Aimed at keeping the work flow for photographers fast and fun, image browsers are designed to offer organization functionality at affordable prices. Most browsers are centered around simple interfaces to help you sort through images quickly, make the best selections and output them as prints, use them on the web or send them to family and friends. The best browsers also include essential image-enhancement tools and are the primary work flow tool for many photographers today.
ACDSEE PHOTO MANAGER 2009
ACDSee’s Photo Manager 2009 quickly displays more than 100 different file types, including many popular RAW formats. Photos can be viewed at full size or as thumbnails, and ACDSee’s Quick View feature will preview e-mail attachments or desktop files, as well. Images can be dragged and dropped from Windows file folders, and Photo Manager 2009 also will add keywords and ratings and edit metadata, all for one of the most inexpensive prices available. List Price: $49.
MICROSOFT EXPRESSION MEDIA 2
Microsoft Expression Media 2 provides a drag-and-drop visual database for importing, organizing, annotating and classifying more than 100 different file formats. Images, music and movies can be stored anywhere, even offline, and files can be browsed in a variety of ways, including as thumbnails, slideshows, a lightbox and more. Each file is searchable by customizable criteria and metadata, and up to six files can be compared side by side. A built-in Image Editor provides basic editing tools, including cropping, red-eye removal, color-balance adjustment and several auto enhancements for fast touch-ups of images. Prints of any size can be output, including contact sheets, and Expression Media 2 can perform single or batch conversions of images, movies and audio to a variety of formats. The coolest feature of the browser is that almost every feature can be programmed to provide automated workflow for avoiding repetitive tasks. List Price: $199.
ADOBE BRIDGE CS4
Bridge CS4 is the hub of Adobe’s powerhouse Creative Suite 4 selection of programs, which includes Photoshop. Images can be previewed in a variety of ways, like full-screen, a cycling Carousel view, a List view, stacks, thumbnails and with metadata and shot information. Bridge uses robust organizational tools and batch processing, offering metadata addition, image resizing, photo ratings, file renaming and format conversion for cross-production between CS4 programs and multi-output of images and files to different devices, including web galleries and handheld devices. Bridge CS4 also provides workgroup file management for multiple-version tracking of images, ideal for projects with many different people involved. Bridge CS4 is included with most CS4 programs and software bundles. List Price: $699 (with Photoshop CS4); $999 (with Photoshop CS4 Extended); bundle prices vary.
iPhoto ’08 is part of Apple’s iLife ’08 suite of programs, included free on every new Mac. iPhoto offers automatic organization of your photo library by Events, ordered by date and time. Images can be edited with basic retouching tools and sliders for adjusting exposure, contrast, highlights and shadows, sharpness and more. Images can be output in a variety of exciting ways, including as calendars, books and an integrated MobileMe online gallery. Pictures are searchable by date, keyword, event or rating, and prints can be embellished with included customizable borders, textured mattes and text. iPhoto also saves untouched original images in the library, so you’ll always have the original. List Price: $79 (includes complete iLife suite).
FOTOALBUM 6 PRO
FotoAlbum 6 Pro has a lot of features, but is most unique for its use of geotagging as a way to organize photos. Featuring integration with Google Maps API, images are filed into multilevel smart albums and sub-albums that are searchable through a customizable database of GPS locations, as well as captions, keywords, dates and other metadata fields for photos and videos. FotoAlbum Pro can be used by multiple users simultaneously, and watch folders will allow you to keep your pictures stored where you like while referencing them in the FotoAlbum 6 Pro configurable interface. Prints and novelty items of images can be ordered directly from the software, and there’s also basic image editing with red-eye removal, cropping, color correction and more. List Price: $39.