ACDSee Photo Editor 2008 Review

by Reads (9,119)
  • Pros

    • Ribbon-style interface
    • Before & after filter previews
    • Solid tutorials
  • Cons

    • No task wizards
    • Dismal automatic filters
    • No actual web export options

By: Dustin Sklavos

Moving into part three in our series of consumer photo and image editor reviews, we bring you ACDSee Photo Editor 2008. Going through these, I feel like my relative neophyte status with consumer image editing software (I cut my teeth on Photoshop but beyond that have little experience) is helping out a lot. These don’t inspire the rage that consumer-grade video editors do, but they do pave the way for pleasant surprises.

Such is the case with ACDSee’s entrant, Photo Editor 2008, and I must preface this review in saying that this is the least expensive competitor thus far, coming in at just $39.99. I must then doubly preface this by saying the price tag is great, because you can use the extra money to buy yourself a larger monitor. I use a 27″ Dell with a native resolution of 1920×1200, and I feel like more than one or two steps down the resolution ladder and this software might feel…not necessarily cramped, but certainly less flexible and enjoyable to use.

EASE OF USE

ACDSee Photo Editor 2008's relative ease of use is merely average, based on my experience with other image editing software. This due to the presence of a great user interface balanced with a noticeable and unwelcome absence of task wizards.

ACDSee Photo Editor 2008 first open screen

The first time I ran ACDSee Photo Editor 2008, the software asked if I wanted to set any preferences. I just let the program set them automatically, as I'm sure most consumers would. While using Photo Editor, I never found any great need to make a journey to the "Preferences" menu. Actually, I never really had to visit the menu bar in general.

ACDSee Photo Editor 2008  work area

I was able to avoid the menu bar because Photo Editor's work area uses a system analogous to Microsoft's initially-resisted-but-ultimately-embraced ribbon menu layout. To the right of the menu bar are all the basic functions Open, Save, Close, Copy, Paste, and so on and while the icons are a bit smallish, they are at least easily recognizable. The bar directly below these functions is the real ribbon, and whenever you click an option here, the bottom-most bar changes to display whatever ranges of tools and functions that you selected. I'm a big fan of this layout. It's logical, intuitive, and easy to get into.

ACDSee Photo Editor's "bin" boasts a much more intelligent design than any of the other image editing software we've reviewed. When you load an image, Photo Editor opens it in the work area and deposits the image in the bin, leaving you a choice of places from which to select images or perform batch functions. Thus, ACDSee Photo Editor 2008 is mercifully not married to its bin the way other programs have proven to be.

ACDSee Photo Editor 2008 how to dialog

ACDSee elected to do something similar to Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 with their How To pane on the right hand side, which hangs out above the available effects and the Object Palette (also known as the list of image layers).

ACDSee Photo Editor 2008 not quite a wizard

The How To dialog is a series of tutorials, but not quite wizards, that will explains the function of each of Photo Editor 2008's features and offers instructions on how to use them. Depending on the step listed, the How To dialog will outline the specific menu options you'll want to use. I'm not 100% sold on this method over Corel's, but it has its own advantages, chief among them being how it familiarizes the user with the flexibility of the software.

FEATURES

On the subject of ACDSee Photo Editor 2008's flexibility: It offers the same basic feature set as the competition, with a wealth of effects and filters that can be added to your images.

ACDSee Photo Editor 2008 lens flare

I started with the filter any one of my college professors would jam bamboo spikes under my fingernails for using: The lens flare. Really, everyone not named J. J. Abrams should avoid this filter at all costs. What I do want to point out here is how the software handles the filter application. When you select the filter, it opens a new maximized window that contains a "before" image above and an "after" image below, so you can see one-to-one how your changes will turn out. This is where users can really benefit from a large screen with high resolution, as this window demands a lot of real estate and is only as effective as your display.

In the right-hand pane, the top features a sort of palette a guided method of showing you slight tweaks that can be automatically chosen while the bottom allows more fine-grain control. I really like this method of control, so much so that I kind of wish I saw it more frequently. It's very user-friendly and lets you move as quickly or as slowly as you like.

ACDSee Photo Editor 2008 color balance

The color balance filter is another example of smart, user-friendly design. You can see how the choices it gives you alter the color in specific ways. Yet by default it's not terribly subtle (you can actually tell it to be more subtle in that palette, by the way), and illustrates one major problem I do have with this software.

ACDSee's automatic filters red eye removers, color balancers, and so on can range from "in the ballpark" to woefully inaccurate. In an image like the one I used, which probably just needs the whites and blacks crushed a bit, all of the automatic filters absolutely mangled it, overexposing it and washing it out (or worse). The automatic filters are not ACDSee's strong suit and the informed consumer would be better off playing with the filters manually.

ACDSee Photo Editor 2008 save to web

Another place where Photo Editor 2008 falls far short of the competition is in directly uploading images online to Flickr or even another, less relevant online service you can't do it. Photo Editor 2008's Save To Web option is what you see pictured above, working more of that great before-and-after mojo by showing you what your saved image will look like based on the quality and format you save it in. The problem is the Save To Web function doesn't actually save the file to the web; it just saves it to your hard drive in a web-friendly format. Adobe Photoshop CS4 has something similar, which it calls Save For Web, which makes more sense even if it doesn't actually include the Flickr uploading we've come to expect.<-->

CONCLUSION

Each time I start working on one of these reviews, I dread it just a little bit. Then I get into the software, realize how simple it is, and start picking up the nuances. It’s here that I really appreciate some of the smarter decisions individual developers make, and I’ve got to be honest — I’m a big, big fan of what ACDSee has done in Photo Editor 2008.

For performing photo editing and touch-ups, ACDSee’s decision to employ a ribbon-style interface was a smart play, and the before-and-after windows for effects and filters are fantastic. At the same time, the tutorial style isn’t necessarily my favorite, but it does have its own merits and will conscientiously bring the user up to the level of the software.

My biggest beef with Photo Editor 2008 is probably the lack of web features compared to the competition. There are no wizards for making albums or slideshows. In fact, Photo Editor 2008 really has no wizards at all. In that respect, the software might seem pretty spare.

However, at $39.99 — well below the other software reviewed — you might be willing to overlook ACDSee Photo Editor 2008’s shortcomings. I know I am.

PROS

  • Ribbon-style interface
  • Before & after filter previews
  • Solid tutorials

CONS

  • No task wizards
  • Dismal automatic filters
  • No actual web export options



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