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Shootout: Iview Media Pro 3 vs. Extensis Portfolio 8

Part 1: Basic functionality


by Veit Irtenkauf


Manage the Digital Workflow


When considering image archiving software for professional photographers, two applications always make it to the top of the list: IView Media Pro and Extensis Portfolio. We took both of them through an extensive test.

Test Software:

• Iview Media Pro 3.0.2, List Price: US$ 199

• Note: Towards the end of writing this review, IView Media Pro version 3.1 was released. None of the performance tests were rerun on the new release. In addition, we added special denotation to all functionality that is only available in the new release.

• Portfolio 8.0 plus Portfolio 8 Raw Filter 3, List Price: US$ 199

Test Environment

• Alienware Area51 M7700, Pentium 4/HT 3.4 GHz, 2GB RAM, 2x 80GB Raid 0, Windows XP SP2 with all patches installed, Apple Quicktime 6
• None of the tests were conducted on a Macintosh – please keep in mind that Windows performance results are not necessarily indicative of Macintosh performance. According to Extensis and IView Multimedia, both products support the same feature set on Windows and Mac.

The concept behind the shootout was to emulate life of a professional photographer, including first-time archiving of existing images, uploading new images after returning from a shoot, every day archival tasks, searching for specific images in the catalog, manipulating metadata, managing RAW conversion attribute files, backing up catalogs, recovering after a PC crash (which happened to the authors system while testing for this review) also Therefore, we focused this shootout only on features that are of interest to photographers with respect to obtaining support in or improving their daily workflow.

Shootout #1: Getting Started

While the first test (cataloguing 30,000 images to build a basic catalog) seemed to be very easy on paper, one major difference between the two products immediately became apparent: While Portfolio is designed for putting all your images into one catalog (it almost forces you to, since it does not support searching through multiple catalogs [Correction: Portfolio 8 supports search in multiple catalogs] ), IView Multimedia strongly recommends to create multiple catalogs. This became very apparent, when trying to dump 30,000 images into a single catalog. While Portfolio had no problems with this task (in this case, I just dragged the folder to the Portfolio window and it automatically added all images, including all subfolders), IMP got hung up when trying to do the same, so I had to manually add 2000 images at a time in order to complete the task. Two minor, but noticeable aspects: Once all 30,000 images were loaded, the Portfolio catalog was much bigger (440MB) than the IView Media Pro catalog (268MB). [Note: Our test was conducted with default settings for previews and thumbnail size/quality in both products]. And while initially being very fast in cataloguing the first set of images, IView Media Pro then seemed to slow down the larger the catalog became.

Obviously, the way IView Media Pro is architected clashed with the way I wanted to use it.
Thus, since this shootout is supposed to emulate and test real-life usage, I decided to use one big catalog for Portfolio, but to create several smaller ones for IView Media. In fact, I ended up creating a separate catalog for every folder whose images I cataloged.

After I made this decision, adding 30,000 images into approx. 40 IView Media Pro catalogs was straight forward and went without a hitch.

Since both had no problem archiving 30,000 images, once I decided on the right approach to cataloging, this shootout ended in a tie.

Winner: Tie

Shootout #2: File Format Support

Very important for the initial upload, but also for the overall workflow is the support of different file formats, including prompt updates that cover new cameras in case a photographer decides on an equipment upgrade. In addition to support for de-facto standard image formats such as JPEG, TIFF, multi-layered Photoshop files and Adobe’s DNG (Digital Negative format), our test mainly focused on support for various popular DSLRs and other cameras which feature proprietary RAW file formats. We cataloged test shots from cameras such as Canon 1Ds Mk2, 1D Mk2, 5D, 20D, 30D and 250D, Nikon D50, D70, D200 and D2x, Sony R1, Olympus E1, Minolta 7D and digital backs such as Leaf Aptus 22 or Phase One P45.

IView Media Pro cataloged every single image we threw at it, including images from the newly released Canon 30D. Portfolio’s recent release of RAW Filter 3 added long-overdo support for, among others, the 5D, D50 and D200, so Canon’s 30D was the only RAW format that was not supported. That, plus Extensis’ history of slow support for new file formats, led us to give the nod to IView Media Pro.

Everything we could throw at IView Media Pro was properly cataloged

Winner: IView Media Pro

Shootout #3: Basic Functionality

Out of the box, both user interfaces look appealing and easy to learn. Just create a new catalog, then drag an image, a folder or an entire drive onto the main working area and the cataloguing process begins. Both products recognize the most common sets of metadata (EXIF, IPTC, XMP) and upload these with the images into catalogs. Organizational bars on the left allow you to group images and metadata can be displayed for any selected image. Metadata can also be used at any given time to search for images. Both allow for automatic synchronization between catalogs and folders, so as you add images to a folder, they get added to the catalog. Similarly, if you change an image in a folder, both programs re-catalog it.

Portfolio’s main interface – unfortunately, the Canon 30D is not yet supported

Additional functionality in both includes slideshow support, export to different file formats, creating web pages or basic file operations such as moving or deleting images.

While both products behaved in a very similar fashion, two minor feature differences stood out: Portfolio immediately saves any change to the catalog, while you have to manually save your work in IView Media Pro. My test system once crashed and the work of the last 30 minutes was lost, so I wished IView Media Pro would have behaved like Portfolio. In addition, Portfolio displays search results in a separate view, whereas in IView Media Pro you have to jump from one search result to the next. It’s certainly a matter of personal taste, but I prefer the separate view, since it allows me to compare search results side by side. Due to these two differences, Portfolio appealed to me slightly more than IView Media Pro.

Note: iView MediaPro has now an option to save in certain time intervals (e.g. at a 5 minute default).

Winner: Portfolio

Shootout #4: Image Quality

Both products come with a built-in image viewer/editor, which allows you to view images and perform some basic editing functions. Since I never edit within a catalog, I did not cover them for this shoot-out. However, when viewing an image and zooming in, there’s no visible difference between the two products up to a 100% zoom. Only at 200% or larger does IView Media Pro render the image better than Portfolio. Not a substantial difference to me.

Which is which? No difference in image quality in 100% crops

Only in 200% crops is there a visible difference between IMP (left) and Portfolio (right)

Both Products also support storing preview images. Without preview images, both products access the actual image and render them on the screen. Obviously, this does not work for images that are stored on offline media, e.g., on a CD or DVD. Thus, it makes sense to use previews, so you don’t depend on all the images being accessible all the time. When creating a new catalog, Portfolio is more user-friendly by prompting whether to generate these previews, whereas you have to access the thumbnail preference dialog in IMP to enable previews. IMP stores all previews inside the catalog, whereas Portfolio stores them in a subfolder as individual JPEG files. Both ways work for me as long as I don’t forget to backup the preview files!

Out of the box, the preview image quality looks slightly better in Portfolio. However, it is comparable when manually setting the preview quality to High in IMP.

Portfolio’s Previews (left) look slightly better and sharper than IMP’s

However, much more important is the lack of support for Color Management in Portfolio. If you look at multiple versions of the same image in a catalog without color management, you might not be able to pick the correct one, since colors could be off in the previews, so the lack of color management support is substantial. IView Media Pro also opens large files (>100MB, e.g. layered Photoshop files or large panoramas) quicker and allows me to look at the histogram of any image. All of these, but esp. the support for Color Management, give the advantage to IView Media Pro.

Winner: IView Media Pro


Part 2 to follow


Manage the Digital Workflow


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