Now in its 12th major release, Photoshop is essentially synonymous with image editing for photographers and creatives. From beginning to end, it’s as comprehensive a program as youcan get for working with images, and each new release sets the bar for other image-editing software to keep up with.
With a price point that hovers just below $700, however, many photographers find the almost overwhelming capabilities of Photoshop to be an expensive bullet to bite, especially when so many of the basic features that they need are available through other options that are as capable as they are fun to use.
With new approaches to the classic workflows of image editing and interface designs that offer ease of use paired with complex abilities, these programs are much more cost-effective software solutions, offering many of the traditional tools of Photoshop while addressing the disadvantages of the program. Many photographers will want the all-encompassing power of Photoshop, but there are many good alternatives to consider.
Unlike Photoshop, which has a complex workflow when working between Adobe Bridge for browsing, Adobe Camera Raw for working with unedited RAW images and Photoshop itself for image editing, ACDSee Pro 4 concentrates on keeping your workflow minimal for working through lots of pictures quickly and effectively.
The interface of ACDSee Pro 4 is built to follow the logical sequential steps of image management for large groups of files, with a workflow streamlined into four customizable modes for working through images: Manage, View, Process and Online. Files aren’t imported, but rather they’re referenced in your library, which means that you can start working on photos almost immediately, and you also can leave them on unattached drives and memory cards in order to work with them later.
Other tools in ACDSee Pro make it much faster in some ways to use than Photoshop, like the Quick Search tool that allows you to retrieve images by date, event, location and other metadata. You can use ACDSee Pro to organize nonphoto files, and the image-editing suite has many of the same image-processing tools as Photoshop for perfecting exposure, color, sharpness and more.
Output to the web is exceedingly simple, with integrated uploading to a free ACDSee Online account, Facebook, Flickr, SmugMug, Twitter, Zenfolio or FTP accounts. ACDSee Pro also is available in a long-awaited Mac edition. List Price: $169 (ACDSee Pro for Mac); $249 (ACDSee Pro 4 for Windows).