ACDSee Pro 5 Review

December 20, 2011 | Matt Grayson | Software Reviews | |


ACDSee Pro 5 is the fifth instalment of ACD Systems tagging and editing program, which is designed to improve the photographer's workflow and give them an easier life. This new software tool aims to include everything for the post-processing of your digital photos. New features include a smart sharpener, split toning, dodge and burn, digital effects, a new tagging option involving colours, batch export and removal of metadata. Priced at £150 / $240, can ACDSee Pro 5 compete with the multitude of similar programs on the market today?

Installation of ACDSee Pro 5 is very fast, although on the website, once the activation code has been input, we had to register and then type in a verification code that was emailed to us. Despite the extra security, it doesn't take that long to get through everything and we were opening the program around 5 minutes later.

ACDSee Pro 5Welcome

ACDSee Pro 5Manage

In a similar way to Lightroom, ACDSee Pro 5 is laid out in different sections: 5 to be precise. The layout of all sections is simplistic with no large flashy icons. Instead, ACDSee have opted for text and plenty of it. In the Manage section, which is the first one that opens up, to the left is the navigation system and although it's reminiscent of opening My Computer on Windows, there's a nice white band striking through the selected folder. To the right are a number of organisational options such as number ratings for importance, coloured labels as well as metadata.

ACDSee Pro 5Import

After loading your pictures in, hovering over one will bring up a small preview of it. In the bottom left corner is the first picture or subsequent selected pictures and their corresponding histogram and EXIF data.

ACDSee Pro 5View

Switching to the View section brings up all the pictures as small thumbnails along the bottom and the selected picture in an ultra large window. There's a small, very sensitive slider in the bottom-right to zoom in and check focus. Next to the slider is a number of zoom settings that go up to a whopping 10,000%. There's a 1:1 button and fit to screen.

There are also a few options in the bottom left corner of the preview window. Simple editors such as rotate and scroll are available as well as setting an external editor.

Once you've checked the focus of the pictures, you can add them to an image basket. Any of these checked images then line up in a thumbnail gallery along the bottom of the screen.

ACDSee Pro 5Develop

Opening the Develop section is like opening Adobe Bridge. It's laid out differently (there are three tabs at the top for Tuning, Detail and Geometry) but all the features are there such as white-balance correction, lighting, split tone and curves. You can also do an all round clean up with the General tab that houses exposure, highlights and fill lights, contrast and vibrance.

ACDSee Pro 5Develop - Geometry

The sliders are sensitive but not overly so. The adjustments they make are very sympathetic to the picture. There's also an automatic setting that you can activate by either clicking in the picture or sliding the pointer depending on the action you're performing. White-balance will also sample from any point in the picture that you click on.

ACDSee Pro 5Sharpen

Flick over to the Detail tab and here you can sharpen, remove noise and reduce chroma. To say that the sharpening system in the Detail tab is sublime is putting it gently. In fact, we're going to use this for all our sharpening in the future. As well as the amount, radius and threshold normally seen in Unsharp Mask, there's also a Mask option which increases the intensity of the sharpening in a similar way to adjusting the opacity on a layer.

ACDSee Pro 5Edit

Once the image has been developed, you can move onto the Edit screen. On this page you can do more stuff that's available in a main editing suite such as dodge and burn, colour balance, levels, and curves. We thought that this was getting strung out - going through all the different sections - so we were relieved to see that the Edit page has sharpening and noise reduction here too.

ACDSee Pro 5Online

The final Online section sends you to an internet site that allows you to upload your pictures to ACDSee's secure server and it allows you 2Gb of space for free.

Entry Tags

review, test, photo, photoshop, image, lightroom, editing, processing, pro, editor, adobe, aperture, apple, process, manage, processor, edit, management, acdsee, manager, acdsee pro 5, pro 5, 5

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Your Comments

17 Comments | Newest Oldest First | Post a Comment

#1 Mino

Extreme unstability was always the biggest problem in ACDSee :-( Nice application, but unusable due to every-minute crashes…

6:35 pm - Tuesday, December 20, 2011

#2 Jeremy

Looks alot like lightroom.

7:53 pm - Tuesday, December 20, 2011

#3 JB

I’ve now been using ACDSee Pro 5 and previously version 4 for best part of a year on both my desktop and laptop PCs. These are both running Windows 7 and in contrast to the above comment I’ve never had the program crash once. It’s also easy to specify during the installation whether you want various filetypes to be associated with the program or not so you’re in control of whether it takes over the handling of your photo and other media files or not. I chose not to associate it with any filetypes as I use the importer in ACDSee to load new files. I prefer to have d-clicked files open in the Windows photo viewer and this still works fine. For my purposes ACDSee can handle all my photography work for both JPEG and raw files.

10:48 pm - Tuesday, December 20, 2011

#4 psphoto

To be fair in respect to originality, ACDSee has been around a lot longer than Lightroom.  I own or have tried just about every photo editing/managing program and have ended up using ACDSee 90% of the time.  There still are things that only Photoshop can do, and Picasa is useful for finding photos and people.

2:37 am - Wednesday, December 21, 2011

#5 Joseph

I am using ACDSee Pro 5 on a win7 machine too and also never had a crash. What I like about its as opposed to lightromm is that I can see exactly what files are on my computer , not just the ones imported into the catalogue.

12:28 am - Saturday, December 24, 2011

#6 Jon

Like others Ive never had pro 4 or 5 crash. Also easily manage using it alongside photoshop cs3 and lightroom on my windows 7 laptop, processing full frame raw files. Theres an ingeneous set of curve and exposure tools and tone tweaking that I think outdoes lightroom.

8:10 pm - Thursday, January 19, 2012

#7 Miguel

I have used ACDsee for many years, but I am very disappointed over its customer support.  If you have a problem with the software, forget it.  I will never buy another version of ACDsee again.

9:37 pm - Thursday, January 26, 2012

#8 bob

Way too many upgrades and they want you to pay for each one. Minor revisions cost full price.
Good product, poor customer relations.
I wish the lead programer was the owner.

6:17 pm - Thursday, February 9, 2012

#9 sedge

Lightroom hadn’t been invented when ACDSee was on version 9, its hardly a copycat. I’ve been using ACDSee for years as it’s one of the speediest cataloging and organizing photo apps in existence with great mouse control of viewing images (puts Adobe to shame for that alone). With these new features I can probably do everything with the one program now, love it.

6:38 pm - Friday, February 24, 2012

#10 dominic

I used ACDsee for several years but just couldn’t deal with the random crashes in v. 2.0-3.0 So, I bailed to Lightroom but have missed the powerful simplicity of ACDsee’s image management. I’m now sitting on the fence between the two upgrades: Lightroom 4 vs Pro 5. I’m definitely leaning toward Pro 5, especially if it is as stable as several here have reported.

4:33 am - Tuesday, March 27, 2012

#11 Canuck

No crashes for me either. The program handles massive numbers of photos easily (I do event photography) and is a joy to use.
Highly recommended.

8:57 pm - Friday, April 27, 2012

#12 Kohjb

I do get frequent crashes with ACDSee Pro 5, and it does seem almost random, but typically during some processing, like Develop or Edit, applying a special effect, etc. I’m using Windows 7. The crashes are typically BSD types, and it can happen twice in an hour.

5:49 pm - Tuesday, May 29, 2012

#13 GeorgT

Frequent crashes and very poorly implemented database make this near useless.  Too bad, I remember when this was the market maker; now it’s just another expensive piece of crappy software.

9:03 pm - Friday, June 15, 2012

#14 DaveLin

ACDSee Pro 5 is currently selling on their website for $69.99 (Offer ends August 14th, 2012).  I’ve used the trial version to manage and tag 30,000+ photos - it has gone very well.

3:43 pm - Wednesday, August 8, 2012

#15 Rajpathi

i want licene key for acdsee pro 5….MTR

4:18 pm - Saturday, November 3, 2012

#16 Santiago

Yes, ACDSee sometimes crashes, but is way more faster than lightroom and the cataloguing features are superb.  I’ve tried lightroom in each version released and I always go back to ACDSee.  But now, I will have to go to the slow Lightroom because I’m implementing Colorchecker to my workflow and I need to work with DNG. It’s a shame I can’t do mass conversion to DNG in ACDSee PRO.

2:04 pm - Saturday, February 16, 2013

#17 Roger M. Lloyd

It was certainly interesting for me to read that article. Thanks for it. I like such topics and anything that is connected to this matter. I definitely want to read more on that blog soon.really good job .... Hats off mann

6:07 am - Thursday, June 5, 2014