ACDSee Pro 2.0 is an updated photo-management application that offers more organising features and added flexibility with RAW files, but you'll need a powerful PC.

What should you expect from photo-management software such as ACDSee Pro? If you're dealing with thousands of photos and other multimedia files, the application has to be fast and incredibly efficient - capable of organising, finding and processing photos in as few steps as possible.

The latest update of ACDSee Pro - version 2.0 - adds new features to handle such tasks well, provided that your PC has enough horsepower.

The first time we launched ACDSee Pro 2.0, it catalogued all the photos, videos, and other multimedia files on my hard drive. (As with most photo-management applications, this process can take a while if you have a sizable library.)

Using the metadata from your photos, ACDSee Pro 2.0 automatically categorises them into folders that you can browse chronologically. You can also browse them by event, year, month, day or photo calendar.

ACDSee Pro 2.0 features a look that has been modernised by adding a gray and black skin to the workspace. The improved Windows Explorer-like user interface shows your folders on the top left, a photo preview at the bottom left, thumbnails in the middle, and properties on the right. As in past versions, the workspace in ACDSee Pro 2.0 is customisable.

You can add, move, or remove certain elements to suit your specific workflow. For example, we removed the Preview window, as we found it unnecessary because ACDSee Pro 2.0 shows a slick new pop-up preview when you mouse over an image.

ACDSee Pro 2.0 gives you plenty of options for organising your images or narrowing a search, and it supplies multiple points of entry in achieving those tasks. For example, you can use the new Group By drop-down menu to view pictures by author, camera, one or more keywords (ACDSee Pro 2.0 adds multiword support), and other settings.

Or, you can use the new "Filter By" option to sort pictures by user-applied rating, tagged/untagged, or user-applied categories such as people or places. The Organize window's Auto Categories list has yet another new way to sort photos - by metadata. In addition, you can rate your photos and filter them based on those ratings.

Also improved in ACDSee Pro 2.0 is the handling of RAW images. The application now allows you to rotate and crop in one step, edit shadows and highlights, and export to multiple formats and resolutions.

ACDSee Pro 2.0 was relatively speedy when we browsed through my image library, but performance slowed to a crawl when we edited 2Mp-size or higher-resolution photos. ACDSee Pro 2.0 choked when we tried to edit RAW images that ranged in file size from 12MB to 15MB each.

Our 3GHz Pentium 4 CPU should have been fast enough, but apparently our system didn't have enough RAM for ACDSee Pro 2.0's liking (although any good imaging application will need lots of RAM); ACDSee Pro 2.0's system requirements do list 1GB of RAM as recommended.

With the ideal hardware, the ACDSee Pro 2.0's wide range of photo-editing tools becomes more tolerable to use. For example, you can adjust exposure or enhance the shadows and highlights of backlit photos, and see the effects almost instantaneously.

(ACDSee Pro 2.0 doesn't show before-and-after comparisons, though - and such a feature would have been useful.) You can then apply your edits (up to 13 operations) to multiple photos using the batch processor.

ACDSee Pro 2.0 writes your edits to a database rather than the original files, so they're nondestructive. You also get a rudimentary Select tool, although it doesn't go beyond a rectangular shape.

ACDSee Pro 2.0: Specs

  • Intel Pentium III/AMD Athlon processor or equivalent (Intel Pentium 4/AMD Athlon XP or equivalent recommended)
  • 512MB RAM (1GB RAM recommended)
  • 100MB free hard drive space (1GB recommended)
  • high colour display adaptor at 1024x768 resolution (1280x1024 recommended)
  • CD/DVD burner
  • Windows 2000/XP/Vista
  • Internet Explorer 5.0 (6.0 recommended)
  • Microsoft DirectX 9.0
  • QuickTime 6.0
  • Ghostscript 8.0
  • Windows Media Player 9.0 or later
  • Intel Pentium III/AMD Athlon processor or equivalent (Intel Pentium 4/AMD Athlon XP or equivalent recommended)
  • 512MB RAM (1GB RAM recommended)
  • 100MB free hard drive space (1GB recommended)
  • high colour display adaptor at 1024x768 resolution (1280x1024 recommended)
  • CD/DVD burner
  • Windows 2000/XP/Vista
  • Internet Explorer 5.0 (6.0 recommended)
  • Microsoft DirectX 9.0
  • QuickTime 6.0
  • Ghostscript 8.0
  • Windows Media Player 9.0 or later

OUR VERDICT

ACDSee Pro 2.0 is a good application for photographers and graphic designers who use the Windows platform, and the improvements in the app's core features and interface have made this product even better than the original ACDSee Pro. At £69 inc VAT, it's also much cheaper than Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, which costs £147 inc VAT. If you don't have the latest and greatest PC, however, you'll have to live with sluggish performance, especially in editing.