At A Glance
Excellent RAW support and fairly simple to use.
Lacks HDR and may leave more experienced photographers wishing for more.
A fast car won’t make you turn better laps at Laguna Seca. A pair of $200 sneakers won’t help you outplay Lebron James, and installing Photoshop CS4 won’t make your photos magically better. While that may be true, Adobe’s Photoshop Elements 7.0 will almost certainly make the average person’s photos better. Now in its seventh iteration, Elements 7.0 uses the guts of the extremely powerful Photoshop and tries to make it friendly to everyone.
A new feature in Elements 7.0 allows you to combine multiple shots of you, say, standing in front of a statue and subtract people who rudely walk into the frame. It’s the inverse of a feature added in Elements 6.0 that lets you easily combine multiple group photos to create one family picture without someone blinking or sticking his or her tongue out.
Other easy as pie touches include a new tool to whiten teeth or make the sky bluer and a few easy photo effects such as the ability to give an image a line-drawing look, an old-fashioned photo look, or a saturated slide look. None of these are exactly new concepts, but we do appreciate the simplicity of it. Those looking for a bit more fun will probably find it in the Smart Brush Tool. It’s what you might expect based on its name: a very smart brush. Choose it and click from a wide assortment of changes, such as blue skies or high contrast and then paint an object. The brush will stick to similarly colored or toned pixels on the screen, so you could change someone’s sweater from blue to yellow in a snap.
Adobe has pushed additional integration with its Photoshop.com service. The freebie Photoshop.com gives you about 2GB of storage space, the ability to back up your photos online, access to a limited set of themes and tutorials, and the use of a mobile phone client for uploading and viewing photos. The client, however, is pretty limited in handset support, but Adobe does point you to ShoZu as an alternative. Ponying up $50 per year gets you 20GB of space, additional themes, and tutorials.
Initially, we didn’t understand why you’d even want Photoshop.com when you can get unlimited storage at websites like Smugmug for $40. The answer: photo editing. You can access and edit the photos that you have on Flickr.com using the far more feature-rich Photoshop Express on Photoshop.com. It’s a neat feature, but 20GB still seems miserly in a day of cheap 16GB memory cards and 15MP cameras.
Elements’s list price of $140 may seem steep, but it includes one year of Photoshop.com. Far more palatable is the $80 street price of the app. At $80, it’s well worth the investment for the person looking to jazz up their photos. It’s not perfect, of course; we’d like see high dynamic range photography support (which is included in the competing Paintshop Pro Photo X2), and finding some of the cool features, like the excellent Magic Extractor, isn’t easy; however, for basic photographers who want quick and easy photo enhancement, it’s tough to beat Photoshop Elements 7.0.