With the soaring popularity of digital cameras, image-editing software packages are now ten a penny, which is what many of them are worth. However, if you want power, flexibility and imaging tools that can transform good photos into something spectacular, you still have to pay anything from £100 to £600.
Our current favourite at the lower end of the pricing scale is Corel Paint Shop Pro X, while at the top end, Adobe Photoshop CS2 is the professional's choice. With a selling price of just £35, we weren't expecting ACDSee Photo Editor to be worth a second look.
Photo Editor is simple to set up and there are plenty of tutorials to help you through the fi ner points. Even without these, the interface is clean and intuitive, while offering direct access to many projects for creating scrapbooks, greetings cards, photo albums, calendars and so on.
ACDSee made its name by supplying professional-level RAW conversion and batch processing tools at bargain prices. Photo Editor follows suit with a wealth of high-end image-editing features that work simply, quickly and effectively. For example, there are all sorts of Auto fixes for photo ailments such as lens flare, poor exposure, red-eye, tilted framing, lack of sharpness and so on
Better still, you can make fine adjustments to anything from brightness and contrast, colour balance, sharpness, levels and curves, with handy preview windows to help you determine the strength of any effect.
Photo Editor is level pegging with Paint Shop Pro in the power and usability stakes. The thing that gives Photo Editor the edge is that its layers system is similar to that of the full-blown Photoshop, combining much of the effectiveness and intuitiveness of the professional program. All in all, this is an impressively professional program with an amazingly amateur price tag. Matthew Richards