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Is ACDSee Ultimate worth it?

Is ACDSee Ultimate worth it compared to other photo editors

Compared to many photo editors, ACDSee Ultimate is worth it. Despite costing less than a two-year subscription to Lightroom, ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate delivers outstanding photo editing and world-class photo management.

Yet, ACDSee Ultimate faces steep competition in the form of its slightly cheaper sibling, ACDSee Professional. In fact, ACDSee Professional is so good that it is the better buy for many. But what exactly is the difference between ACDSee Ultimate and Professional, and which is right for you?

Table of Contents

What is ACDSee Photo Studio

As all-in-one photo studios, both ACDSee Ultimate and Professional seamlessly integrate world-class photo management with top-tier photo editing.

And for the last 3 years, ACDSee Ultimate is my go-to photo editor thanks to its speedy operation, excellent interface, and powerful tools.

Either ACDSee Professional or Ultimate is outstanding for Photo Management

Both Ultimate and Professional offer facial recognition-powered photo management and the latest raw editing tools such as the tone and color wheels.

If you would like to know more, read my ACDSee Ultimate review.

Is ACDSee Ultimate worth the money?

Even at full price, ACDSee Ultimate is great value compared to Capture One Pro and Adobe Lightroom. On the other hand, ACDSee Professional is somewhat of a bargain.

Since Adobe Lightroom is subscription-only, I based this price comparison on a 3-year lifecycle. Whether you upgrade more or less frequently than 3 years depends on how often you seek the latest functionality or compatibility with the newest cameras.

Also, I should point out that these prices exclude discounts. For example, Capture One Pro can often be had with a 20% discount. As I write this, both ACDSee Ultimate and Professional are half-price.

In contrast, the deals for Adobe’s Lightroom are infrequent and less attractive. If you want to save a few bucks and be notified of the latest deals, subscribe to my weekly newsletter.

Is ACDSee worth it for special effects

Whilst I cannot praise ACDSee Professional or Ultimate enough, I recommend neither for special effects.

ACDSee does have one-click editing but other photo editors do it better

Although ACDSee Ultimate and Professional has HDR, it’s pretty poor compared to Affinity Photo. And for single-click power editing, nothing touches Luminar AI.

On the other hand, ACDSee is superior for photo management, discrete editing, and speed, making it a more productive tool for everyday use.

ACDSee Ultimate vs Professional

Although ACDSee Professional has almost everything Ultimate does, it does not have layers.

Most raw editors, including the one packaged with Ultimate and Professional, write your adjustments directly to your photo. On the other hand, layer-based photo editors, such as the one included in Ultimate, enable you to contain your adjustments to layers.

The Outstanding Develop Tab. No layers though.

The immediate benefit of adjustment layers is that your original photo remains intact, no matter how many adjustments you make.

Furthermore, you can blend multiple adjustment layers to create unique effects. And if you wish to remove or edit an adjustment, you can do so without affecting the rest of the edit.

In addition to adjustment layers, Ultimate also has text and shape layers. If you are looking to mix a little graphic design with your photography, ACDSee Ultimate is of exceptional value.

Only ACDSee Ultimate gives you text and layers

As much as I like layers, simple photo editing has become so good that they are not quite as necessary as they once were. On the other hand, I consider layers critical for graphic design.

Conclusion: Is ACDSee Ultimate worth it

Compared to other photo editors, ACDSee is definitely worth the money. However, most of Ultimate’s critical functionality is available for less money in ACDSee Professional.

Of course, ACDSee Ultimate has layers, and this presents some creative opportunities not available to non-layer-based raw editors such as ACDSee Professional. And thanks to text layers, ACDSee Ultimate is up for a little graphic design.

The View tab is excellent for QA

If you couldn’t care less about layer-based editing or graphic design, there’s no reason to buy ACDSee Ultimate. Not only is ACDSee Professional cheaper, but it also has the same photo management and raw editing feature set as Ultimate. In other words, it’s damn good.

Whether ACDSee Ultimate is worth it compared to other photo editors is less straightforward. Having used the big three, I find ACDSee nicer to use than Lightroom and Capture One Pro. That being said, I really like Capture One Pro’s custom tabs, and Lightroom’s color science is glorious. Of course, both are a matter of personal preference.

As for cost, ACDSee Ultimate is much cheaper than both but not as cheap as ACDSee Professional.

In researching this post, it has become clear to me that ACDSee Professional marks the point of diminishing returns as you get so much for US$150 and so little more thereafter.

However, Ultimate’s Layer-based editing and potential for graphic design will take you to a creative place that Professional, Capture One Pro, and Lightroom cannot.

Therefore, if you are looking for an all-in-one photo suite, Ultimate is definitely worth it. But, if you can get by without layers and graphics design, ACDSee Professional delivers phenomenal value.

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