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Photo Mechanic for Mac updated to 2.0r17  
Friday, December 21, 2001 | by
Photo Mechanic Lite and Pro 2.0r17 for Mac, which dramatically improve the speed with which best-quality thumbnails and previews are generated from Nikon D1H and D1X photos, have been posted on the Camera Bits web site.

The speed boost for Photo Mechanic-generated thumbnails comes from a change in the way that Photo Mechanic builds the thumbnails; instead of reading the entire high-resolution photo, the program reads just a small preview image written into each photo file by the D1H and D1X, then creates its thumbnail from that. Photo Mechanic now ignores the EXIF thumbnail altogether, then, opting to always build its own better-quality thumbnail from the small preview image. This means that thumbnail generation is much faster than in previous versions when choosing Generate Thumbnails from the File menu, though slightly slower than than those instances when Photo Mechanic would simply grab the file's small EXIF thumbnail and display that. This, plus other tweaks, have also turbo-charged the Ingest Disk function. More on that later.

This same small preview image, which is 500 pixels wide in D1X and D1H image files, is initially displayed in Photo Mechanic's preview window, resulting in near-instantaneous previewing of JPEG, NEF (yes, NEF!) and TIFF images. A moment later, this somewhat fuzzy preview is automatically replaced by a clear one generated from reading the high-resolution JPEG or TIFF. For D1X and D1H NEFs, the preview stays fuzzy, as Photo Mechanic lacks the ability to fully process the RAW data from these cameras. It's possible when viewing a fuzzy preview to move on to the next photo without first waiting for a clearer preview to appear.

The sum total of these changes is much faster editing of files from supported cameras that include this small preview image. Unfortunately, users of the original D1 are left out in the cold by these changes, as it does not write a small preview image into its files.

Also revamped is the Ingest Disk function. A revamped popup menu in Photo Mechanic's Preferences window enables users to turn off some of the more time consuming Ingest/copying functions, including thumbnail generation. Note that while the choices under the popup appear to be similar to previous versions, the fastest of the settings in particular is much faster. This means that, for example, ingesting files from the original D1 is now as fast as transferring files using the Finder when the preference in question is set as shown below:


When copying photos popup menu

D1X and D1H JPEG and TIFF images will transfer about as fast as the Finder, regardless of the Preference setting, because so little overhead is involved with generating thumbnails from the small preview image inside their files. As a result, setting the popup menu as shown below will result in fast Ingest times and the best quality thumbnails. This same is roughly true when ingesting RAW files from almost any Photo Mechanic-compatible camera, including the D1, D1X, D1H and EOS-1D.


When copying photos popup menu

In addition, a Close button has been added to the Ingest window, making it possible to configure the Ingest window, then store the changes, without commencing a disk ingest operation.

Photo Mechanic 2.0r17 also adds support for EOS-1D sound files. This and recent versions are able to display thumbnails and previews from JPEG and RAW TIFF EOS-1D files. RAW support is similar to that of the D1H/X NEF: the program locates the small preview image inside each file and builds its thumbnail and fuzzy preview from that. Limited support for EOS-1D EXIF shooting information is also present in 2.0r17, though key settings like sharpness are not displayed.

The update for both the Lite and Pro versions is free for registered users of a previous 2.0 release. Two week trial demos of the US$150 Lite, and US$295 Pro (with Kodak DCS camera support), are also available.

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