ACDSee’s fully-featured software Photo Studio 7 package is now available for Mac operators and it comes with excellent DAM capabilities. Amy-Leigh Atkins takes a closer look. WORDS & PICTURES AMY-LEIGH ATKINS

FOR MANY YEARS ACDSee has been one of the major players in the field of software dedicated to image viewing and organising, but many of its packages have only ever been Windows-compatible. From the point of view of professional photographers, of course, a Mac version is really useful, and so it’s really good to see the powerful and fast new Photo Studio 7 package available for those working on this platform.

This formidably well-featured image management and editing package, which is currently on offer at a cut-price $59.95 instead of its usual $99.99, features a clean and familiar looking user interface so that any knowledge the user might have of other software is easily transferable to this one, ensuring that it’s super easy to use.

One of the most important first things to note from a DAM perspective is that this software doesn’t use the import method to view and organise files: instead, they’re easily accessible via a search through folders, and are utilised from their original source. I have to say that this is one of my favourite features of the program, as it really helps to speed up post-production processes for the user since it eliminates time spent having to wait for preview file rendering.

This in turn means you can jump from one set of images to another with the ease of having them all readily available. The result of this is that image viewing becomes incredibly fast, with zero load or lag times, which is seriously impressive. Even in full size image mode you can toggle right and left between images and it’s instantly available on screen to view in great detail. 

There are four modes in Photo Studio 7 that enable you to tackle different jobs.

MANAGE – where your file organising takes place using a grid view.

VIEW – where you can view images full size, enabling you to see more detail.

DEVELOP – where you can edit Raw images.

365 – a paid-for service ($89 a year for a 50GB plan) where you can share and store files to the Cloud, plus get on-hand support. This software covers everything required within the average professional photographer’s workflow and it has to be said that it does it all very well. I also love the fact that it’s fully customisable, and you can even create your own keyboard shortcuts to make processes even easier.

CHOOSE YOUR OPTIONS

In the Manage mode organisational options are almost limitless. You can sort, rate, add colour labels and tags, and set categories and keywords. Quite simply, whichever way you prefer to organise your images, it’s perfectly possible to do so with this software.

Photo Studio 7 also includes features to accelerate organisational processes, such as comparing images, finding duplicates and advancing, copying and pasting metadata. The metadata options utilise the IPTC format, which is the one most widely used because of its universal acceptance among photographers, distributors, news organisations, archivists, and developers. You can also create batch workflows to make organising easier and more automated.

I particularly found the comparing tool to be very slick and, at the touch of a button, you can isolate images for side-by-side comparison. This function will work with a number of images, so you’re not restricted to viewing just two at a time, which is all too common in some competing programs. You can also create special items folders, where you can store and retrieve certain types of files, such as video clips, PDF files or unlabelled images, for easy file management optimisation. You can search using your filters or keywords or just simply use the previous search term function for ease of finding specific images.

In the Develop mode the Raw image processing capabilities are extensive, with all the necessary tools needed to edit most files. It protects images with non-destructive tools for a seamless final product. Here you can colour correct, balance and control light with light EQ, use clone and heal repair tools, adjustment brushes, apply radial and gradient filters, crop and correct distortion with geometry tools and then create different creative looks using tone curves and the cross-processing tools.

Down the line I would love to see ACDSee introduce the legendary colour wheels tool that’s available in Photo Studio Ultimate/Pro to this version for Mac users, as that’s a real strength and it gives the greatest amount of control over colour grading images. Of course it’s fair to say that the same can be achieved using the tone curves in Photo Studio 7, but it’s just not quite as easy to implement for most users.

I’m a particular fan of the undo/redo toggle that’s provided in this package for easy back and forth if needed in editing, and you can also create your own presets to save and make future edits more automated and consistent. Meanwhile the smart brush brings the possibility of precision editing for really detailed work, which a great tool to use. When you’ve finished editing you can save your images, having control over the quality and colour space to suit your needs.

ABOVE LEFT: Develop mode.
ABOVE: Compare images.

VERDICT

THE SPEED AND execution of all the tools found within Photo Studio 7 is hugely impressive and with the easy-to-navigate clean interface it’s a real pleasure to use. The DAM capabilities of this package are also formidable, and if that’s what you’re looking for then this is one of the best solutions around, and all for a killer price.

Overall, the software is well worth the investment – particularly now, with the reduced-price offer that’s out there – and it represents a great alternative to subscription-based software. In short, it’s a no brainer and you can even try before you buy just to be totally sure, using the free trial that can be found on ACDSee’s website.

More information:

 acdsee.com

Photo Studio 7 DAM Capabilities:
youtube.com/watch?v=cxjIbGXALIs

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