ACDSee Pro 5 Review

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

At first ACDSee Pro 5 looks very simplistic and in general terms, if something is hard work, it's more difficult to use. However, the more we go into this program, the more we see that it's extremely comprehensive yet still a dream to use. So let's look at some of the new features.

Well, it turns out that some of the features that we mentioned before are going to get a second mention here because they're new to Pro 5, such as split-toning and dodge & burn. There's also an interesting new sharpen tool. ACDSee call it smarter sharpening and we can see why. You can make a mask of the areas you want to sharpen and take it from there. The lasso tool is very intuitive. Our sample image had areas out of focus and the magic wand tool selected areas within the subject even though it could have bled over.

There are a number of preset digital filters to create special effects in ACDSee Pro 5. It's likely that the lomo filter has been added because of photographers' current obsession with everything retro.  There's also a collage effect which breaks your picture down into a number of separate images as though they've been put together in a collage. The Orton Effect filter has a bright, ethereal effect to the pictures. However, this is easily done in Photoshop.

ACDSee Pro 5File Conversion

We did have some performance issues with the system taking time to load in some tools such as the new sharpen feature. There was some lag when dragging the preview window around too.
We had Photoshop open at the same in our test so that we could process the screengrabs and having both systems open certainly slowed ACDSee Pro 5. We closed everything down and restarted Pro 5 and this did help to a degree. It's a shame that you can only have one thing running at a time, though. The word “Pro” suggests that it's for professionals and they would have multiple things going on at once. Still, maybe our computer was an issue so we can't really give a definitive opinion on it.

We imported a standard  folder of around 140 pictures which were a mixture of RAW (approx 20Mb) and JPEGs (approx 5Mb) and it only took about three minutes to complete the action. There's also a batch export and batch develop option at the top of the preview window in the Manage section. You have to select the pictures you wish to process first or the lettering won't highlight. A traditional batch export window opens to select your folders etc. The same amount of pictures took around 10 minutes to export.

We also processed the 70 RAW files from the original folder which took around 15 minutes which we don't think is too bad. We love the option of multiple file formats that the files can be transferred to and actually setting up the process is really easy.


While we like the layout of ACDSee Pro 5, it reeks of copy-cat designs. We recognised a few other programs that have a similar approach or layout. But then does it matter? Just because the design is unoriginal doesn't mean it's ineffective. In fact, we think that the way that Pro 5 does things is a bit better than other programs. There's no swanky graphics in the menus. Instead, the simpler graphics will save space and improve processing times which is all good.

We did have some problems, occasionally ACDSee Pro 5 would crash on us and we lost any project we were working on. However, we generally had multiple programs open at the time to write this review and process screengrabs so maybe it's our computer that couldn't cope. Either way, it was annoying - especially after we'd been working on a picture for some time.

Once you've installed ACDSee Pro 5, it will have a tendency to take over the image operations of your computer. If you open a picture, instead of the Windows viewer, ACDSee have muscled in and taken over that. In fact, we found that it started to do that simply by downloading the program. We'd not installed it and it was already taking over. That's not necessarily a bad thing, it's just a little disconcerting to think that the program is invading every part of your workflow.

We're impressed with the features available in ACDSee Pro 5. The editing capabilities are top notch being easy to use and highly precise. Processing times of batch process or RAW conversion is fast and the afore-mentioned familiar reflection of design made it a breeze to use. For the price it's a decent program to add to your toolkit. It's certainly cheaper than the full version of Photoshop and is around the same as Lightroom 3. Be careful when ordering on the site because it automatically adds 40Gb online storage for £15 and download protection for £4.99. It takes the £150 product up to £170 without even asking, so only get it if you think you'll need it.

4 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Features 4
Ease-of-use 4
Value for money 4

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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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