ACD Systems Blog

Develop then Edit: the ACDSee processing workflow

2012-04-24 22:07:40 GMT

Here’s a quick primer on the difference between Develop and Edit mode in ACDSee products, and how to incorporate both into your post-production workflow.

Develop mode, found in ACDSee Pro 5 and ACDSee Pro (Mac), is a non-destructive, parametric editing, RAW conversion environment. Parametric editing means that when you edit an image in Develop mode you are creating instructions for adjustments, rather than adjusting the actual pixels as you do in Edit mode. Develop mode’s non-destructive operations are entirely interwoven and interdependent and are applied in a fixed order to maximize the image quality. When working on RAW files, adjustments are applied as much as possible using the RAW image data.

Edit mode, available in both ACDSee Pro 5 and ACDSee 14, works on the image data already rendered to RGB. When switching from Develop to Edit mode with a RAW file, the full resolution image data is converted to a 16 bit RGB image with the Develop instructions applied. In Edit mode, each operation is completely independent. Edits are applied to the converted RGB data in the order that you do them. This chain editing gives you full control over the pixels allowing creative freedom to apply precise adjustments. This makes operations such as selections and blend modes possible.


Do most of your adjustments on RAW images in Develop mode, where you can work on the RAW image data. Then make your final adjustments in Edit mode, where you can apply fine-tuned adjustments on the more limited RGB image data.

For example, if you adjust the White Balance on an RAW image in Develop mode, you will be controlling the color temperature applied during the RAW conversion. Doing a white balance adjustment in Edit mode can only apply a color cast adjustment to the already rendered RGB data, reducing image quality and introducing the possibility of posterization (ie. color banding) in your image.

Develop mode allows non-destructive processing of RAW, JPEG and other file types. Start your image corrections in Develop mode where you make most of your image adjustments. Changes you make are applied to the entire image. When you make a change to a RAW image, the changes are saved in a separate file, and the original remains untouched. Every time you open the image in Develop mode, the original image opens with the changes applied. This allows non-destructive developing of your images; you can discard your Develop settings and revert back to the original image at any time.

In Develop mode you can:

  • Tune the image using exposure, white balance, lighting, color, split tone and tone curves tools, or set the output color space of a RAW image.

  • Adjust details in your image using the sharpening, noise reduction, and chromatic aberration tools.

  • Fix geometry in your image using the lens distortion, rotate and straighten, perspective, vignette correction, and cropping tools.

Develop Mode

See incredibly accurate default color, contrast and exposure right from the start of your RAW processing workflow in Develop mode.

Once your global non-destructive adjustments have been completed, you can use Edit mode to add finishing touches at the pixel level, taking advantage of the Selections tool, blend mode and special effects to further fine tune a part of an image.

In Edit mode you can:

  • Use the Selection tool to select and apply edits to a specific part of the image.

  • Remove flaws, red eye, or correct lens distortion.

  • Add text, watermark, borders, vignettes, special effects, and drawing tools.

  • Crop, flip, resize, rotate, and correct perspective and lens distortion.

  • Adjust lighting using the exposure, levels, auto levels, tone curves, lighting, and dodge and burn tools.

  • Adjust color using the White Balance, Advanced Color, Color Balance, Convert to Black & White or Split Tone tool.

  • Add details to your image using Sharpen, Remove Noise, Add Noise or Blur tools.

(note: not all of these editing features are available in ACDSee 14)

ACDSee Special Effects Palette

Special Effects Palette in Edit Mode

Do you feel uncomfortable working in the RAW?

ACDSee Pro 5 and ACDSee 14 share the same architecture and many of the same features, although Pro 5’s feature set is geared to professional photographers and advanced amateurs who shoot with a DSLR. ACDSee 14 has a simplified feature set that’s more tailored to the needs of the home or business user. The key difference between Pro 5 and ACDSee 14 is Pro 5’s ability to perform non-destructive RAW Processing in its exclusive Develop mode. This handy table can show you all the differences between Pro 5 and ACDSee 14.

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