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Software Review: Adobe Photoshop Elements 8.0

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8.0 is the latest release from the Adobe Photoshop family and it is the little brother of the industry standard digital imaging software product Adobe Photoshop. Adobe Photoshop Elements 8.0 has been released for both Windows and the Mac.

Photoshop is considered by many to be the best image editor on the planet but unless you are a professional it may not be the best choice for the general consumer 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, a high end product usually comes with a high end price. In the case of Photoshop CS4, purchasing it new that can mean $649.00 for the standard version and $999.00 for the extended version. For Adobe Photoshop Elements 8.0 it is $99.00, or bundled with Adobe Premier Elements 8.0, it is $149.00.

What do you need to run Adobe Photoshop Elements 8.0?

On Windows
• 1.6 GHz or faster processor
• Windows XP with SP2 or SP3, Vista, or Windows 7
• 1 GB RAM
• 2 GB hard drive space
• Color Monitor with 16-bit Color Video Card
• 1024 x 768 monitor resolution at 96 DPI
• DirectX 9 compatible display driver
• DVD-ROM Drive
• Internet Explorer 6-8 or Firefox 1.5-3.x

On Mac
• Multi-core Intel processor
• Mac OS X v10.4.11-10.5.8 or v10.6
• 512 MB Ram (1 GB RAM recommended)
• 2 GB Hard-Drive Space
• Color monitor with 16-bit color video card
• 1024 x 768 monitor resolution at 96 DPI
• QuickTime 7 software
• DVD-ROM drive
• Internet access

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

Auto-Analyzer uses a patent-pending intelligent content analysis process to power this automation, so you can easily find your most interesting, highest quality photos. This new technology automatically analyzes your media on import and applies quality and interest tags that are called Smart Tags saving you time when you are trying to find your best images.

People Recognition automatically identifies the people in your photos saving you time from tagging each one. The People Recognition analysis runs during the Auto-Analyzer process. People Recognition automatically tags photos if it is able to recognize who the person is. If People Recognition is not 100% sure that a particular photo is Uncle Sal, it will prompt you to confirm that it is indeed Uncle Sal. The more times a person is tagged, the better People Recognition will get at recognizing a specific person.

Auto-Syncing lets you share a common media catalog across multiple computers by letting you backup your media and synchronize it on multiple computers that are running the Elements Organizer. This is especially helpful when you have both a laptop and desktop running elements and you want to keep them in sync.

Recompose Photos to fit a specific layout. That is, sometimes you want to change the size or orientation of a photo to fit a specific frame where cropping won't work and resizing distorts the image. Recompose can crop out unimportant areas from your photo or even removes complete objects you don't want. It can also adjust an image to let the objects get closer together without distortion.

Photomerge Exposure gives you the ability to merge exposures. What this means is that when you have a photo that has well lit areas and areas in shadows, you can get one perfect exposure by taking a series of images at different exposures and combine them into one that is correctly exposed. A second method is to take one image with flash on and one with the flash off and merge the two.

Best Results can determine the most desirable adjustment without knowing what the sliders do. Now, when you perform one-step fixes such as adjustments to color, contrast, and lighting and then you can visually choose the best result from a group of adjustment previews.

Windows 7 support means that Photoshop Elements is 100% compatible and logo certified, allowing you to take full advantage of the new Windows 7 platform.

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

Media Management now gives you even more power by letting you bring together all of your photos and video into one area. It is supported by both Photoshop Elements 8 and Premiere Elements 8 and is fully integrated. Now all media is tagged, searched, protected, and can be accessed from either product in the same way. Tagging enables you to quickly find what you need, and with the Auto-Analyzer and People Recognition you no longer have to take so much time to tag your photos.

Full Screen Mode gives you a new way to deliver slideshows of your photos and videos together, in full screen, with slideshow transitions. You can also tag or make quick edits to your photos within the full screen without having to go back into the Organizer.

New Tutorials will provide you with new ideas and new inspiration by giving access to tutorials as well as helpful tips and tricks. These include showing you how to merge exposures, create montages, automate your organization, and more.

Templates, Themes, and Artwork are available through professionally designed layouts that are customizable so that you can get the exact look you envision. This way you can quickly create a finished scrapbook page, photo book, greeting card, or other photo creation much more quickly. Newly added professionally-designed themes, artwork, and templates include Dogs, Gardening, and Scrapbook.

Share experiences from within the Organizer by quickly showcasing your photos and videos in one-of-a kind Online Albums with your choice of animated templates. By using Adobe Flash technology viewers can also interact with your photos and videos.

There is also a $20 rebate that is subject to some terms and conditions which brings the price down to $79, but unfortunately there is not a real upgrade path.

There are a lot of great new features in this release of Adobe Photoshop Elements. The Auto-Analyzer with its ability to locate images based on the quality of image, number of people, contrast, etc. will help you sort through and find the best pictures and the People Recognition, once tagged, makes it easy to locate images based on faces.

To me, my favorite ones are the Recompose, Photomerge Exposure, and Best Results features. These alone make this worth the price of getting Adobe Photoshop Elements 8.0. These three will save you hours of editing time when you have that shot that just isn't quite right. When you add in all of the other features, this makes for a solid release and I can highly recommend Elements 8.

About T. Michael Testi

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

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