By Stan Sholik
Since I was first introduced to ACDSee Pro when it was in version 2.5, I have recommended the program to casual users who didn’t want to learn, or didn’t need, the complexities of Adobe Photoshop, Bridge and Lightroom. These users included friends, advanced amateurs and my wife. With the introduction of version ACDSee Pro version 3, I began using it to manage my own casual photography.
Version 3 impressed me with its speed on our not-so-advanced Windows machine at home, and the fact that it combined the digital asset management functions of Bridge with the global adjustment abilities of Lightroom, all in one program. Version 3 cleaned up the look of the interface and introduced the concept of modes, allowing users to easily move between browsing, viewing, processing their images, and then uploading them to ACDSee Online for sharing with others. The raw file processor of version 2.5 became the Develop sub-mode of the Process mode in version 3, with the capability to make non-destructive edits to RAW, TIFF, JPEG and other file formats. Version 2.5’s Edit mode for non-destructive pixel-level edits became the Edit sub-menu in version 3.
The shortcomings in version 3 were few, but some would be important to me if I wanted to migrate to the program for my commercial work. While version 3 included raw processing, it lacked chromatic aberration and color fringing correction tools, and the results were too contrasty for my taste. I’m also in the habit of applying full IPTC metadata to my images, and support for IPTC wasn’t quite there in version 3.
With the release of ACDSee Pro 4 for Windows, these shortcomings are eliminated and a few new features are added. I’m not convinced there are enough new and upgraded features to warrant a new version number or the $167.99 upgrade price, but version 4 does offer incremental and useful improvements in areas that interest me.
Raw file processing is one of these areas. ACDSee now includes both color aberration and color fringing correction tools. But perhaps more significantly, processing raw files is now accomplished in the ProPhoto RGB color space rather than Adobe RGB color space. This allows for adjustments to be done using a larger color gamut and therefore greater precision. ACDSee writes their own raw file processing algorithms, and the algorithms are revised in the latest version to provide smoother and more accurate adjustments to color, contrast, and exposure. The differences between the same image processed in the two versions are obvious with version 4 being the clear winner. One downside continues to exist as a result of ACDSee writing the raw processing algorithms—it takes a while for support for new cameras to become available. My Nikon P7000 is still not supported.
One change I don’t understand that relates to RAW, TIFF and JPEG processing is the decision to move the choice of output color space from the Export dialog box to the Develop pane itself. I would rather that an output color space drop-down list be added to the Save As dialog box and the version 3 ability to choose an output color space remain in the Export dialog box in version 4.
The Export dialog box give many file format options, but RAW files still cannot be saved in DNG format and the output color space can no longer be selected in the Export dialog box.
If metadata is as important to you as it is to me, then the changes in version 4 are important. In previous versions of ACDSee Pro, there were issues between the mapping of metadata between EXIF, IPTC and XMP areas. These issues are corrected in version 4, and all metadata is now in sync. Metadata additions and changes are now visible in other imaging software also. Support for IPTC Core 1.1 is now included also.
Full IPTC metadata entry and editing is now possible in ACDSee Pro. Selecting multiple files allows simultaneous updating. The metadata is now visible in other applications.
The new Metadata Panel in the Properties pane allows you to view and modify standard metadata for multiple photos at once. The Metadata Panel also gives you direct access to metadata presets to save you from having to enter the same common information each time. You can also now customize multiple metadata views and save them as presets in order to display the metadata fields of your choosing.
One of the new additions to version 4 is the Map view in the Manage mode. Images with embedded GPS data are automatically located on a Google map. Images can also be placed on the map manually.
I admit to being hooked on geotagging my location images. I do a lot of back road exploring and photography, and I love to be able to revisit locations if I’m there at the wrong time for the best photo. I own several devices that store GPS information in my cameras, and I use them. ACDSee Pro now includes a Map view in the Manage pane that automatically places markers on a Google map if your images contain GPS location data. You can also use the map to select groups of files for further workflow steps, and use the map to select images for display in View mode. If your images don’t contain GPS data, you can drag them onto the map at the location where they were shot.
The only strange thing about this new geotagging feature is that you must join the online service, acdsee.com online, in order to have the map available in the Manage mode. Not that joining is bad, because 2GB of free online storage is included with the purchase price and an additional 25GB is available for $25 per year. You can store your image library there for personal viewing anywhere there is web access, or use the service to share images with friends. It just struck me as a little strange to be required to join in order to use the geotagging feature and to log on each time to use it.
There are other little enhancements in Version 4, such as dimension and resolution controls for cropping added to the Geometry tab in Develop mode, and the ability to access external editors from the Manage and View modes. And in a bow to social media mavens, you can post photos directly to Facebook, and to send Tweet links to your albums from the Manage mode.
Photographers can purchase ACDSee Pro 4 for $239.99 directly from ACDSee Systems through their website, acdsee.com. A fully functional 30-day demo is also available from the website.
Stan Sholik is a commercial/advertising photographer in Santa Ana, Calif., specializing in still life and macro photography. He is currently writing his fifth book, “Nik HDR Efex Pro,” for Wiley Publishing.
ACDSee Pro 4 System Requirements
Hardware • Intel® Pentium® III / AMD Athlon processor or equivalent (Intel® Pentium® 4 / AMD Athlon XP or equivalent recommended) • 512 MB RAM (1 GB RAM recommended) • 250 MB free hard drive space (1 GB recommended) • High Color display adapter at 1024 x 768 resolution (1280 x 1024 recommended) • CD/DVD Burner - for creating CDs and DVDs
Software • Microsoft® Windows® XP with Service Pack 2, Windows Vista®, or Windows® 7 operating system. • Microsoft® Internet Explorer® 7+ • TiVo® Desktop Software - to publish images to your TiVo • Microsoft® DirectX® 9.0c - for Microsoft DirectX file format support, and to create slide shows and screen savers • QuickTime6.0 - for QuickTime file format support • Ghostscript 8.0 - for PDF support • Windows Media® Player 9.0