Macworld is a great place to try out new Mac software. If it’s important software, it’s available at Macworld.
I’m a long time heavy user of Adobe’s Photoshop, but I tried out the $89 Photoshop Elements 6 just to see the difference between Elements and the full on version of Photoshop.
Is Photoshop Elements 6 for the Mac just a stripped down version of Photoshop, or does it offer most of Photoshop’s capability at a huge discount?
Photoshop Elements 6 for Mac users won’t ship until sometime in March. From what we’ve been able to see of Elements, it will be worth the wait. If you have not upgraded to the full version of Photoshop and you’re not a power user on steroids, Elements is a bargain at $89, even more so with the upgrade price of $69.
The full version retail price of Photoshop CS3 is about $600.
Adobe skipped Elements 5 on the Mac, but managed to update version 4 to version 5 on Windows, and version 6 came out last year. The Mac’s move to Intel may have had something to do with the timetable adjustments for Photoshop and Elements, as both are now PowerPC and Intel native.
The new Elements interface is different, and highly reminiscent of Pixelmator, though dark gray vs. nearly black.
It’s a dark, dark, dark world these days for interface design. Think Aperture. Think Lightroom. All this white text on a dark background makes dialog boxes more difficult to read.
While Elements carries plenty of the professional tools found in Photoshop, the intended user is different. Elements is aimed at consumer and amateur photographers. It’s easy enough for Mac newbies, but with enough tools to satisfy a graphics professional wannabe.
Elements has three basic areas to master. Edit images, Create images, and Share images. Navigating to each is easy with the tabbed workspaces on the right corner.
The Edit images area also has different modes, Full, Quick, and Guided. Full mode feels more like full-on Photoshop, Quick is similar to the QuickFix mode in Elements 4 for Mac. Only the Guided mode is new, and uses a few questions to get you where you want to be. I like the descriptions of the tools. That’s handy even for those of us who live in Photoshop.
Edit tools have been enhanced with better sharpening tools, color tools, and improved RAW support. Adobe’s CS3 Bridge is included in Element along with a number of new editing tools. Refine edge is new, borrowed from the full version of Photoshop.
The Create and Share modes are self explanatory. Edit a photo or image and then open the Share mode so you can export to a CD or DVD.
Or export to a web photo album, or simple email the image, or order prints, ala Apple’s iPhoto features.
The Create mode is an excellent way for the part-time photographer and Mac graphics newbie to present photos and images, which can be set up as a collage, PDF slideshow, or simply start with a Project Bin (which used to be called Photo Bin).
The built-in Artwork mode is loaded with frames, graphics, shapes, text elements, themes, and backgrounds.
I’ve used both Photoshop CS3 and previous versions of Elements and found myself somewhat surprised with my test run of Elements 6 for the Mac. There are some functions, especially those in the Create mode, which are easier than in Photoshop CS3. And many of the tools I use in the full version of Photoshop CS3 are also in Elements.
Not bad for $89. One more thing. The new version of Elements is much faster than previous versions and runs on Leopard and Intel Macs. That begs the question—will you upgrade to Elements 6 or move on to the full version of Photoshop?