FastStone Image Viewer

I have a Asus eeepc. I dare not load my Photoshop there on that 7 inch screen. But I have my trusty Irfanview to browse photos. Recently I came to know of another free image viewer / editor called FastStone. At the first glance the name looks like fastone but remember it is fast stone. Let us see how it fares against Irfanview.

Like Irfanview, FastStone provides lightning fast image viewing. Like Infranview, FastStone supports a boatload of file formats and coverts between them. The main difference is that Infranview is about the single image where Faststone is about the browser. The Thumbnail viewer in Irfanview is pathetic if compared to FastStone.

FastStone Browser interface
FastStone Browser interface

FastStone Features

There are two views in FastStone – the browser, and the image view. The browser has the familiar Windows tree for navigation. It has thumbnails (though you can choose list or details view) in the main pane, and a preview of the selected picture for getting a bigger view without selecting a picture. FastStone doesn’t just show images, it can also give you video previews. It stores the preview thumbnails in a database, so once you it loads them the first time, the thumbnails fly up on the screen the next time you view the directory. Oh, and if you like working with RAW files, no problem. FastStone supports every camera model that anyone who actually uses RAW files would own.

Here are few features of FastStone.

  • Image browser and viewer with a familiar Windows Explorer-like user interface
  • Support of many popular image formats:
  • True Full Screen viewer with image zoom support and unique fly-out menu panels
  • Crystal-clear and customizable one-click image magnifier
  • Superior Red-Eye effect removal/reduction with completely natural looking end result
  • Image modification tools: Resize/resample, rotate/flip, crop, sharpen/blur, brightness/contrast, etc.
  • Eleven (yes, 11) resampling algorithms to choose from when resizing images
  • Image color effects: gray scale, sepia, negative, Red/Green/Blue adjustment
  • Image special effects: watermark, annotation, drop shadow, framing, bump map, lens, morph, waves
  • Multi-level Undo/Redo capability
  • One-touch best fit/actual size image display support
  • Image management, including tagging capability, with drag-and-drop and Copy To/Move To Folder support
  • Histogram display with color counter feature
  • Compare images side-by-side (up to 4 at a time) to easily cull those forgettable shots
  • Image EXIF metadata support (plus comment editing for JPEGs)
  • Configurable batch processing to convert/rename large or small collections of images
  • Slideshow creation with 150+ transition effects and music support (MP3, WMA, WAV…)
  • Create efficient image attachment(s) for emailing to family and friends
  • Print images with full page-layout control
  • Create fully configurable Contact Sheets – just like the pros (and save $$$ on ink)
  • Create memorable artistic image montages from your family photos for personalized desktop wallpapers (Wallpaper Anywhere)
  • Acquire images from a scanner
  • Versatile screen capture capability
  • Powerful Save As interface to compare image quality and control generated file size
  • Run favorite programs with one keystroke from within Image Viewer
  • Configurable mouse wheel support
  • Supports multiple program skins
  • Supports dual-monitor configurations
  • And much more…

Even with all that FastStone can do, if you ever feel like you’ve gotten in over your head, there is an Edit Menu choice for Edit with External program where you can pick Photoshop or Lightroom or whatever you like for your heavy lifting.

File support comes easy. Virtually any image file type you’ve heard of can be opened in FastStone. If you want to convert to another file, either use the conversion tools, or just choose Save As and pick your file type. There is a great screenshot utility builtin into FastStone. The file comes out as PNG but most websites will only allow you to upload JPG or GIF. Just open the file, Click Save As, pick JPG for the file type. If you want to make it quicker loading, click advanced and choose your quality level all without leaving the save dialog box.

FastStone Batch Features
Because Faststone is all about the browser, it comes with tons of operations that can be performed on multiple images. Whether you want to rename a bunch of files, or convert a bunch of files to JPG, Faststone can handle it. It can also build contact sheets and wallpapers all from the menus. Oh yeah, and it makes slideshows. Everyone does that? Does everyone make a file that can be played anywhere without any software installed? Faststone does and it can add music, and over 100 different transistions so you can shake up that family reunion slideshow a little bit. You’ll show up with an exe file if you want. Just run it!

Compare multiple photos together in FastStone
Compare multiple photos together in FastStone

Quick and Easy
See that map? That’s a Copy Selection to Clipboard from a PDF file, pasted into Faststone, saved as a JPG, added the arrows and the text, resized, and saved as a JPG suitable for emailing. Total time? Four minutes flat, and most of that was me dinking around with color choices (do the yellow boxes stand out better than the orange boxes?).
Conclusion

FastStone Image Viewer 3.6 is so good that it is better than many commercial products out there. FastStone Image Viewer is free for personal and educational (including non-profit organization) use. In these cases, you are granted the right to use and to make an unlimited number of copies of this software.

Only part I didnot like in FastStone was the skinning. It uses its own skin and does not adapt to the windows skins you use currently. There is no way to turn off skin customization to have a “standard” viewing of the window interface. So if you have skinned your windows then FastStone window stands out as sore thumb. Other than that I don’t have any cribs about it. in Fact now it has replaced my default image viewer Irfanview.

4 thoughts on “FastStone Image Viewer

  1. My first feel was wow, amazingly fast. The zoombrowser is just too slow.

    I tried the batch conversion from RAW to jpeg. The conversion is super fast. Process results were not up to the expectation. The exposure level was too high and also it used different WB than what I had shot. And also the noice level was quiet high.

    Did you try batch conversion?

    thank you.
    Shiva

  2. Krishna Mohan,

    This is tool stunning fast and as you mentioned it serves you best to judge which is the best one and which one to discard before you post process.

    What are your post processing steps in Raw to Jpeg? Do you have online Gallery where I can see your collection?

    Regards,
    Shiva

  3. Shiva,
    Thanks for commenting. I am getting my online gallery ready. WordPress blog engine I am using does not have a satisfactory gallery module. I am looking for several alternatives. I used to have a gallery on http://www.zenfolio.com which is now defunct. Soon I will upload my photos here.

    I use Adobe Lightroom 2.1 for most of my Raw to Jpg post processing. It is used for 85% time. Then if needed I go to Photoshop. I am on my way of writing blog entry on this important aspect of work flow. I’ll post here as soon as possible.

    Regards
    Krishna Mohan

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