Elementary, dear Watson

OTHER THAN A few apps for smartphones and tablets, I’ve not written much about software in this review column. That’s something I hope to be able to change in the future. After all, as exciting as hardware can be, it’s not of much use if there’s not also great software to back it up.

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By Magnus Nystedt

Published: Sat 19 Nov 2011, 11:40 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 8:03 AM

It is actually a coincidence that I also wrote about Adobe in my other piece this week and Photoshop Elements is a very different product than Flash. For the happy amateur photographer Elements 10 is the best software on the market right now, even in some aspects beating Apple’s iPhoto. Then, of course, iPhoto only runs on Mac OS X (and comes free with every new Mac), while Elements is available for both Mac and Windows and cost a little bit of money.

Chances are you get some kind of software when you buy a digital camera. So why would you want to spend more money on Elements? Quite simply because it’s better than what you get with the camera. Most of us take more and more digital photos and to organize them, edit a bit, and upload to online services is what we need help with.

Once you get your photos into Elements, which is easy, you have a wide range of options for both organising as well as editing and enhancing them. The strength of Elements lies in the editing part more than the other, perhaps not a surprise when considering the Photoshop part of the name. If organising photos into albums is the main thing you need Elements for, you could just get the free Google Picasa instead, it’s actually both better.

Where Elements shines is in quick and easy editing and that’s where Picasa falls flat on its face. In Elements you find rather advanced tools for colour correction and handling of RAW files. What Adobe seems to have focused on in this new version is to automate and enhance already existing functionality rather than invent new one and that’s a good thing.

For example, the “smart brush” tool has more brushes you can choose from, each adding pretty complex options like different effects, colour tone, and more, just by dragging with the mouse.

My favourite feature has to be Depth of Field. You select where you want the point of focus to be and Elements applies a sort of blur to the rest mimicking what you can accomplish with an SLR camera. It’s certainly not a replacement for what an accomplished photographer can do with a great lens but the results are good enough for most hobbyists.

The facial recognition feature introduced in version 8 is now integrated with Facebook. After connecting with your account Elements can start recognising your friends. Adobe could have gone further with the integration but it’s a step in the right direction.

All in all, Photoshop Elements 10 is a very accomplished digital photography application, more so for quick and easy editing than organising photos. You can buy it for about $100 by itself or in a bundle with Premiere Elements 10 for about $150. Adobe also offers an upgrade for $80.


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