ACDSee Pro 4 review

Price when reviewed

The colour-correction tools are as good as Lightroom’s, with extensive controls to tweak the luminosity curve with utmost precision. We particularly like the Light EQ, which enables contrast boosts to just a specific range of luminosities. It’s also possible to click and drag parts of the image to change the saturation, brightness or hue for a narrow range of hues. Changes are reflected extremely quickly in the preview image, with 18-megapixel RAW files responding almost instantly to user input.

New to this version are corrective tools for vignetting, chromatic aberrations and fringing. They work well, but correcting manually by eye is far more laborious than Lightroom’s automatic correction, which is based on a database of profiles for popular SLR lenses. Moving from View to Develop mode made the software disregard the lens-distortion and chromatic-aberration correction data that’s embedded into the RAW files produced by Micro Four Thirds cameras. ACDSee tells us that there are no immediate plans to remedy this issue.

We also found Lightroom a little more effective at squeezing the last drops of detail out of RAW images. ACDSee Pro wasn’t far behind at low ISO speeds, but the difference was much more pronounced in noisier images. ACDSee Pro’s noise-reduction algorithm struggled to cope with RAW images taken with a Canon EOS 60D at ISO 6400, with maximum-strength reduction suppressing fine details while still letting a fair amount of noise through.

ACDSee Pro 4

Though this is the clearest example of Lightroom’s superiority, there are others. We prefer Lightroom’s purely non-destructive approach, even for localised edits and JPEGs, and its comprehensive undo history and virtual copy function make it easy to jump between different versions of an image.

ACDSee Pro’s lack of explicit support for dual-monitor setups also counts against it. We undocked the Preview panel and enlarged it to fill a second monitor in Manage mode, but the View, Process and Online modes proved less easy to spread across two screens.

There’s nothing in Lightroom to match ACDSee Pro’s map-tagging facilities, though, and ACDSee Pro’s online hosting facilities are better than Lightroom’s clumsy support for third-party hosting services.

All in all, ACDSee Pro puts up a good fight and has plenty going for it. However, those who can afford it should still go for Lightroom, especially if they’re eligible for the Student and Teacher version, which costs just £66 inc VAT.


Software subcategoryPhoto editing software

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported?yes
Operating system Windows XP supported?yes

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