Perfect Browse 9 Raw Viewer Review

After spotting Perfect Browse 9 Raw Viewer being given away free on Fstoppers, I thought I’d give it a whirl.

I’m not sure why it’s free….it usually costs $59, but I’m not complaining. Is it worth $59 if you paid for it? Well, initially, it seems a lot of money for what it is when you consider for twice the price you can get Lightroom to do exactly the same thing in terms of cataloguing, and a heck of a lot more besides.

As the name suggests it’s primarily an image viewer, but it can do a fair amount more than that. Like the LR library module,  it can rate the images with stars, colour flags and pick or reject (or leave unflagged). You can add keywords, description and other metadata, rotate the image and filter your ratings. Heck, it even looks a little like the LR Library module. It even uses the same keys to rate the images as LR- with the exception of the zero key. That sets the image to purple rather than zeroing the star rating. If you want to zero the star rating you need to need to press the key to the left of the ‘1’ key on the top of the keyboard. I say left of the ‘1’ key simply because it varies from keyboard to keyboard, country to country.

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Seems a bit much really doesn’t it, seeing you can do that in LR? Well, here’s the key thing. It’s fast. Damn fast……. It’s possible to fly through hundreds, if not thousands, of images in the blink of an eye. rating them, sorting them.  In LR, this would take forever, even just jumping from one image to the next. Waiting for an image to render in LR sometimes seems to take an age of man. In PB, as soon as you skip to another image it’s there, a tack sharp as soon as you press the arrow key.

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There is a price to pay for this speed: it shows you the JPEG preview (it’s still large) and not the raw file. If you zoom in, then you get shown the raw file. That takes a bit more time. So it’s not ideal for making judgement on exposure or white balance, or even total sharpness (you get an overall feeling of sharpness, but if you want to establish if that key part of the image is really sharp, then it’s going to take a bit longer). But if you want to quickly cull the bloopers and images you wouldn’t even want to consider, and pick the ones that might need a bit of work over the ones that don’t need as much tweaking, then this is the tool for you. The amount of time saved in a single sitting could pay for this tool alone. It’s a God-send for wedding or event photographers.

And then it gets better. After sorting the images, you can get them into LR extremely quickly.

Simply select the images you want (you don’t even have to filter them if you don’t want to), right click and select “Send to Adobe Lightroom”.

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The familiar LR dialogue box opens up, and you can import your images as you normally would.

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Once in the catalogue, every setting and rating you applied in PB is in LR too: you can quickly filter your images and work on the keepers. The only reason I import everything and keep the bloopers is just in case I might need them…. you never know. You can always delete them in LR once you’ve finished your editing.

The only downside I have found is that sidecar (xmp) files are created when you use PB. Once inside LR these sidecar files aren’t used (unless you are using sidecar files in LR of course). I’ve found they can be deleted safely once in LR, but then you lose the changes you made in PB. Chances are you’d never use PB again to view the images, so it’s not a showstopper. You can leave the files if you wish, but I dislike unnecessary files clogging up my hard drive.

Overall I like it a lot and can see it getting a lot of use. How long the free offer remains to be seen, and whether you can get minor upgrades when any bugs etc are fixed remains to be seen too. But it’s highly useable, and likable. Definitely worth a try, especially as it’s free.

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