Adobe’s enthusiast-level photo editor has been upgraded, but are the changes just cosmetic? Find out in our Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 review.
Photoshop CS6 may have demanded all the attention, but its baby brother Photoshop Elements has been quietly growing up. Now at version 11, it’s a mature, sophisticated image-editing program that provides 90% of the functionality of the full Photoshop, at a fraction of the cost.
This time around, there are only a handful of new features as Adobe has concentrated on the look and feel of the program, giving it a bright, fresh appearance with more readable text and clear tool icons.
But the refurbishment is more than just skin deep: Adobe has also made the tools more intuitive, with intelligent walkthroughs and easy adjustments.
The Elements Organiser is the tool for cataloguing, retrieving, printing and filing your images. It offers a range of techniques to make the process easier, from facial recognition to geotagging to straight calendar searches; unfortunately, facial recognition is hit and miss (we were frequently asked to put a name to bits of buildings and other inanimate objects).
You can perform some routine image enhancement tasks with the Organiser, but you have no control over the process: it’s all or nothing, with single buttons to enhance sharpness, contrast, colour and so on. It’s almost always worth opening selected images in the Editor to get to grips with them properly.
An entirely separate application, files are transferred from the Organiser to the Editor to work on them, and this is a fairly straightforward process. Even tasks offered directly by the Organiser, such as creating calendars and photo books, are processed by the Editor.
This is where the main body of Elements resides. It’s divided into three sections, each of which caters to a different level of user: Quick, Guided and Expert.
Although the three modes can act independently of each other, you can move smoothly between them – and this has huge benefits, particularly when moving from Guided to Expert mode.
In all three modes, the Options bar, which shows tool settings, has moved from the top to the bottom of the screen, and it shows all the parameters in a clear, understandable way.
Together with the tool and side panels, this takes up a lot of screen space; but they can all be moved out of the way, and there’s even a floating panel mode for those who prefer it.