I was doing a lot of post-processing last night and in the heat of battle ACDSee (which I've been using for nearly four years) crashed. Twice! This caused the files I was working on to be lost - I do have backups of everything though - and much gnashing of teeth ensued. I rebooted and went back to the same situation and it happened again. Well it took me ages to figure out what was wrong but I finally realised it was being caused by my also running Foobar using my ASIO out to the sound card. What has this got to do with image processing? Well, I need
music while I edit photos. Things usually go much better when I'm listening to music on the headphones rather than subliminally listening to all the extraneous crap in my living room.
Anyway, long story short, ACDSee uses 75MB of space and can consume masses of memory when displaying NEF files. I needed a solution and turned to Faststone. Since I've been paying for ACDSee whatever I replace it with has to be free. I've used this program in the past but it's recently had some really handy improvements.
It's been installed for a few hours now and my editing is going smoother than ever. You can check out a more detailed list of all the features at the link below but the stand-out for me so far has to be the ability to simutaneously pan up to four images on screen. This is brilliant for detailed comparisons in identical images with different sharpening, for instance. It also allows integration with all my external editors seamlessly, which is also handy. When you're looking at an image in full-screen view all menus are available just by mousing the screen edges. This cuts down considerably on clutter.
To sum up, I think I'll be keeping this program. All the features (much more than ACDSee) along with a small footprint make it a keeper. The fact that it's free shouldn't be discounted either. Gives me a warm glow all over.
Various lenses, SB800 & Manfrotto 190 with 460MG head