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BreezeBrowser v1.2 Review
written by Fred Miranda

Introduction

Since the D30's debut, we've been struggling with its supplied software. Although it's possible to convert RAW files using Canon's Photoshop twain module or RAW conversion utility, both options are very impractical.

Several programmers, who also happen to own D30's , decided to ease the conversion process of D30 RAW files and incorporate some new features. The most needed feature was the ability to preview images at a larger size than the thumbnail size that is included with the Canon software.

Which third party software does the job most effortlessly and with the best output quality still remains to be seen. This article will analyze in detail, how the latest version of Breezebrowser ranks and what to expect from it.

Breezebrowser (BB) was developed around the Canon's SDK and therefore offers no real advantage regarding conversion speed or tweaks before conversion. Chris Breeze decided to use Canon's own "dll files" and concentrate on other features like larger preview, rotation, RAW file slide-show, HTML templates, and other options that were lacking in the supplied Canon software.


 

New features

Breezebrowser (BB) version 1.1 offers some intersesting and effective new features.
Since BB was first introduced, I've been impressed by its automated HTML feature. With the click of a button, the software generates a simple but elegant image gallery for the web. This saves a tremendous amount of time when posting galleries online. A few HTML templates are included with the software and there are guidelines for creating your own template. I even used this feature when creating my own galleries online. Take a look at my landscape gallery.


However, in previous versions of BB the HTML feature was not implemented as efficiently. The software did not use any interpolation method to resize images which resulted in poor quality thumbnails, and artifacts on resized images. Fortunately, this problem is fixed in the updated version of BB. Now there is a new interpolation feature (similar to Photoshop's) and also a very welcomed Unsharp Mask algorithm, which allows you to keep your images sharp even when resized. The setting can be used in HTML custom mode.


 

BB now displays non-compressed 8 and 16-bit Tiff files. This new version adds versatility by previewing, running slide shows and displaying thumbnails of all D30 file formats. (Jpeg, Tiff, Tiff 16bit and RAW). However, I would like to see support for LZW compression for Tiff files.
When testing the software, I noticed that for some reason I could not drag Tiff files to the preview window. The only way that I can preview Tiff files, is to click on "open" and find the file on the hard drive. Hopefully, this will be addressed in the next update.


Another new feature is the ability to preview full size RAW files at 100% magnification. This allows close inspection of RAW files before conversion. This is a great time saver when trying to decide between similar shots. The full size preview takes 4s on my Pentium4 1.8 Ghz.One more useful feature implemented on BB version 1.1 is "EXIF copy". It's helps when editing images that you are creating for a website. This lets you convert RAW files, edit them in Photoshop and copy the original EXIF info back to the image.


Now you have the ability to call your image editor software from BB. When browsing converted Jpeg or Tiff images, you can send the images automatically to the editor. When using Photoshop 6.0, just add this command line to the pop-up window:
File/Set up image editor
"Use the command line below:"
c:\Program Files\Adobe\Photoshop 6.0\Photoshp.exe
If you are not using Photoshop, then choose the default "Use the Windows Explorer 'Open' command". You may have to manually choose which software opens tiff and jpeg images.

Here is how you do it.
Go to:
Windows explorer/tools/folder options/file types:
Find the ".jpg" and ".tif" extensions and "change to" "your image editor", ex: ACDsee.
It's a bit tedious but once you change it, it will stay that way.


On another note, if you have a fast processor, the new "high quality" feature works well. It allows preview of RAW files with similar image quality by displaying a preview of the converted image before actually converting the file. On my Pentium4 1.8 Ghz, this feature only takes a couple of seconds, but it may have a longer duration depending on the system you are using.
It's a wonderful feature for running slide shows. When the slide show starts, right click on the image and select "high quality". The redesigned slide show feature in version 1.1 can display full screen RAW images. You can also set the interval during the slide show.
In previous versions, there was a problem deleting several files when in thumbnail mode. However, this problem has been correct in BB 1.1




 

Functionality

Now, let's take a look at what BB is capable of.
The ability to preview RAW files has been a challenge for all D30 users prior to the introduction of Breezebrowser. While there are several utilities that assist in previewing RAW files as large as the monitor allows, nothing comes close to the versatility offered by BB.
I like the fact that with BB you can choose to either preview an image or an entire folder of images, by dragging them into the software.
With BB you can toggle between "Main window" and "thumbnails" by right clicking on the image, selecting from the "View menu", or using the specified shortcuts. Thumbnails greatly assist in finding images. This was just implemented a few months ago, and in my opinion it was one of the most important features added to the software. Now, you also have the option of choosing the background color, and the size of the thumbnails.


 

Another fantastic feature is the histogram. It accurately displays the luminosity of the image with, red, green and blue channels all in one graph. Browsing from image to image, you can use the histogram to see which image from a bracketed series is well exposed. The red channel graph is very useful when deciding to use the D30 linear ICC. Usually the red channel is the first to overexpose and the linear capture is capable of bringing the red channel back to normal. Also, if the luminance channel is a bit overexposed, it's easily spotted on the gray graph, indicating that a linear conversion may be necessary to restore a bit of the highlight.



Performance

You may be wondering how fast the conversion is, or how you can speed it up?


Well, I've tested BB in 3 PC computer systems. Here are the results:


Pentium4 1.8 Ghz 512mb RDRAM = 10s*
Dual Pentium III 933 Mhz 1.5gb SDRAM = 21s*
Pentium MMX 166 Mhz 48mb RAM (laptop) = 1.8 minutes**False color filter checked


As you can see from the conversion times, BB runs more rapidly on faster processors. Doubling the processor speed cuts the conversion time in half. But, the amount of RAM in your system or how fast your hard drive is seems to make minimal difference in the conversion times.
Take a look at the RAW conversion window of BB. It previews how "linear 16-bit" files will look and also allows an option for creating customWB by clicking on a neutral subject on the image.


 


 

Conclusion

Overall, my opinion is that Breezebrowzer is a "must have" for Canon digital camera users. It has proven to be a necessity for my workflow. If you want to try it out, here is the link for a demo version. Or, for more information check out Chris Breeze's webpage here. This software has matured into a valuable asset, I hope Chris Breeze continues supporting Canon users. He is doing a fantastic job!

 

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