BelleVue – Portable Image Viewer
Program that you can run everywhere
The use of most functions is self-explanatory. Some functions are explained below.
By default, the program does not write anything to the disk until the option Options –> Save Options is checked. If the option Options –> Use exe’s directory is checked, the program tries to save the ini-file and, if applicable, the folder containing thumbnail galleries in the directory where the program itself is saved. This option can be useful by running on external media like USB drives, etc. Otherwise, the program tries to save the files in the home directory of the current user.
If you clear the checkbox Options –> Save Options, the program removes all program-related directories and files. It is recommended to do it before the exe-file is removed since a special uninstall procedure/tool is not provided.
All options can be divided into two groups: the ones that cause an action immediately after activation and the ones that do not. For example, if you switch between framed and frameless or between windowed and fullframe modi, the look of the program changes immediately. Otherwise, changing the Options –> Initial Show Mode option leads to a different behaviour only for the next image.
Saving images is available with or without Exif data. You can specify the outcome by (un)checking the checkbox Save Exif Data in the dialog File –> Save Image Options. Typically, only a fraction of the metadata found in the original file will be saved, generally, the data displayed in the Exif Data window, which is one of the reasons why this feature is called Save Image and not Save File.
The user interface is old school. Instead of miraculous and colorful animated buttons, you will find instructive menu items here.
The program is still under development, it certainly contains some bugs and lacks some features.
What about raw formats?
The program uses the Windows Imaging Component (WIC) for reading image files. WIC is provided by Windows XP SP2/3 and later. In the basic configuration, WIC can read JPEG, PNG, TIFF, GIF, BMP, ICO as well as WMP (HD Photo) files. In order to read raw files, you need to install the free Microsoft Camera Codec Pack that does not run on Windows XP.
Many raw formats contain embedded JPEG images. If the option Options –> Show Embedded JPEG in RAW is checked, the program searches through the raw file for the largest embedded JPEG image and, if successful, shows it. This function also works on Windows XP and with files that still are not supported by Microsoft, e.g. with raw files made by Pentax K-3 (PEF). The current version works reasonably well with formats such as CR2, ARW, MRW, NEF, PEF, RAF and RW2. If you want to see the image based on the raw data rather than the one based on the JPEG data, you needn’t switch to another mode. Instead, you can use the command View –> Show RAW instead of JPEG that replaces the image for the current file.
You might have installed a WIC-enabled codec provided by a camera manufacturer. Such a codec can be used by the program, even on Windows XP, it depends on the codec only. My experience with a codec provided by Canon was of such a nature that I decided not to implement any special support for that third-party codecs. You can get a list of WIC-enabled codecs installed on your computer by the command Info –> Codecs.
The program provides a simple built-in raw converter for MRW files created by Minolta and Konica Minolta cameras. The converter is always in use if the Microsoft Codec Pack is not installed. If the Microsoft Codec Pack is installed, you can select your favorite converter by changing option Options –> Select MRW Converter. In general, the built-in converter is faster whereas the Microsoft converter provides a better image quality.
Cameras supported only by the bulit-in MRW converter: Minolta DiMAGE 7, 7i, 7Hi, Konica Minolta A200.
Cameras also supported by the Microsoft Codec Pack: Minolta DiMAGE A1, Konica Minolta DiMAGE A2, Dynax/Maxxum 5D/7D.
Some extra features related to Dynax 5D and Dynax 7D
Since I am an owner of a camera Konica Minolta Dynax 5D, which is, by the way, still in use, the program supports some features related to the following cameras: Dynax 5D/7D, Maxxum 5D/7D, Alpha-5/7 Digital, and Alpha Sweet Digital. The program reads the camera orientation value and, provided the autorotation is on, rotates the picture appropriately. The lens data are displayed.
GIF animations are played in a separate window. The player supports two commands: Continue [P]laying and [P]ause.
Animated GIF files contain multiple frames that are, from a technological point of view, valid images and can be different size. The main window as well as the gallery show only the first frame. Therefore, if the first frame is a small image (even 1 x 1 px is possible), they will virtually show nothing. However, the displayed image size corresponds to the size of the canvas or the output area of the whole animation. The animation window will be this size.
Rotating the image displayed at the main window does mean only rotating the first frame, whereas the canvas is not affected. For this reason, the displayed image size keeps constant. You can save the displayed image, but this is the first frame only and not the whole animated GIF file that will be saved then.