IrfanView offers a one-stop-shop for making quick adjustments to photos. It also houses a little-known secret: its large plugins library. With the right plugins, or filters (what’s a filter?), IrfanView can do for free what other programs charge money for.
We covered how to use IrfanView in the past. This article focuses on some of its most useful plugins — and how they can improve your photos. Specifically, it improves some of the most common photography problems: Poorly detail shots, overexposed pictures caused by bright light, and photos with contrast and brightness issues.
How to Get IrfanView’s Plugins?
While users can install each plugin individually (6 IrfanView plugins,) an easy method of installing (almost) all at the same time exists.
First, you must install IrfanView, if you haven’t already. For both 32-bit and 64-bit users, I recommend using the 32-bit installation. If you own a 32-bit computer, you cannot install 64-bit software.
Second, download the 32-bit IrfanView plugins installer and execute the installer. It should automatically detect IrfanView’s location on your system and copy the plugins there. If it does not, you will need to manually point it to the installation directory.
3 IrfanView Plugins to Improve Your Photos
1. Poor Detail Shots: Use the AltaLux Plugin
The Altalux plugin allows users to bring out a lot of hidden details in most photos. For example, here’s a shot of my dog, Cubby, without any filters applied:
As you can see, the ground is paved with blacktop. Some grit and texture are visible, but the human eye doesn’t pick up much more than that. With the filter applied, a great deal more details pop out. Here’s what the filter looks like with its settings turned up to max:
Of course, AltaLux looks great when its settings aren’t cranked up to the max. To run the filter (after installing it,) open the desired image with IrfanView. You can also launch the program and drag-and-drop a picture onto it.
Once, you’ve loaded the picture, first navigate to Image in the menu bar at the top. Second, select Effects, toward the bottom of the context menu.
Last, choose AltaLux effect… (Plugin). This launches AltaLux.
The AltaLux interface offers a minimal amount of clutter. Users can set Scale and Intensity (on the right side) by sliding them up or down. The default settings tend to be good enough though.
And that’s it! The plugin is easy to use.
2. Harry’s Plugins
Harry’s Plugins isn’t a single filter, but an array. While all of them offer good functionality, my favorite use is for darkening overexposed pictures.
Here’s an example of an overexposed photo:
After applying Harry’s Overexpose filter, here’s what it looks like:
As you can see, the background light is less harsh. And the overall picture’s composition is more palatable.
To run Harry’s Filter, go to Image > Adobe 8BF Plugins > Harry’s Filters.
The Harry’s Filters interface looks like this:
To change filters, click on the FX drop-down menu. From the drop-down menu, choose Expose. Once it’s selected, you can change the parameters of the filter by adjusting Brightness. Once finished, hit the Save button.
There are quite a few more filters inside of Harry’s Filters. I encourage you to check them out.
3. Filter Sandbox
Other than Harry’s Filters, users can also access the Filter Sandbox plugin. Like Harry’s Filters, the Sandbox plugins offer a range of filters. The majority of these filters only add Instagram-like effects. However, it also includes four “automatic” plugins that genuinely improve the quality of a photograph with just a few mouse-clicks.
To get started with Filter Sandbox navigate to Image > Effects > Filter Sandbox… (Plugin).
You should see the Filter Sandbox menu. The first four entries offer automatic adjustment of images.
Each of the filters’ settings can be tweaked by clicking on the Parameters option, located at the menubar. To filter an image, just click on the appropriate filter and choose Start from the bottom of the screen. You can then close the Filter Sandbox interface and save the image. The interface also offers an easy-to-access Undo option.
Here’s an example of a kind of underexposed, muddy-looking image:
Here’s what it looks like after applying four different automatic filters, with the default settings:
As you can see, the photo looks sharper, cleaner, and suffers from zero loss in quality. Overall, the four automatic filters offer a lot of improvement.
Other IrfanView Plugins
Other than sprucing up old photos, the IrfanView plugins cover a very wide range of features, including Optical Character Recognition (3 OCR tools tested,) a method for running multiple filters simultaneously, and more. Although some free filters, such as Google’s Nik Collection plugins offer a wider range of features, nothing beats IrfanView’s plugins library in terms of simplicity and effectiveness.
What’s the Best IrfanView Plugin for Photos?
The best plugin for IrfanView is AltaLux. It’s great, easy-to-use, and worth a lot of money — even though it’s completely free. Another option is to take better pictures so you don’t need filters.
Anyone else love fixing up old photos? Let us know what filters you are using!