Saturday, November 1, 2003

Batch processing made simple with ReaConverter Pro


By John Roling

Every digital photographer or graphic artist has a plethora of tools in their toolbox. Programs such as Adobe Photoshop or Macromedia Fireworks often come to mind. While these tools are best of breed, sometimes they are too complex (or expensive) to use. And while their photo editing and graphics features may be top notch, sometimes a small (but occassionally very needed) feature like batch processing might get a minimalist treatment.

"I have yet to see a better batch processing utility, especially for the price."

For those of you that don't know, batch processing is simply taking a large number of images and converting them to something else in some way. It may be as simple as resizing or renaming the images, or as involved as sharpening, changing color depths, changing brightness and adding a border.

Batch processing takes the tedium of opening each image, making your adjustments and resaving, and then automates that entire process from beginning to end. It allows you to convert hundreds or thousands of images in a short amount of time. This is what ReaConverter Pro from ReaSoft does so well.

ReaConverter Pro is a full featured batch processor. It boasts the ability to convert over 340 graphics formats. Everything from tried and true JPG and GIF images to newer formats like JPG2000 and RAW formats, including thos like as NEF (a Nikon format) and CRW (a Canon format) that higher-end cameras use today.

In addition to the vast amount of formats you can convert from, ReaConverter Pro also gives you the ability to make 19 different types of adjustments with tons of individual tweaks within each action. You can sharpen or blur images, change color depths and resolutions, add a watermark, crop, mirror, resize, rotate and so much more. The level of detail really is amazing.

To see what the product could do, I decided to convert pictures I had from a car show. I had 305 pictures, all at 2048 x 1536 pixel resolution, and totaling 431 megabytes in size. I eventually wanted to create a Web page with thumbnails linked to the main images. This meant that I needed Web-friendly images with thumbnails and a consistent naming scheme. To facilitate this, I decided to do the following to the pictures: