One of the few problems with
digital image capture is you tend to shoot more photographs than you otherwise
might if you had to pay for all that film and processing. Oh sure, I know
that nobody's giving away CompactFlash or SD/MMC cards, but as the
cost per MB for media continues to drop, we tend to keep shooting until
the card's full or the battery's drained. The downside of
this overshooting is when you return home from that special event; you
have more images than you know what to do with. When you've got
to sift through megabytes of images, you need a power tool such as ACD
Systems' ACDSee 6.0.
ACDSee's interface is customizable, less cluttered
than previous versions. Here's a screen shot of
the 17" LCD screen with the thumbnails displayed
at their default size (120x90), which is as small as you
can go for critical viewing. If EXIF camera data is displayed
only 20 images at a time can be viewed. One alternative
is to click the Full Screen icon that fills your screen
with thumbnails. Photos © 2003, Joe Farace All Rights
Imagebase To The
Any good image browser of image database displays groups of "thumbnails"
or small pictures of the photographs, and stores them separately, leaving
your photographs untouched. ACDSee 6.0 lets you view thumbnails in many
ways including traditional slide mounts, filmstrips, tiles, icons, or
simply as a list. Thumbnails can be displayed in five resolutions up
to 320x240 pixels, but the largest option is only suitable if you have
a large (20" or bigger) monitor. The software lets you maintain
a Master Keyword List and you can assign keywords to a specific thumbnail
so it can be found later. ACDSee 6.0 has an increased number of sorting
and searching options to help you sort and find previous photographs
by using any file related data, including description, date, or ranking.
(More about ranking later.)
Next, a good imagebase program should be able to read different graphics
file formats, and while ACDSee 6.0 easily displays most popular ones
including JPEG, TIFF, PSD it choked on some of the raw formats that
are increasingly popular for digital capture. When opening a folder
of Canon raw images made with the Canon EOS D60, it displayed blank
thumbnails with the file names but no images.
all you want to do is a little image tweaking, ACDSee 6.0's
Edit Panel may be all you need. For this JPEG file of a
flower made during the NECCC (New England Camera Club Council)
conference in Amherst, Massachusetts, I just wanted to adjust
levels, but I could have also controlled brightness and
contrast using Edit Panel's exposure tool. If you
want to get more serious, order ACDSee's Power Pack,
which costs $79.99 and includes the FotoCanvas photo editing
ACD Systems told me "a
plug-in is required to display thumbnails of raw files from Nikon and
Canon cameras" and went on to say they are working on one for Nikon
and a re-launch of support for Canon raw. ACDSee 6.0 does not currently
support the .ORF format Olympus use for the raw files shot by its E-1
digital SLR, but they told me they are looking into support for Minolta
and Olympus raw formats. As I write this, Adobe Photoshop CS, a.k.a. Photoshop
8, is the only third-party software that reads Olympus raw files, although
iView Media Pro displays .ORF thumbs.
Alas Poor Jobs, I knew
The latest version of ACDSee for Microsoft Windows is Version 6.0, while
the Mac OS X version remains stuck at 1.6. The excuse many software companies
give for not developing a Mac OS X version is Apple's free iPhoto,
but ACDSee surpasses iPhoto in capabilities, so Mac heads are left with
an old, slow version. This new version seems sluggish compared to the
last one, especially when rotating a large number of files into the proper
orientation. On the plus side, the interface for the Windows version is
cleaner, easier to follow than before and feature touches that appear
lifted right out of Mac OS X.
are slide shows, and then there are slide shows, and you
never know when you have to whip one together quickly. While
your ACDSee presentation may not win any awards you can
have something on the screen in a minute.
ACDSee 6.0's most unique
feature is an Image Rating system that lets you assign numerical ratings
to photographs that can help you sort or search to find "selects"
later. Right-clicking any thumbnail pops up a menu that has options, including
Set Rating, and you can apply a ranking of one through five, using different
"pool ball" icons for each of your images. Other new features
include the ability to use the Selective Browsing feature that helps you
view and locate photos in different folders and categories.
Cool Stuff For Newbies
If your computer has an external or built-in recordable CD or DVD drive,
ACDSee 6.0 supports CD and DVD Burning by dragging files into an "Image
Basket" at the bottom of the screen and applying the Create Disc
(Create>Create Disc) command. Just follow the wizard and after three
clicks you'll have a finished CD or DVD. Edit Panel is an integrated
photo editor with a modest set of editing tools that entry-level users
will find helpful and is accessed by just double-clicking a thumbnail.
6.0 provides multitudinous ways to flip your portrait shaped
images so they are indeed "portraits," such
as this one made on the runway during Fashion Week in New
York City. A preview window helps make sure you select the
correct one, but if you have more than a 100 images, be
prepared to wait as the software individually flips each
one to the proper orientation.
Digital newcomers will also
appreciate the Three Step Acquire Wizard that automatically finds pictures
and imports image files from digital cameras, scanners, or CDs. ACDSee
6.0 lets you send images to ACD's SendPix image sharing service
and you can store them for 30 days. SendPix will e-mail designated recipients,
such as Grandma or Uncle Bernie, and let them view your albums using the
web browser of their choice.
There's an e-mail sharing plug-in that supports Microsoft Outlook,
Outlook Express, and Eudora, but if you're the least bit e-mail
savvy, clicking Microsoft's "paper clip" in Outlook
isn't all that difficult. The program lets you produce HTML slide
shows to share on the web or you can write stand-alone slide shows to
CD/DVD or make screen savers. ACDSee 6.0 supports EXIF 2.2 Print (Exchangeable
Image File Format) to help you get better prints from your ink jet printer.
Most importantly, there is a built-in Back Up and Restoration routine
that allows for quick incremental backups and full database backups and
restorations. Oh yeah, did I mention it does screen captures, too? Maybe
not as extensively as my long-time Windows favorite SnagIt, but it's
more than adequate for non-publishing use.
can print images using ACDSee's built-in print utility.
You can even specify printer properties, control printer
rendering, adjust the size and position of the image, and
add headers, footers, and captions to an image. You can
also create and print contact sheets that are a lot cooler
than Photoshop's, complete with headers, footers,
and captions for each image.
If ACDSee 6.0 has any faults
at all, other than the lack of a contemporaneous Mac OS version, it's
that there's so much here, like an integrated calendar, that it
takes a while for you to acquaint yourself with all of its many features.
Take your time, don't dump your entire image collection in, learn
how to use all the features and you will quickly learn that even though
ACDSee is Version 6.0, it's number one for many amateur photographers.
ACDSee 6.0 costs $49.99 and you can upgrade from 5.0 for $39.99. The ACDSee
Power Pack costs $79.99 and includes the FotoCanvas photo editing program
and FotoSlate package printmaking software for producing calendars, contact
sheets, and other cool output with preformatted layouts.
of the coolest features of the ACDSee 6.0 is the ability
to assign ratings from one to five for your images. This
will help you later when you want to see all of your best
images together instead of having them mixed in with the
"dogs." Since ACD uses a pool ball icon, I would
have preferred to see 10 ratings so users could be more
nuanced, but hey, that gives them something to do in the