The competition is heating up among low cost image editing software for Mac users. Adobe hasn’t upgraded Photoshop Elements for years, again neglecting Mac users, and leaving the low end of the market open for newcomers.
For well under $100 there are many competent, capable photo editing titles. Consider Pixelmator, Acorn, Funtastic Photos, and others, all carving out their own territory in the market. The latest photo editor hopes to quash the new competition. Enter Adobe’s Photoshop Elements 8 for Mac. It’s back with more features than ever.
What happened to Photoshop Elements for the Mac? While the Windows software progressed with new features, and went from version 6.x to 7.x to 8.x, the Mac version languished for years, stuck back at 6.x.
While Adobe seemingly ignored the growing Mac market, an anti-Adobe backlash brought opportunities for software developers to fill the vacuum. Apple added photo editing capability to iPhoto.
Not wanting to lose more share of a growing market for photo editing software, the Adobe empire strikes back with another version of Photoshop Elements.
This time, Adobe is making some noise by introducing Elements 8, skipping version 7 altogether. Noise? Adobe calls Elements “The #1 selling consumer photo-editing software.” Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.
The fine print of Adobe’s advertising doesn’t say whether it’s Mac or Windows or both, but the data covers 2002 through early 2009, and North America only. Regardless, Elements is back with more features than previous versions.
Windows users get both odd and even numbered versions, while Mac users, so it seems, are stuck with only the even numbered versions, since Adobe skipped Elements 5 and 7 for the Mac.
Mac or Windows? $99
The Mac version of Photoshop Elements can be pre-ordered for $99, but a $20 mail-in rebate is available to bring the total down to $79, and more competitive with the likes of Acorn, Pixelmator, Funtastic Photos and friends.
Adobe is in to bundling these days, and $120 gets Windows users Photoshop Elements 8 and Adobe Premiere Elements 8, a video editing application that is comparable to Apple’s iMovie.
Unfortunately, Adobe doesn’t bundle much for Mac users, unless you move up to the more expensive Creative Suite 4, which comes in a variety of packages at substantially more cost.
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Unfortunately, most of my Mac360 friends and family have soured on Adobe’s lack of steady upgrades for Mac users, and have turned their attention to other, often capable, software titles for photo editing.
Fortunately, I’m not one of them, and have owned Elements for years, love it to death, and didn’t have many (some) problems with Elements 6 on my Mac, even after upgrading to OS X Snow Leopard.
That doesn’t mean I’m not miffed at Adobe for letting such a capable application languish behind the Windows version. The school where I work has many Mac and PCs running Photoshop Elements. A little parity would be nice.
From what I can see, Adobe has done with Elements for Mac what Adobe does best. Add on a bunch of new features. Some are delightfully simple, like a one click full-screen photo preview.
One of my favorites, and sure to get used regularly, is the ability to recompose photos to any size without distorting key subjects. Think about that. It’s a bigger deal than what you’ll conclude at first glance.
Scaling an image is easy. Going from big to small, an image simply gets smaller. Typically, if you grab the left side of an image and scale toward the center, the image distorts. That’s bad.
Photoshop Elements 8 recomposes the image to the new size without notable distortion. That’s cool.
Lighting and Previews
One of the more difficult aspects of one-click digital photography is lighting. The flash can be your friend, or screw up what should be memorable photos.
Elements 8 uses new technology to create what is called ‘perfectly lit’ shots. I’ll believe it when I see it, but Adobe’s Flash videos of these new features are impressive.
Even better is the new Preview function, which gives you a number of differing looks, via an adjustment feature, then choose the best one.
Photo image editing software has had flash red eye elimination for many years. It’s even in iPhoto. Adobe takes it a few steps into the future with digital dental work—teeth whitening.
Why not? Photoshop is used to create totally perfect complexions and skin and teeth for models, so why not bring the technology down to the rest of us. If I can’t be beautiful in real life, why not be beautiful in a photo?
Skin tones can be retouched with a click, the sky can be made even more blue than it is. Again, these are effects that are common among Photoshop professionals, but Adobe is making them easy in Elements 8.
Way back in the day, when Photoshop Elements 6 ruled the day, Adobe introduced a photo merging technology that allowed you to create a single good group photo from two or three bad photos.
That feature has been enhanced in Elements 8 along with the ability to completely remove some unwanted elements of a multi-shot scene. That’s cool, too.
Looking at Adobe’s comparison page for Mac versions 4, 6, and the upcoming 8, I get mixed emotions. First, some of these new features are decent and likely to inspire many Mac users to create even classier photo galleries.
Second, the list does show you exactly what Adobe did in recent years for Mac users. Not much. It’s as if Elements 4 didn’t do much at all, and Elements 6 only did a little more, but Elements 8 is the cat’s meow, and you should buy it right away because it may be the last Elements for Mac users for many years to come.
I’m not enamored with Adobe because I sense that they treat Mac users with a different measure of disdain than their Windows customers (but a measure of disdain for everyone—you can do that when you’re that big). Still, I’m a big fan of Photoshop Elements and look forward to the new features.
After all, Elements is really a not-so-junior version of Photoshop (which retails for $699) and yet weighs in at a mere $99. Come on, that’s a bargain, and helps Elements 8 top the challengers.