ACDSee Ultimate 2018

ACDSee Ultimate 2018

Long before there was Adobe Lightroom, there was ACDSee.  The latest version of it is ACDSee Ultimate 2018 (just released).  I think I was using ACDSee back in 2003 when it was just ACDSee (I want to say version 5).

I started using it as a means to organize my photos, however, it does much more than that.  If you are familiar with Adobe Lightroom, ACDSee Ultimate 2018 is like Lightroom on steroids.

When Lightroom was in beta test, I signed up to beta test it.  I was lured away from ACDSee by Lightroom’s slick user interface.    While I have used Lightroom all these years, I kept my ACDSee license up to date.  This is because ACDSee has always done certain things better than Lightroom.


Disenchanted with Adobe Creative Cloud (i.e. CC), I’ve been weaning myself away from Adobe products.  Many small-time users are happy with the $120/year subscription plan, few of them see the big picture.  While I have no problem with others throwing money at Adobe, I’m not going to do it.

I’ve spelled out my reasons, which are summarized here (in order of importance to me)…

  • Security – Since CC has come out I have already been contacted by Adobe TWICE regarding a security breach that may or may not have included my account.  The last time, before Adobe contacted me, my identity theft monitoring service notified me of the breach that it DID hit my account.
  • SQA – In the software industry, this stands for Software Quality Assurance — which for Lightroom sucks.  It disappeared in LR 4 – the last decent performing Lightroom.
  • Accessibility – You can’t always get to the Internet.  There are times when an Internet failure will lock you out of CC.  If you know this is going to happen, Adobe does have a way to override the Internet subscription checks, however, it is for those times that you don’t plan ahead.  Also, using the CC for storage is always a huge risk.
  • Long-term Price – This is multifaceted:  1)  $120 a year is $360 over 3 years.  A perpetual licensed product can typically be used for 3 years before the user feels they must upgrade.  Their biggest competitors are under $100 for a perpetual license making CC about $260 more expensive.  2) It’s a tax expense, and not an investment.  3)  There is no guarantee as to what CC might cost in the future.
  • Extortion – I stole this from another photographer.  It’s basically the same extortion tactic drug pushers use.  Get you roped in, and keep the money flowing.

The ACDSee Ultimate 2018 Alternative

I have seen many alternatives for Lightroom, and I own several of them.  Here’s the deal…

I’ve yet to see anything come close to ACDSee Ultimate (or even Lightroom).  ACDSee Ultimate and Lightroom are the only two in the running right now.  Corel’s Aftershot pulls a close 3rd place.

Before you go and ask, “What about Adobe Bridge?”, you have to have Adobe CC to get Bridge.  Besides, LIGHTROOM IS BRIDGE!!!

I’m going to repeat that… LIGHTROOM IS BRIDGE…

… and add this… Lightroom is Bridge with a different interface.  And, since you have to get LR & PS together as part of the Photographers CC package, you might as well use Lightroom (unless you really like the Bridge interface.)

In my opinion, the LR interface looks nicer than ACDSee.  ACDSee’s interface is somewhere between LR and Bridge, but that’s a moot point in my opinion.

Lightroom vs ACDSee

I’ll let this chart (click on the link) show the features of ACDSee and Lightroom (plus a few others.)


ACDSee Ultimate 2018 will cost you about $150.  That’s about 15 months worth of Adobe CC, but over 3 years, that’s a $210 savings.  Upgrades cost about $80.

If you don’t need the features of Ultimate, you can go with  ACDSee Pro 2018 for $100 and $60 for future upgrades.  Or, ACDSee Standard 2018 for $80 and $40 for the upgrades.

Here’s a comparison chart of the different ACDSee products.

The Big “Why?”

I’ve been asked by other professionals, “Why haven’t I heard about ACDSee?”

That’s the big “why?”

All I can say is the folks at ACDSee need to step up their marketing.  Product wise, they have one heck of a good product in ACDSee.  I recently ran another competitor’s software just to do a comparison.  The processing results were not nearly as good as ACDSee, and the features weren’t there.  Yet, MOST professional photographers have heard of this competitor.

While I may not make a huge impact, since I can’t upgrade LR 6 to the next version of LR without jumping on the cloud, I’m going back to ACDSee.