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Adobe Photoshop Elements

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CNET Editors' review

Now in its 10th year, Adobe Photoshop Elements 10, which also comes as a bundle with its video-oriented sibling, Adobe Premiere Elements 10, offers photo enthusiasts and beginners a lot of imaging power for a lot less than its big brother. This version brings parity to the Mac for Organizer search, expands social tagging capabilities, some basic video support and path text, as well as enhancements to a few existing tools. It's a basic update that doesn't radically change the usability or capabilities of the program unless you shoot raw--and that's because it updates to the latest engine of Adobe Camera Raw. (However, if you do a lot of raw shooting, I recommend you try Adobe Lightroom instead.)

First, Adobe has beefed up the Organizer a bit to improve its video support, since it's serving Premiere as well. It allows for hierarchical tagging, as well as Smart Tags, which can automatically classify your media as high, medium, or low quality, as well as tag what it thinks is in focus, low contrast, blurred, and so on. This can be hit or miss; for instance, it classified a host of photos with shallow depth of field as out of focus. The new object search works reasonably well on rectangular objects--for instance, I used it to try to isolate the photos of cage cards--but not so well on others. It can search based on shape or color, and you can control how the two are weighted. There's a new Duplicate search based off the visual similarity engine, but it performs too inconsistently to rely on it. Plus, if you shoot raw+JPEG, it counts every pair as a duplicate. In general, PSE doesn't handle raw+JPEG well at all.

That said, if you're using the search tools to find images with a certain feel or color scheme to use in projects, the visual similarity search will suit.

From the Organizer you can do quick fixes, launch project creation, or share to a variety of popular sites. The Facebook integration comes in the People recognition view; there, you can download your Facebook friends' list to tag, so they upload pretagged; you can upload full or reduced resolution. New is YouTube uploading--it can directly upload unedited videos.

One of the new effects, the Picture Stack Guided Edit.

(Credit: Lori Grunin/CNET)

Photoshop Elements has the same task-oriented interface it's had for years, split into Edit, Create, and Share. In edit, you have a range of choices for how sophisticated you want the interface to be--Full, the traditional Photoshop-like experience; Quick, which provides a Lightroom-like panel with a handful of options; or Guided, which walks you through more complex adjustments and effects. There are a few new Guided adjustments. One's a gritty-glowy-diffuse-saturated transformation called the Orton Effect (here's how to do it in Photoshop.) Another is Picture Stack, which takes a single image and divides it up into a mosaic-like array. Of course, the images can be edited within the full editor after you've applied the effects. I have to say, I like the way Adobe intelligently handled the Picture Stack so that it really is possible to edit it (as opposed to panoramas). Finally, Adobe added a basic depth-of-field effect.

The new Orton Effect Guided Edit.

(Credit: Lori Grunin/CNET)

Another big addition for this version is text on a path. You can choose from a variety of preset shapes, which include heart and butterfly, as well as attach it to a shape or a selection. While it's easy to use and nice to have, you can't really fine-tune the appearance. There's no way to change the letterspacing to fix awkward breaks and as far as I can tell you can't edit the curve once you've clicked Done.

This version of the program supports Adobe's new Touch API, which means you can probably expect third-parties to create tablet apps to drive tutorials in PE as well.

On my Mac, at least--a 2.53GHz Core 2 Duo with 4GB RAM running OS X 10.7.1--found the software slower than I'd like. And my least favorite words of the day are "Loading the Adobe Photoshop Elements Workspace..." Photoshop loads faster on my Windows XP system. Plus, there are various "Click here to learn..." links at the bottom of the screen (such as "Click to learn to use the Organizer") that want you to sign in to Adobe which is just irritating.

That said, while there's nothing terribly whizzy in this version of Photoshop Elements, the product itself remains the same solid, full-featured piece of imaging software it's been for the past years. While existing users may not find this a must-have upgrade, first timers should find everything they need here.

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All User Reviews

Results 1-10 of 111

  • 3.0 stars

    "Good features NOT easy to use"

    December 18, 2012  |   By garne2t

    Version: Adobe Photoshop Elements 10.0

    Pros

    Healing brush.
    Red eye fix.

    Cons

    Not intuitive to use.
    Very poor UI.
    Difficult to learn.
    SLOW. Takes 10 seconds to delete one photo.
    Buggy.
    Non existent customer support.

    Summary

    If you have the patience to learn how to do what you want to do, you can get some good photo results. But I must emphasize patience. The UI is terrible and not customizable.

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  • 3.0 stars

    "Excellent photo editor, but major problems with UI."

    September 19, 2012  |   By bsquare31

    Version: Adobe Photoshop Elements 10.0

    Pros

    Impressive array of tools for editing photographs, probably the best program available in this price range, but there is one important caveat - download the trial version and give it a good tryout before you buy.

    Cons

    1. UI with gray characters and icons on dark gray background very difficult to read and results in severe eyestrain after short time.
    2. No options to modify color, font size or contrast of the UI to make it easier to read.
    3. Abominable response from Adobe answering requests for patches to correct the UI.
    4. Package comes with 2 programs, the photo editor and the photo organizer. Both must be installed even if you do not want the photo organizer.
    5. No useful documentation included with purchase.

    Summary

    This is probably the best photo editor in its price range on the market today, but being unable to modify the color, font size and contrast of the User Interface makes the program virtually unusable. After constantly straining to read the tiny gray on gray fonts and icons, many users give up and return to former versions or other software titles. Over the years I bought versions 3,4,5 and 9 of Elements. I reverted to version 5 shortly after trying to use 9, and when version 10 came out I downloaded the trial version and I could determine no changes in readability from the previous version. I am still using version 5 because it has a perfectly readable interface, and the editing features are essentially the same as later versions.

    The Adobe response to the UI problems in their user forums is essentially no response - "We hear you, but we cannot comment on if, when or how the UI will be modified in future versions." Adobe also claims it takes years of planning and programming to modify the UI, yet there is some ability to modify the UI in their professional versions of PhotoShop CS6 (various shades of gray).

    I would urge anyone considering a purchase of PhotoShop Elements 10 or later to visit the Adobe user forums online to acquaint yourself with some of the problems, and without fail to download a trial version before you buy.

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  • 3.0 stars

    "Great program, HORRIBLE U.I. visibility."

    September 19, 2012  |   By linnerlu1

    Version: Adobe Photoshop Elements 10.0

    Pros

    If you have good eyesight and are somewhat computer-savvy, this is a great program with fairly user-friendly utility.

    Cons

    The most horrible User Interface I've ever seen on a professional graphics program. Tiny, black-on-gray (only slightly adjustable) U.I. is almost unreadable for those with older eyes.

    Summary

    WARNING: Unless you are among the young, excellent-eyesight set, I would not recommend this program. The User Interface "may" be fixed in the next (11 or 12?) release, but Adobe will make you buy the new version rather than release a fix or update. Very arrogant and dismissive (even hostile) "customer service" on this issue that has been on-going on their own site for well over a year.

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  • 2.0 stars

    "Powerful, but cannot see screen menus"

    June 30, 2012  |   By jkaminski

    Version: Adobe Photoshop Elements 10.0

    Pros

    Several new features. Widely used, thus you get lots of examples on how to use the program.

    Cons

    My main concern is that the user interface is black on dark grey. This makes it very difficult to see what options you have selected or even some of the option names.
    I also find the Organizer tool is more for novices than for people with tens of thousands of images that need to be worked on daily.

    Summary

    I upgraded from an old version of PSE. Although I appreciate some of the newer tools, I had to revert to my old version for every day work. Anyone over 40 should seriously consider another product until Adobe gets the UI fixed. There are hundreds of complaints on their Forum on this topic, but Adobe does not seem to be interested in taking them seriously. I just wasted $100.

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Nice, useful, help to creat nice arts."

    April 1, 2012  |   By fuyunoatataka

    Version: Adobe Photoshop Elements 10.0

    Pros

    This is very useful and the colors seem lively.

    Cons

    I really enjoy the trial version of this software.

    Summary

    I like it. This i probably popular among teenagers.

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  • 4.0 stars

    "Can get great results, but it's not intuitive"

    March 16, 2012  |   By DoubleDecaf

    Version: Adobe Photoshop Elements 10.0

    Pros

    Addition to layer masks in later versions of PSE a godsend, clear user interface, great guided edits, lots of tools and effects

    Cons

    Not straightforward to learn, can crash

    Summary

    I love PSE, in fact I often end up using it more often than my full version of Photoshop for simpler tasks. You can get great results touching up and improving photos, creating cards and invitations, etc. However, you need to buy a book or do some online tutorials to get the most out of it. Can highly recommend www.photoshopelementsuser.com. I also use Photo Essentials with PSE which provides some great plug-ins - I just wish Adobe would build some of these into its program!

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Everything I needed"

    December 11, 2011  |   By texas_dan33

    Version: Adobe Photoshop Elements 10.0

    Pros

    I had to get a book cover finished and it had to meet certain criteria as far as quality, resolution etc. I tried several free programs and they didn't work. I couldn't afford Photoshop but luckily Elements had just enough to get the job done.

    Cons

    It had a lot of options that I had no idea how or what to use them for.

    Summary

    Good product, not too expensive, got the job done on a professional level for my book cover. Thanks for a great product.

    Reply to this review

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Absolutely dreadful"

    November 8, 2011  |   By squirty04

    Version: Adobe Photoshop Elements 10.0

    Pros

    Absolutely none

    Cons

    Be careful of this junk, downloaded this as a trial, just bought a new PC a couple of weeks before (Acer, OS 7, RAM 6 Gbts,3.2 Intel duel-core)started using this junk, first of all tried to improve a pic from a restaurant taken with my Xperia Arc S mobile, not great at night, tried everything. no improvement (using FastStone Image Viewer, just as good and free) and then my CPU starts spiking and the Elements window starts flashing, strange, then tried to uninstall it couldn't find it in "Programs and Features", not there, really strange, found it in Ace Utilities but again it said the programs didn't exist, so uninstalled file by file, couldn't uninstall last 3 files, uninstalled in safety mode (don't like doing that), stay away from this garbage!!!!

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  • 1.0 stars

    "UI fonts too tiny and poor contrast background"

    October 21, 2011  |   By bal039

    Version: Adobe Photoshop Elements 10.0

    Pros

    The tools are effective.

    Cons

    Photoshop Elements 8,9 and 10 all suffer from the same major flaw. You can barely read the tiny fonts and see the printing and icons against the black on grey background. This is especially true if you have a higher resolution monitor which many of us do now. I was so disappointed when I purchased this product because I expected so much more from Adobe. They are suppose to be the "gold standard" of photo editing. I was shocked when I opened the program and could barely use it. I have decent vision but I have to strain to read the UI printing. There is no way to adjust the font size or background color in any of these versions. Adobe forums are full of complaints about this issue and I recommend NOT buying this product until it is rectified.

    Summary



    Updated on Oct 21, 2011

    Don't waste your money until Adobe provides a way to adjust UI fonts and background color.

    Reply to this review Read reply (1)

    Was this review helpful? (5) (1)

  • 4.0 stars

    "leilanonaanzori"

    September 4, 2011  |   By gogim

    Version: Adobe Photoshop Elements 9.0

    Pros

    qitesaimurmani

    Cons

    tavisufleba

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Results 1-10 of 111

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