Friday, December 28, 2012

Working With IrfanView


IrfanView is a “freeware” computer program designed to process multiple image files in large batches. While it lacks the photo editing and manipulation capabilities of programs such as Adobe’s ® PhotoShop®, it performs admirably as an assistant to those programs.

Image 1: IrfanView’s opening screen for Batch Conversions after a folder of images is selected.

When you open IrfanView for the first time, your first task is to go to the “Batch Rename settings name pattern:” and insert $N.jpg. This command ensures that every image retains its original name followed by the lowercase .jpg extension, which can save you a lot of time
Your batch options are: “Batch conversion,” which alters each image in any of several forms; “Batch rename,” which changes the file name; and “Batch conversion- rename result files,” which does both.
If all of you images are already in .jpg format, select “Batch Conversion.” If not, select “Batch conversion- rename result files.”
IrfanView retains these settings until you decide to change them.

Resizing Images

One of IrfanView’s advantages over PhotoShop ®is its ease of resizing photos. This is especially important when processing large batches of images for use in on-line product catalogs.
PhotoShop ® requires creating a macro to perform batch resizes, and then only on identically-oriented (all vertical or all horizontal) images. IrfanView lets you apply one measurement to the longest or shortest side.
IrfanView will automatically crop the borders and allow to perform many other functions on batches of images.

Image 2: IrfanView’s Advanced Options dialog box.

A suggested way of working with groups of photos is creating at least one Output folder as a nested sub-folder of the folder where your images are stored. Have your adjusted images saved to the new location. This way your originals are not overwritten should a problem occur.

Using PhotoShop and IrfanView Sequentially

Many photographers prefer to shoot their images at the maximum resolution available then “dumb down” copies for other purposes such as displaying them online. Using PhotoShop® first then IrfanView makes a lot of sense and saves a lot of time and frustration.
Consider this method, which assumes your original images come in a Raw format, which retains all of the shooting information and lets you alter the exposure after the fact.
Let’s start with a possible scenario: your firm has 50 new products it wants to sell on its website and promote in both print and online ads. You need to have three copies of each photo:
1.      Maximum quality images for print advertising. These should be 240-300 dots per inch (dpi) or greater for the best results.
2.      Smaller versions designed for the Internet that are still fairly large both for executives to pick from and for use with blogs. A size of 4 inches by 6 inches at 72 dpi (screen resolution) is a good starting point.
3.      Even smaller images for use in your online catalog, such as with a maximum size of 1200 pixels on the longest side.
First, run your images individually through PhotoShop making adjustments to the exposure, color balance, contrast, brightness and color intensity, then save the adjusted versions as .jpg images at maximum (100 percent) resolution. Keep these images in a folder separate from the Raw files just as a precaution.
Remember, jpgs compress image files, causing a reduction in information and therefore a drop in clarity every time the image size is changed. Having an unaltered original means that you can always go back to the original.
Once adjusted, these first-level images can be printed up the maximum size, such as 11-inches by 17 inches or even larger, depending on the settings and capabilities available, of the camera used.
The result of your first round is a group of jpgs, some with the lowercase .jpg extension and possibly others with upper case JPG or mixed-cased Jpg extensions. Why does it matter? Because some ecommerce platforms such as Magento will only accept images with the lowercase extension.
You just completed your first task.
Once your first round of jpgs are ready, close PhotoShop® and open Windows Explorer (not the Internet Explorer web browser). Create two nested subfolders labeled Output1 and Output 2.
Using the dialog box shown above, click the “Resize” box (Image 2, above) and select 6 then inches as the longest size and put 72 in the “Set new DPI value.”
Now go to the Basic dialog box (Image 1) and select Output1 as the “Output directory for results” folder.
In the interest of ensuring all images have the lowercase .jpg extension and the original filename, place “$n.jpg” (no quotes) in the “Batch rename” “Name Pattern” box.
Select “Add All” images from the basic choices then “Run Batch.” IrfanView will quickly process all images and place them in Output1 while leaving your original Raw and first-round jpgs alone.
Task 2 is now complete.
Now go select Output1 as your starting point and Output2 as the end point for Task 3. This time, go into the Advanced Settings Dialog Box and click the Resize Image box then select an appropriate size for your online catalog shots, such as 1200 pixels at 72 dpi.

Image 3: The JPEG/GIF “Save Options” Dialog box.
You can also reduce the file size further by dropping the image quality set in the JPEG/GIF Save Options Dialog Box from 100 percent, which is where it should be set initially. Consider a setting of about 50 percent for images that only appear online.

Now For the Results

Image 4: The T-Rex skeleton at the California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco. (Size reduced to fit space limitations) after the first pass through IrfanView. There is no noticeable drop in image quality.

Image 5: The T-Rex skeleton and a blue jellyfish at the California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco. Size reduced to fit space limitations after the second pass through IrfanView. Image quality is degraded, though this is not typically a problem with static products such as clothing.


IrfanView is not designed to replace Adobe’s PhotoShop as a photo editor. However, it is a good compliment to PhotoShop. IrfanView makes applying repetitive alterations, such as changing sizes and resolutions, a quick and easy process.

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