Another change of image for Adobe’s popular photo-editing application
Adobe certainly isn’t the only software manufacturer guilty of paying little attention to the old ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ tenet. The previous version of Photoshop Elements, for example, was a widely well received application that helped to bridge the gap between basic photo editing programs and professional applications like the full-blown version of Photoshop.
However, the balance between ease of use and depth of functions is a delicate one and too much tampering with the Elements formula could easily tip things in the wrong direction.
Thankfully, most of the new features in Adobe Photoshop Elements 5 are genuine enhancements to the already solid foundations laid down in previous incarnations.
Photoshop Elements has always provided tools for organising as well as editing digital photos. Version 5 makes many useful additions to the organisational element, including single-click methods of importing photos and groups of photos from either an external source (digital camera, memory card or CD) or from a folder on your hard disk.
During an importing session, you can even get Elements to perform automatic red-eye removal, although this tends to make the process a lot slower and can be a bit hit and miss.
An improved version of the program’s Stacks feature allows photos with similar visual traits to be grouped together. Elements also allows you to save different versions of your photos, sensibly preserving the originals like ‘digital negatives’ and making copies for you to edit.
The application’s photo browser now allows you to scroll through your photos a lot faster (useful for those who have been using a digital camera for a few y ears now and have built up quite a library of snaps) and can older versions of the same pictures can be located easily by clicking on the photo’s Version Set icon.
Elsewhere, Flash animation has been incorporated into the program, allowing for some creative fun in the shape of animated galleries and ‘flipbooks’ of sequential photos.
In terms of hands-on editing tools, the latest additions are skewed towards slightly more advanced or creative users. The lens distortion correcting tool and enhanced support for RAW format files, for example, are clearly aimed at photo enthusiasts who want to exploit the benefits of higher-end camera equipment.
The trouble is that, the more Adobe adds to Photoshop Elements, the more complicated it becomes to actually use. While we wouldn’t suggest that you need to be a pro to get to grips with it, some users could – depending on their skill level – wind up getting a little lost, and many will find that they don’t even need many of the features that Elements has to offer.
There are lots of simpler, cheaper photo-editing programs out there that are more suitable for beginners. But for enthusiasts and those wanting to get the most from their digital photos, Adobe Photoshop Elements is still one of the best applications around – and it’s all the better for its new features.
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Overall: Photo Impact 12 is a little light on new features, but it's still a versatile photo editor for beginners
Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo XI
Overall: Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo XI is good upgrade, although it won’t worry Adobe and its Photoshop Elements too much
Good points Improved photo organising tools New Flash animation features Faster photo browsing Bad points Occasionally confusing Not the cheapest photo-editing program on the market Overall Adobe Photoshop Elements 5 provides a strong set of organising and editing tools suitable for photography enthusiasts, but it could prove to be a case of overkill for the average casual snapper
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