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ACDSee Gemstone Photo Editor 12: Beta review

ACDSee Gemstone is a powerfully-featured yet simple-to-use image editor that could be their best editing software yet

ACDSee Gemstone
(Image: © James Abbott/DigitalCameraWorld)

Our Verdict

The Beta version of ACDSee Gemstone Photo Editor 12 shows a huge amount of promise for what the final retail version of this software could be. The image editor is incredibly easy to use while the powerful Raw editing capabilities offer an excellent level of control. Gemstone is Windows only like other ACDSee software, but easily has the potential to be the company’s best image editing software to date – we just have to wait and see what it costs. As a beta, it’s not without glitches but these are likely to be ironed out in the final version.

For

  • Excellent Raw processing features
  • Simply laid out interface
  • Easy to use

Against

  • No image browser
  • Some aspects of the beta are glitchy
  • Main image editor is basic compared to Photoshop

The Beta version of ACDSee Gemstone Photo Editor 12 shows a huge amount of promise for what the final retail version of this software could be. The image editor is incredibly easy to use while the powerful Raw editing capabilities offer an excellent level of control.

Gemstone is Windows only like other ACDSee software, but easily has the potential to be the company’s best image editing software to date – we just have to wait and see what it costs. As a beta, it’s not without glitches but these are likely to be ironed out in the final version.

The ACDSee Gemstone Beta is, as the name suggests, a beta version of a new image editing program from ACDSee. The software aims to provide powerful Raw editing and standard image editing within an easy-to-use interface. 

The software may be an altered and reskinned version of ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate but within a much more user-friendly package. To put the software within the context of the market, it offers the Raw editing capabilities of Adobe Camera Raw with the image editing features of Photoshop Elements, minus the Guided Edits.

Pricing for the software when it’s released isn’t currently available, but software of this type and level often costs between $80-$100 so the price is likely to be in this area. And in terms of system specs, this Windows-only software requires only modest hardware so most computers from the last four years should be more than capable of running it.

Get ACDSee Gemstone Photo Editor 12 Beta for yourself

Key features

Gemstone starting page (Image credit: James Abbott/DigitalCameraWorld)

In terms of features, it’s the Raw editing capabilities that stand out the most with features and functionality in this area comparable to professional Raw editing software. To say that this is the jewel in the crown of Gemstone is an understatement. 

Since this is a beta version of the software there are no standout features currently being advertised beyond ease of use and a simplified interface, Raw editing and the ability to use Layers. ACDSee RAW is fully featured with everything you need to process Raw files, including localized adjustments, lens corrections and even cloning and healing tools. 

The main workspace for image editing features many tools and controls including the ability to use Layers, although what’s on offer here is comparable to Photoshop Elements. Gemstone is much easier to use than Elements and offers infinitely better Raw processing. 

Interface and usability

There is no image browser facility in Gemstone (Image credit: James Abbott/DigitalCameraWorld)

The Gemstone interface is completely undaunting with a clean and simple layout that’s effectively aimed at beginners. It looks like a hugely paired back version of Photoshop with a minimal toolbar and many other tools hidden away within the Filter menu. Most functions work well but there is the odd glitch, which is to be expected with a beta, and the image zoom functionality is awkward to use.

Some of the tabs and their controls that available (Image credit: James Abbott/DigitalCameraWorld)

Gemstone lacks any kind of image browser or catalogue so you have to manually find images which isn’t ideal, especially when working with Raw files when there’s no thumbnail preview. When you open Raw files, you have to go to File>Open in ACDSee Raw otherwise the unedited Raw will open directly into the image editor. It would make much more sense for Raw files to open into ACDSee RAW by default however they’re opened, although once processed this isn’t a problem since adjustments are loaded from the sidecar file.

Quality of results

Image 1 of 3

ACDSee Gemstone

Raw editing in action - swipe to see the before and after images (Image credit: James Abbott/DigitalCameraWorld)
Image 2 of 3

ACDSee Gemstone

Before image (Image credit: James Abbott/DigitalCameraWorld)
Image 3 of 3

ACDSee Gemstone

After image (Image credit: James Abbott/DigitalCameraWorld)

The Raw processing capabilities of Gemstone are extremely impressive and it’s possible to edit Raw files with a comparable level of control to Adobe Camera Raw but in a much more simplified interface. ACDSee has done a fantastic job here. One thing we did notice, however, is that it’s easy to introduce banding into skies when editing Raw landscape images and using the local adjustment tools.

The main image editor provides many of the tools you need for photo editing and beginners to intermediate users will love the simplicity on offer. With a comparable level of functionality to Photoshop Elements in this area, you could use the software to edit images professionally but the lack of features such as Apply Image and things as simple as being able to group Layers means you have to find workarounds for some tasks, if available.

ACDSee Gemstone: Early verdict 

Repair tools from the Filter menu (Image credit: James Abbott/DigitalCameraWorld)

ACDSee Gemstone Photo Editor 12 Beta shows a huge amount of promise for what the final retail version of the software could be. The aim of creating a simple image editor with powerful Raw editing capabilities has certainly been achieved, with the latter offering an excellent level of control.

While some aspects of the software are slow and glitchy since this is a beta version, and the lack of an image browser is frustrating, glitches will likely be ironed out and we could see some kind of image browser in the final version. 

Gemstone is Windows-only like other ACDSee software but has the potential to be the company’s best image editing software to date. Pricing and licensing options are currently unavailable but software of this type often costs in the region of $80-$100.

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James Abbott

James Abbott is a landscape and portrait photographer based in Cambridge. He’s also an experienced photography journalist specializing in camera skills and Photoshop techniques. He is also a CAA-approved drone pilot and professional aerial photographer.