Full Frame is a Mac-based image viewer, photo importer and metadata editor with an incredibly clean and intuitive user interface. Released by California-based Inland Sea and available now in the App Store, its potential to speed up one's workflow caught our attention.

Of course, there are a lot of different photo viewing, ingesting and sorting programs available on market, many of which are geared toward casual users. Full Frame, on the other hand, is targeting more toward high-end users like photo enthusiasts.

In Use

Having spent some time trying out using Full Frame in my own workflow, it seems its closest competitors are Photo Mechanic, a time-honored program with a cult-like following from photojournalists world-wide, as well as Adobe Bridge.

Unlike Adobe Bridge, which I find frustratingly sluggish and cluttered in design, Full Frame comes across as exceptionally lean in terms of speed (except when working with un-supported Raw files) and design. It has much more in common with Photo Mechanic like quick startup and image load times. Of course the spectrum of its functionality is much more limited than that of Adobe Bridge.

I took Full Frame for a spin while sorting images to post to one of my personal sites. Specifically,  I used it to move and rename selects from one drive, to a folder on another.

Once you have Full Frame fired up, users simply select the source folder and destination (assuming you are copying files) in the upper-left of the screen. The above screenshot represents the entire window when the program is open. There is literally nothing to get in your way of viewing images and deciding which to keep and which to trash.

To select an image to copy, simply click on it and a checkmark appears. Alternatively you can select all by hitting 'Command A' and uncheck the ones you don't want. In the upper-left portion of the window you'll find a slider to zoom in the grid view as well as options to view metadata and delete files from their source.

With your mouse hovering over an image, a small plus sign will appear in the upper left of the photo. Click on it to expand the view. Once in the single image viewer, users can use the slider at the top to zoom the image in and out, to check for critical focus. Unfortunately, when zooming in and out, there is no display of the percentage you are zoomed to, unlike in Photo Mechanic.

One of the best features of Full Frame is the metadata/EXIF viewer. It offers an incredibly detailed list that goes above and beyond what a lot of other programs show, including Photo Mechanic.

Users can also add XMP info to any imported files from within the preferences panel. One thing I've always really liked about Photo Mechanic is how simple it is to add copyright warnings and contact info to my files. In Full Frame, it is just as painless. From within the preference panel users can also assign rules for renaming files on import, which is very handy. 

In many ways, Full frame comes across as a utilitarian program, built to accomplish several specific tasks related to moving and organizing images. However it also doubles as an outstanding way to show off your work to clients, friends or families. The grid view is frankly gorgeous, and once in the single image view, users can simple use the arrow keys to move from image to image. It also starts up very fast, which is a plus.

Things to consider

While I found a lot to like about Full Frame, there are some things to consider before purchasing it: First and foremost, despite the claims of Raw support, I found numerous files, from varying manufacturers, to be unsupported. For instance, Raw files from the Nikon D750 are unsupported, as are those from the Sony a7 II. However, if you have Raw+JPEG files, load times will slow significantly but you can at least view and import your images.

This is really quite unfortunate. Sure, app updates could bring about Raw support but who has time to wait around? On the other hand you could always covert to DNG first, but if the whole point of this program is to speed your workflow, that also makes little sense. Photo Mechanic on the other hand does not have this problem, it can display a JPEG rendering from any Raw file, and loads quickly regardless.

Another beef I have with Full Frame is that there is only one option for sorting/rating images. In Photo Mechanic and Bridge, there are numerous ways to rate and sort images. For instance, when choosing my selects, I first do an initial sweep and check mark all of the ones I like, I then assign color or star ratings until I've got the images sorted down to a manageable amount.  At that point I copy the selects to a separate drive to be imported into Lightroom for processing.

The Takeaway

Full Frame is not a program that can do it all, but the things it can do, it does well. If you need a quick, easy way to view JPEGs or edit/view EXIF info, it might be your cup of tea.

Full Frame is an outstanding option for photographers seeking a powerful EXIF viewer/XMP editor or a quick and easy way to import and rename files. Its spotty Raw support is the main thing holding it back. But at $30, Full Frame is a major bargain compared to Photo Mechanic, which will set you back $150. It is also a much faster way to quickly view and sort JPEG files than Adobe Bridge.

What we like:

  • Intuitive user interface
  • Very clean, simple design
  • Powerful EXIF viewer
  • JPEGs load very quickly
  • Can be used to import, sort, batch rename files
  • Support for video files

What we don’t:

  • Despite claims of Raw support, many Raw files not supported
  • No percentage shown on zoom slider
  • Not as many options for rating photos as competition