They’re feature laden and highly capable (presenting a clear barrier to entry for competitor apps) but excessively burdened with a horrible upgrade cycle and cost. Did I mention how complex Adobe’s apps are? The learning curve of most Adobe products will leave you dependent on caffeine or worse. Yet, here I am, espousing one of Adobe’s finest as the Mac App Bargain of the Year.
Is San Francisco’s counter culture rubbing off on my previously pristine Mac sensibility?
The Mac App Bargain Is Elemental
Business requires that I remain immersed and knowledgeable of the two major Mac app suites from the underworld. Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop Creative Suite.
If there’s a suite of apps that’s more complex, expensive, and useful than CS 5.whatever, I don’t know about it.
So, how could it be that Adobe gets a nod from me, an Adobe product critic of the highest order?
Think Photoshop at almost 90-percent off. This bargain app carries most of the features and fun of the full sized Photoshop all balled up in an attractive consumer package (i.e. Mac user without a degree in graphic design) fit for photo design neophytes.
That’s Photoshop Elements. Think of it as Photoshop Lite, but it’s more than that. Elements is what you need to make special creations out of ordinary photos. The user interface is easier than Photoshop CS.whatever, and tamed down to highlight those functions you need to improve your photos.
Elements is a photo and video organizer (date, tags, etc.). The Object Search feature lets you find photos using recognition technology. Find photos with similar or common content, including people.
The real fun for most of us lies in the tools. Photos can make background clutter disappear, brighten smiles, remove red-eye, improve skin tone, enhance poor lighting, and correct your camera’s lens distortion.
Even better, Elements gives you quick click to professional crop guides (Rule of Thirds, Golden Ration, etc.) so your photos compare favorably with professional results. The app is loaded with advanced tools that Adobe makes easy to use with step-by-step Guided Edits; simulate depth of field, add diffuse glow, or create a collage with a click.
Video producers say they’ll fix it in post. That’s what Elements does to your photos. Your finished photographic project becomes better than the original. Add transparency to specific areas, soften surfaces while maintaining crisp edges and details with the Surface Blur tool.
To show that Adobe has a sense of humor, the built-in image blending technology combines facial features from one photo into another. The Photomerge Style match analyzes the style of one photo and applies them to another.
Too many pedestrians or cars in your photo? Photomerge Scene Cleaner brushes them away. The Photomerge Group Shot combines the best faces and poses of multiple photos into one perfect composite.
Artistically, Photoshop Elements has consumer grade tools that give advanced results. There are 100 effects and patterns, including Snow, Pencil Sketch, Oil Pastel and more. Classic sepia tone looks are a click away. And there are hundreds of built-in photo effects that simulate everything from painting to liquid.
Elements even does typesetting and layouts. Text can flow along a curve. Layouts let you drop in photos to create a non-Apple, professionally printed, hardbound book. And, of course, your photos can be shared directly from the Organizer to Facebook.
In other words, Photoshop Elements is a bargain app. It’s not quite Photoshop CS.whatever feature for feature, but it’s priced like a value app. The interface is made for the average Mac user, not a graphic design guru. I could call Elements powerful and sophisticated, but that might scare you off. It’s almost friendly (that’s saying something about an Adobe app). It’s sufficiently friendly that Elements can be purchased in the Mac App Store.
Adobe provides plenty of learning tools (Flash Warning! for video instruction) to make it easy to figure out how to use all the included tools. You can pay less for a competitive photo and graphic app like Pixelmator (read my The App That’s Like Photoshop At 5-Cents On The Dollar) but it doesn’t have the same array of user friendly tools for the average digital photographer.
So, I’m swallowing a measure of pride and declaring Photoshop Elements 10 as the Mac360 Mac App Bargain of the Year.