ACDSee has always been a
powerful image management tool for Microsoft Windows users, and the
latest version is no exception, but sometimes you need a little more
power. That's when you need to kick it up a notch and spend a
few extra bucks for the PowerPack edition. ACDSee PowerPack costs $79.99
and includes ACD Systems' FotoCanvas image-editing program and
FotoSlate package-printing software, which means you get those two extra
programs for just $15 each more than the base price.
The latest ACDSee for Windows is Version 6.0, while the Mac OS X version
appears frozen at 1.6. My guess is that many companies are afraid to
compete with Apple's free iPhoto software, so Mac heads are left
with the old, slow version. Interestingly, the interface for this Windows
version features touches that appear lifted right out of Mac OS X, so
maybe that's a harbinger of things to come.
you first launch ACDSee PowerPack 6.0 there is no indication
that you have PowerPack installed unless you click the Edit
button to see FotoCanvas or Create to see FotoSlate. Images
of the Ferrari f-1 team practicing pit stops in what looked
like organized pandemonium are displayed on a 17"
Planar LCD monitor along with a large, inset image of yours truly "kissing the bricks"
at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Photos © 2003, Joe Farace, All Rights Reserved
Any good image management software shows groups of "thumbnails"
and stores those files separately, leaving your original images unmolested
on your hard drive, CD, DVD, or wherever else they may be stored. ACDSee
PowerPack 6.0 displays thumbnails in several different ways including
slide mounts, filmstrips, tiles, icons, or as a list. Thumbnails can be
displayed in your choice of five resolutions up to 320x240, but this option
is only suitable for larger monitors. The program maintains a Master Keyword
List and lets you assign keywords to each image file so a specific photograph
can be found later.
ACDSee PowerPack 6.0 is compatible with most popular graphics file formats
including JPEG, TIFF, BMP, and PSD but choked on the raw formats popular
with most digital SLRs. For Canon's raw images, it displayed blank
thumbnails with file names, but did not display any images. ACD Systems
told me they're working on a plug-in for Nikon's and Canon's
raw files and plan to support Minolta's raw format as well. Likewise,
ACDSee PowerPack 6.0 doesn't support Olympus' ORF raw format.
So far, Adobe's Photoshop CS, a.k.a. Photoshop 8, and the Mac-only
iView MediaPro 2.0, are the only third-party software that work with ORF
and iView only displays thumbnails.
This latest version has more sorting and searching options to help you
sort and find your previous photographs using any file related data, including
description, date, or ranking. ACDSee PowerPack 6.0's Image Rating
system lets you assign a numerical rating which later helps you sort or
search to find your "selects." Right-clicking on any thumbnail
pops up a menu with different options, including Set Rating. Using "pool
ball" icons, you can apply a rating of one through five to your
images. Other new features include the ability to use ACDSee's Easy
Select and Selective Browsing features to view and locate photos from
different folders and categories.
includes an easy to use Photo Correction Wizard to fix common
problems, such as light levels, redeye, and rotation of
images to the proper orientation, such as this portrait
of 2003 Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher.
Power To The Pixels
The standard ACDSee 6.0 includes Edit Panel, an integrated photo editor
with a modest set of editing tools that entry-level users will find helpful.
PowerPack bundles FotoCanvas, which includes all the essential image editing
and correction tools but no confusing controls. While Photoshop Elements
is aimed at this same niche, Adobe's efforts to make it simple have
made the interface too complex.
FotoCanvas has a Photo Correction Wizard for fixing common problems, such
as light levels, redeye, and rotation to the proper (portrait or landscape)
orientation. Selection tools let you choose a specific area of your photograph
and change it without altering the rest, as well as blending tools and
manual controls for image detail. Funky features include the ability to
add talk and "thought" bubbles and you can apply more than
40 special effects. FotoCanvas is now compatible with Photoshop plug-ins
such as the cool Alien Skin filters.
FotoCanvas lets you make one-click corrections for color, lighting, and
sharpness, but if you prefer a hands-on approach, you can use the manual
tools for color, lighting, sharpness, and picture angle. You can adjust
shadows, mid tones, and highlights, something Photoshop CS just got around
to, as well as remove color cast. FotoCanvas lets you remove or add picture
noise or use Unsharp Mask to fix those not-quite-crisp-enough shots. As
in Photoshop, you'll find a cloning tool and color blend settings
to remove or minimize unwanted details. But let's not kid ourselves;
it's not Photoshop, but it's better than Edit Panel. What
do you want for $15?
which is part of PowerPack, lets you produce a calendar
using your own images in less than a minute.
Get Out Your Slate
ACDSee PowerPack 6.0 supports EXIF (Exchangeable Image File Format) 2.2
printing to help get better prints from home printers and has a fairly
powerful built-in print utility that lets you specify printer properties;
control printer rendering; adjust the size and position of the image;
and add headers, footers, and captions to an image. FotoSlate takes package
printing into an entirely new dimension.
ACD Systems' FotoSlate lets you print photographs in all the popular
sizes such as 4x6 and 5x7, but you can also print albums, calendars, simple
brochures, and way-cool contact sheets or use any of the 450 built-in
templates for printing to many popular paper sizes. On printers that support
borderless printing, you can print photos with or without borders. It's
fast, too: you can produce a calendar or a set of four pictures in less
than a minute. You can catalog a 500-picture photo shoot into contact
sheets in about 10 seconds, or faster with the latest computer chips,
so ACD Systems claims. If you know how agonizingly slow Photoshop makes
contact sheets, you know why I want a Mac OS X version! FotoSlate lets
you "cut" your photos into oval shapes, adding text with drop
shadows, and adding digital frames. Two insanely cool features are FotoSlate's
paper saver and a "Clear IQZ" resampling technology that ACD
Systems claims "make a 75 ppi image look like 600 ppi." Maybe
not, but it will look a heck of a lot better.
ACDSee supports color management via ICM 2.0 and ICC color profiles. Some
of my colleagues at Shutterbug might not call this true color management,
but my definition tends to be "anything that helps you make better
color prints," so it works for me.
PowerPack 6.0 lets you produce HTML slide shows to share
via the web or write to a CD/DVD as a stand-alone slide
show to view on a computer or convert into a screen saver.
So What Else Is New?
Some of ACDSee PowerPack 6.0's features include CD and DVD burning.
If you have a recordable CD or DVD drive, it's just a matter of
dumping files into the Image Basket and using the Create Disc (Create>Create
Disc) command and following the wizard through three clicks to a finished
CD or DVD. You can produce HTML slide shows to share via the web or write
to a CD/DVD as a stand-alone slide show to view on a computer or convert
into a screen saver. 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 PowerPack 6.0 lets you send images to ACD Systems' SendPix
image sharing service and store them for 30 days. SendPix will e-mail
designated recipients and let them view your albums using their favorite
web browser. An e-mail sharing plug-in supports Microsoft's 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 hard. Most importantly, there's a built-in
Back-Up and Restoration routine that allows for quick incremental back-ups
and full database back-ups and restorations.
ACDSee PowerPack 6.0 isn't quite one-stop shopping for all of your
digital imaging but it's a great start and represents an incredible
value for all its many well-integrated features.
For more information, contact ACD Systems by calling (250) 544-6700 or
by visiting their website at www.acdsystems.com.