on September 29, 2010
I upgraded from Photoshop Elements (PSE) 6 for Windows to PSE9 for Mac and was glad to see that the Mac and Windows versions were essentially the same. Since I use iPhoto for organizing, I can't say anything about PSE's Organizer, but I gave the Editor a workout.
Elements is at the high end of what I'll spend for a photo editor, and I buy roughly every third version to keep the price reasonable over the years, so it's time, and I'm happy to say that 9.0 fits my needs . . . and then some.
Like PSE6, PSE9 it is a great overall photo editor. It does a good job of enhancing photos, either with a click of a button or just a few clicks if I happen to disagree with the Auto Smart Fix. It can process batches of photos that all need the same work done to them. And it has enough manual controls (histograms, contrast, brightness, shadows/highlights, red eye, color correction, layers, etc.) to do just about anything to a photo you can imagine.
* It works smoothly with iPhoto; I could switch back and forth easily and quickly and open multiple photos at once for editing.
* It's fast on my MacBook Pro.
* The editor hasn't crashed yet, and I'm running through thousands of photos.
* All of the features that I'm familiar with from previous versions still work well, and some, like the magic lasso, work even better than before.
* Content-aware healing can perform minor miracles in my hands. In the hands of an expert, or someone with more patience, it can probably perform major miracles.
* The Guided Edits helped me visualize the steps involved for some of the more complicated features, which helped me make better use of the Full Edit.
* PhotoMerge Group Shot is incredibly easy to use. I had two photos shot at different distances, and PSE had no trouble making the necessary adjustments.
* Removing clutter from photographs is simple.
* Oh happy day, Elements now has layer masks, a feature that used to be the domain of its pricier sibling. Now you can make parts of a layer more or less opaque, allowing for some really neat effects. I won't use this often, but a few of my photos are just crying out for it.
* The Welcome Screen is still annoying. Fortunately, you can set it up to go straight to the Organizer or Editor.
* It still can't batch process the Save for Web feature. Sigh.
* My camera has a panorama assistant but doesn't stitch them together, so I was interested in PSE9's enhanced panorama stitching. For the most part, it's very easy. PSE does most of the work. Unfortunately, it created an enormous file--117mg--out of my five 5mg photos and ran out of RAM before it could finish everything--even after I maxed out the RAM in Preferences. I ended up with a very nice panorama but had to reduce the file size before doing some of the final touches myself. Then the final jpeg size turned out to be smaller than any of the individual photos.
* Yeah, I would have liked a manual.
If you are currently using PSE 8, there may not be enough new features to warrant an upgrade yet, though the content-aware healing might make it worth it. From version 6? Definitely.
If you have never used Elements, this is a great application with a bit of a learning curve. Get the free one-month trial, and borrow a book on it from the library. That's where I'll be headed once the manuals for version 9 show up.
on November 17, 2010
I've been using Photoshop Elements for over 5 years and have always thought it was a tremendous value. I've also used the full version of Photoshop, and if you can afford it - it's worth the money. I'm a professional photographer and marketer. I use Photoshop Elements almost every day and it does 99.5% of the things that I would use Photoshop to do (off the top of my head I can't think of anything I want to do in Photoshop that I can't do in Photoshop Elements).
I was thinking of updating to the full version of Photoshop for it's new content aware healing features. Photoshop Elements 9 adds this functionality to Photoshop Elements (and some other great additions too). If you're looking for a photo editing software application Photoshop Elements is the best value on the market. Period!
I think what Adobe has discovered through 9 versions of Elements, is that no 2 people want the same photo editor or photo organizer.
For organization, some want a simple utility that just shows directories and thumbnails, while others at the opposite polar extreme want to be able to slice and dice their photos eight ways from Wednesday. And of course, there are others at every point on the spectrum between.
Likewise, with editing, some have no interest in the process and just want Adobe to give them a few magic buttons that will analyze their photos and provide a good guess at the corrections required. But others embrace the editing process almost as another hobby in addition to photography and want to exercise complete control over every aspect of their photos. And, here too, there are others at every point between those extremes.
And what Adobe has provided is a program that seeks to give everyone what they want. A completely flexible approach to organizing and editing that allows you to approach those two functions with whatever degree of involvement and complexity you choose.
Unfortunately, because the software has so many ways to do everything in order to accommodate everyone, it is almost impenetrable to those who have never used it before. You will need someone or something to show you all the ways that you can use Elements so that you can select the approach that's right for you. If you've never used Elements and your plan is to teach yourself using the Help files and experimentation, I think you're in for a confusing and frustrating experience.
I'm convinced that the best way to approach Elements, if you've never used it before, is with an online or DVD based training course. The advantage to getting your first exposure in this way, is that you will have have a good idea of the width and depth of the software as well as having an idea of how to approach each organizing or editing challenge. You may not have all the details and you may not even remember all the steps, but you will know what is possible and generally how to do it and you can then refer to your books for further guidance. I learned Photoshop many years ago in this way, and I repeated the process with Elements prior to writing this review. (I should say here that Version 9 courses were not yet available, so I used a Version 8 course. Elements' interface is little changed from Version 8 (except for new features), so this works perfectly well.) I think it's the best method for acquiring basic skill with a complex piece of software. Just Google "Elements" with either "Lynda" or "Kelby" to get the links for two of the better ones that I know of.
I don't have a strong opinion, one way or the other, regarding the Organizer. I don't take a sufficiently large number of photographs to warrant "organizing." I just download each set that I take into its own directory whose name reflects the date and subject. I don't find tags and ratings and "Smart Albums" necessary. For me, the "Folder Location" view of the Organizer is all I need and I can get that with any number of freeware organizers and browsers. I will use the Elements Organizer because of its integration with the Editor but I don't find it especially compelling.
But the Editor is a very different story. Short of full-fledged Photoshop CS, it's the most powerful photo editing software anyone is ever likely to need. And version 9's new features - the Context-Sensitive Healing Brush and Layer Masks - make it hard to conceive of a situation where an amateur photographer would ever need more. (Except in rare circumstances when Photoshop's more esoteric features are required. e.g. you can play Actions (a pre-recorded sequence of editing steps) in Elements, but you can't create them. To do that, you need Photoshop.)
The Editor justifies Elements' price. The Organizer is a throw-in.
If you are new to digital photography and are looking for software to help you "tweak" your photos and correct some of your mistakes, Elements is perfect for you. You can start with the very simple "Quick Photo Edit," move eventually to the "Guided Photo Edit," and ultimately graduate to the "Full Photo Edit." If you are an experienced amateur and are looking for software with much of Photoshop's editing capability but at a fraction of the cost, Elements is perfect for you as well.
(N.B. If you intend to run Elements 9 on a Windows machine with a single-core CPU, be advised that as of this writing, Elements has a bug that will cause the Context Sensitive Healing Brush to crash in this environment. Adobe acknowledges this and is working to produce a patch.)
on February 19, 2011
I would give PSE 9 zero stars if I could. If you are a Windows 7 user BEWARE! PSE 9 has serious flaws and Adobe's Customer Support is extremely poor.
My issues with PSE 9 on Windows 7 x 64 machine are:
1. Self corrupting software - this is a persistent problem that started with PSE 8 and continues in PSE 9. The program installs fine, will run fine for 4-8 weeks, then one of the critical PSE files gets corrupted. The only solution for this to date has been a complete uninstall, including registry cleanup and removal of all traces of PSE, then a clean boot re-install. This takes several hours and is not trivial - miss something and you get to do it all over again. After reinstallation it runs fine again for 4-8 weeks, then it corrupts again, and the entire process has to be repeated. This kind of problem appears in several forms and is well documented in multiple threads in Adobe's Customer Forums, for just one example see here:
2. Adobe Customer Support - the poorest I have ever experienced from a major software company. After installation you get 90 days of free support. If your problem extends beyond what level 1 can resolve (not much) and gets escalated, expect to wait 4-7 days for the next level to contact you. Once they do successive iterations of a try this and tell us how it works followed by the next step take more than 2 days. So far I have been through level 2 for 5 days and still no sign or indication of any resolution.
3. Product structure - the Organizer side of PSE 9 is a real dog (as it was with PSE 8)! I haven't seen a serious positive comment on this portion anywhere. Unfortunately this portion is essential if you want to print more than 1 image on a single piece of printer paper. Overall, poor software design and structure.
My history with Adobe's PSE products has been extensive spanning 10 years. I have been a loyal Photoshop Elements user since the introduction of the first version in 2001. Along the way I made periodic upgrades including versions 4, 5 and 6. With a new system in 2010 and the Windows 7 operating system it was time for the then new version of PSE, which at that time was 8. Shortly after the initial installation the problems I noted above (1.) first appeared. I fought with this problem for ~ 6 months, without help from Adobe's support group. With the release of version 9 I was hopeful that the "bug" would be resolved and Organizer would be improved, so I bought it. Sadly, I was wrong.
Two months after the installation the same problems with the Editor returned, and disappointingly Organizer is just as bad in version 9 as it was in 8.
After working with Adobe's Customer Support folks for more than a week with an average response time of more than 2 days between successive contacts and still no sign of any resolution to the self-corrupting nature of PSE 9 in Windows 7 I have concluded that there are far better options.
If you are a Windows 7 user I strongly recommend that you stay away from this product and find an alternative from another supplier. There are several excellent options that readily handle Adobe's PSD files, so you will easily be able to work with your old PSE created files.
on November 10, 2010
I have been a Photoshop Elements user from way back, starting with Version 2.0. For reasons I will detail in a moment I felt that Adobe Photoshop Elements 8.0 was a letdown, but Adobe has corrected my concerns, added some interesting new features, and make Photoshop Elements 9.0 a solid high-end consumer photo editing package.
First off, I slammed PE 8.0 because upon installation the program started to edit / update all of my original photo files without my knowledge. I considered this reckless behavior by the software as I don't want my original photo files modified unless I specifically allow it. With PE 9.0 the program now appears to behave responsibly; auto-analysis of photos (to determine the number of subject in the photo, whether the photo is in focus, etc.) does not modify the photo files themselves, but saves the information in the PE database.
I enjoyed playing with the new features in PE 9.0 editor. These include the addition of layer masks, which may not be noticed by new users but will be a boon for power users; a slight improvement in the Spot Healing Brush tool; tools to enhance a photo to match the "style" (B&W high contrast, sepia , saturated color) of a second photo; and a new set of Guided Edits to fix common problems (adjust lighting / color) and perform creative edits (create an Out-of-the-Box effect, for instance). And all of these updates go on top of the already powerful editing capabilities of Photoshop Elements.
I'm also pleasantly surprised by the updates to the PE 9.0 Organizer. I've always used the PE Organizer and never had some of the issues others experienced, but then I've never had much use for the bells and whistles Organizer added. This may change with the PE 9.0 Organizer. Automatic uploads to Facebook, Flickr, and Smugmug are a plus, and the ability to print out your own "photo creations" such as scrapbooks and calendars instead of sending them out to Shutterfly or Kodak for printing is long overdue.
The major con of Photoshop Elements continues to be its relatively steep learning curve. I've used the program for years and still have to refer to online help or web searches to figure out how to do things from time to time. But once you get the hang of it PE 9.0 is a powerful program. I would recommend this version both for the first time PE user and as a worthy upgrade from PE 8.0.
on November 1, 2010
A week ago I upgraded from PSE6/Bridge to PSE9/Organizer.
PSE9 was definitely an upgrade, the content-aware Spot Healing Brush alone made the upgrade worth the effort. I also noticed an improvement in the sharpness tool and the edge detection for the magic wand. As the majority of my photos are underwater none of the auto adjustments work very well so I can't rate their effectiveness. Also I'm an in-camera photographer and do little more than levels, sharpness, and a bit of spot healing. So PSE9 is more than adequate for my editing.
Organizer was a dud. After 4 days of trying to deal with this resource intensive clunker, I removed it from my machine.
Showstopper number 1: I have over 20,000 photos of underwater marine life with complete taxonomic keywords. It flattened the taxonomic hierarchy. After looking at the XML and doing some research I discovered it was a lot of work to import keywords into organizer and then it was only two levels deep.
Showstopper number 2: Where did the loupe go? When you have 20+ photos of the same swimming fish and you only want to keep the few with the sharpest eye, in Organizer it can't be done without a lot of back and forth between the two predefined organizer views.
Showstopper number 3: I could not find a way to simultaneously view a selection of photos. This function is esstenial for comparing several photos at once. In bridge I could view several photos and have the loupe open on each one.
Showstopper number 4: No longer customizable. Two views that's it. Like it or leave it.
Showstopper number 5: Amateurish interface. What's with all the wasted real estate. Big clunky icons that you can't get rid of. Large unused space around the thumbnails in the contact sheet. I use a 13" mac when I travel, real estate is previous.
I heartily recommend Photoshop Elements 9, but would not recommend Organizer. Keep Bridge or use a different workflow program.
on November 29, 2010
I wanted a program that could create a poster size picture that I could place photos easily into easily. This does this and a whole lot more.
My only complaint is the hassle the company gives you when you apply for the $20 rebate. I'd read here and elsewhere that Adobe automatically rejects every rebate application, so I made sure that I included everything they wanted. Their response: "Thank you for participating in the Adobe Rebate Program. Unfortunately, your submission was denied for the following reason(s): Your submission did not include an original Adobe Proof of Purchase Tab 1". Actually, I did provide it, and now I don't have it because I mailed it to them. This all sounds criminal to me; I smell a class action lawsuit coming.
My suggestion to you is to assume you won't get the rebate, and figure your cost without that $20. Because you won't get it.
It's nice that this version of Photoshop Elements 9 comes with both a CD for the PC and a CD for the Mac. (I worked with the PC version.) I have used other photo editing software, but have never used Photoshop Elements. I was very impressed with the available functionality. Robust Help is available through video tutorials and there is a searchable help section easily accessed for help with key concepts. Enhanced Help is available on the Internet.
Functionality is organized within four main menus: Organize, Edit, Create, and Share.
1. Organize includes a way to group photos using people recognition.
2. Edit includes several levels of editing - manual, automatic, and guided
3. Create includes several projects such as a basic collage (quick and easy to create), calendar, greeting cards, and a variety of themes/layouts of photo books. The projects are compatible with local printing and some with Kodak Gallery and/or Shutterfly.
4. Share allows easy sharing through e-mail, online album, Flickr, Facebook, or CEIVA digital photo frame
It would be impossible to discuss all the features included in this software, but below are the highlights.
* The Smart Brush tool can make bluer skies and whiter teeth
* The Clone Stamp tool is easy to use. (I used to remove a fence from a scenic photo)
* The enhanced editing features allow you to match the style of a new photo to another photo. (For example, a new photo can be matched in style to an antiqued photo, changing the background and colors of the new photo)
* Crop tool gives a preview of what the cropped photo will look like and allows you to easily accept or cancel
* Users can set up an Adobe ID for 2 GB of online storage and invitation only photo sharing
* Red Eye Removal tools (I found the tool within the edit menu worked better than the "auto red-eye")
* Easy to use "Undo" and "Redo" helpful when trying new functions
* Spot-healing" functionality to remove blemishes or freckles
* "Auto Smart Fix" improves colors, shadows, and highlights. - (This tool is wonderful! I used this on an outdoor scene with poor lighting and was amazed to see people and details in the background suddenly visible from the shadows!)
*Magic wand and quick selection tools - used to select, copy, and paste selected portions of a photo for adding special features, enhancing colors, etc. (This was somewhat hard to use, but with practice would be useful.)
*Unique functionality available through guided edits - (These edits were easy and fun to use and is my favorite feature. I changed a photo to look like a pencil sketch with one click. In less than a minute, a simple photo of a flower was turned into a colorful "pop art" picture suitable for an artistic poster. In less than 5 minutes, I used the reflection tool to modify a photo of mountain scenery, and I quickly had a picture of the mountains being reflected in a beautiful lake that wasn't originally in the photo!)
A beginning user can install this software and immediately use the basic functions to edit photos. It will take practice to learn to some of the other features, and I think there are some of the advanced functions that I may never be able to master. However, it's great that users of all levels can effectively use Photoshop.
on February 20, 2011
I recently installed PSE9 on my Dell Studio XPS with i7 and 12GB RAM, etc. and although the Editor seems to work fine, the Organizer freezes the program every time I try to set the Organizer preferences. When I click organizer, edit, preferences and then make a selection, it freezes and I get a popup that says "Loading..." --forever. Then I have to use the task manager to close the program. I've checked the Adobe forum, etc. and no solutions. I talked with their tech support, and they even took control of my computer, duplicated the problem, set up a new user account with admin status, and tried many other things, but none of it helped. The tech guy ran out of things to try, and suggested I get with Microsoft --I guess just to get me out of his face. I've never had this much grief from any other software program. -And I can't recommend the program if you are planning to use the Organizer part of it.
I've tried several photo editing programs and always went back to using the Microsoft Digital Image Starter Edition that came installed on my computer, because it's so simple and easy to use. The problem was, though, that I couldn't do too much with it. This time I was determined to learn how to use Photoshop, so I spent a whole day just playing around with the program, and when I found the guided edit feature, I was thrilled! It made it super easy to do so many things. I was able to retouch my portrait photos to make them look as if they were taken by a professional, fixed up some old family photos I had that were battered and torn, and I used the lomo effect to enhance a lot of snapshots that I'd taken. I had a picture of my husband and two brothers (the only one in existence!) and they were wearing old stained up shirts...I was able to scrub up their clothes and plan on having that printed and framed for my MIL for Christmas.
Now, I can't compare this to other editions of Photoshop, or really any other editing program, because I always got too frustrated to ever learn how to use them. I'm just happy I was able to figure this one out. I also used the Inspiration Browser...that's a great way to start learning as well. It contains around 100 tutorials with great ideas and easy to follow instructions. So, if you're new to photoshop, start with either the guided edit feature or check out the Inspiration Browser. Either will get you on your way to professional-looking photos!