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ACDSee Pro 8 review

Ben Pitt
21 Nov 2014
ACDSee Pro 8 Manage mode
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
126
ex VAT

Plenty of strong features but a few weak ones too; ACDSee Pro is still a long way from the top of the tree

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Specifications

OS Support: Windows 7/8, Minimum CPU: Pentium III, Minimum GPU: DirectX 9, Minimum RAM: 512MB, Hard disk space: 310MB

ACDSee Pro 8 is a photo management and editing application with a similar set of features to Adobe Lightroom. Lightroom is a tough act to follow, though, and while previous versions of ACDSee Pro showed plenty of merit, ACDSee Pro hasn't done enough to match Adobe's esteemed editor.

ACDSee Pro's photo management is extremely responsive, filtering our 60,000 photos by folder, date, camera or lens model, exposure settings, keyword, rating and a wide range of other metadata in just a couple of seconds. We like how photos don’t have to be imported; simply browsing to a folder is enough for the software to catalogue its contents.

ACDSee Pro 8 Manage mode

^ Library management is fast and effective

Sadly, this efficiency only goes so far. The software maintains a list of all the cameras and lenses used in the library, but other metadata can only be filtered according to predefined values. For example, it’ll show all photos with a 1/30s or 1/60s shutter speed, but those with a 1/40s or 1/50s shutter fall between the gaps. File types are filtered according to their file extension, but there's no provision for Panasonic RAW files, and clicking Sony RAW draws a blank. Various Panasonic and Sony cameras' RAW files are supported but it's far from up to date, with notable omissions such as the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF6 and Sony A6000. Fujifilm RAW is listed, but support for these files is limited, with none of the X-series cameras from the last couple of years supported.

^ With no lens profiles for automatic correction, it's not a great RAW editor for cameras that rely on this function, such as the Canon PowerShot G1 X II shown here

ACDSee also lacks lens profiles for automatically compensating for lens distortions, which is a feature that Micro Four Thirds, and an increasing number of other compact system cameras (CSCs) and premium compacts, rely on for their RAW files. SLRs are well catered for, but it's worth thinking about whether ACDSee Pro is likely to support the next camera you decide to buy.

^ PicaView adds a preview and camera information to the Windows right-click menu

The new features in version 8 are distributed throughout and even beyond the interface. PicaView integrates with the Windows Explorer right-click menu to provide a large thumbnail and camera metadata for image files, including supported RAW files. It's a great idea, but it’d be even better if photo thumbnails were also shown for the files themselves. After reassigning file types to open in ACDSee Pro, files were represented by a generic icon. We also found PicaView to be temperamental, sometimes making the right-click menu disappear a split second after it had appeared.

SeeDrive is another new feature that's better in theory than in practice. It appears as a panel in Manage mode and provides drag-and-drop access to folders located in the ACDSee 365 cloud storage service. Online photos were slow to navigate, though, with the software locking up for up to 30 seconds while it waited for the server to respond. However, with 20GB online storage priced at £25 a year, there are various other cloud storage services we'd choose over this one.

^ Auto Lens applies a choice of four effects, but it's a playback-only feature – you have to find the filters elsewhere in order to export them

Double-clicking a thumbnail in Manage mode opens it in View mode. Here, there are two new buttons for applying quick treatments. Auto EQ automatically corrects the photo's brightness and contrast, often performing well but making some photos look over-exposed. Auto Lens provides a choice of four filters (Lomo, Orton, Black and White, Sepia), which are applied to all photos until the Auto Lens setting is reset to None. Neither the Auto EQ nor the Auto Lens settings are applied permanently, and they can't be exported. Auto EQ and Black and White are also available in Develop mode, and the other filters are located in Edit mode, filed under Special Effect, but they're not easy to find.

Develop mode handles non-destructive editing, which is ideal for colour correcting and removing noise from RAW files. Edit mode applies changes destructively to the original file, and generally concentrates on more creative edits. We've never liked this split in working methods as it limits the order in which filters can be applied and adjusted. However, the destructive tools in Edit mode go further than Lightroom's fully non-destructive toolset with features such as Text design, Tilt-Shift and various other creative filters.

Edit mode gains a new Pixel Targeting feature in this update, allowing filters to be applied selectively to parts of the frame depending on the brightness or hue of pixels. It's also possible to target skin tones for inclusion or exclusion. Yet again, it's a great idea, but the lack of a smoothing or feathering function often resulted in harsh or scrappy edges to the affected area. We'd much prefer to see it in Develop mode, where multiple filters could be used non-destructively and in tandem for precise colour correction.

^ Pixel Targeting would work much better with an option to soften the edges of the selected area

Edit mode also gains a History Window to make it easy to jump back and forth through edits. It's welcome but, again, we're baffled as to why there's still no History panel in Develop mode.

ACDSee Pro 8 is responsive and powerful, and it matches Lightroom for library management and colour correction. Its noise reduction isn't quite as effective, though, and its lens manual correction features are laborious. Camera support is limited, the mixture of destructive and non-destructive processing is clumsy. Sadly, this update doesn't go far enough to catch up with Lightroom.

System requirements
OS SupportWindows 7/8
Minimum CPUPentium III
Minimum GPUDirectX 9
Minimum RAM512MB
Hard disk space310MB
Buying information
Price including VAT£126
Supplierwww.acdsee.com
Detailswww.acdsee.com
Product codeN/A

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