ACDSee Gemstone 12 reviews | digital camera world

ACDSee has been busy for the past couple of years, and the company’s latest software offering is Gemstone Photo Editor 12. This is image editing software that offers similar image quality and user experience to the company’s flagship photo editor. Ultimate photo studio, but with some differences.

This is completely new software despite the name 12, where the beta version was available for download and use in the summer of 2021. This final version of the software offers greater stability as you would expect, but not all the holes we found while reviewing the beta, we’ll discuss later.

In a nutshell, Gemstone packs raw processing, standard image editing, and AI-powered tools into a user-friendly interface to provide a surprisingly comprehensive degree of editing control for such an inexpensive image editor. The best way to describe it is a blend of the power and control of Adobe Camera Raw for raw processing, alongside the simplified use of Photoshop Elements but with more settings available.

ACDSee Gemstone Photo Editor 12 is Windows-only software that requires modest computer specifications to run, so it will be compatible with many computers purchased over the past few years. Although, as always, the more RAM and processing power your computer has, the smoother and more efficiently it will run. Gem costs $79.99 / £59.99 for a perpetual license.

Main characteristics

Gemstone’s raw editing interface is one of its strengths. (Image credit: James Abbott)

When you look at the list of editing commands and features available in Gemstone 12, you can’t help but be impressed with what’s available. Although the software is not intended for professional use, you can still achieve excellent results in certain areas and there are many offers to meet the needs of many beginners and enthusiasts.

By far the most impressive aspect of the software is the raw processing with support for a large number of raw formats. You’ll find controls and tools here that are comparable to Adobe Camera Raw, although the localized settings aren’t quite as comprehensive. That said, you get everything you need to process raw files, including base adjustments, localized adjustments, lens corrections, and even clone tools and more.

You also get AI-powered quick actions. These can work well, but they can also fail badly. (Image credit: James Abbott)

The image editing workspace focuses on the use of layers, which is great because it makes non-destructive editing an integral part of the software. There are more adjustment layers available than even in Photoshop and Affinity Photo, which ultimately makes it easier to find specific adjustments rather than wade through cavernous menus. Overall, the editing features on offer allow you to do almost anything on images, with the range of features falling somewhere between the full version of Photoshop and Photoshop Elements.

What sets Gemstone 12 apart from Adobe and Affinity software is the inclusion of Quick Actions, which provide AI-powered automated tasks that essentially select the subject or background in different ways. These include Remove background, Select subject, Blur background, and Black and white background. The results are mixed, and in some cases the software selects the subject or background well to provide a reasonable result, while in others it can’t even identify an important subject against a fairly large background. simple.

Interface and usability

Gemstone 12 has a user-friendly feel. (Image credit: James Abbott)

Ease of use is at the heart of editing software for beginners and intermediates, and Gemstone 12 certainly follows that path with an intuitive and simply laid out interface. The raw editing window is made up of a main image window with all the controls on the right side and sliders presented in bright blue on a dark gray background which makes them easy to see.

The main editing interface follows the standard we’re used to with most editing software available, with the toolbar on the left, an image window in the center, and the layers, histogram, and graphics. history, etc. in the tabs on the right. There’s a main menu at the top of the interface, but most of what’s here is more easily accessible from the panels on the right.

Everything looks and sounds great so far, and to be fair, most of what we’ve covered so far has been well thought out and, in most cases, works well. But there is one glaring omission in the software; one that eventually drops it to the point where you might be better off buying ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate.

Gemstone 12 has no image browser or catalog for organizing and selecting images, which makes this aspect of editing much more difficult than it should be. You can open images from anywhere on your computer, and with JPEGs and TIFFs you can see a thumbnail. But with raw files, it’s just an icon for the raw file type with no image preview, so you have no idea what you’re opening. It’s a shame that a simplified ACDSee Photo Studio image browser wasn’t ported to Gemstone, and it’s curious and annoying that this core functionality was left out.

Quality of results

This is a raw file without any modifications. (Image credit: James Abbott)

This follows improvements to Gemstone. (Image credit: James Abbott)

Gemstone’s results are mixed, with some parts of the software performing better than others. Whereas with some features, especially the AI-powered Quick Actions, works better with some images and not with others. With some human subjects Select Subject does a reasonably good job, even with hair, but sometimes with images the AI ​​can’t identify an obvious subject. With complex images, the success rate of quick actions decreases further.

Raw processing capabilities are the most outstanding feature with excellent results possible. They’re so good that it’s safe to say the level of control available is on par with Adobe Camera Raw, but the raw interface is much more user-friendly, which is great for beginners who can grow as they go. as their skills develop.

Gemstone’s AI quick actions are less reliable. Here we will select a moderately complex subject – the couple in the foreground. (Image credit: James Abbott)

This is not a good result! (Image credit: James Abbott)

Gemstone may even fail to detect simple and obvious topics like this. (Image credit: James Abbott)

The main image editor offers many of the tools you need to perform a wide range of editing tasks, although some tools and features are housed in places you wouldn’t expect, such as “filters”. For example, the clone tools (called Repair Tools) are in the filters and you can only use them with a pixel layer rather than an empty layer.

Quirks aside, you can get good results in the main image editor, and as mentioned, the tools on offer fall somewhere between Photoshop and Photoshop Elements, so beginner to intermediate users will appreciate the simplicity. proposed.


ACDSee has created an image editor that shows a lot of potential but only looks like part of what photographers need to create a seamless editing workflow. The software offers fantastic raw editing capabilities as well as useful features in the main image editor with excellent image quality possible. But the lack of an image browser or catalog to organize, select, and view leaves a hole that lets the software fall hugely.

What does Gemstone 12 do that ACDSee Photo Studio doesn’t already? Well, not much other than quick actions which are random. So, in the absence of an image catalog/browser, you might find that ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate 2022 is a better option for you thanks to more features at $149/£75 for perpetual license per compared to Gemstone 12 at $79.99 / £59.99.

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