Because their suite of products is so vast, they also offer subscription-based plans where you can get a range of software for a monthly fee. I'm trying to move away from this subscription based model, so this is less appealing. But the option is there for those who like this kind of system.
To see exactly how well AC9 works as a RAW conversion programme, I will be comparing unaltered Tiffs exported from AC9 against Olympus Viewer 3 Tiff files. The original RAW files are Olympus .orf's from an OM-D E-M5 MkII. I've already compared the same files with Adobe's Lightroom CC and Corel's AfterShot Pro 3 (see previous posts) and found the Olympus Viewer 3 (OV3) files to be superior (IMHO).
|ACDSee Pro 9 Tiff on the left and Olympus Viewer 3 Tiff on the right. Not much in it really?|
|ACDSee Pro 9 Tiff on left, Olympus Viewer 3 Tiff on right.|
|Colour rendition with unedited 16bit Tiff files from all 4 RAW conversion programmes|
Corel Aftershot Pro 3 is better, although still not as good as the OV3 file. The files are quite 'soft' (you can even see this from the example above), and have a very definite red/yellow 'cast' in all the images I processed. It was as if the software struggled to get the white balance right in all the images.
Of all the RAW conversion programmes I've tested so far, ACDSee Pro 9 is the clear winner. In fact, when I compare it to the Olympus Viewer 3 'master' file, I actually think I prefer the ACDSee Pro 9 image! It has exceptional colour quality and image definition - especially considering it's a straight, unedited conversion. I'm very impressed with ACDSee Pro 9's RAW processing capabilities, far and above the likes of Adobe's Lightroom. It's also a fairly powerful, yet intuitive programme, with a very good UI.
I have about 6 months left on my 'student' subscription to Adobe's entire Creative Suite, after which the price skyrockets to beyond my budget. Besides which, I'm too old and set in my ways to want to use a subscription-based model for software. Just let me pay for it, own it, and then I'll decide when and how often I want to upgrade.
ACDSee also offer an 'Ultimate 9' version which includes the ability to work with non-destructive adjustment layers. Ultimate 9 looks like a "one-two" punch designed to become a Photoshop/Lightroom all-in-one replacement. Unfortunately, it's also almost 3x more expensive than Pro 9. I'm definitely going to download the trial version and give it a very serious look. For someone wanting to eventually jump off the Adobe subscription band-wagon, ACDSee Ultimate 9 might just be the solution I'm looking for? And in the meantime, ACDSee Pro 9 has me seriously, seriously interested.