ACDSee Pro 5 review

Price when reviewed

There were only four months between the launches of ACDSee Pro 4 and 5, meaning the developers of this photo management software have either been incredibly busy, or this isn’t the most revolutionary update. At least the upgrade price is modest at only £19inc VAT.

Converting our image library from version 4 to 5 wasn’t as easy as we’d hoped. A wizard handled the process automatically, but the message “This may take a few minutes” was an understatement. Five hours of inactivity later, we gave up and forced the application to quit. After relaunching, it turned out the import had been successful. This wasn’t the most confidence-inspiring start, but it’s reassuring that the version 4 database was untouched, providing a backup if the process should run into serious problems.

There’s little change to the interface, but the four main modes – Manage, View, Develop and Online – are joined by a fifth: Edit. Its contents were previously a subsection of the Develop mode, but promoting it to a top-level mode is sensible. Tools in Develop mode are non-destructive – for raw images, at least – whereas the ones in Edit mode are destructive, with ramifications for workflow.

ACDSee Pro 5

This is demonstrated by the new Dodge and Burn tool. ACDSee Pro could already make localised edits by making a selection with a Freehand Lasso, Magic Wand or Marquee tool, and then applying one of the processes in Edit mode. The Dodge and Burn tool makes this process quicker, boosting and reducing the brightness using brushstrokes.

It’s extremely useful for lifting shadows, recovering highlights, or generally improving the composition of a photo without having to resort to blanket settings, which may not be suitable for the entire image. The tool itself is well specified, with width, strength and feathering options for the brush, plus the ability to affect only shadows, midtones or highlights. Saturate and Desaturate brushes are thrown in for good measure.

However, the Dodge and Burn tool’s usefulness is limited by the fact that it’s a destructive tool. Switching from Develop to Edit mode converts the raw image data into a standard 48-bit image, complete with any treatments applied up to that point. That meant we couldn’t boost the contrast in Develop mode and then use the Dodge and Burn tool to recover clipped highlights, since the colour information for these over-exposed areas had been discarded as soon as we clicked Edit. It also precluded going back to Develop mode to undo or further adjust settings made there.


Software subcategory Photo editing software

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