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ACDSee 14 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £51
inc VAT

Fast, comprehensive photo management and some useful editing options, but the price is a bit steep

Photo-management and photo-editing software is converging, with managers such as Google Picasa offering increasingly sophisticated editing tools and the likes of Photoshop Elements including its own Organizer module for keeping on top of photo libraries.

ACDSee has dropped the full name of this software, which used to be called ACDSee Photo Manager. That reveals its primary purpose, but it’s not short of editing features. There’s sophisticated colour correction including tone curves, RGB colour balance and noise reduction. Many of the creative effects are too gimmicky for regular use, but two of the new additions are extremely impressive. Lomo skews colours and darkens the corners of the frame to evoke the vintage film-like appearance of a Lomo camera. Orton simulates another photographic effect that dates back to the days of film photography, superimposing a sharp and blurred image and boosting contrast to give photos a romantic, dreamy haze.

ACDSee Orton

The new Lomo and Orton (shown here) effects are highly atmospheric

It’s also possible to apply effects to a limited part of the image, and feather the selection edges to avoid harsh boundaries. This puts it in a different league to Picasa, which applies its relatively crude creative and corrective effects to the entire image.

Version 14 introduces drawing tools to add shapes, lines and arrows to photos. This has its uses, but because ACDSee doesn’t support layers, the only way to adjust these drawings after creating them is with the Undo command. That’s true of the corrective and creative effects, too. Picasa’s editing tools are much more limited but the vast majority are applied non-destructively, so it’s easy to adjust any setting later.

ACDSee Manage

The Manage module makes it easy to filter by multiple criteria – here we have all the telephoto shots at ISO 100 that we’ve rated 3 stars or higher

ACDSee’s photo-management functions are excellent, with much more sophisticated sorting and searching than either Picasa or Photoshop Elements’ Organizer module. There’s a five-star rating system that’s useful for sorting through large batches of photos, a new Map View to reveal or add photos’ location tags and support for colour labels.

This is an impressive package that successfully distinguishes itself from the competition, offering more power than Picasa and a faster, more tightly integrated workflow than Photoshop Elements. Ultimately, though, it seems a little overpriced. If it were to drop to around £30, we’d wholeheartedly recommend it.


Price £51
Rating ****

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