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Image Viewers

Image viewing programs .... there are a zillion of 'em out there! It's hard to know which one is best. Of course, it depends on what you want to do with the program, and what you want the program to do for you. Let us help clear a path through the fog. 

Below are two freeware programs that have proven their track records to a number of us in both the Digital Camera SIG and the Graphics SIG. I personally have used Irfanview32 since its first incarnation and am completely enamoured of its simplicity and ease of use for novices to advanced levels. It's the best all-purpose viewing utility I've come across yet. But Jack Hord over in Graphics SIG the other day showed off the attributes of EXIF, and I must say, I'm very impressed. So much so, that while Irfanview remains my default program of choice, I've added EXIF to my graphics stable for the times I want and need that program's unique output of instantaneous EXIF detail.

Irfanview32 - a marvelous little utility written by, whom else? Irfan! It started small with mainly viewing capabilities, but in a few short years has progressed to one of the most intuitive and powerful little utilities for viewing, batch renaming and resizing, slideshowing  -- you name it, this program will handle it. Even some little editing tweaks built in now, though we always recommend using a real editor like Adobe PhotoShop or JASC Paint Shop Pro if you really want to make serious changes to copies of your image files. This program also displays EXIF information in detail; a real boon to those of us trying to remember just what the heck we did to our camera back then to get that photo! 

EXIF Image Viewer - a very impressive little utility. Not as intuitively easy to step into as Irfanview, but a few pokes with the mouse will reveal lots of nice sub-routines that allow some impressive viewing formats. From thumbnails to a film strip layout, EXIF puts your images at your fingertips. The most powerful part of this utility is its ease in instantly displaying by default the EXIF information of all image files in a folder. A little module I'll be personally using quite a lot. 
Remember: NEVER overwrite your original files under any circumstance! Those original image files are your "negatives" ... just like the old 35mm film strip negatives we used to use. Besides, you overwrite that file, and you'll instantly lose all that wonderful EXIF info. 

Always immediately back up your digital images on a CD, an alternate hard drive when you get back from shooting -- something -- anything! Put a complete set of copies on some other media than the one original source. Copy the images you want to manipulate, and work only from those copies. Don't have a CD writer? Buy one. It's that simple, and it's THAT important. I've seen some writers for as little as $59 and writable CDs cost only pennies. Yes, it's worth it. Trust me, I've lost original digital images in the past that vaporized when a hard drive suddenly failed, before I had backed them up. That's a hard way to learn a lesson. 


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