There are 2 questions for this.
1. What is the best practice for creating a Windows 7 Image for deployment. Eg Locking down the OS, Sysprep, Capture and deploy. Basically any changes made to lock down the OS need to be retained in the image. My understanding is that after running sysprep, many of the changes made are reverted back to default.
2. What is the best "Freeware" imaging product. 95% of our clients are Thin clients, so we only really need to image laptops from time to time.