ACDsee (Pro2 beta) now reads .dng embedded previews and is really trying hard to be a DAM system as well as everything else which ACDsee has always been.
Has anyone else had a look at this latest version of ACDsee? After reading Peter's book I have just trialled IDimager, and was about to have a look at iView MP3, when I thought I'd swing past ACDsee again in search of something easier to comprehend.
I've been playing with the new Pro 2 public beta quite a bit. It's a free download, so anyone interested should check it out.
As a one-stop solution, I am very happy with it, but there are still some issues that will probably prevent most people on this forum from considering it. I have been pushing *hard* (both in their public forums, where someone appointed me one of the moderators for some reason, and behind the scenes where possible) to get these addressed, as I think it is "this close" to being something that will be really exciting in the DAM world. And while no one has made any promises, I know they *are* listening.
The biggest issues remaining have to do with DNG support. The one that will be most problematic for people using Bridge/ACR or other RAW processing programs is that, while it will use the embedded preview and will read any IPTC info already present, it still will not *write* IPTC to DNG files. I am quite confident that they now understand how important this is, and they have said they are considering whether they can get this into the final 2.0 release. Personally, I am still content to keep my metadata in the database until they do get around to supporting writing it out to IPTC. If nothing else, the database can be exported to text, so I am not worried about completely losing this information.
Also, while ACDSee will display the embedded preview, I am not sure it can be made to use it for everything you might want it used for - if you go to print, for example, or try to use the built-in editing capabilities in any way, it will do its own conversion, and of course it will not understand the processing you made elsewhere.
For those like me who are also using ACDSee for RAW processing, the biggest issue will be that ACDSee does not store an embedded preview or indeed any metadata (including RAW processing parameters) in the DNG file - it is all database only. Again, I believe I have successfully made them aware of why this is an issue, but whether or not they get any enhancements into the final 2.0 is another matter.
On the positive side, the RAW processing parameters can be easily exported to text files, and of course JPEG's can be generated for the previews. It seems to me all that would be needed - and this would probably be a fabulous thing in any event - would be a standalone utility capable of taking a JPEG preview and a XMP files and merging that information into a DNG file. ACDSee's exported database info is currently not in XMP format, but that would probably be a very easy script to write.
All that said, the potential seems great to me. This new version has made giant leaps in RAW processing, in terms of quality, speed and especially ease-of-use, with lots of batch processing options (and background processing). Also a very impressive Local Contrast Enhancement feature in the built-in editor. The overall experience of using it somewhat similar to Lightroom, from what I gather (I haven't yet tried LR), but it is reported to be generally faster and easier to use. At least with respect to RAW - it doesn't do non-destructive JPEG processing.
Your other observations seem spot on, also - it is true ACDSee will not understand ACR adjustment settings, ACDSee has no no versioning support and no Unicode support. So for some people, these will be factors. But I suspect quite a number of people will not care about that.