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ImageNest 3.0 – Mac Print Layout Software Review

September 23rd, 2010 No comments

Get a 10% discount on ImageNest printing software by using this the coupon code: 10dis

Image Nest 3.0 Interview with Joshua Lubbers

Mike: Hi, I’m Michael Stewart with foto-tech.com. I’m here at studio 76 in Herndon Virginia with Joshua Lubbers. Joshua has come to our photography studio to show us the newest version of Image Nest. It’s a Mac multi-image layout tool. The software is Image Nest 3.0 and it’s designed to do exactly that; nest multiple images in one layout. The program is a simple to use postscript rip that’s focused on layout for print. It is also designed to reducing paper usage. Layouts can also be saved as PDFs. Image Nest works on all printers because it utilizes the printer’s driver for output. There are five different versions of Image Nest: Desktop for 13” and smaller prints, small for 17” printers, medium for 24”printers, large and extra-large for 44” and 64” printers. Joshua is generously offering a 10% discount if you use the link from foto-tech. To take advantage of the 10% discount, use the link at foto-tech.

Joshua thanks for coming into the studio to show us Image Nest 3.0. How are you doing with Image Nest 3.0?

Josh: We are doing great Mike, you know; all the features in 3.0 are things that were specifically asked for by our user base. We are pretty dedicated to try to invite and to come up with new features and keep our people happy. The best thing about 3.0 is that it’s a free update. All of our updates are free: You won’t get that promise from a lot of developers.

Mike: You guys are really pumping out the new features and updates, so your free upgrades policy is amazing. Can you tell us why we would use Image Nest for layout instead of Photoshop or Lightroom?

Josh: Well; what Image Nest really does that is unique and different from Photoshop or Light Room or anything that is traditionally a photo editor is that it opens up to a page layout, rather than just your images; so it’s very easy and very quick to put lots of images on a page. You can size them, you can move them around, you can snap them to grid, anything you need to make a good layout,  to use all of the paper that you have, is what Image Nest is for.

Mike: I almost never print out of Photoshop because layout and workflow is so slow, but I do print out of Lightroom on my Windows machines. Lightroom’s a great tool, but all the images you want to print have to be in the same catalog and it’s missing some key features that Image Nest has. On my Mac I use Lightroom to edit but I make most of my prints using Image Nest. Image Nest saves me a lot of paper. I have more options, better softproofing and it’s a faster workflow. One major concern for me with printing from Lightroom is that in proofing files that will be delivered to a client or uploaded, I don’t want to see edits that are only in the Lightroom database and not the actual file. I also like the way Image Nest allows me to add text. Can you talk about the text features in Image Nest?

Josh: Sure, one of the things our costumers told us in version one and two is that they would really like to be able to put in a custom comment, or a file name, or the date it was made or the date it was printed. All these different things are already inside your file, so we can place them above your image, below your image, to the left or to the right. You can choose a font, you can choose a color, you can choose a background, so your creative process and what you want to do, we give you the flexibility to do.

Mike: Those caption and border options are really useful. Tell us about the color management in Image Nest.

Josh: Well, fortunately I came from a color management background before we even started programing. We took care of the color management a user consideration would need. First of all with photographers we recognize embedded profiles so if you‘ve embedded a profile in your image we recognize and use it. We also allow users to select their output profile so that they can soft proof on their screen, so they’re seeing exactly what will come out of their printer on their screen.

Mike: How do you handle multiple files with different color profiles? For example, if I want to print a S-RGB JPEG on the same page as a DNG file and a CMYK TIFF.

Josh: That’s a great question, if we have different profiles we can respect all of the profiles. Since we are independent of an input space we can map your file with Adobe 1998 to your output profile or to your CMYK SWoP v2 profile, it doesn’t matter, we can map each as individual images and they will be mapped to your output profile.

Mike: Right on, I’ve found the ability to print DNG files very useful. Most of my image archives are DNGs and Image Nest utilizes the corrected full size JPEG to make my print.

Mike: let’s look at the new features in 3.0 that we’ve been playing with today. What have you done to Image Nest for the 3.0 release?

Josh: One of the first things we’ve done is the application color management; you can color manage in your application, just like Photoshop or Light Room or aperture or any of those other image programs. So that makes it easier to do soft proofing and to get that wysiwyg feeling, what you see is what you get.

Mike: Actually, I think your color management background has helped you here. Your softproofing is easier than Photoshop and Lightroom really doesn’t softproof at all. What else have you added?

Josh: Another thing:  we have a 64bit, we were programed natively as a 64 bit program, but the problem we ran into was that so many print drivers would not work with 64 bit programs. Now that Mac 10.6 has gotten popular all the drives have been updated to 64 bit. We’re running in our native mode, which is 64 bit. Much faster, much more memory and much cleaner.

Mike: Big time speed improvement with the 64 bit processing and Image Nest uses the computers GPU as well. Modern graphics cards have lots of cores and can process images much faster than CPUs. Your programmers have really done a nice job on those graphics processors. What else is new?

Josh: New layout modes: we have a manual method; previously we automatically did everything to fit and we still do that does all your rotation, all your moving around the image on the page to squeeze every millimeter out of that piece of paper, but lots of people wanted to make just kind of collages and wanted to leave extra space and our algorithm was trying to maximize space and they didn’t want that, so we put manual mode, which allows people to move images around manually to their liking.

Um rotation, prior we automatically rotated everything and we didn’t need a rotation feature. But now that we have a manual mode we allow the user to rotate for aesthetics.

Mike: The manual layout mode is definitely the biggest new feature in my opinion. Sometimes I need to optimize my layout to save paper and Image Nest does this automatically but sometimes I want to move the images around manually until they look good. What are the other new layout features?

Josh: Image alignment grid with snap to feature. That’s a great new feature where you can custom make your own grid with vertical and horizontal. Images will align to it so it makes moving images around very easy and very very accurate.

We added in cut, copy and paste. Kind of a simple thing that was missing. Lots of users just wanted to use apple C V; put another copy of the image.

Another thing we did was overlapping. If someone wants to really to squeeze every millimeter out of it, and doesn’t mind clipping a little bit, you can place an image above or behind another image, so there is virtually no white space when using image overlapping.

New cut mark styles:  We added in new cut marks due to user requests. Some users wanted outward facing cut marks, so we added outward facing marks to align with their current cutters.

Mike: Obviously Image Nest 3.0 was a huge release for you guys. What are your developers working on now?

Josh: Well one of the things we’re working on now and expect to have out in the next two months is the ability for people to take a layout and write it out to a JPEG or a TIFF. Lots of users have asked for this because they would like to use Image Nest to do layout and then produce a JPEG or TIFF and to send to their photo lab.

Mike: It would be convenient to be able to save JPEGs and TIFFs. I save my Image Nest layouts as PDFs and convert them later if necessary. I also found I could use the PDF layouts as Web pages.

Thanks for sharing with us and thank you for giving our viewers a 10% discount on your products. Until next time, may all your prints be beautiful and bring you much joy. This is Michael Stewart for foto-tech.com.

Imaging Workstaion Hard Drives-Top 3

May 24th, 2010 No comments

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Here are three Top drives for mainstream digital imaging workstations.  Non of these come as standard equipment in off the shelf systems, but replacing drives in older machines with these will breath new life into them.

OCZ Z_Drive P84 and M84  PCI-E  SSD RAID

I love the speed and ability to migrate a PCI-E Raid Card to another machine.
I like SSD for Boot, Program, and Cache files, but the cost is overwhelming for storage of large file archives.

OCZ’s Site

Check Price at My Digital Discount

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WD Velociraptor SATA 6.0 10,000 RPM Drive

It’s currently the fastest SATA spinning disk drive.  I’ve been successfully running Raptors and Velociraptors in SATA Raids for many years.  I use  Velociraptor drives  for large collections of working files.  I keep the images that I’m currently accessing on a Velociraptor RAID 0.  This dangerous but fast RAID is backed up  automatically nightly and periodically manually.

Check Price at Newegg

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WD Caviar Black SATA 6.0 Dual Processor 32GB Cache Drive

These drives come in 500 GB, 640 GB, 1T and 2T.

I like the WD Black drives for a number of digital imagining tasks; primarily storage of large groups of files that are worked on periodically.

These are good get SATA 6.0 drives for the price.   SATA 6.0 isn’t generally necessary, but does  offer  small advantages for building raids.  SATA 6.0 is backward compatable and the current prices at NewEgg are the same for WD Black SATA 6.0 OR SATA 3.0 drives.

Bench Tests at Toms Hardware

Check Price at Newegg

ImageNest 2.0 – iPhoto Printing Layout Software Review

February 5th, 2010 2 comments

ImageNest- Mac Printing Layout Software

ImageNest Discount Coupon:

Use this link and coupon code:
ImageNest discount 10dis

ImageNest is a software Rip for Mac printing that does printing layout and a number of other picture layout tricks very well.  ImageNest works on all printers with Mac drivers : Epson, HP, Canon, etc.  We reviewed  the first version of BlueCubit’s ImageNest here.  There  are so many new printer layout features in ImageNest 2.0, that the new printing layout features deserve  a  review.  I think this is the perfect  iPhoto printing utility.  Apple’s iPhoto printing leaves a lot to be desired, and Bluecubit gives iPhoto users the image layout tools they need for picture printing.

Product manager, Joshua Lubbers has graciously offered to give a 10% discount on all of Bluecubit’s Mac Image Layout Printing  software.

Use this link and code: ImageNest Discount Coupon Code: 10dis

ImageNest 2.0 Top 5 New Features

DNG Printing layout DNG contact sheetDNG Printing- ImageNest can easily print outstanding contact sheets from all the major file types, but it really shines for DNG printing of contact sheets.  DNG files have an adjusted JPEG file imbedded in them along with the RAW date and XMP data.  When you make edits to the RAW image in an editor such as Adobe’s Lightroom and push those edits into the DNG file, the adjustments are saved as XMP Data and A JPEG is created.  ImagNest is one of the only ways to access and print that adjusted DNG Jpeg preview.

iPhoto printing metedata printing textMetedata Annotations- If your contact  sheet printing, then you likely need to print text, file numbers, names, dates, location or other metedata.  A contact sheet isn’t of much use without the information you need to access the file you or your client want to use. ImageNest allows you to print metedata on all four sides of each image in the printing layout.   Printing text metedata  in the layout is a major power feature that is useful in so many ways.

iPhoto printer layout pdf printingPDF Creations- Layouts aren’t just for printing, they can be saved as PDF files.  This is an absolutely killer feature of ImageNest. After spending some time creating a wonderful layout of your pictures, you can save it as a PDF.  Contact sheets with file numbers and metedata annotations can be emailed for review.  Because the layout or contact sheet is in a PDF, viewers with Adobe acrobat can put notes about the files they like on the PDF and return it to the photographer.

iPhoto printing picture borders

Image Borders (Frames)- Image frames allow you to layout pictures with borders.  The picture borders can be different  colors and widths.  Image frames are a simple way of really dressing up a print layout.  I regularly use them when  on black and white image layouts.

mac_iPhoto_printing_soft_proofingSoft Proofing- This is a professional  printing feature that armatures could use as well.  It’s designed to help professional photographers who need to soft proof for CMYK printers, but it’s also useful for proofing machine prints.  If your having prints made on a Fuji Frontier or Noritsu machine printer like Costo & SmugMug uses, then you need a way to check color and density before you send the SRGB  files.  The profiles for these printers are available through drycreekphoto as well as most major print vendors.  Imagenest can be used to layout images for these services too.

Those are the five major new features of ImageNest 2.0.  Version 2.0 also has a much improved interface with many improvements under the hood.    64 Bit processing is enabled, but many Mac printer drivers are not running 64Bit yet.  ImageNest is committed to speed and will likely be using CUDA multicore GPU Image processing in their next major release.

This is defiantly the simplest picture layout RIP on the market.  It’s a simple to use  Mac printing layout utility that really doesn’t have a competitor.  under the hood  ImageNest comes in a number of versions based on the size of the layout or printer.

17 Inch $199
24 Inch $399
44 Inch $599
Wide Format $799

Use this link and code for a 10% ImageNest discount:

ImageNest Discount Coupon Code: 10dis

Solid State Drives (SSD)

June 6th, 2008 No comments


Adding a solid state drive to your laptop or workstation will dramatically improve performance, but it’s also a major investment. Here at foto-tech we generally don’t concern ourselves with trivial things such as the cost of technology, but in this case we had to take notice. These drives cost more than than many of the computers they are used in. This is the cost of owning a piece of technology that’s really new and really good:

32 GB= $500-800
64 GB =$1K-2K
128 GB = $3-4K

Benchmark tests that compare SSD’s to conventional hard drives show the SSD’s beating the pants off of the old spinners in read speeds. Windows and OSX startup times are cut in half, etc. Random write speeds are not dramatically increased on flash based SSDs. They also use less power, generate less heat, are more shock durable, and better tolerate climate changes.
SSD doesn’t work well with all controller chipsets, so careful consideration of the machine you intend to use one in is necessary. These drives do not need to be defragmented as fragmentation does not hinder them in any way, and defragmenting them will actually shorten the drives life.

Memoright seems to be leading the pack right now: Tom’s Review | Buy at MyDigitalDiscount

Note: Most modern Digital Imaging software relies on cache and scratch disk to fulfill needs for memory that exceed available RAM. Setting up the drives for these functions is very important. It’s not a good idea to use the same drive that your OS or Files reside on. Cache and scratch operations are very taxing on hard drives and the process of writing and rewriting constantly tends to fragment the drives.

Categories: Computers Tags: ,

WD VelociRator 10K Drives

June 6th, 2008 No comments


Western Digital has released an upgrade to the very popular Raptor line of hard drives. Raptor drives are the only SATA drives that run at 10,000RPM. These new VelociRaptor drives make an excellent choice for Boot Drive, Cache and Scratch disks for Photoshop, Lightroom, Bridge, etc. Speeds are 20-30% faster than the best 7200 RPM drives on the market.

Velociraptor Specs
300GB | SATA II | 10K RPM | 2.5” (with 3.5” Cooling Adapter)

Tom’s Review | Maximum PC’s Review

This may be the last post I make on spinning hard drives for Boot, Cache, and Scratch Disks. Solid State Drives (SSD) are the way to go for a high end Digital Imaging Workstation. I’m posting this because solid state drives are still a bit small and more than a bit pricey for the majority of photographers.
See my next post for more on SSD and for more info on hard drives, see my Jan 02 08 Blog: ALL ABOUT HARD DRIVES

Categories: Computers Tags: