Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 Review

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 Review ImageAdobe Photoshop Elements 8 Review Image

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Introduction

Like clockwork, you can count on seeing a new version of Photoshop Elements, the simplified sibling of Photoshop CS, every 12-18 months. Here we are in 2009 with the latest release, version 8. As usual, Adobe has increased the functionality of the program while keeping a very similar look and feel that is easier to navigate, and normally easier to accomplish your goals.

What’s New

By version 8, you’d expect that most of the features that would be added to an application would already be there. While that may be true of some software categories, in photo editing, it seems there’s always something new to bring to the table, and Elements 8 is no exception. With this release, Adobe adds HDR processing with Photomerge Exposure, recomposing with a new Recompose tool, face recognition options in Organizer with Auto-Analyzer and People Recognition, touch support in Windows 7, and automatic syncing of photo and video files between computers. Enhanced features include a revamped Organizer and more powerful auto adjustments for images.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8Organiser 1

Organizer seamlessly integrates photos, video, and audio into a single browsing application to make it easier to track all your digital assets. You can open images into Elements or another selected application.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8Organiser 2

Photoshop Elements is now available in two versions – the standard version, which includes 2GB of online storage at www.photoshop.com, and the Plus version (US only) that ups your storage space to 20GB and provides extensive tutorials, extra artwork, and access to new template designs. If you also do video editing, Elements is available in a package with Premiere Elements. And, in a nice step from Adobe, the Macintosh version of Elements is also now available in version 8 (Premiere Elements is still a Windows only product).

Starting up Elements, you’ll notice the tighter integration with Adobe’s online service, www.photoshop.com (Figure 1).

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 Figure 1

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 Figure 2

From this startup screen, you can elect to go into the Organizer, or straight to the editor.  The Organizer is laid out like previous versions, and if you’re importing images or video that already have metadata assigned, Organizer will recognize that and import it if you choose (Figure 3).

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 Figure 3

New to Organizer is the Auto-Analysis feature for finding images with faces. This isn’t a fast process, especially if you’re shooting RAW with large files – 128 total images took about 25 minutes on my system, so if you’re running through thousands of files, I’d recommend starting this up and letting it run overnight.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 Figure 4

Once completed, you can tag the files with names by going through each scanned image and naming the faces. Once you’ve named a person, Elements will ask if subsequent matches are correct (Figure 5).

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 Figure 5

Photomerge keys into the latest fad by allowing you to capture multiple images at different exposure settings, and blend them together to create a single image with much wider dynamic range than you would otherwise be able to capture (HDR). To do this, you’ll open multiple images, then select File > New > Photomerge Exposure (Figure 6). Elements will analyze the images and blend them automatically for you.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 Figure 6

You have a couple of options in the Automatic mode, with Simple doing all the work and Smart letting you control the highlights, shadows, and saturation of the finished image. If you want total control, switching to Manual (Figure 7) expands your control over alignment, selections, and regions.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 Figure 7

With a bit of tone mapping, you can reproduce the edgy look that identifies many HDR images (Figure 8).

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 Figure 8

Photomerge also includes options for Faces to combine elements of one face into another, Group (Figure 9 and 10) to select the best parts of one image with another, Panorama to do the obvious – create a panoramic image, and Scene Cleaner, an option that lets you add or remove elements from one image into another to clean up areas in the final image.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 Figure 9

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 Figure 10

Recompose is a way to intelligently modify an image to remove elements and change the positioning of elements and size of the image. In Figure 11, we have three kids running. I’ve highlighted the areas to protect in green, and the areas to remove in red. The selections don’t need to be overly precise, so just set a brush size and paint over the areas. The finished image in Figure 12 shows the girl removed and the boys positioned closer together.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 Figure 11

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 Figure 12

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 Review ImageAdobe Photoshop Elements 8 Review Image

Mac users, we’re pleased to announce Macphun’s all-in-one photo editor Luminar is now available for just $69£52, and now comes with 12 portrait presets created by Scott Kelby, plus 1 month of access to KelbyOne photography training.

Use coupon code “PHOTOBLOG” to save another $10 on Luminar.

We rated Luminar as “Highly Recommended”. Visit the Luminar web site to try it for free.

Download Luminar & Try Free »

Sharing Enhancements

At the beginning of this review I mentioned the tighter integration with Adobe’s online service, www.photoshop.com. With the basic version of Elements you get 2GB of storage. The Plus version bumps that to 20GB. Sharing media online couldn’t get much easier. Select the images you want to share, either in the Elements editor or in the Organizer, and select the Share tab.  You can select from a number of different templates for your image gallery, and have the app email contacts you select to notify them of the new images. Galleries can be public or private, and you have control over whether images can be downloaded or prints ordered.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 Figure 13

Along with the sharing, photoshop.com also gives you an automatic backup for your images, regardless of the format you shoot. The syncing feature (Figure 14) has options to control what images, if any, are copied to the photoshop.com cloud.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 Figure 14

Finally, there are a number of options in the Create category for making calendars, greeting cards, and other projects. If you go with the Plus version, you’ll have access to additional content throughout the year. (Figure 15).

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 Figure 15

Conclusion

Overall, Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 offers a nice set of improvements to an already good program. The Organizer enhancements and auto-backup options are nice, making it easy to access and protect all your digital media whether images or video, and many people will find the face detection features worth their weight in gold. The editor itself offers some very nice new features with the exposure blending, recomposing, and image sharing offering best in class quality. 

Enhancements to the quick editing and overall performance of the program are always welcome. If you’re already using Elements 7, you might question the need to upgrade right away since the previous version is already very capable. For new users, or if you need the HDR merge and recomposing tools, Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 at $99.99 / £79.99 is an excellent bargain. For more storage space and extra content, the Plus version at $119 (US only) is a good choice.

4 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Features 4
Ease-of-use 4
Value for money 4

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