February 1, 2007
Adobe PhotoShop Elements 5.0
Looks Different- Does More- Still Easy To Use
(See Screen shots at end of article)
I have been using PS Elements 2.0 for some time. I am used to its look and feel. I can find most everything I need so I can do my basic photo adjustments. Feeling comfortable I uninstalled Version 2.0 and installed Photoshop Elements 5.0 without a qualm. I have to say I was surprised at the new look. Maybe I had made a mistake. The opening screen displayed several choices for what kind of photo work I wanted to do. It included a Photo Organizer (Browser) so I could, if I wished, set up a system to locate photos by type, locale, date, key words and so on. I decided to skip that option as I have so many photos that organizing them would delay this review for at least a month. It also mentions organizing my video clips. That got my interest as I had no idea video came under the purview of Elements. The Quick Fix option sounded good to me as that is what I depended on in Version 2.0. The Edit and Enhance Photo Option sounds like what Version 2.0 was all about. The Make Photo Creations seems like an add-on that will allow me to stay in Elements when I create stuff to make people look at my final products. If this new version does all it says it can I may be able to uninstall a few programs I have used for slideshows, creating montages, or just making a card or poster for a friend. We will see.
I have worked with PS Elements 5.0 for several weeks now and find it easy to use after locating the various tools that I used in PSE 2.0. I do miss the ability to click the top border of the current photo to open the resize box. This was a great shortcut to get to all the resize options. Now you need to click image – resize – and then chose Image Size, Canvas Size, or Scale. Maybe I missed something. There seem to be many more tools in 5.0 than in 2.0 and 5.0 is a much more complete version as far as bridging the gap between Elements and PhotoShop. I do worry about the possibility that future editions will be so full of options that they will become too complicated for many of those who just need a simple tool to clean and fix their home photos.
Even though I am not using the Photo Organizer at this point I can see it has many tools to assist me with organizing and finding Photos. Tags can be added to all photos to differentiate them by using Favorites (a Star rating system, People (names), Places (travel), Events (birthdays, holidays, etc..) You can also attach the Hidden tag to photos, video clips, audio clips, or creations that you generally don’t want to view or sort through. Photos with the Hidden tag attached are normally hidden in the Photo Browser. Using the Photoshop Elements search features, you can find and display items with the Hidden tag attached. I wonder what photos that could be. I am sure I will use Photo Organizer if I ever find time.
Quick Fix is great when you just need a little tweaking before sending a photo on its way. Adjusting poor skin tones due to bad lighting and color problems, using the Magic Extractor to grab objects from a photo to be used in Scrapbooks, scribble on the portion of a photo you want to select using the Magic Selection Brush and it completes the selection process, or automatically create version sets from your edited files. These are just a few of the ways to get a Quick Fix.
The Edit and Enhance Photos option is where I plan to spend most of my time until I figure out all the other shortcuts. I have used several of the new (to me) tools on the tool bar including the Magnetic Lasso tool. It draws a selection border that automatically snaps to edges of objects as you drag it over the photo. This is much like a tool I loved to use in Paint Shop Pro in the past. It is a great improvement over trying to get the line to match the edge of an irregular object. The Cookie Cutter tool cuts a predefined shape out of your photo so it uses a portion of the photo as the interior of the Cookie Cutter. The shape can be resized and moved on the photo until you have the right portion of the photo under the shaped area. The Spot Healing Brush is my favorite find. I can remove warts, moles, cuts, bruises and bites. Anything you can think of as a blemish can be, I guess you could say, “Spot Cleaned”. I have attempted to use the Clone Stamp tool to do this in the past but always ended up with a mess. This new option is great!
The Make Photo Creations part of this product has a number of good ways to do just that. I do find the creations that are supposed to be usable on the web to be very intriguing. Unfortunately I will have to cover those at a later date. I have hardly scratched the surface of this module.
Over all I find many major improvements in this version. Of course, I skipped version 3 and 4. Unless you are a professional photographer Adobe Photoshop Elements Version 5.0 is packed with everything you need to improve your photo album. Retail list price is $99.99 full version or upgrade for $79.99. Can be found discounted in stores or on the web as low as $79.99. I also noticed a $20.00 rebate at Amazon.com. Not sure when it expires. Click here for more details at Adobe’s website.