A slender update, but it offers sophisticated colour correction at a reasonable price.
ACDSEE17IS a photo manager and editor, and a cut-down version of ACDSee Pro 7 (see Reviews, Shopper 313). The key difference is that ACDSee Pro can períorm non-destructive edits, so you can go back and tweak photos while always working from the original image data. ACDSee 17 forces you to commit to edits, either by overwriting the original file or saving as a new one. It can handle both JPEGs and Raw files but, from our point of view, the lack of non-destructive editing makes it unsuitable for working with Raw files. However, there are lots of people who shoot ]PEGs and will beneíit from ACDSee photo management and editing facilities, which are a big step up from free software such as Google Picasa.
We like the ability to browse to any folder on the hard disk without having to import photos into the catalogue actively. Once the software is aware of them, photos can be browsed and filtered by a vast range of criteria induding capture date, camera settings, camera and lens model, map location, user-defíned keywords, ratings and labels. Keywords are easy to add and let you quickly locate photos when you can’t remember the date or íolder location. The five-star rating System is useful for filtering large groups of photos to pick your favourites.
Photo management isn^ without its írustrations, though. There’s no option to reveal a photo in Windows Explorer, a íeature we use regularly in other photo-management software. It*s possible to filter by multiple criteria, but the Calendar and Folders browsers are separate to the other meta data filters. You can*t search for a camera between two dates, for instance. Some meta data filters have arbitrary fixed values. The program will show all photos with an f/2 or f/2.8 aperture, but there’s no option to show values in between. There’s a big button for uploading photos to ACDSeds overpriced 365 Online hosting Service, but uploads to Facebook, Flickr and Smugmug are tucked away in a menu. We weren’t able to get Flickr uploads to work in our tests.
The new management features in version 17 don’t add up to much. ACDSee 17 can save and recall multiple catalogues, which could be useful for people who keep distinct libraries. This seems out of place in consumer-oriented software, though. There’s support for the WebP format, an alternative to )PEG developed by Google, but we’ve yet to encounter a WebP file in the wild. There*s a Metadata submenu under the Tools menu for embedding keywords and ratings, but this is of limited use as the embedded data is in a proprietary format that isn’t recognised by Windows, other photo software or hosting Services. An “improved interíace* is also listed among the new íeatures, but the only difference we spotted was that the metadata browser is now located on the left rather than the right of the screen.
A major new íeature in the previous update was the ability to apply effects to limited parts of a photo, with a choice of brush strokes or a linear gradient to define the area in question. For version 17, it’s possible to use a circular or elliptical gradient, too. This is perfect for helping the main subject stand out with some careful colour correction, and fading the effect out towards the surrounding area using the Feathering control. An Invert Gradient button lets you choose whether the effect is applied to the outside or inside of the cirde.
Along with the sophisticated colour correction hlters, these tools make ACDSee ideal for bringing out the best in a photo’s colours. The lack of non-destructive editing may make it harder to use multiple filters in tandem, and impossible to adịust settings once you’ve committed to them, but then this program does cost less than ACDSee Pro and Adobe Lightroom. Sadly, its Creative effects, Heal brush for removing blemishes, text support and drawing tools are all crude. There’s no support for layers, so this editor isn’t really cut out for design-based tasks.
THE EDGE OF 17
It looks like very little work has gone into this update, and there’s barely anything to tempt existing users to upgrade. That’s a shame, as its management facilities leave plenty of room for improvement. Still, for precise colour correction on a tight budget, it’s a solỉd choice.