A natural by-product of the boom in digital photography is having to sit through yet more tedious photos taken by a snap-happy relative. For without the expense of film processing, people are taking more pictures than ever before. Unsurprisingly, a little cottage industry in the software market has sprung up, with tools that either edit the photos or organise them. Or, in the case of ACDSee 8, both.
Now we’d by lying if we didn’t immediately declare that the program’s insistence on product activation didn’t get up our nose – ACDSystems is hardly Microsoft or Adobe, after all – but our mood lightened when we got to grips with the software. For while it’s not our favourite digital photography application, there are real merits here.
The program basically mixes in several tricks. Firstly, it helps you bring in your images, be it from external sources or via a swift check of your drives. Then it comes up with ways to organise them. It can put them in a database them for you, for instance, which means you can then search your images when you’re looking for certain shots. Or you have the option to use special folders to hold pictures, or sort them into categories. Again, all of these are easily queried.
It’s also straightforward to browse through your images, thanks to a sensibly and cohesively structured selection of windows, and there are plenty of tools to help you share your photos. Topping off the deal are some fairly standard photo editing tools that allow you to tackle the usual selection of enhancements. It’s hardly Photoshop, but it’ll suit 70 percent of the people 70 percent of the time.
The program hangs together suitably well, is little trouble to use, and is generally good at what it does. But it never excels. It never seems to offer a useful feature that you’ve not seen somewhere else – and done better, in some cases – and it’s not really the kind of application you’d play with to whittle away the time. It’s a tool to do a job, which it does well, but unlike Photoshop Elements, for instance, there’s little incentive to spend much time with it once you’ve done what you need.
A harsh reason to knock a product perhaps, but don’t forget that this area of the market is increasingly bustling with rival applications, a handful of which simply sit ahead of ACDSee 8 in the queue. For while the program is generally sound, and makes a good fist of giving you all you need under one roof, it’s ultimately a mid-table performer.
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