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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2004-09-08

A New One-Stop Shop: FotoTrafix 1.2
By Trent Nelson, Salt Lake Tribune

Photo by

FotoTrafix
eRocket CEO Laurent Groult's favorite part of showing off his new FotoTrafix image browser comes when he whips out a camera phone, captures an image and watches his software automatically caption and e-mail it back to the very people watching the demo.

The image is transmitted wirelessly from his phone via Bluetooth and onto his laptop. FotoTrafix imports the image, captions it, and e-mails it to the very people sitting there watching the demo, all automatically. This kind of effortless, automated workflow would seem to put FotoTrafix square in the sights of many photographers, especially wire services and photo agencies.

If you haven't heard of FotoTrafix yet, you're not alone. The program is fairly new in the market, and still in the process of growing up. FotoTrafix version 1.2 (available for Mac and PC) shows some serious possibility, and the soon to be released version 2.0 promises to straighten out version 1.2's kinks while adding new features that users have been asking for (some details on version 2.0 are at the end of this article).

FotoTrafix version 1.2.2 for the Mac was used for this review. A free 30-day demo of FotoTrafix is available at http://www.fototrafix.com.

A good image browser will import your photos, batch rename and caption them, and allow you to edit your take very quickly. If you can properly expose and white balance your shots you can dispense with PhotoShop completely- applying a crop, saving out a jpeg file, and even transmitting it via e-mail or FTP from within your image browser.

While PhotoMechanic seems to dominate the news and sports field, FotoTrafix earns its place as a serious competitor with a few head-turning features. Immediately, two things about FotoTrafix really impress:

The Outbox
Photos that I send to FotoTrafix's outbox with a simple click are automatically FTP'd or e-mailed to a client or newsroom. This is one of those features that once you have it, you never want to give it up. (Indeed, PhotoMechanic has just added this feature with its version 4.2.)

With FotoTrafix, you can completely customize each of your destinations, so that FotoTrafix knows to send a web-sized photo to your friend and a high-resolution image to your client. Very cool.

Instant Editing
Unlink other programs, when I'm importing images from a card in FotoTrafix, I can work on them as they come in. No more waiting for the import to finish before you can see and work on things. This is another feature that's hard to give up once you have it, especially on deadline.

If you give FotoTrafix a shot, let me make a plug for full immersion. Don't expect to use FotoTrafix the way you use PhotoMechanic. It's not built that way. To get a full appreciation for what FotoTrafix can and can't do for you, you have to take the full plunge and use it exclusively, the way it was built, for a week or so. At that point you'll know whether or not it works for what you're doing.

The basic FotoTrafix environment consists of three separate views: Grid, List and Edit.

Grid mode is your usual contact sheet view, with a thumbnail zoom slider (though I wish I could make them bigger).

List mode is very nice to see in an image browser, allowing you to see the photos in a list with their caption information alongside.

Edit mode is simply the full-screen view of a single photo, along with cropping ability.

In each view, easily identifiable tool buttons are in convenient locations for tasks like rotating, renaming files, applying IPTC templates, etc.

FotoTrafix takes a lot of the work out of setting up your workflow. Upon import it creates dated folders for all of your work, allowing you to look at everything by individual assignment or by a period of time.

For example, with a click you can see all of your images from today's assignments, yesterday's, the entire week or month. And every time you import FotoTrafix simultaneously creates a backup copy of your take and puts it in an archive folder. This is a great fail-safe and doesn't add time to the import, though it would be nice to have the option of turning the feature off when your hard drive is nearly full.

Renaming a batch of files is simple and very fast. Batch captioning your images can be done with customizable IPTC templates. The layout of the templates leaves a little to be desired, making it hard to easily read a long caption.

With the current version of FotoTrafix, you're limited to working with JPEG files. Groult says that support for Nikon and Canon RAW files is in the works, as well as Tiff and PNG support.

With version 2.0 of FotoTrafix, set to be released Fall 2004 (likely around the end of September), Groult is promising a wealth of improvements and features asked for by professionals. It sounds like a major upgrade.

While I could write another whole article on what's coming in version 2.0, I'll give you the highlights and we'll see how it turns out when the software is actually released.

First up, the speed of image importing will get a welcome boost in version 2.0, making importing roughly the same speed as a finder copy. A browse feature will be added, along with the option to customize the folder structure.

The ability to compare two photos will be added. In addition, several versions of the software will be available, from a free reader version to a beefy $499 Workgroup version.

Also, the $99 Browser version looks like a great option for freelancers, with the main limitation one photo transmission at a time.

And, in line with what Adobe sees as the future of image management, FotoTrafix is looking to add xmp support. Without getting too deeply into it, xmp will allow you to keep sophisticated logs of your images with information such as which clients you've sent each image to and copyright information.

To sum it up, I think FotoTrafix 1.2 is a well thought out image browser. Its workflow system is something any photographer should look into. Not everyone will feel it's the right fit, but those who do will be very satisfied. And the improvements coming in version 2.0 should ensure that FotoTrafix is one to watch, providing some healthy competition in the image browser market.

Likes:
Powerful built-in FTP and e-mail controls
The ability to work on photos during import
Instant access to photos- today, this week, this month views
Viewing photos and captions in List mode
Multiple language support

Dislikes:
Currently JPEG only
Audio tags not yet supported
Folder structure is locked in
Somewhat slow import

http://www.fototrafix.com - Full version $499 (electronic), $519 (w/ CD)


(Trent Nelson is the chief photographer of the Salt Lake Tribune and is a frequent contributor to the Sports Shooter Newsletter. He will also be a member of the Sports Shooter Workshop & Luau faculty.)

Related Links:
Trent's member page

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