Photoshop is easily the cat’s pajamas of digital imaging applications on any platform; Mac or Windows. There’s power, ease-of-use, and more graphic and image manipulation tools than than you’ll find in Mac OS X itself. Oh, there’s also that $629 price tag.
I just got a new catalog from PC/MacConnection, so I know what it’ll cost to get a new Photoshop. Fortunately, God loves humankind (and, now, Boston, so it would seem) and the upgrade to Photoshop CS (for Creative Suite) is a mere $169.
Too much, you say? For the average home user or small business user, Adobe feels your pain. The best $89 you’ll spend for a graphics application for the Mac will be spent on Adobe’s new Elements 3.0.
This is not your father’s Photoshop Elements. In fact, Elements 3.0 looks and feels more like Photoshop CS; to the point where it’s tough to tell them apart—except for all the cool, easy-to-use features that Photoshop does NOT have. What? An entry-level application that does stuff the full-fledged application doesn’t?
It seems that way. For example, Adobe is touting Elements 3.0 as a companion to Apple’s iPhoto. Whoa. Strange bedfellows, indeed. Did the Cupertino and Santa Clara folks kiss and make up? If they did, Elements 3.0 is the spawn of the relationship.
Here’s what you can do with Elements that you canNOT do with the full Photoshop (thereby saving about $540):
Oh, yeah. Elements lets you share. Slide shows. Oh, yeah. Elements now does slide shows.
Wait, doesn’t iPhoto do slide shows? Yep. And if you’ve seen one slide show application, you’ve seen them all. However, Elements adds a few touches. Captions. More transitions. Narration. You have to jump through a few hoops to get all that in just iPhoto.
Here’s one of the nice, thoughtful touches that Adobe embedded into Elements 3.0. Wait, are we talking about Adobe the software company? Yes. Not only does Elements allow you to take photos and send them with the email application of your choice (yes, it’s a limited choice), BUT, however, also, Elements lets you include decorative backgrounds and themes. There’s even multiple varieties of the themes.
I like Themes. That’s the biggest negative about Apple’s Keynote and iDVD. Not enough themes. Somehow, they’re expecting us less talented “graphics” folks to create our own. I’d rather just click.
I also like to print what I create in Elements and the new version doesn’t disappoint. The printing option lets you mix and match images in a multitude of layouts. Single, multiple photos, different sizes for each, labels, contact sheets.
You don’t know how handy that is until you try it. I’ve been using Econ Technologies Portraits and Prints just for that reason alone (I don’t print using iPhoto—I have my pride). No wonder they’re upgrading and adding a bucket of features in PnP 2.0.
Photoshop Elements does much of the same thing but with more tools.
There’s a few other features worth mentioning.
Archive: keep photos and projects on CD or DVD. No need for Toast. Elements does it.
Photo Compare: this is very handy. I don’t like working on a photo or image and then having to backup—undo, undo, undo, undo, etc.—just to see another version with different effects. So, I’ve alwasy made many copies while I work. Sometimes they get, well, mixed up. Photo Compare helps that by letting me view similar photos side-by-side.
Tera recently reviewed a pre-release of Elements 3.0, but we haven’t been able to see any real differences with the full-release. Yes, it’s $89.99 for the new version. There’s also an upgrade version for $69.99 on the Adobe web site.
Showing a new found love for Mac users, Adobe now has an instant upgrade offer. If you’re a “registered” owner of a previous version of Elements, Photoshop Album (don’t remember seeing that one on Mac), Photoshop LE, and PhotoDeluxe (which is, uh, what?), you can save $20.
See. Adobe loves you.
Now, before you think Adobe’s paying me (they’re not, but I have a price…) for this gushing review, there are a few problems. Elements is a “value” application. It’s not Photoshop, though they share the name, the interface, and a bunch of tools. For new users, old users (those who don’t need the “pro” tools), and small businesses on a budget, the value is outstanding.
The one-click tools for fixing, repairing, altering, modifying, and screwing-up digital photos are wonderful (as is “un-do”). Elements doesn’t have integration with Apple’s iLife apps; that’d be nice. I couldn’t figure out how to save a file in “ico” format, which is easy in Graphic Converter.
Stitching photos together to make a wide panoramic view is also a snap (sorta) in Elements. I must admit, I’ve never met anyone who’s done that and made the resulting photo worthwhile.
Those are nits, though. This is a valuable graphics, digital image manipulation application that’s giving you plenty of Photoshop tools for a fraction of the price.