onOne Perfect Browse: Is it the perfect image browser and manager for culling and rating?

Perfect Browse image browser

Sometime ago, we had reviewed and found Photo Mechanic to be one of the best applications for culling pictures. But, the biggest downside is the cost; at $150 per license, it isn’t exactly an economical alternative to Lightroom. Newbie professional photographers looking to get off the blocks may find it too steep an investment to make. So, it is indeed great timing that onOne Software decided to expand their portfolio with an image browser and manager: Perfect Browse.

How does it stack against Lightroom and the widely popular Photo Mechanic? We have a few first impressions that can help you decide.

The cost

Lightroom isn’t free, neither is Photo Mechanic. That makes Perfect Browse the fastest free image browser and manager in the market. But, there is a catch. It is free for a limited period, if you register and download through Fstoppers. If you miss the offer, the application will set you back by $60. It’s still 1.5 times cheaper than Photo Mechanic. And, Lightroom, even as part of Creative Cloud, can be pretty expensive. Clearly, the cost advantage of Perfect Browse makes it a no-brainer for photographers shopping for the ideal culling application.

+1 reason: You can use the Fstoppers license code on two computers.

Previews

For long, Lightroom and Bridge were the applications of choice for previewing, culling, and managing images. Neither of them gave the speed gun a workout, sometimes frustrating photographers on a time crunch. So, for a while now, Photo Mechanic has been the top choice for pre-editing tasks. In comparison to Photo Mechanic, Perfect Browse seemed quite as fast—at times even faster in generating previews.

Pitching it against Lightroom, it is evident that Perfect Browse is a far better choice for previewing images. If you have been using Photo Mechanic, you may not see a significant change in preview speeds. We call it a tie, unless someone can more accurately clock the speeds.

Workflows

Rating, labeling, deleting, moving, managing—the most important activities of your workflow are easy to accomplish with Perfect Browse. We say “easy”, because this app strips all the complexity out and makes usage entirely intuitive. The learning curve is almost non-existent—even for someone who has never used an image browser and manager before. It only takes a couple of clicks for any task.

Perfect Browse image rating

Having said that, there is one stand-out feature that Perfect Browse seems to have failed to include. In Photo Mechanic, you can adjust your settings such that the preview loads the next image automatically as soon as you finish rating/labeling one image. You don’t need to use the arrow keys to navigate to the next image in the sequence. Perfect Browse has no setting that can enable this feature—it is possible that onOne might introduce this setting in a later version, based on feedback and reviews.

Interface

Simplicity is at the core of Perfect Browse’s design. A single window allows you to perform all your pre-editing tasks. You can choose to view the images as Thumbnails or individual pictures; either way, the control panel is always on the same window. Unlike Photo Mechanic, which opens a separate window for individual picture views and for fast culling. But we must also mention that Photo Mechanic has a dozen viewing options, which might be a dealmaker for some.

We like the single window interface design also for the fact that you can add metadata to an entire bunch of images using the info pane on the right. Neat, isn’t it? Of course, you have the same ease-of-use with other tasks like filtering, creating favorite folders (also offered on Photo Mechanic), adding comments, selecting multiple images for batch processing, and so on–using the control panes on the left.

Image meta data

The info pane on the right lets you add meta data to individual images or a bunch of selected images

That’s a roundup of the most important features that professional photographers would consider while deciding on an image culling and managing software. Without a doubt, Perfect Browse beats Lightroom by a long shot, but needs a couple of more features to make it a clear winner over Photo Mechanic.

Of course, you can try and buy (or get it free if you act quickly). Just head over to Fstoppers and download the PERFECT BROWSE 9.5 Premium Edition.

We also found a very useful instruction manual, in case “figuring it out as you go along” is not exactly your style. Download it here.

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