With an impressive collection of flexible tools, Adobe Photoshop Elements is one of the most powerful consumer-level photo editors around. Batch processing, image layering, cloning, and Web optimization are just a few of the software's time-saving tools.
It's taken a while for Elements to crawl out from the shadow of its celebrity sibling, Photoshop, but these days you'd be hard-pressed to find similarities between the two. There's the occasional familiar dialog box and a handful of traditional Photoshop interface quirks that may elude newbies, but if Photoshop CS is the "pro" version, Elements is for the average consumer.
Overall, there seems to be more and better creative content in Elements 5, and it's generally easier to use than its predecessor. The organizer and photo downloader have buckets of new features, including useful tweaks to stacking, map integration, and more. However, the imaging tools aren't keeping pace. The new additions--black-and-white conversion, curve-based correction, distortion correction, and a different take on sharpening--offer little more than new interfaces for old problems.
The tutorials and help tools do a great job of demystifying the labyrinthine interface, but if you're looking for a basic tool for common graphic tasks, there are plenty of lower-priced options that are much easier to master. Photoshop Elements is definitely worth a look, though, if you're looking for a significant boost in creativity and productivity.
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From Adobe Systems:
Adobe Photoshop Elements for Macintosh puts the power in your hands to perfect and transform your digital photos like a pro. Make quick fixes when you need to or use advanced editing options for more control. Experiment with special effects and compositing tools to enhance your photos, and show off your creativity with great-looking prints and more.
Ease of use
Breadth of capabilties
Integration with iPhoto
Lack of price integrity/having to hunt around to find the best deal.
I tried a lot of the other free-to-modestly priced digital editors - GIMP, Pixelmator, etc. - and all of them, while good, had various challenges, many of which involved ease of use issues. While the list price for Photoshop Elements is higher than all these other ones, you can almost certainly get it for a lot less (probably less than $60 - I got mine for about $35 after a $20 upgrade rebate). Photoshop does more than all these other programs with a better interface, much greater ease of use and great integration with iPhoto.