ACDSee Pro 5 review

Price when reviewed

Another frustration is that each brushstroke in the Dodge and Burn tool is a destructive edit. When we used it to desaturate an area so that it became a greyscale, the colour information couldn’t be restored with the saturate brush. This is an extreme example – and a problem that’s easily avoided – but for the same reason, making lots of Dodge and Burn brushstrokes to fine-tune an image eventually led to increased noise and polarisation of colours.

The combination of destructive and non-destructive editing has wider practical implications, with use of the Save As command leading to an untidy image library. This highlights the power of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom’s non-destructive approach, even for localised edits, which makes it easy to undo or alter any edit at any time. There’s no Dodge and Burn tool in Lightroom, but it’s possible to adjust the exposure, saturation and a range of other parameters using brushstrokes.

ACDSee Pro 5

The Sharpen tool now has a Mask parameter that makes it easier to accentuate details (where there’s high contrast) without increasing noise or making subtle details (where there’s lower contrast) look unnaturally exaggerated. Also new is a Split Tone tool, which gives separate colour tints to brighter and darker areas of an image. The controls match the ones in Lightroom’s Split Toning tool, and the results are similarly impressive. Split Tone and Sharpen appear in both the Develop and Edit modes, so they fit in with workflows as necessary.

It’s now possible to draw lines and simple shapes directly onto images, and the Special Effects section includes new Lomo Effect and Orton Effect presets, giving photos an atmospheric, distinctly film-like quality. Collage gives the impression that a photo has been pieced together from a bunch of Polaroid snaps. These features are more in keeping with programs such as Photoshop Elements than Lightroom. ACDSee Pro’s lack of support for layers limits its potential for combining several elements, but these new additions are welcome nonetheless. Other improvements include colour labels, a Batch Export tool and the ability to strip out metadata.

Overall, this is a solid update, and well worth the low upgrade price. However, the Dodge and Burn tool – while impressive in itself – served mostly to bring the benefits of Lightroom’s entirely non-destructive workflow into focus. ACDSee Pro remains a respectable, more affordable alternative, but Lightroom justifies its higher price.


Software subcategoryPhoto editing software

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