iView Multimedia today has released MediaPro 3.0, a paid-for upgrade to its image cataloging application for Mac and Windows.
We previewed the new version in an October 20, 2005 article. Since that time, MediaPro's code crunchers have addressed two things we griped about in the earlier piece. Now, it's possible to generate preview-size versions of cataloged photos and store those previews in the catalog. Plus, the size of the thumbnail that's built into the catalog isn't linked to the size of the thumbnail that happens to be displayed at the time of cataloging.
Full Screen Previews MediaPro's new preview function is called Full Screen Previews, and version 3.0 offers three different preview sizes - 800 pixels, 1024 pixels and 1280 pixels in the photo's longest dimension - and three different compression levels for the JPEG-format preview that's created - Normal, Better and Best. The preview is stored directly in the catalog, such that even if the original file isn't accessible it's still possible to view a decent-sized preview of it in the Media tab of an open catalog. Switching on Full Screen Previews has to be done with caution, since it makes catalog sizes grow dramatically. Still, for at least some of the ways we use MediaPro this is a welcome and essential addition to the program.
Configuring Full Screen Previews
We have encountered one apparent quirk in using this feature on the Mac (and maybe Windows too): once the preview version is generated, that preview version is always shown in the Media tab, even if the higher-resolution original file is online at the time. This may be a bug, or a feature, we're not certain.
Choose [Full Screen Previews] under the [Edit] menu to access the configuration dialog for this feature.
All thumbs Previous versions of MediaPro would create a thumbnail of a size equal to the thumbnail size currently displayed. In v3.0, the thumbnail created is always 320 pixels in the photo's longest dimension, while the size of the thumbnail displayed can range from 120 pixels to 320 pixels.
The key change here is that the displayed size no longer has any bearing on the size of the thumbnail that's added to the catalog. It's now always 320 pixels as long as either the original file's built-in thumbnail is at least that size, or the program is configured to always build its own thumbnail from the original image data (or the big JPEG inside most RAW files). In other words, MediaPro has implemented the change that we wanted.
But, they may have gone further than some users will like, since it used to be possible to create and display thumbnails as big as 640 pixels. As it happens, we have built all MediaPro catalogs with 320-pixel thumbnails for at least 4 years, so the program's newfound insistence on creating thumbnails at only this size will have zero impact on our cataloging workflow. But if you've preferred something larger (or smaller), and having the combo of a 320-pixel thumbnail and a larger preview won't be an equal or better solution, then you may wish to let iView Multimedia know that not everything about the new thumbnail and preview scheme is to your liking. Keep in mind, however, that the decision to cap the thumbnail size almost certainly came about to help prevent user catalogs from ballooning right off the hard drive. Since the combination of, for example, a 512-pixel thumbnail and a 1280-pixel preview in a catalog of even a few thousand pictures will make that catalog enormous.
iView MediaPro 3.0 will work in 21-day trial mode upon download, and costs US$199 directly from the company to register. Upgrades from v2.x of the program are US$99. More information on what's new in v3.0, plus additional purchase options, are on the revamped iView Multimedia web site.