Adobe Photoshop Elements

by Joe Gillespie — May 1, 2001

elements Adobe Photoshop is the foremost image editing program available. I've been using it since version 1.0 and would find it very difficult to move to another program - even if there was such a thing. Since version 1.0, it has grown enormously making more and more demands on processor speed and memory requirement - but it has also become very complicated, especially for the novice or casual user, and it is also quite expensive.

There have been 'Lite' versions of Photoshop in the past where some features of the full version have just been disabled and removed. These were originally bundled with scanners or sold as Photoshop LE. Adobe have now taken a few steps backwards and approached the problem with a philosophy of 'what shall we put in?' rather than 'what shall we leave out?' I really wish that more software companies would do the same.

With Photoshop Elements, the emphasis is on 'ease of use' not 'less'. Sure, there are some things that it can't do, but you need to look pretty hard to find them. There is no CMYK mode nor all that nasty color management stuff that tries all but the most stout-hearted of us. There is no ‘Paths’ support for creating precision masks or clipping paths, but, unless you are a print graphics pro, you are not going to miss much. Most of the other functions of Photoshop are still there, but simplified to lessen confusion and make the whole experience much less intimidating.

Looking at it from the point-of-view of a typical, non professional user, Photoshop Elements will take photos from their digital cameras or scanners - which will, by definition, be lower cost ones than the ones pros would use - and tweak them, if not to perfection, to a more than acceptable level. There are even some facilities that Photoshop doesn't have, like 'Photomerge', the ability to 'stitch' multiple photographs into a seamless panorama.

The 'Recipes' feature is very like Apple's Help system and guides you through various processes like adjusting brightness and contrast, cleaning-up dust and scratches and adding text effects. Unlike the dumb 'wizards' that you get with some programs, it doesn't insult your intelligence and explains 'why' as well as 'how'.

By putting all the filters and effects into a 'Filter Browser' palette with pictorial samples rather than just menu names, the user gets a pretty good idea what the effect will look like instead of having to use trial and error. This feature would not go amiss in Photoshop itself!

For people producing Web graphics, 'Save For Web' is there, albeit with only one 'optimized' view instead of Photoshop’s three, but that's enough for most. As ImageReady is not bundled with Elements, a GIF animation facility is built into 'Save For Web' which will handle all but the most demanding animation tasks. Users looking for more advanced Web graphics features like slicing and rollover creation will need the full Photoshop/ImageReady bundle.

I can't help but applaud Adobe for their efforts in making this level of sophisticated image manipulation available in such an affordable and accessible manner. They have managed to make Elements so much easier to use than Photoshop without sacrificing any essential functionality - the best of Photoshop, made easy, and then some!

Adobe Photoshop Elements
Features red bar90%
Ease of Use yellow bar90%
Value for Money green bar90%
'Must Have' Factor blue bar90%
Manufacturer Adobe
Price $99 Windows/Mac or $69 sidegrade from other packages.
Summary An absolute delight and not much missing but the $$$.
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