers?

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This topic contains 26 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Ezra Morley 8 months ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 27 total)
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  • #5832

    Ezra Morley
    Moderator

    I’m interested in everyone’s opinion on the best software for viewing pictures. Now I know there’s Adobe Lightroom, and I use it, but it is primarily a photo editor, and speed is not an adjective that describes it well, at least on my laptop! What I’m looking for is a lightweight, fast program for previewing pictures, (JPEG, and RAW files) before I import into Lightroom. I just want to check for accurate focus etc. There are several options out there, but I’m interested in anyone’s opinion and pros and cons on some specific software.

    Thanks!

    #5836

    James Staddon
    Keymaster

    This is a great question! You are right about Lightroom not being the fastest way to view your images. It’s powerful, and has an awesome search feature for any field your looking for, but it isn’t necessary fast at loading previews.

    If you have Adobe software, I suggest Adobe Bridge. I use that quite often and it loads RAW file previews very quickly.

    Before I delve into research on other programs, preferably open source ones, I’d like to hear other’s suggestions and experiences.

    #5839

    Ezra Morley
    Moderator

    I have heard of Adobe Bridge, but I’ve never used it. It is not free is it?

    Some free software that I have used is Irfanview

    IrfanView is provided as freeware, but only for private, non-commercial use (that means at home).
    IrfanView is free for educational use (schools, universities, museums and libraries) and for use in charity or humanitarian organisations.

    As far as speed, Irfanview would be hard to beat. It can load a RAW file in less than a second. (NOTE: As far as I know, it actually loads the preview JPEG embedded in the RAW file. You can set it to read the actual RAW file, but then you might as well use Lightroom, as far as speed is concerned.)

    Pros:

    Can read almost any image/audio/video file under the sun.
    Loads RAW previews within a second.
    Is very light on system resources. i.e. it doesn’t bog down your computer like Lightroom does.

    Cons:

    Isn’t free for commercial use. I don’t know how much of a con this really is, as I only use it for previewing my personal photos.
    When I delete an image, it won’t scroll to the next image. i.e. I have to hit Del. then hit Enter to confirm, then I have to hit the arrow key to get to the next image.
    When I want to check for focus, I normally use my mouse wheel to zoom in, however, the default mouse wheel action in Irfanview is to scroll to the next picture. It’s very annoying when I forget, and it scrolls through half a dozen pictures! To zoom, you must hold the CTRL key, then zoom with your mouse wheel.

    Verdict:

    If you can’t wait for Windows Photo Viewer to take 5 seconds each to load your RAW files, (not to mention, run the risk of crashing your computer from CPU overload.) then Irfanview is still a much better option, even considering the cons.

    Keep tuned for another review of some software I found just this week!

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 10 months ago by  Ezra Morley.
    #5860

    Ezra Morley
    Moderator

    So last week I finally got fed up with the limitations of IrfanView. I started looking for another free program that would read RAW files quickly and still have the features that I missed in IrfanView.

    During my research, FastStone Image Viewer kept coming up as an option, so I decided to give it a try. And am I ever glad that I did!

    Pros:

    Fast! I would say it’s every bit as fast as IrfanView.
    Can read almost any image/audio/video file under the sun.
    Loads RAW previews within a second.
    Is very light on system resources. Not quite as light as IrfanView, but still super fast compared to Windows Photo Viewer.
    Will move to the next picture after deletion!
    Default mouse scroll button action is zoom, not scrolling.
    Opens in full-screen by default for the best image viewing
    Features a ‘quick zoom’ feature that lets you zoom 1:1 with one click of the mouse button. (Very useful for checking focus etc.)
    Features a ‘compare pictures’ window that lets you select up to 4 pictures, then shows them side-by-side so you can quickly compare photos.
    Quickly shows EXIF data for the file without having to open a separate program.
    It is a full-featured program for editing pictures, you can crop, resize, adjust colors etc. Of course I do that stuff in Lightroom, but sometimes I just need to quickly crop something, and don’t want to fire up Lightroom just for that!

    Cons:

    I can’t really think of any!

    So FastStone Image Viewer has definitely replaced IrfanView as my default photo viewer!

    Anyone else have any thoughts on software that they have used?

    #5987

    James Staddon
    Keymaster

    That is some valuable information, buddingphotographer. Hearing feedback about a program from someone who not only has spent time experimenting with it, but who also knows they have need for specific functions within the program, gives credibility to the content. It’s not just a list of features a company is giving to sell a program.

    You might find the following articles helpful:

    List of alternatives to Adobe Bridge
    Discussion on fast browsing alternatives
    Pros and cons of PhotoMechanic

    #5988

    Ezra Morley
    Moderator

    Thanks for the links for more info. I have heard of Photo Mechanic, but I gather that it is a high-quality program meant for pros, with a price tag to match! I think for what I need, FastStone Image Viewer is the best (and cheapest) option! Like I said, I only need it for a quick previewer, not for all the features under the sun. I think the feature I like the most about it is the ‘compare photos’ feature. The other day, I was commissioned to photograph a litter of puppies so they could be advertised. I ended up with 217 images of 6 puppies! I had to go through them and pick the best ones, and that compare feature helped immensely! I can quickly zoom on several side-by-side pictures of the same pose and identify the best/sharpest/cutest one to use, then delete the others.

    Attachments:
    #6011

    James Staddon
    Keymaster

    Very good. Glad you found a good viewing program! And very cute, too. 🙂

    #6019

    HeldInHisArms
    Participant

    I like using Photoshop Elements Organizer for my pictures. It is very fast and efficient, and is an easy way to access your pictures.

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 10 months ago by  James Staddon.
    #6087

    James Staddon
    Keymaster

    Good to know, HeldInHisArms. I’ve never had need to use that program so have no experience with it. Is it free? Did it come with another program? If not, what is the download link?

    #6090

    HeldInHisArms
    Participant

    It came with Photoshop Elements 11 for free. I think both programs together cost about 100 dollars, but I will get some more info and let you know. =)

    #6097

    Ezra Morley
    Moderator

    Yes, I have VERY briefly used Organizer several years ago with Elements. There is a deal on right now for Photoshop Elements 12 at B&H Photo for only $64.00 and free shipping.

    #6179

    ariathny
    Participant

    Have you tried FastRawViewer? It’s a new product, it’s free now, and it shows real raw, not embedded jpegs extremely fast (seriously). I think it’s from the same team of developers that created LibRaw and RawDigger. I’ve been using it and I’m very happy with the results.

    #6180

    Ezra Morley
    Moderator

    No, I had never heard about FastRawViewer. Thanks for bringing it to my attention! I downloaded it and installed it, but it needed to install a bunch of updates from Microsoft for DirectX9 to work. The first time I tried to install it, I canceled the DirectX9 updates, and the program wouldn’t even run! So, learn a lesson, always install updates! I uninstalled it, then reinstalled with updates, and it works just fine!

    So, here are my thoughts based on the few minutes I’ve played with it…

    First, it definitely FAST! It is at least as fast as FastStone Image Viewer. And since FastRawViewer is actually reading the RAW file instead of the JPEG preview, it must be a great deal faster! It’s having to crunch 3 or 4 times as much data in the same amount of time! 1:1 previews are virtually instantaneous, and I must say, I was impressed! You can tell that just by looking at it that it’s actually viewing the RAW file and not the jpeg version, there is just a different “look” to the picture.

    I had to change the keyboard shortcuts right away to something I’m used to, but after that, it’s pretty easy to figure out.

    Pros:

    1. Blazing fast image rendering.
    2. Completely customizable shortcuts.
    3. Reads the actual RAW file, not a jpeg preview.
    4. Let’s you preview different exposure and white-balance settings without having to open other software.
    5. Focus peaking, so you can see exactly where your focus is.

    Cons:

    • The interface looks a bit clunky, it’s not very streamlined. (Quite the contrast with Lightroom!)

    I guess that’s about all I can think of! The interface isn’t a big issue, mostly personal preference, and since it’s still in beta, I’m sure it will improve!

    Overall, I think it’s a VERY strong competitor for FastStone Image Viewer. If anything, it’s a little faster than any other program that I’ve tried. But for now, I’m sticking with FastStone because it has a completely distraction free fullscreen view and comparison mode.

    @ariathny: The link you provided to FastRawViewer isn’t valid, it got messed up somehow. It actually links internally to Lenspiration.com to a page called “www.fastrawviewer.com” like this:

    https://www.lenspiration.com/forums/topic/best-photo-viewer-for-photographers/www.fastrawviewer.com

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 9 months ago by  Ezra Morley.
    #6186

    ariathny
    Participant

    Yeah, I like it a lot. I’ve used other viewers but this one gets my vote, since now I can get rid of all the junk right from the CF card. I toggle the fullscreen mode using the “F” key, and to compare exposures you can close all windows but the histogram and keep the bottom bar; then use the “tab” key to switch between no windows and just the bottom bar and histogram. Also, to compare two images side-by-side, you can always launch 2 instances of FastRawViewer.
    @buddingphotographer my bad for the broken link 🙂

    #6187

    Ezra Morley
    Moderator

    Ok, thanks for the tip on the “Tab” key for hiding the sidebars, that makes it more ‘distraction-free’! I like full-screen to be full-screen. If I wanted all the sidebars, I wouldn’t make it full-screen!

    The beauty of the compare feature of FastStone is that it synchronizes the zoom and panning to all the pictures being viewed, so you can zoom in on the same spot in several similar images to pick the best one.

    I’m curious, what do you mean by “junk” on your CF card? Surely there’s nothing there but pictures? 🙂

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 27 total)

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