IrFanView, a Review  *menu

Tomtom  Tweedel is a good friend with significant experience in China and has self-published severalinteresting volumes of his travels in China complete with many great images and informative narrative.  Last year he visited Thailand for the first time and I had a great time showing him around the area. Somehow he found time to put together a like 340 page book of his travels aroundThailand and you can get your copy here!  I've got a copy of this book and Ican tell you it's well worth it, especially for first timetravelers or if you haven't seen more of Thailand than downtown Bangkok.

When Tom agreed to become part of our small select product review team I was both excited and grateful.  I hope you enjoy this and future reviews by Tom.  For those whose plans include extended travel in Thailand and China I’d recommend contacting Tom and inquiring into obtaining copies of his books.  Tom Tweedel is an Austin, TX based photographer and can be reached at: tomsds@austin.rr.com

 

IrFanView is a picture viewing program with limited editing features. It has been around quite a long time, is very stable and attractively priced (its free).  Irfan’s main advantage is that it is fast and light. It’s easy to use for viewing, cropping, rotating and other basic operations.

 

Installation

You can get Irfanview from a number of download sites including

http://www.irfanview.com

It’s a small download, only 1.33 MB, it could fit on an old floppy disk.

The installation is fairly smooth, doesn’t require any supporting files or reboots.  The one thing to watch out for is they might try and install a toolbar or other adware related stuff (which is how they monetize the program).  It’s optional so as long as you don’t just NEXT through everything you can skip it.

The other thing to pay attention to is it asks you which type of files you want to associate with IrfanView.  I usually just accept the default JPGs, TIFF’s and the like.  This will mean that when you double click on a file it will open it up with IrFanView vs. what it used to use.

 

Use

If you have associated your JPG’s with IrFanView you can just double click on an image and IrFanView will launch very quickly (less than a half a second on a mid grade laptop).  This gives you quick and easy access to view your images.  Once its up and running it has a minimal interface.

 

Most of the program is about viewing your image.  If you look up top to the menu bar the business end is pretty clear.

 

Most of the program is about viewing your image.  If you look up top to the menu bar the business end is pretty clear.

 

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For Viewing you have the arrow keys and counter. This tells you how many pictures are in the current directory and you can click to move through them quickly (or you can use the arrow keys on your keyboard).

If you wish to zoom in on an image there is the magnifying glass buttons on the toolbar or you can use the +/- keys.  You can also go to View>Display Options where you can choose the view the image at 100% or Fit to desktop.  Hitting the letter “F” also toggles between these options.

 

File Processing

IrFanView has limited file processing capabilities. Most are found under the Image Menu

 

Options include Rotating, Resizing, dropping the color bit depth, converting to grayscale, Auto adjust colors, Sharpen, Redeye Reduction and others.  The tools themselves are functional and quick, though they are basic versions of these functions that you might find in OEM software.  They are not optimized in quality or interface as modern commercial offerings but they get the job done.

 

Options include Rotating, Resizing, dropping the color bit depth, converting to grayscale, Auto adjust colors, Sharpen, Redeye Reduction and others.  The tools themselves are functional and quick, though they are basic versions of these functions that you might find in OEM software.  They are not optimized in quality or interface as modern commercial offerings but they get the job done.

The resize menu (which I use frequently) has an interesting interface with a number of presents.  There is an option for performance vs quality which is kind of an artifact of an earlier era of computing.  Any modern computer can do the highest quality resize instantly.

 

Advanced Features

In addition to the basics IrfanView has some advanced batch processing features and other options one would not expect on a small piece of freeware.

The batch rename/conversion is one example that some might find useful (File>Batch Conversion/Rename).

 

Most of the other advance features can be explored through the Options>Properties/Settings screen.  Some of them might be considered past their prime as they relate to manual configuration more modern software does automatically.   But for you old school guys out there who like it just a certain way.

 

Most of the other advance features can be explored through the Options>Properties/Settings screen.  Some of them might be considered past their prime as they relate to manual configuration more modern software does automatically.   But for you old school guys out there who like it just a certain way.

 

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Plug it In

IrFanViews utility continues to expand with time with the add on of various plug in modules.  One useful plug in is lossless rotation.  Allows you to rotate your saved JPG without having to “resave” and loose quality to the photocopy effect.  With plugins it also becomes a halfway decent media player allowing access to sound and video, though I suspect the modern evolution of codec’s have eclipsed much of its video capability (haven’t tried). It also allows for direct scanning of images from a compatible flatbed scanner.

 

Why use IrfanView?

The main reason I use IrfanView is because its fast and light.  Its an old style program where I can simply click on the icon of a supported file have it come up instantly.  I don’t have to wait for anything to load, previews to be built, point it at a different directory every time I want to use the software and so on.  I also keep a copy on my memory stick so I have it around if I find myself showing files on someone else’s computer I don’t have to suffer through whatever default viewer Windows has them set up for (some of them are painfully slow and annoying).  I quickly install it on their box and then I have a program that I can zip through a folder of pictures as fast as I can hit the keys.

I also find IrFanView nice if I just need to do a quick crop or resize of an existing image. Bring it up, do what I need and move on.

Its not a serious photo processing program and I would attempt to use it as such. Its not color managed and has a UI and feature set from the 1990’s. But it’s hard to beat the price (free), size and overhead. So it continues to putter along and I would recommend it to anyone who needs a casual photo viewer and isn’t intimidated by the menu items.