Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 for the Mac (September 26, 2010)

Posted: September 26, 2010 by docbabad in Software Reviews
Tags: , , ,

By Harry {doc} Babad, © Copyright 2010. All Rights Reserved.

90% of Photoshop’s Features, automated for the Newbie, at 10% of the price.

Vendor: Adobe Systems, Inc.
http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshopelwin/?promoid=121DJGRZ_P_US_FP2_PSEW_MN&tt=P_US_FP2_PSEW_MN

Trial Download — https://www.adobe.com/cfusion/tdrc/index.cfm?product=pepe
Release Date:             October 19, 2009.
Cost: $99.99 USD (List Price, currently $79.99 with rebate); $99.48 CND. No price was found for a UK or Euro version of PSE 8 (Mac)
Ratings           4.5  or whatever

Minimum System Requirements: Multicore Intel processor, Mac OS X v10.4.11 or later including Snow Leopard, 512 MB RAM, 64 MB VRAM, 1 GB available hard disk space, DVD drive. QuickTime 7.2 (is required for multimedia features, and an Internet connection for Internet-based services. Processor Compatibility: Multicore Intel only

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Audience: Novice and to busy to learn Photoshop intermediate-level Macintosh users needing a simple but powerful photo-editing program, that is more powerful that Apples iPhoto.

Strengths: Simple intuitive photo editing, manipulation and sharing.

Weaknesses: No that affects a newbie like me.

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Introduction

Many people use Apple’s free iPhoto for organizing digital photographs, but if you capture pictures that are almost perfect with some flaws, you can do minor corrections within iPhoto itself, such as straightening out a crooked picture or removing red-eye caused by the flash.

However, for heftier and more serious photo editing, you’ll need a program like Adobe’s Photoshop or Corel Draw. Since Photoshop is a tool for graphic designers, it’s usually far too complicated for casual users to tackle.

As an alternative, consider Adobe’s Photoshop Elements 8 ([PSE 8] instead. The price for PSE is far cheaper ($99 <$79 with the rebate> vs. $699 for Photoshop). In addition, also Photoshop Elements provides tools specifically designed to help you, a non-photography editing expert, modify and correct digital images. All of this ‘accomplished’ without having to go through a multiple of obscure-seeming steps required in earlier PSE versions. Worse yet would be a need to become a Photoshop expert to edit photos.

With this release, Adobe Systems continues to set a new benchmark for power and convenience with its release. From my perspective, PSE 8 for the Macintosh has finally come to the point that FileMaker Pro achieved with Bento… a tool for the rest of us. In fact, the new program hosts a wealth of new features with many of the new tools, features and interface elements that come from Adobe’s Photoshop CS4

For Example, the useful ability to recompose images is now simpler (more intuitive) to use. For example you captured an image of several people, but they’re standing too far apart? Photoshop Elements lets you smash an image together, eliminating the space between people, and create a new image that makes objects appear closer to each other than they really were. Not only is the composition more attractive, but also your focus changes from the scenic background to the people you care about.

In the past, photo editing required a lot of patience and skill, but with Photoshop Elements, you can let the program do most of the work automatically. It goes without saying that if you’re more interested in creating images from scratch then you should prefer the full-blown Photoshop or a similar program such as Corel Painter. However, if you just want to fix digital images as quickly as possible with the least amount of pain and effort, then you’ll probably want to use Photoshop Elements 8.  Its low cost and multiple features make it a bargain especially for someone who can’t afford the leaning time or money.

Features Summary — Some Meat and Let’s Not Forget the Potatoes

Photoshop Elements 8 offers some very useful tools, both old and new, that are fairly simple to use once you get the hang of them. Learning the new program, despite the lack of a good Adobe based getting started guide, is relatively simple, albeit not intuitive. ‘That’s okay by me’ sez Doc.

The Family Spread Out in the Field

Together Again

“For instance, you can recompose your photos without harming its key elements. Let me explain visually. In the original photo above on the right. The Problem — I have a picture of my kids, and me but we’re fairly separated in space across the field.Let’s say I want to put this in a portrait frame, but not a horizontal frame. 

In addition, a feature called recomposing allows one to alter the orientation by simply dragging the frame, keeping the important elements without distorting them, and merging the rest. Sometimes, dragging is enough. More often than not, however, it’s better to specifically tell the program what to keep and what to lose. You can see that I’ve {Wang} have painted over what I want with green what I don’t want with red. <Wang Review>

“Elements 8 gives you other powerful tools as well, such as photo-merge, which allows you take multiple images at various exposures to get a perfectly lit image. Use the same basic tool(s) and working steps can be used to remove unwanted elements from an image. Take the same shot multiple times to sample various elements and cleanup the background. Along the way, although there were a total of about five images used to produce the clean image on the right. Source: Appletell reviews Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 for Mac OS X by Kirk Hiner — Nov 7, 2009. Doc Sez, not there’s no magic wand, but I’ve watched friends do this in Photoshop, loosing me completely. Using Elements is easy and intuitive by comparison.

Doc Sez, not there’s no magic wand, but I’ve watched friends do this in Photoshop, loosing me completely. Using Elements is easy and intuitive by comparison. Recomposing the image; the selection process.

Not all of the features in Elements 8, new and existing, are quite so delightfully and drastically ‘automated’. Many are simply the use of traditional Photoshop filters, transferred to PSE. These allow touch up or add interesting effects to your photos. You can, as noted earlier, correct red eye and brighten teeth with a simple click, or you can add or remove some unwanted space in your photos, as in the samples below. I am under the impression that many Photoshop filter work with PSE, but until you try, you’ll never know.


“Even for my graphic professional friends, Photoshop is work. It’s fun work, quite often, but it’s work nonetheless. You had to start using it after successfully mastering an initial steep learning curve. To become as master like Scott Kelby, you had to keep studying. With Photoshop, there’s a lot to initially learn, more to gain professional level expertise. Doing so requires learning (and relearning), and patience ding extended periods of plenty of trial and error.

Quite honestly for my needs, although I received an NFS copy of the CS4 package including I know its overkill for my needs. [I’ve served as an Adobe beta tester (Acrobat Pro).]

My friends, graphics professionals, and serious hobbyists all love the program, and I love watching (awestruck) them demonstrate its capabilities. For the many Mac users who have never tried it, it’s quite intimidating (and, of course, too expensive). I know expense in a relative thing, which relates to your needs… FileMaker Pro is a better database tool for me than the easier to use more consumer oriented Bento. But for graphics needs its Photoshop Elements all the way.

Thus, Adobe has continued bringing us the less expensive Photoshop Elements (Macintosh) for years, but although I’ve chippied with earlier versions, these earlier versions never caught my fancy. This new version has, for the first time a friendlier image manipulation program whose interface has become more task/goal/effect oriented and automated. Adobe’s claim ca. 90% of Photoshop in a low cost easy to use package is true.

Even the export features have been enhanced and simplified.

With Elements, you don’t get nearly the amount of power or control you get with Photoshop, but you do get enough to produce some very cool images from you photos or downloaded stock images.

With this iteration, Adobe has not only added some great new editing tools, by also improved the way you organize and share your photos.

Kudos

Working with PSE’s Smart Brush ToolsExcerpted from Gary Coyne’s review. Since I’ve not yet tried to master, these seemingly mysterious tools. I must rely on others’ words to share my findings and research. “Whether in Quick or Full Edit mode, using the brush tools is a very interesting process. PSE does a variety of very sophisticated tricks and techniques that are mostly invisible to the PSE user. Trust me, I say this in a good way. What it boils down to is if someone were to look at your PSE images in Photoshop, they’d assume that you were astute in your Photoshop activities. Meanwhile PSE is doing a lot of things under the covers to help give you some excellent results.” Do read Gary’s fine review. Read Gary Coyne’s AppleLinks review for more explicit details.

Discomforts

Integration With iPhoto — Despite Adobe’s claim to the contrary, there is no active well-integrated support for iPhoto in PSE 8. In order to import your iPhoto library (or portions of it) to Elements, you have to drag the photos out of iPhoto to your hard drive, or dig into the archaic iPhoto folder hierarchy from within Elements. It’s a pain, but it’s what you’ve got. The hidden benefit is that your iPhoto images remain unharmed, as all Elements 8 work will be done on the duplicates. I’m not an active iPhoto’s user, but do collect and catalog my photos with Apples tool so am not seriously bother by this limitation, but many of my friends are.

Lack of An Adequate Getting Started Guide — Another complaint about Elements 8 is that the included Getting Started guide is useless. Even $15 dollar shareware products have better guides. Perhaps main worth is the 13 blank pages that were perhaps meant to describe the new and improved PSE features. Alas the getting started guide mentions only a couple features for this excellent program and only in passing, and provides no detail on any of them. Indeed I learned more from the description proved on the MacUpdate site, which abstracts the features detailed on Adobe PSE’s site. [http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshopelmac/features/?view=topnew]

Photoshop Elements Online Help Resources and Tutorials

You’re going to need a third party manual for Elements 8 to become more than a casual and limited user. , However, while waiting to buy and read a book, (I’ve proved a suggestions in the appendix) you might be able to rely on the Adobe online videos.

Providing on-line tutorials is a fairly common practice for developers these days, but many of us like to work with written text in a book that can be annotated with marginalia. Finally, considering that many Mac users are used to the intuitive interface and capabilities of iPhoto, Adobe is kicking itself in the privates by not providing a smoother transition to Elements 8.

Review Summary

There’s far more to Elements 8 than I or any other reviewer can cover but you can read about the new features, see video demos (that I recommend you watch so you can see how easy all of this is to learn, if not perform) and compare product versions at Adobe’s website. Many features are purely for fun, but others are there specifically to make your photos look better: bluer skies, more striking black-and-whites, etc.

I don’t usually share more than a few images, none to any social networking or other externally accessible photo-sharing site. Despite this, I suggest you check out image sharing, as Adobe has gone out of their way in Elements 8 to make sure you can show off your work.

Of course, as in iPhoto, you can print your images, but you can also create photo books, collages and scrapbook pages, create a PDF slideshow, publish them to a web gallery, share them via iPhone, and more. And as if to spite Apple (the inability to communicate with iWeb and iPhoto apparently wasn’t enough), you can create CD/DVD jackets and labels. Take that, Apple! — Adobe actually wants to burn discs!

Regardless, Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 is a great program that provides some amazing capabilities. It’ll be a bit frustrating at first when your results aren’t as impressive as those in the samples, but with some practice and the acceptance that every image will require a slightly different approach, you’ll be surprised by what you’re able to accomplish. Just don’t tell anyone how easy it was. This is your chance to use “Photoshop” as a verb, and I suggest you do it.

In short, Adobe has done a fine job with the new Elements-8. What Adobe is trying to do, and mostly succeeds, is to create an image processing program that lets you obtain the same results as the professionals. If your images are the right kind of images, you will get great results right off the bat. On the other hand, a few subtle differences can cause an “easy to fix” image into a “oh, this will take some work” kind of image. I think they are promising more than can really truly be delivered at this point in time. If you try to use these tools and do not obtain suburb results, the features within Photoshop Elements 8 in the Full Edit mode are there to get your desired results–you will have to learn how to do that, it’s not really hard.

The amazing thing about Photoshop Elements 8 is that it can do so much of what Photoshop can do at 1/10 the price. I am not sure if Adobe considers Elements a gateway drug into the full Photoshop program, that’s your call. But there’s no doubt Photoshop Elements is a great tool

Try It — Buy It — Make it your tool for optimizing your photo-based graphics with a minimal learning curve. Although I’ve bought and tried earlier version of PSE, this is the first time I’ve felt I’d gotten my money’s worth. For me, at 74 young, it a question of how I spend my time and photo-shopping was never my choice even in the earlier versions (PSE 7.0 and earlier.) So for me it’s a worthy 4.5. what-ever’s

PS: Some of the comments in this review were abstracted from sources such as Wally Wang’s review listed in the references below. Where this was done, I quote the other reviewer’s material despite having paraphrased it.

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APPENDICES

Photoshop Elements 8 (Mac) Features Set

Recompose Photos To Any Size With Out Distortion (New) — Ever want to change the size or orientation of a photo to fit a certain frame? Now you can quickly resize — even going from landscape to portrait or vice versa — without distorting key objects like people or buildings.

Quickly Clean Your Scene Of Unwanted Elements (New) — You took five shots of your subject, but pedestrians and cars distract from the scene in every one. Now, use Photomerge Scene Cleaner to simply brush away any elements that changed positions between photos and create a composite with just the look you want.

Select and Apply Changes to Your Images with a Single Stroke (New) — Simultaneously select a specific photo area and apply incredible effects with a single stroke of the Smart Brush tool. Improve an images lighting, add rich textures, and more with eight libraries of over 50 sophisticated effects.

Choose the Best Result (New) — Perform a full range of common photo adjustments —including color, contrast, and lighting changes — with just one click. Then choose the best result from a group of adjustment previews.

Give Your Creations a Fresh Look (New) — Experiment with new artwork and templates to give your printed creations fun and stylish new looks.

Count On Step-By-Step Assistance (Enhanced Capability) — Need to touchup a scratch or blemish but not sure how to begin? Let Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 software for Mac walk you through each editing step to easily get the results you want. New Guided Edit options help you achieve both basic and more sophisticated artistic effects.

Quickly Retouch Skin and Soften Other Surfaces (New) — Soften surfaces while keeping edges and details crisp with a Surface Blur filter that works great on portrait shots.

Share Photos On The Web In Fresh Ways (New) — Share your photos in new, eye-catching web gallery templates that you can easily preview before uploading.

Go From Flawed To Phenomenal In Seconds (New) — Get just the photo fixes you’re looking for with new one-step shortcuts that whiten teeth and change grey skies to a vibrant blue.

Recompose Photos To Any Size With Out Distortion (New) — Ever want to change the size or orientation of a photo to fit a certain frame? Now you can quickly resize — even going from landscape to portrait or vice versa — without distorting key objects like people or buildings.

References to a Few Other Well Written PSE 8 Reviews

A PSE 8 Book of Potential Worth

I’ve not yet reviewed this, my only PSE-8 book. I’ve only casually skimmed it contents, stopping occasionally to read the authors comments on a topic of interest. Of course, I did not have the time to work my way though the detailed tutorial examples and exercises… soon. However mastering The Photoshop Elements 8 Book for Digital Photographers is part of my plan to enhance my ability to make Photoshop Elements 8 my own. Oh you want details — The book was written by Scott Kelby and Matt Kloskowski for New Riders Press, © 2010, Amazon Price $31.50 (List $50.)

There are a myriad of choices for other books on Amazon.com – read the descriptions, Goggle and read their associated book reviews— go out and master PSE 8 (Mac).

And as an added reader gift check out…

20 Years of Image Editing: Photoshop from 1.0 to CS4, Mac Life Magazine, dated 02-18-2010
http://www.maclife.com/print/5994

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Copyright Notice: Product and company names and logos in this review may be registered trademarks of their respective companies.

Sidebar #1: Reviews were carried out on my iMac 2.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo with 2 GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM running Mac OS X version 10.6.4 with all security updates installed.

Sidebar #2: Disclaimer: When reviewing software I will often use the developer’s product, functions and features descriptions. At times I paraphrase key parts of a well-written review whose author I always acknowledge. Usually, unless I’m quoting directly from another source, I do no clutter up the review with quotation marks. All other comments in the review are strictly my own and based on testing. Why need I rewrite the developer’s narratives, if they are clearly written?

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Comments
  1. mikeh2013 says:

    This software does so much, yet it is easier to use and much less expensive than Photoshop. I still have Elements 4 installed on my old Mac Mini, even though I have and regularly use Photoshop CS3/4/5, because it is a good tool that does a nice job of touching up photos. I encourage my web and blog clients to purchase it if they have budget concerns, because it is a bargain, does a good job, and easy to learn how to use.

    While Adobe didn’t have a good Getting Started guide for this product, they provide very good training materials with their CS suites. I also visit their website when I have questions as it is far better than what most vendors offer.

    I agree with a 4.5 rating, since the software is mature, stable, powerful, and inexpensive. In other words, if you publish images to the web via website, blog, or social media, spend the money and get something to help cleanup your images before you upload them.

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