| By Ian “Gizmo” Richards |
I’m wrapping up my series on freeware with one of my favorite topics: the best in free imaging applications.
The most-impressive products I’ve encountered this year, they should be on the PC of everyone who makes screen captures, manages huge image libraries, or builds digital panoramas.
Best choice for a free photo manager–editor
Let me cut straight to the chase: Zoner Photo Studio is the fastest digital image viewer–manager I’ve ever used. When you’re sorting through dozens or hundreds of shots on your PC, speed isn’t a nicety — it’s a necessity. Unfortunately, many popular image-management apps are agonizingly slow at loading the huge photo files created by modern digital cameras. But not Photo Studio; it loaded my 12-megapixel photos in the blink of an eye and let me flick from one photo to another effortlessly.
Photo Studio’s efficient layout and speed remind me of the old and much-loved (but not free) ACDSee viewer. A folder navigation tree occupies the left-hand panel; thumbnails of a chosen folder’s images fill the right panel. (See Figure 1.) Clicking a thumbnail opens the full-sized photo in a separate tab.
This tabbed approach works exceptionally well, allowing you to instantly jump from one photo to another. It’s also handy when processing a small, selected set of photos. Its three main tabs — Manager, Viewer, and Editor —— make moving between these three tasks especially quick and easy.
Figure 1. Zoner Photo Studio has a clean, efficient layout for reviewing and managing digital images.