The Fastest Way To View And Cull Thousands Of Raw Photos Is Now 100% Free For Fstoppers Readers

Lightroom has become the industry standard for editing images quickly but when it comes to viewing and culling images, it's still incredibly slow.  On1 has recently launched Perfect Browse 9.5 as the fastest way to burn through hundreds or thousands of raw files and then import your favorites into Lightroom for editing. Oh, and did I mention, it's totally free for Fstoppers readers right now. 

As a wedding photographer, I tend to shoot thousands of images at a time. Before I can edit anything, I need to go through each image one by one, delete the bad ones, and figure out which images are actually worth editing/delivering. Lightroom is notoriously slow at loading raw files and therefore, culling thousands of images can take hours. Even if each image takes just 1 second to load, that extra time could add an hour to your workflow. In some cases with slower computers and larger files, each image can take longer than 5 seconds to load which in turn can add hours to your editing process. 

I recently downloaded On1's Perfect Browse 9.5 and installed it on my computer. I moved 233 D810 raw files (around 70MB each and 16.2GB total) into a folder on my SSD C: drive and then opened the software. The software itself took about 3 seconds to load. I then imported the photos and the software seemed to hang for about 5 seconds and then BOOM, every raw file thumbnail instantly appeared. I double clicked on an image and it became full screen without any hesitation. I tapped the right arrow key on the keyboard and the next image appeared instantly. I then held the right arrow key down and I saw hundreds of raw files flying across my screen without any sort of lag. Zooming in 100% on any image (something that I almost never do while culling) is the only thing that took any time at all at around 4-6 seconds. I opened up my task manager (yes I use Windows) and I kept an eye on the Ram usage of Perfect Browse and it appeared to be using right around 3GB of RAM to keep all 233 images ready at a moments notice. 

In case you were wondering, the star rating system in Perfect Browse carries over to Lightroom making complex categorizing extremely quick as well. Obviously we all wish that Lightroom was capable of shuttling through raw files at these kinds of speeds but until that day comes, Perfect Browse 9.5 is the fastest and most simple way to view and cull large amounts of raw files that I've ever used. 

Luckily you don't have to take my word for it. We've teamed up with On1 to allow every Fstoppers reader to have this $60 software for free. This offer will not be around forever so if you are interested, jump on this now. Download it here for free, give it a try, and let us know how you like it in the comments below. 

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Previous comments
Chris Adval's picture

I'll try this later tonight for sure! I have 16gbs of RAM and still 5-6 second wait time to zoom in 1:1 to check focus, at least on Lr5. I'm not too sure about LrCC I think I checked it and it was maybe 3-4 seconds with the video card assist.

Morgan Glassco's picture

Can someone expand on how you incorporate this into your LR workflow?

I usually import all my photos from the SD Card, renaming them, adding keywords and a standard preset for LR.

If you have to move this from the SD to a folder on the computer first, I guess you could rename the files after you "Copy" them into LR since you cannot rename photos on Import for files already on your computer. Not that I am aware of at least.

Once loaded into LR, your flags and flags would all be there?

I really don't find LR to be that slow for culling. I do have an SSD and 12gb of RAM so that might be helping. Just not thinking adding an extra step will net noticeable gains to my workflow.

Lee Morris's picture

If you don't find Lightroom to be slowing you down then you should totally stick with your current plan.

Anonymous's picture

The app rocks the set. It's a breath of fresh air to use for the ol' culling game. This will be part of my workflow. Thanks a metric tonne for this incredible offer! My Setup: iMac 27" 3.5GHz i7 32GB DDR3 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M 4096MB

Al Borrelli's picture

Maybe I'm the only one that cares about this, but I absolutely hate hate hate that I don't get to choose WHERE to install it. I don't install anything other than my OS on my C drive.
Seems really unacceptable... I thought giving you the option was a standard nowadays.
Having said that, seems like a nice piece of software. Now that LR uses GPU the difference in speed is negligible (for me).
So, thanks for the software, but I'm probably uninstalling it unless after a bit more use it starts to shine more.

Joshua Boldt's picture

This video explains how to use Browse to rate/sort photos and then send them to Lightroom which should answer some of the questions here...

J F's picture

Seems good, though Photo Mechanic works faster when using 645Z files. (it takes about 18 seconds for each, when scrolling at 100% for the pixilation to go away). Its close to PM, but not quite there. (works fine for D810 files, and Canon 5DMKII files, but slow on 645Z files, I think it has to do with the fact the 645Z files are DNG, and seems Perfect Browse has to "read" the modified settings that are embedded in the DNG files, like the HUELight Color Profiles). Still its a pretty good app. (although whats the deal with Browser type apps all looking like there from Mac OS X 10.0 ? C'mob OnOne and Photo Mechanic)
13 inch MacBook Pro 2.4GHz Dual-core Intel i5
960 SSD Crucial HD, 16GB memory

Andrew Richardson's picture

I've never had any issues with Photo Mechanic, but for free I'll check it out.

Shaun Maluga's picture

Took about 25 minutes to add 12000 Canon 5d Mk III raw files and add them to an Album. I'd need to explore the program more and understand how it works but there is a definite lag in zooming to 100% and flicking from one picture to the next. The best/fastest way to edit photos for me at the moment is to import into Lightroom and build 1:1 previews. Then do something else whilst it builds, come back and then flick through the images at screen size or 100% without any delay at all. Not sure if this functionality is possible in this program.

Some feedback at the moment, whilst photos are importing or adding to an Album the program "freezes" as in if you click away to another program and try to click back nothing will show up, no progress bar or anything and appears as thought it has frozen (although it is still functioning and will show up once it has processed everything). One of the great things about Lightroom is how it will import and build previews in the background and you can continue working in Lightroom while it's doing it. It is always scary when dealing with a large number of photos and you aren't sure if the program has crashed or there is no indication on how long the process is going to take.

Brian Dowling's picture

Gave it a quick try and still prefer Photo Mechanic. It's ever so slightly faster than PM, but when you rate a jpg in PB, it will spits out an XMP file in the folder. Would be nice if a rating an image in Perfect Browse would show up in Lightroom as well. There are probably some settings I'm missing, but that's my 10 minutes of playing around with it. If you have PM, keep it. If you don't, this is a great free solution.

Anonymous's picture

Thank you Fstoppers! Downloaded it without issue and worked as advertised.

I have one question though. On1 advertises Perfect Browse as a "front end" to Lightroom. This made me wonder if the process I am currently using is best.

I currently import my photos (RAW) directly from my camera via Lightroom. Should I be doing this? Is it better to load the photos from my camera onto my drive using, in my case, the Canon EOs app, then viewing/selecting the photos using Perfect Browse and then importing to Lightroom?

Thanks again.

Tam Nguyen's picture

I have 2 questions regarding the workflow of this software:

1) Can I un-star a photo like Lightroom? It seems that pressing 0 will color it in purple instead of wiping the rating of a photo.

2) Can I set it to auto-advance once I rate a photo? Lightroom has this feature and it's awesome.


Tam Nguyen's picture

I have found that the tilde ~ key is how you wipe the rating. Still not sure how to make the software auto-advance.

But I really wish pressing 0 would un-star the photo instead of tilde.

Tam Nguyen's picture

This thing is blazing fast by the way. Like, very very fast. I'm never using LR for culling again. Thanks onOne and Lee!

Jason Pitcher's picture

Fast! Really fast! Really good tool for rating and culling large numbers of images.
No if I could just right click and queue the image for batch import into lightroom....that would rock!

Ben Eyles's picture

I get the usefulness of this program. Back when I was in newspapers, we often had to view the images rapidly straight off the card, flag the ones the picture editor wanted, import, edit, caption and upload them in minutes to meet deadline.

Lightroom and Aperture fail when this speed is crucial. We found best results for this were with Canon’s Digital Photo Professional software (which was fine as we shot 1D cameras), but it was buggy, crash-y, and very Canon-centric. (Or should I say, -eccentric?)

This looks like a solid evolution on the answer for the need for an ultra-fast workflow.

I shall let my newpaper 'tog friends know.

And thank you for the temporary price waiver!


Jussi Panula's picture

For a free app this is great! I will be sticking to Photo Mechanic though. Uploading, renaming, captioning, copying and culling is far faster/better than in Perfect Browse.

Marco Introini's picture

Really great software! And for free is absolutely amazing. I use Capture One but for this seems a great solution for browsing!! Thanks a lot!!!!

Rui Bandeira's picture

realy great...
i´me just testing it.
i dont use Lightroom, but it works with CaptureOne...the star ratting...not the color tag...

i couldnt install it other then the C drive, thats bad, but i can select the chache drive so that is ok.

it is realy fast and when working on a 2 monitor system like i do i can just drag and drop the images from Perfect Browse to Photoshop.
love it

Robert Magnussen's picture

it is possible to import only locked files from camera?

Randall Richards's picture

It is indeed amazingly fast. Thanks guys this is awesome!

Mark Lindhelm's picture

Faster than LR CC on my Retina iMac for previews for RAF files. It did however chew through some processor and iStat Menus showed my temp shooting up to 157. I'm not sure what is too high a temp but is much higher than LR5, LRCC, Photoshop 5.5 or Photoshop CC ever hit. It did start to stutter after I clicked on an image to see full size. There was a lag that I considered to be unresponsive (3-4 seconds) since I clicked again a few times thinking that it didn't recognize the action at first. Perhaps I didn't see it, but it would be nice to get visual feedback to indicate that the application is processing something. LR provides that feedback....almost constantly. Can't deny the speed though.

Penn Zhang's picture

It just cannot read the rating info from XMPs which created by Adobe Bridge.

pablo quiroga's picture

I'm certainly disappointed that what you had painted this software was really fantastic, but try and costing upload my files in jpeg "full resolution" of the Nikon D800, it may be that the browser uses the JPEG file "low resolution" that It is attached to RAW for display on camera and that's why speed?. I just try to remove it because after pick up speed as you said, reading my photo stream on a macbook pro "2010" Core two duo 4g ram, when scrolling gave me time to fetch water and return. Thanks for your recommendations because we always keep up.

Rob Nelson's picture

This is awesome! It will definitely cut down on processing time

Tony Walter's picture

Wow. Pretty much useless. Requires 2 extra steps to get images into Lightroom (copy to a "source" which is just a directory (or web directory), then use Browse to do what is just as easy to do in Lightroom). Has an undelet-able set of sources - Why, if I don't use them why must they always be there? Creates another grouping concept (Albums) that is outside Lightroom - Why? Favorites and Sources seem to be the same - ??

Not sure this needed to be invented. I'll tick to just using Lightroom in spite of this being free.

Trevor Dayley's picture

I just did a side by side comparison of Perfect Browse vs. Photo Mechanic. Here's a two minute video showing my results.

Anonymous's picture

I wanted to like Photo Mechanic, but its interface is really ugly.

Luke Brown's picture

I'm on a folder with 154 photos (D800E, DNG), and it's at a RAM buffet...

Michael Rauschendorfer's picture

Same experience for me. Unusable...

Christ Clijsen's picture

I've got the feeling that Lightroom CC is a lot faster, if you've let it load the 1:1 previews. Without loading those previews, this really is quite fast.

Steffen Harris's picture

Seriously, this is amazing!! I won't lie, I was a little skeptical on just how fast it could be because LR is pretty quick. Usually cull through 3000+ images in about 1 hour. But OnOne's software? Holy Crap! 1 hour just turned into 30 minutes! I just now culled through a 300 image session in about 7 minutes. I'm blown away

Kalyan Yasaswi's picture

I can't seem to find a way to open multiple folders in the same contact sheet. Anyone else here knows how?

David Webb's picture

Would like to love this software - but consistently crashes. I haven't seen a progress bar for rendering previews - so I didn't know if I was pushing it too quickly? (I also found that you can't cull images off the SD card, as it crashes every 4th image.) - iMac 3.06 i3 16GB

Mike Victorick's picture

Intrigued for sure. Seems a bit too glitchy for me to ditch Photo Mechanic but with that said the connection with Lightroom has me excited! This is pretty awesome. Just now quiet there yet. Hopefully soon! Great article Lee!

Bob Best's picture

Where have you been all my life, Perfect Browse?? Wow... When I get back from travelling, I usually have thousands of photos. The annoyance of culling in Lightroom usually means it takes me a month or more before I finally have something to show for it. This will literally be a game changer for me, thanks a bunch fstoppers and On1!

Elijah Singer's picture

I'd stumbled across this program on another forum and taken a look at it, and my opinion of it is…less than stellar, shall we say? First of all, your headline is a tad sensationalist, advertise-y, and misleading. This program does NOT quickly display RAW - it displays embedded JPEGS when you have the Fast Preview mode on, which is utterly obsolete, and completely useless for culling RAW images; how on earth are you supposed to choose something when you're not actually seeing it? You are given absolutely no idea as to what the RAW converter can extract out of it. Supposedly, you can always turn that off to view RAW, but first of all that slows the culling process down to unbearable and unusable speeds, and second of all I'm not even sure that it IS RAW, and not some random, unknown interpretation.
Seriously people, we've had digital photography and RAW for 20 years now. Isn't it time that we stopped getting fed this cockamamie idea of culling RAW by looking at the embedded JPEG?
P.S. 1.5 gigs of space is also kind of absurd.

Michael Rauschendorfer's picture

It took nearly 3 GB of memory after 5 minutes of usage.
Have uninstalled it after 10 minutes and will go on using ACDSee Pro 9.

Yoav Picherski's picture

Hi, sorry but for me it works slow as lightroom maybe even slower, i can see it load the picture at first but then update it from the raw data and also the computer start to heat and work hard(i can hear the fans), I'm on the latest MBP retina 15 am i doing something wrong?

Chris Renton's picture

Thanks for the free download - just gave it a test run and it's excellent. I have a i7 quad core processor & 16gb RAM, but still find Lightroom CC very slow to render. This will save me hours editing photos from events :)

Gavin Wyatt's picture

Spent over two hours culling a wedding. It previews images really fast, I can't fault that. Came back a day later to finish off the job, opened up the program, and all the star ratings had disappeared except for a few random ones. Serious waste of my time, the only thing I'm happy about is I didn't pay 60 bucks for it.

Anonymous's picture

Thank you Lee. It sounds interesting, as Bridge is very, very slow working with huge folders of RAW´s. I just installed Perfect Browse but it tells me it´s just a trial version that will expire after a month. If you say it´s "100% free for Fstoppers readers", where do I find the license key? Thanks for clarifying!

Lee Morris's picture

When you signed up you should have gotten an email with a code.

Anonymous's picture

Thanks Lee. I reinstalled it and you´re right. Though one doens´t receive it by e-mail but it appears on screen and I just missed that. Will try out Perfect Browse, it looks very promissing!

Aleksander T. E.'s picture

Thanks for this awesome culling app fstoppers and On1

Kerri Jean's picture

The post stated this software is free. I downloaded using the link above and LOVE the software. However, now it's asking me to pay for the software and that the trial is over. Very disappointed.

Lee Morris's picture

It is free. You got a key code in your email when you signed up on the website

john uhoh's picture

Thanks for this. I'll try it for my next shoot. Just one question - when you "like" a pic in Perfect Browse, does this translate over to Lightroom as a Pick Flag?

Jeff Westcott's picture

I'm going to be a bit of a dissenting voice here. (First, though, I think it's great that Fstoppers and On1 are teaming up to offer this app, so thanks.) I tried the PerfectBrowse module when it was in version 8 and found it a bit underwhelming. The new one is probably faster, but even in the review above it says it can take 4 to 6 seconds to zoom to 100% Wow, is that slow! Everyone has his/her own style, but when culling I almost always zoom to 100% to check critical sharpness.

I'm not a Photo Mechanic user -- downloaded the free trial and didn't think it was worth the money -- but I have found a solution that I think more people should try. It's called FastStone Image Browser. (I have no financial interest -- just a satisfied user.) It's free for casual use, but they ask for a $35 license fee from professionals (on the honor system), which I gladly paid once I gave the program a test drive. It works off the embedded jpeg in every raw file, so browsing AND zooming are instantaneous. It also lets you compare up to four images on your screen at once at variable magnifications. It's simple and intuitive, and though it lacks the slicker interface of PM (and probably PerfectBrowse), it's extremely functional and lighting fast, and was just what I needed for my workflow. And you can't argue with free.

Sterling V's picture

Is anyone aware if you can tether shoot and use perfect browse to display your current session?

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