Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Software Review: FastPictureViewer Professional

I recently scored a nice Black Friday deal on a shiny, new Acer Aspire One A0722 netbook, in part to be used for image storage/backup on photo trips. An important piece of functionality I wanted this netbook to have was the ability to quickly browse any raw images stored on it. After much research of both free and not-so-free software packages, I settled on the FastPictureViewer Professional image viewer. It isn't free...it isn't even cheap, but it really excels in the areas I need it to. That is, it speedily allows me to flip through images stored on my not-so-high-powered netbook. So far, this combination has been so much better than my Epson Viewer (my current storage/backup device in the field) that I doubt I'll utilize that much anymore.

FastPictureViewer Profession v1.6 screen snapshot

For those looking for both a fast viewer combined with at least a basic image processing component...your search continues. I wasn't, as I don't have any desire to process images on a uncalibrated netbook screen anyway. That's a task that's always reserved for my workhorse desktop PC back in the office where Lightroom and Photoshop reign supreme. FastPictureViewer is special purposed as a speedy viewer that I find extremely useful for the following reasons...

1. It views most major raw formats (important because I own more than one manufacturer's camera)
2. One can quickly check for critical sharpness at 100% view.
3. There's full time access to histogram and exif information (which can be quickly toggled on and off).
4. It shows images in all subfolders when a folder is opened.
5. There's easy culling out of rejects or copying of keepers to a separate folder.
6. Quick rating and adding IPTC data to images (I don't know if I'll utilize this personally, but it's there).

So essentially, the combination of my new netbook with FastPictureViewer Pro is making a welcome change to my in-the-field workflow. I'll now be able to more readily maintain a keeper folder on my netbook that I can continually add to when reviewing images during the down time in my travels. Then when I return home, I simply copy this keeper folder over to my main desktop PC via my wireless, file sharing network and I'm ready to import into Lightroom and begin my usual workflow. Pretty darned slick! Ok...this is probably similar to what better organized photographers have been doing for a while now, but I'm sometimes slow adopting new processes into my workflow so it's cool to me.

Ok...enough of all the glowing accolades, I should also point out some of FastPictureViewer's faults as it's hardly perfect software (what software is?). As mentioned earlier, there's no options for image processing whatsoever. If you want to edit in the field, look elsewhere. Also, the drop down filmstrip of your folder's images can be somewhat clunky and annoying (sometimes it doesn't immediately appear or go away when it should during mouseovers). Finally, the software is kind of expensive for what you get. It's being offered at 20% off right now, but still costs $40. That's a little pricey for its feature set IMO. However, if ya got to have it...ya got to have it!!

I'm sure as time goes by, I'm going to discover other little features here and there that I wish were present. However, I won't complain too much as it's core functionality really addresses my basic needs well. There's a one month free trial period so feel free to give a whirl to see if it suits you. It may not fit everyone's needs (especially for the $40 price tag), but I'm going to find it indispensable during my travels.


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