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Elements 6.0 is an amateur's dream come true; all of the basics of Photoshop, with a lot less price.

Software Review – Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0

Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0 is the latest release from the Adobe Photoshop family. By now most readers are aware of the release of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 1.0 early in the spring of 2007 (now on version 1.2), and the release of both versions of Adobe Photoshop CS3; Standard and Extended, that happened later in the spring. Well Fall, 2007 brings the release of Elements 6.0.

Just what is Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0? It is the little brother of the industry standard digital imaging software product Adobe Photoshop; in this case CS3. Photoshop is considered by many to be the best digital imaging product on the planet. While Photoshop is great for the professional, it is not always good for 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 get good at. Second, with a high end product usually comes a high end price. In the case of Photoshop CS3, new can mean $649.00 USD for Standard, and $999.00 USD for the Extended version. Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0 on the other hand is $99.00 USD, or bundled with Adobe Premier Elements 4.0, is $149.00 USD.

What do you need to run Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0. Currently it is only available on Windows, with the Mac release coming early in 2008. So, on Windows you need 1.3GHz, or better machine, with 256 MB (512 recommended) A Mouse. A 16-bit Color display with 1024×768 resolution at 96DPI or less. A CD-Rom, and around 1.5 GB hard disk space available.

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

• Get Going Faster – As expected one of the main goals of any software is to try to increase the speed with which you can get things done, and this is no exception. With things better organized, you can move more efficiently.

• Smart Albums – You can now bring together just the photos that you want to see. You can set up to 10 search criteria; things like type of camera, date of shoot, or other info, then click on the Smart Album, and you will see the matching set of photos.

• Enhanced Library Performance – They have sped up your ability to scroll through your photos, apply tags, view, and retrieve your photos.

• Dedicated Project Bin – This allows you to gather the photos you need for a specific project into one place. It provides you with easy access to all of your open photos, photo book pages, and saved albums.

• Enhanced Step-by-step assistance – will walk you through each step needed to edit blemishes, touch up scratches, or other tasks that will improve your photos.

• Enhanced Fine Tune Exposure – gives you more power to adjust color, brightness, and contrast in your photos while preserving much of your original photo data.

• Selections – With this new technology, you can make image selection in a snap. You only have to brush your selection, and then use sliders to make the adjustment blend into the background.

• Enhanced Clone Tool – If you need to remove unwanted details such as a telephone pole, a car passing by, or Uncle Vinnie, all you have to do is copy one portion of an image, and apply it over another to cover it up.

• Enhanced Spot Healing Brush – Brush away wrinkles, and unwanted objects. You can preview your changes prior to commitment to get the best results possible.

• Enhanced Black and White – Transforming your color originals to Black and White has gotten better with the new slider controls for contrast adjustments. You also have larger previews that make it easier to get the results you desire.

• Photo Blending – Now you can take multiple images and compose them into one great one. The new photo blending technology allows you to combine the best facial and body language from a series of shots to create a perfect composite. See below.

• Enhanced Photo Books – This allows you to create professional looking photo books that enable you to view spreads, flip through your book, and rearrange pages. Then, when you are satisfied, you can order one by clicking on the order button and have professionally printed and delivered to your door (Note that this is available only in North America and Japan).

• Enhanced Sharing – You can share your images via e-mail, online galleries, as well as burning to CD from the new Sharing Center.

• Enhanced Interactive Sharing – using Adobe Flash Technology by creating animated web galleries.

I really like the changes to Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0. It uses the dark interface to make your image clearer, and the background less distracting. There are two work areas which may seem confusing to some users, but coming from the Photoshop background, it makes perfect sense to me. In Photoshop you have Bridge to organize photos, and the main editing program to process them. In Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0, you have Organizer and the Editor.

If I had one complaint, it would be that more basic items should be in the Guided Edit. Techniques like Whiten teeth, remove glare from glasses, etc. Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0 is an amateur's dream come true. All of the basics of its big brother Adobe Photoshop, with a lot less of the hassle, learning curve, and the price.

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.

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