Manage, View, Develop, Edit, Online!
With new photo editing and photo database management functions, Aditya Nair tests the ACDSee Pro 5 to see if it measures up to the competition.
Among the downsides to digital photography, one of them is the amount of digital junk that we end up hoarding at the end of the day. After shooting gigabytes of images, sorting through them to find a few stunning images can be quite a task. In such dire times, a photo database management system becomes a necessity. ACD Systems’ latest, the ACDSee Pro 5 claims to be the best of the lot.
A Photographer’s Workflow
The software workflow is similar to how a photographer processes his images. ACDSee Pro 5 is divided into five tabs— Manage, View, Develop, Edit and Online. Manage allows you to view the various drives on your computer just like you would view them in Windows Explorer. The difference is that the Manage function is more efficient when viewing RAW and TIFF files as well. Software like Picasa and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, on the other hand, require the user to sync picture folders or import them before they can be viewed, which is time consuming.
The addition of the Color Label function makes it easier to organise images. The user can designate a colour for each step in the workflow. For example, Red can be assigned to images you wish to discard, Blue for images you wish to upload online, Yellow for images that need to be edited and so on. Using these labels you can access exactly those images that you require.
Improved Photo Editing?
With its newest version, ACD Systems have added some more image editing functions like Dodge and Burn, Split Tone and a smarter Sharpening tool. Customisable Special Effects like Lomo, Collage and Orton can be pretty fun to use as well. The Remove Metadata function is useful for anyone who wishes to strip their images of EXIF and IPTC data to protect their location or the type of equipment they use.
That said, the photo editing capabilities of ACDSee Pro 5 are nowhere close to the features of its closest competitor, Lightroom 3. The RAW engine of ACDSee Pro 5 can do a respectable job of recovering shadows and highlights but is not as good as Adobe Camera RAW, the engine used by both Photoshop and Lightroom.
A competent user of photo editing software like Photoshop will find the lack of shortcuts for image processing tools a little taxing. Also, unlike Lightroom and Photoshop, ACDSee Pro 5 still lacks the ability to support third party plug-ins.
ACDSee Pro 5 for a Beginner
For an absolute beginner, the software looks daunting. While organising is straight forward, the photo editing tools are complex and require you to hunt through various subfolders and categories. Instead, of ACDSee Pro 5 you can try out ACDSee 14, a software for intended for beginners and basic users. Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 is also another option for a beginner.
The Final Verdict
The addition of Dodge and Burn tools and better Sharpening functions were welcome. However, other software also offer these functions. The ability to create labels was an interesting tool and will help any photographer in his workflow. Other than these features, there was nothing exciting about the new upgrade.
As a standalone software for database management, ACDSee Pro 5 is as good as it gets. As for photo editing, the software does a great job with its existing features but leaves a lot to be desired. Consider this, software like Lightroom and Aperture that cost USD 299 (approx Rs. 15,000) and USD 199 (approx. Rs. 10,000) provide functions almost as good for managing a media database along with considerably better photo editing functions. At USD 239.99 (approx. Rs. 12,000), the lack of better photo editing features makes ACDSee Pro 5 quite an expensive buy.
Some interesting photo editing functions, lacks third pary plug-ins
Ease of use
Layout of the software is complex, lacks useful shortcuts
Fast and efficient, easy to view TIFF and RAW files
Value For Money: 2.5/5 stars
Tags: ACDSee Pro 5, Aditya Nair, best photo management software, Database management software, January 2012, Photo editing software, Software review