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Software Review: Adobe Photoshop Elements 7.0

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Adobe Photoshop Elements 7.0 is the latest release from the Adobe Photoshop family. Although it's the little brother of the industry standard digital imaging software product Adobe Photoshop, it is also a pretty powerful product in its own right. While it is aimed at the more novice user, over the course of time, it has gained the necessary features to stand on its own merit.

While the latest version of Photoshop has been announced – in this case CS4 – and Photoshop is considered by many to be the best image editing product on the planet, it is certainly not for everyone. For the professional, Photoshop is a must have, but it is not always the best product for the casual user or amateur for a couple of reasons. First, with a high end product, there is usually a high end learning curve that can take months, even years, to master. Second, a high end product usually comes with a high end price. In the case of Photoshop CS4, purchasing it new can mean $649.00 USD for the standard version, and $999.00 USD for the extended version. For Adobe Photoshop Elements 7.0 the price is $99.00 USD, or bundled with Adobe Premier Elements 7.0, it is $149.00 USD.

Photoshop Elements 7What do you need to run Adobe Photoshop Elements 7.0? Currently it is only available on Windows. If the past is any indication, a Mac version should be scheduled for a future date. So on Windows you need a 2 GHz or better machine with 1 GB of RAM, a mouse, a 16-bit color display with 1024×768 resolution at 96DPI or less, a DirectX 9 compatible display driver, a CD-ROM, and around 1.5 GB hard disk space available. The web features require Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 or 7, or Mozilla Firefox 1.5 through 3.x

So what is new with this version of Adobe Photoshop Elements?

• Interface Brightness – can now be customized in both the organizer and the editor so you can control how bright the interface is with regard to your images. By using the brightness slider, you can make the screen as bright or dark as you would like. This will give you the ability to see your images in their proper light.

• Streamlined Downloading – now has no separate Photo Downloader icon in the system tray. All connection events have now been consolidated into the Windows Autoplay list where you can choose to either use the Adobe Photo Downloader, or launch another program.

• Search Quickly and Conveniently – by using Keyword Tags. By using this feature you can apply tags to help you categorize your photos. Then, when you need to locate a photo, you can type in this tag, and all related images will appear. This makes it easy to classify and find any type of image you need.

• Automated Actions – has been added to the Guided Edit mode. These let you apply multi-step actions in just a few clicks. They provide shortcuts to a variety of effects and actions that include Faded Ink, Lose Weight, Resize, Crop, Captions, and Shrink. This will not only speed up your processing time by combining tasks, but will help you easily reproduce effects on different photos.

Photoshop Elements 7 • New Photographic Effects – have also been added to Guided Edit mode, and will let you transform a simple picture into an artistic line drawing, or give it an old fashion look. With a few simple steps you can transform your image, and give it a more artistic flair.

• Toothbrush Tool – lets you whiten teeth with just a brush stroke. All you have to do is choose the tool, and paint over the teeth that you want whitened. This can also be used as a way to brighten up other areas of an image as well.

• Blue Skies Tool – lets you paint over parts of the sky and punch up the color to make the blue bluer all while leaving the rest of the image untouched. This is helpful when you take an image on a bland day or the sky is washed out and you want to punch up your image.

• Smart Brush Tool – will let you select and apply cool effects with just a single stroke. You can now select an area of your image, and apply various effects such as changing the color of a flower, or a shirt. You can improve the lighting, add textures, and other effects with eight libraries that contain more than 50 effects.

• Scene Cleaner – is a very cool addition. Have you ever been at a place, say a theme park, and you are trying to get a shot of the family, but there is always someone walking through? Well, now you just take multiple shots of the scene and find the best one. Then you load them all up and remove the unwanted people by drawing them out of the scene. Keep in mind that this will only remove those who change position between images. See the image below.

Photoshop Elements 7 • Portraits – can be created by using a filter that will soften surfaces while keeping edges and details crisp. Through a series of simple steps that include using the Quick Selection tool, and using the Surface Blur, you can smooth out winkles without blurring out the rest of the photo.

• Camera Raw – has been enhanced to support even more camera raw formats. Using camera raw can be used by selecting the picture you want and then letting Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 apply the default Camera Raw conversion settings, eliminating the need for manual adjustments.

• Photoshop.com – is now seamlessly integrated with Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 so that you can use the dynamic capability of the web from within your desktop software. You will also be able to keep up with new templates and tips for use within your software from anywhere you are.

So what is improved with this version of Adobe Photoshop Elements?

• Quick Fix – has been improved to enhance specific areas of an image such as teeth, skies and such. These will target specific areas that you specify and leave the rest alone. This is perfect for those little tweaks that really improve your image.

• New Photo Book Themes – have been added that will help you complement your story with just the right flair. Once completed you can just press order, and you can have it professionally printed, hardbound, and delivered to your door.

• Add Cinematic Flare – can be added by using Adobe Premiere Elements 7 to transform a traditional slide show from Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 into a movie using InstantMovie. This will automatically add video-style effects, transitions, motion graphics, and more to your project. Then you can preview your slide show in full screen, or burn it to disk, or even uploaded it to the web to share with family and friends.

• New Online Templates – will let you share your photos in many more ways than before including emailing, online albums, and burning CDs. With the new online album templates, you will be able to produce even better results.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 has really added a lot of great new features to its bevy of existing features, like the PhotoMerge, which allows you to take several shots of a group of people who may not all be looking and acting the way you want, and merge them into one image where they are.

Photoshop Elements 7There are a couple of features I especially like. I like the integration with Photoshop.com which will not only let you gain new ideas, tutorials, and templates, but will give you 2 GB (1,500 photos/24 min of DVD video) of storage for a basic membership, and 20 GB (15,000 photos/4 hours of DVD video) for a Plus membership; it's a wonderful addition. I also think that the Scene Cleaner will be incredibly popular with its ability to remove transient objects from an image. This takes the ability to clean up an image to a whole new level for those who don't want to learn about selections and cloning.

Personally, I think that Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 is well worth the upgrade; or in the case of someone who has never used Elements before, well worth the price for what it can do for you. What you should do is to try out a trial version yourself and see. This way you see all of the cool features and how much more powerful Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 has become.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 certainly continues in the tradition of being one of the most user friendly, powerful, and reliable image editing applications available for a low end price. Add to that all of the additional powerful new features it has, now makes it that much better. I highly recommend this product.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.
  • http://www.taunyafagan.com Brett Fagan

    Thanks for the great information.