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Adobe Photoshop Elements 8

October 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Products

  • Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 combines power and simplicity so you can easily go beyond the basics to tell great stories with your photos
  • Make your photos look extraordinary with easy-to-use editing options–whiten teeth, recompose photos, remove unwanted elements and more
  • Share your stories in beautiful, personalized print creations and web experiences, and share on popular devices
  • Easily manage and protect all your photos and video clips from one convenient place
  • Enjoy automatic online backup with 2GB of free storage, and access your photos and videos anywhere you are

Product Description

The newest version of the #1 selling consumer photo-editing software, Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 combines power and simplicity so you can easily tell amazing stories with your photos. Bring all your photos and video clips together in one convenient place where you can easily find, view, and manage them; protect them with automatic online backup and 2GB of free storage; and then dive right into a full range of creative activities. Make your photo… More >>


Adobe Photoshop Elements 8

Comments

5 Responses to “Adobe Photoshop Elements 8”
  1. Martin says:

    I’ve used Photoshop since Version 5 and currently use CS4. I’ve also been using Elements for maybe 5 years or more. For everyday family and landscape pix, Elements has been my editor of choice. But then Picasa came along and I found that I could do maybe 60 per cent of my photo handling more easily and quickly in Picasa, particularly since version 3. And the price is right. I nevertheless paid the bucks for Elements 8 because Picasa has its limits; when you need to apply operations to selected parts of a photo, you need Elements or the full PS. But Elements also has its limits: when you need to work on a lot of photos, it’s a pain. Here’s my first impressions.

    The first thing you see when you bring up Elements 8 is a dialog with a choice between Organize and Edit. Wrong, wrong, wrong. When I have a batch of photos to process, Organize is Edit, and Edit is Organize. I need to switch back and forth between editing and organizing dozens of times and it needs to happen like in the blink of an eye. That’s where Picasa shines — one integrated edit-and-organize program, back and forth cleanly with a click. In Elements 8, if you start with Organize and pick a photo you want to edit, you have to wait a good l-o-n-g time (on a 2GB memory system running Windows RC7) for the editor to load in the background. And if when the editor finally comes up you decide the photo isn’t worth editing, and you want to go back to Organizer and look at the next one, it locks the image on you with a red bar, “Edit in Progress.” I’m still trying to figure out a way to unlock it. When you’re in edit mode, your other pictures show in a horizontal bar at the bottom of the screen. Switching between Organize and Edit, even after the editor finally loads in memory, is not as clean and smooth as in Picasa3.

    On the good side, there is one view in Organizer (hard to find — you need to click on Fix without selecting an item from the dropdown) where you can select multiple photos and apply basic fixes to the set, such as levels and sharpen. That’s an advance over Picasa and represents the kind of blending of editing and organizing that will get me to stick with a program. If that hybrid workspace were the sweet spot of the program I’d rate it as well worth the money. Unfortunately when you need to move up from the few basic fixes, you’re back in the lo-o-n-g “loading editor workspace” wait.

    Apart from the substandard integration of editing and organizing — the very core of what a volume photo handling tool needs to do — the Elements editor remains the very useful and productive single-image editor that it has been for years, and it’s improved. There’s a new “recompose” tool that Stalin’s darkroom people would have loved back in the day for editing Trotsky out of those Red Square group portraits; now anyone can do it easily. There’s a blend tool that superimposes two badly lit shots to create one good one; I haven’t tried it. The crop tool is improved with optional aspect ratio choices. There’s a new “cookie cutter” tool that lets you cut out, for example, heart-shaped segments of a photo. The action of the zoom tool has been upgraded to zoom to the point where you click, a welcome improvement. The spot healing tool continues to improve for fixing zits on faces. Speaking of faces, 8 has the “face recognition” tool-du-jour that shows me what a face is in case I can’t figure it out myself. For example, 8′s Analytics told me that a tight macro of a bin of beans was a “long shot with one face.” The Analytics tool is pretty useless; if any part of a photo is in focus, even a tree in the background, it’ll tell you the whole pic is in focus even though the faces in the foreground are a foggy blur.

    Given my unhappiness with the integration of Edit and Organize, I’m probably not going to turn my disk full of 23,000 images over to the Elements Organizer tool; it’ll stay in Picasa3. The online backup I already have. I’ll dump the Organizer and just use Elements 8 as the intermediate-advanced single image editing tool that it’s been for years. As that, it’s improved and for projects where I don’t need the full CS4 capabilities, it’s a good tool and, I guess, worth the money. Two cheers. Maybe Elements 9 will do the edit-organize integration as well as Picasa3, or maybe Picasa4 will become as good an editor as Elements. We’ll see.

    Rating: 3 / 5

  2. John says:

    Photoshop Elements 8 consists of two different programs, the Editor and the Organizer, and the online photo-sharing service Photoshop.com, all only loosely tied together. I give the Editor 5 stars and the Organizer and Photoshop.com 1 star.

    Adobe provides a 30-day free trial for PSE 8 – be sure to try first before you buy!

    5 STARS FOR THE EDITOR

    The Editor is a reduced version of the full Photoshop CS, but with most of the features that a serious hobbyist (and even many professionals) would ever want for editing photos. Since it’s based on full Photoshop, the PSE Editor is robust and stable, with very few serious bugs. Considering that Photoshop CS costs about eight times as much, the Editor is an excellent value. Adobe’s Web site gives a good, accurate overview of the Editor.

    1 STAR FOR THE ORGANIZER AND PHOTOSHOP.COM

    The Organizer is the program that lets you annotate and group your photos and quickly search them, and the online service Photoshop.com lets you share those photos with others on the Web. Despite Adobe’s slick marketing, both the Organizer and Photoshop.com are slow, buggy, hard to use, and very poorly supported by Adobe. Adobe prefers to add a few glitzy superficial features each year, rather than make the core organizational capabilities fast and robust.

    Think twice about whether you want to lock your collection of photos and videos into PSE’s proprietary catalog. Starting with PSE 6, Adobe shipped development of the Organizer offshore, and there are well-founded rumors that Adobe is moving away from consumer products and focusing on their core competency, tools for professionals. So it’s very possible that this is the last release of the PSE Organizer and that Photoshop.com will be shutdown.

    Unless you’ve got a large catalog built with previous versions of PSE (like I do), there are better alternatives for organizing and sharing your photos. For casual use, there are the free programs: Windows Live Photo Gallery, iPhoto, Picasa, and online services such as Flickr. These are easier to use, faster, more stable, and can handle thousands of photos. For professionals and advanced hobbyists who want to manage collections of tens of thousands of photos, better alternatives include Lightroom, Aperture, ACDSee Pro, and Microsoft Expression Media. These cost about twice as much as PSE, but they’re more reliable, faster, and much better supported.

    Though PSE is intended for the serious hobbyist, Adobe has repeatedly introduced features that don’t work well with more than a couple thousand photos, and Adobe leaves serious bugs unfixed for many years. The new features in PSE 8 have embarrassingly obvious, show-stopper bugs.

    Some of the major problems with the Organizer include:

    - Viewing photos in Full Screen mode is intolerably slow – 13 seconds to bring up a photo in a large catalog.

    - The Folder view is not only extremely slow, but often shows the wrong contents of folders.

    - The handling of multiple hard drives and network drives, essential for users with large catalogs, was seriously broken in PSE 6 and only partially fixed two years later in PSE 8.

    - Upgrading catalogs from previous versions of PSE often fails with mysterious, unhelpful error messages.

    - People who have archived their photos to CD/DVDs in previous versions have discovered that they can no longer access them from their catalog in later versions due to bugs in the upgrade process, and Adobe support has been unable to help them.

    - The handling of metadata — tags, dates/times, captions, notes, and star ratings that get written into the photos – is riddled with long-standing bugs. PSE can’t even write the so-called sidecar files (.xmp) for Nikon raw files (.nef).

    - The features for more advanced searching are inconsistent, confusing, and buggy.

    - Map View, which lets you place photos on a map (“GPS locations”), is a bug-ridden toy that can’t handle more than a thousand photos. It’s based on Yahoo maps, unlike most tools which use the superior Google maps.

    As an indicator of the quality problem with PSE 8, the few new features in the Organizer have blatant bugs:

    - The keyword-tag text box, which allows you to enter tags by typing and very useful if you have dozens or hundreds of tags, crashes the program after a couple dozen uses.

    - With larger catalogs, the face-tagging command locks up the program for 30 seconds after each use.

    - The Auto-Analyzer writes a GPS location of 0,0 into photos’ metadata, and it isn’t possible to change the map location after that.

    - The Auto-Analyzer takes over 4 minutes to analyze an 8 MB, 15-second video clip, hogging your CPU. Tracing tools show that the analyzer is re-reading files over 300 times, an indicator of poor engineering.

    Adobe markets syncing with Photoshop.com both as reliable backup and for sharing your photos, but it does a poor job at both:

    - The sync is slow, often uploading typical albums at 20% or less of your maximum upload bandwidth.

    - The sync is buggy, sometimes mangling dates and photo rotation, and ignoring changes you’ve made to the order of photos within albums.

    - The “backup” doesn’t save crucial information from your Organizer catalog such as your tag hierarchy, projects (e.g. slide shows), audio captions, stacks, version sets, and folder structure, and it will mangle your dates.

    - Photoshop.com is buggy and sluggish and lacks the rich features of other services like Flickr or SmugMug.

    Adobe’s customer support for PSE and Photoshop.com is like the products – very slow and buggy:

    - You can wait on the phone for hours.

    - The customer-service reps have only a rudimentary understanding of the product and often give out wrong information. They frequently tell people to reinstall Windows, and some users have lost their catalogs as a result of bad advice.

    - The knowledge base of technical articles is rarely updated and doesn’t include most of the well-known information and workarounds that are shared on the user-to-user forums. Searching the knowledge base is slow and inaccurate.

    - Adobe consistently refuses to help customers with Vista 64, even though none of the product literature’s requirements excludes Vista 64 and Adobe distributes PSE 7 pre-installed on Dell and HP Vista 64 systems. It’s not clear yet whether Adobe will support PSE 8 on 64-bit Windows 7.

    - Support for Photoshop.com is only available, sporadically, from employees who post on the user-to-user forum.

    - Adobe support for all of its products is so bad that a VP posted an open letter to customers in August 2009, apologizing and blaming the problems on a poorly managed transition to an outsourced support provider. Two months later, there isn’t much sign of improvement.

    Adobe almost never issues a bug-fix update – you have to wait for the next version to come out (once a year) and pay full price for an upgrade (there are no real discounts for upgrading). The only exception is the Adobe Camera Raw plug-in, which has a new version once every few months.

    My background: I’ve used all versions of the Organizer in Photoshop Elements (and Album) for my personal photos (currently about 17,000). I’m a major contributor on the PSE user-to-user forums, maintain a heavily used FAQ for PSE, and make freely available a utility for troubleshooting various catalog issues caused by PSE bugs.

    KNOWN OUTSTANDING BUGS IN PSE 8

    Below is a list of the known, reproducible bugs in PSE 8 that I’ve encountered and reported to Adobe. This list started with PSE 6, but I only include bugs still outstanding in PSE 8.

    New Problems in PSE 8

    * PSE 8 crashes or gets intolerably slow after using the new Keyword Tags text box a small number of times.

    * If you use the new Keyword Tags text box to apply an existing tag name with a comma in it, PSE will silently create two new tags instead.

    * After applying a tag, the Keyword Tags text box loses keyboard focus and you need to mouse-click in the box again to enter another tag.

    * The Find > Find People For Tagging command locks up the Organizer for about 30 seconds after you click Done (even if you haven’t made any changes), when using larger catalogs.

    * In the Find > Find People For Tagging command, when you select Add Missing Person, you usually can’t resize the selection box by grabbing the lower-right or lower-center handles, which are the handles that most right-handed people are likely to use.

    * The Find > Find People For Tagging command doesn’t do auto-complete on pre-existing People tags, making it very hard to use with existing catalogs.

    * Full Screen view (F11) is much slower than in PSE 7 on larger catalogs, making it nearly unusable.

    * PSE doesn’t remember the settings if you toggle the Full-Screen Quick Edit Panel and Quick Organize Panel to disappear completely.

    * The keyword tagging in the Quick Organize Panel doesn’t auto-complete tags as you type, making it useless with more than a dozen or so tags.

    * The Auto-Analyzer will set the EXIF GPS location to 0 degrees for files not currently having locations.

    File Management and Tagging – Major Problems

    * Folder Location view shows incorrect folder contents when more than one keyword tag is selected in the Keyword Tags pane.

    * The Organizer fails very ungracefully when two drives have the same volume serial number, e.g. because of the use of a disk-cloning utility.

    * The conversion of a catalog from PSE 6 to PSE 8 doesn’t properly handle photos that are stored within the PSE 6 catalog folder (as occurs when PSE 6 was used to restore a catalog from a backup). As a result, it isn’t possible to save photos in version sets, and PSE 8 will create duplicate thumbnails in the Organizer for an edited file.

    * File > Backup/Restore Catalog doesn’t backup and restore audio in slide shows.

    * Using Folder Location view to move a folder containing hidden files imported in the catalog will silently fail to move the hidden files and will leave the unhidden files disconnected in the catalog.

    * When converting a previous-version catalog whose photos are stored inside the catalog folder, as occurs when you’ve previously used File > Restore Catalog with New Location, PSE 8 needlessly copies all those photos. If you have a very large catalog, this will waste huge amounts of disk space; and if there isn’t enough disk space to do the copy, the conversion will fail instantly with a generic non-explanatory error message.

    File Management and Tagging – Minor Problems

    * In File > Export, the Common Basename can no longer be empty, and a hyphen is added automatically, so you can no longer get files named 1.jpg, 2.jpg, etc.

    * Setting the Apply Metadata > Author or Copyright fields or the option Preserve Current Filename In XMP of the advanced options of the Photo Downloader causes duplicate files to be downloaded and imported.

    Integration with Photoshop.com – Major problems

    * Photoshop.com shows an incorrect date/time taken for photos with unknown month, day, or time.

    * Photoshop.com doesn’t obey the EXIF Orientation metadata field and can show photos rotated incorrectly, e.g. if they were rotated with the PSE option Edit > Preferences > Files > Rotate JPEGs/TIFFs Using Orientation Metadata.

    * Changes to the order of photos in a PSE album aren’t synced to Photoshop.com, and vice versa.

    * Only the top photo in a version set is synced with Photoshop.com (so you can’t rely on Photoshop.com to backup version sets).

    * When a stack is synced with Photoshop.com, all the photos in the stack are synced, but the fact that they were in a stack is lost (so you can’t rely on Photoshop.com to backup stacks).

    Map View – Major Problems

    * It takes 4 seconds to assign a keyword tag to a photo if there are 2,000 or more photos with map locations.

    * Map view is unusably slow with more than 8 – 10,000 mapped photos.

    * Giving a map location to a tag assigned to hundreds of photos makes both the Keywords pane and the Map view unusably slow.

    * Removing the map push-pin of a tag assigned to hundreds of photos mistakenly tries to update the metadata of each photo, which can take tens of minutes and fill up your recycle bin.

    * Moving map locations always fails, silently (too bad if you want to record backcountry locations not namable via a place name).

    * If a photo with GPS coordinates is imported, it doesn’t show as a red push-pin on the map.

    Color Management – Major Problems

    * The Organizer considers photos produced by cameras set to the color space Adobe RGB as untagged with a color profile, showing their colors incorrectly.

    Metadata – Major Problems

    * The File > Write Keyword Tag command doesn’t create or update .XMP sidecars for Nikon D300 or D80 .NEF raw files (but it does for Canon CR2 raw files).

    * File > Write Keyword Tags and Properties fails to write the map location (GPS coordinates) of TIFFs (tested with TIFFs produced by the PSE Editor and the Nikon Coolscan V, Nikon Coolscan 5000, and Epson 4490 scanners).

    * File > Write Keyword Tags doesn’t write the map location (GPS coordinates) into the .xmp sidecar files of Nikon D80 or Canon G9 raw photos.

    * The Organizer ignores correctly formatted EXIF GPS locations in some files that many other programs can read without trouble; this may be because the EXIF is encoded in little-endian byte order.

    * New dates set by Edit > Adjust Date and Time sometimes get silently lost.

    * Edit > Adjust Date and Time > Shift To New Starting Date And Time and > Shift By Set Number Of Hours writes the time in UTC rather than local time, as required by the standard, causing other tools to show the wrong date/time.

    * In Thumbnail View, the Organizer incorrectly orders files that have unknown time. For example, it will show a file dated 12/25/1976 8:00 PM PST after a file dated 12/26/1976 (unknown time) on a computer in time zone PST.

    * If you set a file’s date/time fields to all unknown with Edit > Adjust Date And Time, the value of EXIF:DateTimeOriginal isn’t cleared by File > Write Keyword Tag.

    * Edit > Adjust Date and Time doesn’t properly handle US Daylight Savings Time when setting date/times many decades ago, e.g. October 5, 1961 12:00 PM.

    * When setting the Organizer’s date/time for imported photos containing EXIF:DateTimeOriginal but not XMP:DateTimeOriginal, PSE 7 doesn’t properly handle US Daylight Savings Time in years prior to 2007, e.g. October 31, 2006 12:00 PM.

    Metadata – Minor Problems

    * Deselecting the option Use “Last Modified” Date If EXIF Date Is Not Found does not work – the last-modified date is always used for an imported file that doesn’t contain an EXIF date.

    * Edit > Adjust Date and Time applied to a file with time “unknown” decrements the date by one day.

    * With the Import EXIF Caption option turned off, captions pre-existing in a file’s EXIF:ImageDescription metadata field reappear in the Organizer after invoking the Full Editor.

    Searching – Major Problems

    * The timeline doesn’t correctly display date ranges spanning many years.

    * Using the Keyword Tags pane, you can no longer exclude a parent category from a search, e.g. exclude all photos tagged with any tag in the People category.

    * Find > By History > Imported On sorts the photo dates alphabetically, rather than by date/time.

    * Find > By History > Imported On takes a couple of minutes on a large catalog, making the command almost useless.

    * Find > By History > Imported On shows a scary message “Deleting Keyword Tags” that is apparently harmless.

    * Searching with the Find Bar for “1 star and lower” doesn’t show photos with 0 stars.

    * Searching for “0 stars only” doesn’t work for photos in a catalog converted from PSE 5.

    * Searching with date ranges doesn’t properly handle time “unknown”.

    Searching – Minor Problems

    * The Show All button sometimes doesn’t appear if you quickly type a query into the Search text box and hit Enter.

    * Setting a date range and then excluding two tags from the search clears the date range.

    * Show All doesn’t clear a date range set by Find > Set Date Range (can be very confusing).

    * Save Search Criteria As Smart Album isn’t available if a date range has been set but no other search criteria have been.

    * When searching, you can exclude a keyword tag and then include an album, but you can’t do it in the other order.

    User Interface – Major Problems

    * The menu bars don’t display if you have changed the screen DPI to be larger than 96 (as many people do on today’s ubiquitous high-res displays).

    User Interface – Minor Problems

    * In the Properties window of Full Screen mode, if you click in the Notes field and do Ctrl-A to select all the text, then click in the Caption field and do Ctrl-A to select its text, the notes remain highlighted.

    * In the Organizer, Help > System Info reports the wrong amount for “Built-in Memory” on computers with more than 2GB of installed memory. (The command reports the correct amount in the Editor.)

    * The setting of View > Show Borders Around Thumbnails isn’t remembered after you restart PSE.

    * Ctrl-A to select all text doesn’t work in the text fields of the Properties window.

    * Dialogs in the Editor sometimes bounce back when you try to move them.

    * Dates are shown by Display > Import Batch as 2202008 rather than 2/20/2008.

    * In Create > Slide Show > Slide Show Preferences dialog, you can’t use backspace or delete to clear the text in the Static and Transition Duration fields — you need to select the text and then type over the selection (non-standard Windows behavior). * Escape doesn’t close the full-screen-mode Properties dialog.

    * You can’t use the Windows Explorer Tile command to tile the PSE Organizer and Editor windows.

    Slide Shows – Major Problems

    * An audio caption attached to a photo isn’t imported into a slide show even though the option Include Audio Captions as Narration is selected.

    Editor – Minor Problems

    * The File > Save For Web command doesn’t remember the last settings (e.g. file format and quality) after your restart the Editor.

    Rating: 1 / 5

  3. Ok, let’s start with the top question: Do you or I really need another upgrade of Photoshop Elements? Is it vastly different than (6.0 or 7.0) and should this be my digital photo editing and organizing software of choice? I will cover the main points of the changes from Version 6.0 and 7.0 in this review. I have also reviewed Photoshop Premiere Elements 8 which is the video editor, and comes as a package option with Photoshop Elements 8.

    Photoshop Elements has two components– an editor, where you do your digital picture manipulation, and a file organizer or album where you store and retrieve your images. The interface for the editor is the same whether or not you use Mac or Windows, so if you are switching from one OS (say, MAC’s at school, Windows at home) you will be very comfortable with Photoshop Elements. Where the systems differ, however, is in the file organizer and this is understandable; the Organizer function involves organizing and retrieving files, so this is going to be different depending on your computer operating system.

    Since I don’t have access to a MAC, and since I don’t know much about them, I’m going to be reviewing the Windows version only from here on in this review. For your information, I’m currently using Windows Vista 64 Home Premium Edition.

    My computer system used for this test is an HP Pavilion with an AMD Athlon 64X2 2.70 Dual Core CPU 5200+. I have 4 GB of RAM. The Video card is NVIDIA GeForce 6150SE nForce 430 wtih 128 MB of video memory. This is an on-board video card (on the motherboard) and if you are doing heavy image work, and video, you might want a separate, more capable video card.

    Minimum PC Requirements:

    Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7

    1.6GHz or faster processor

    1GB RAM (MINIMUM means MINIMUM; you really will need 2GB of ram to be comfy)

    2GB available hard disk space

    Microsoft DirectX 9

    Color monitor with 16-bit color video card

    Internet Access for online features and help

    One immediate, small but great change from Version 7.0 is that when the software is initially booted up, the Welcome Screen is rearranged; on the left side: simple buttons EDIT or ORGANIZE. On the right, access to tutorials and underneath, info on your Photoshop online account (space available, links to your personal URL and online organizer.) Version 7.0 had tab buttons along the top of the welcome screen and was visually more confusing. THIS IS A GREAT IMPROVEMENT. THANK YOU.

    A big change from Version 6.0 is the workspace, which is now dark gray in color (I actually don’t like this–the gray is depressing, but I understand visually it is far less distracting and lets you focus on your editing job.) The workspace is now adjustable. However, if you are a change-o-phobic or just habit-bound, you can return the settings to look and feel like previous versions, for example, the fixed-window workspace of Version 6.0 can be retrieved in the Application Frame in the preferences window. There are other big changes, mainly the organizer, the online content, the personal online space and some editing tools; more about these further on in this review.

    In addition to the change to the Welcome Screen, there are changes to the interface where you access your tools. The palettes have been renamed as “panels” so I got confused a bit again. I’ve been using Palettes for years with editing software; palettes of filters, layers, colors. So, now, they are PANELS, and you can do this right in the panel itself at the bottom. This is also a significant change from Version 6.0 (7.0 does have it.) The big change to 7.0 however, is that the layer controls are now their own panel below the Layers panel. The old dialog boxes are being replaced by these drop-down panels.

    Getting down to brass tacks; the biggest change from 6.0 to either version 7.0 or now 8.0 by far, is the Organizer. Not only is there an automatic “organize my images for me” feature, but there is an optional online storage feature that has many uses. The main change from 7.0 to 8.0 has to do with an improved ability to add key word tags and to manage your media. If media management is an issue for you, this upgrade will be worth your while.

    Another big change in Version 8.0: do you open multiple files at a single session? (I often download a photo session from say, a parade or one event.) Beforehand, you’d have to go to the file list in “Open Files” and pick which ones or all the ones you want, and try to scroll through them at the bottom to find the photo you want. Now you can open multiple files and use tabs to switch between them. This is huge. If you don’t like point-and-click, you can employ a keyboard shortcut of Command-~ (tilde) to page through the open files.

    The main change to Version 8.0 is the Organizer. When you boot up the software and have those choices, Edit or Organize, initially you are asked to set up an online account at Photoshop.com. You don’t HAVE to do this. And you are then asked if you want to organize your photos, and this is the real advantage; the system combs through your hard drive and pulls up your images, and organizes them (like Picasa and other organizing programs) into a set of albums. The last six months are available with a single click, or you can organize by other means.

    If you key-word tag your photos when saving them, and use the Smart Tags (everything from photo quality (good, bad, over, underexposed, face, etc) to event tags, you can create albums and quickly export them to DVD,CD, online albums, or hard drive. If you do a lot of image work and don’t want your main hard drive cluttered with images, or if you want to back up your images onto an external drive, this is very handy. The organizer is one major reason to move from 6.0 to 8.0. Organizing a large number of photographs is made seamless and easy with the organizer that appeared in Version 7.0. I didnt think Id need it, but I do need it and I use it. In fact, I need to get better at using the tag feature. This is very good for the increasingly difficult task of finding and retrieving older photos.

    You get 2GB free storage online at Adobe Photoshop.com’s site, so if you sign up (as is suggested in the Welcome Screen), you can have an offsite, online backup. If 2GB is not enough storage for you, you can pay for Plus membership. Plus Membership starts at around twenty bucks (at this time) and you can go from 20GBmb (about 4 hours of video storage) to 40, 100, 250 or 500GB of storage, with prices rising accordingly. There are other perks such as advanced tutorials, and some bonus art and video effects, but the main reason for upgrading from free is to obtain much more online storage. I used some of the themes for the slide show and there are a few included, so the temptation is very strong to spring for the extra twenty bucks, get the ten-fold increase in storage (easy to fill it up) as well as the larger selection of themes. If you use Premiere, the adjunct video editing, you get increased storage for videos, and movie theme materials for “instant movies.” I will be reviewing Premiere 8.0 separately, but you can see that if you intend to use the complete image-plus-video package, you probably will want a Plus membership. I was surprised to find out (me, the minimalist) that I did also want the upgrade. Film buffs and Youtube fanatics will want the extra storage; video takes a lot of space, and you are permitted to upload a video of up to 2GB with basic membership.

    In version 7.0, Adobe introduced a much-improved Photomerge funtion. I use this function a lot to make composite photos as well as panoramas and other interesting landscape creations and group photos. I was not happy with the previous Photomerge in versions 6.0 and prior, but I used it a lot as a shortcut to cut-and-paste multiple images to make a composite. Version 8.0 improves Photomerge and adds a very interesting and useful feature: you can combine several exposures to create the “perfect” digital exposure. Take one shot with flash and one without. (Yes, the no-flash shot is too dark; the flash shot is sometimes washed-out or the shadows look funny.) Using PhotomMerge Exposure, you can get a new, improved “best-of-both-worlds” photograph. Here’s my take: if you have Version 7.0 and you do a lot of photography, this is worth the upgrade alone.

    Two new editing tools, Recompose and Smart Brush, tools also are slick ways to merge and fix photos with a lot less fiddling around, or by using some smarts built into the software. For example, you can reformat a wide photograph, remove a lot of blank space and recompose it to have the figures closer together, but not distorted. I used to do this by a very involved cut-and-paste procedure, copying figures I wanted to move and covering over unsightly elements like road signs or utility poles; this is a lot faster though I still need to do some clever editing myself if a pole appears “growing” out of the top of a subject’s head (a huge photographic boo-boo) or if there is some goofy kid mooning you or mugging a funny face in the background of the shot (I shouldn’t be telling you this, but a fun way to ruin someone’s vacation photograph is to sneak into the background as they compose their award-winning photo of the Eifel Tower or Mount Rushmore and cross your eyes and stick out your tongue. Kind of a human version of that intruding squirrel of internet fame.) Using Recompose, you can remove these offensive things more easily.

    There are templates to make cards, calendars, frames and other artwork. I am not into that kind of thing, but it’s there for those of you who do scrapbooking, especially digital scrapbooking or who make your own birthday cards or Christmas newsletters. I used the slideshow template and I loved it. I wanted more…but the themes as I mentioned previously, are limited in the basic, included online edition. You have to spring for Plus membership to expand those selections of themes.

    No major changes to the filters. Pretty much the same as Version 6.0, with the changes to controlling the interface as I mentioned before. The biggest change to filters is in the smart brushes for photographs. I have been using the filters a great deal ever since Elements was introduced, to pre-compose paintings from my digital photos. They seem pretty much the same as in earlier versions though the adjustments are now easier to manipulate in the Filter Gallery.

    This question comes up all the time: is 8.0 FASTER??? I didn’t notice any difference loading 8.0 and 7.0. Definitely, versions 7.0 and 8.0 are much faster to load than 6.0, at least with my computer.

    Re tutorials, manuals and help; as usual, help is online content though a pamphlet on Getting Started comes with the box of software. In addition to the online content for help, there is a “Tips and Tricks” hyperlink in the Welcome Screen (lower right). This takes you online to a web page with tutorials. The tutorials include what’s new in Version 8.0, various help for video editing (this will be covered in my review of Premiere Version 8.0.) You can search for other tutorials, and even submit your own. Tutorials have a rating on the right (one to five stars.) When you click on a particular tutorial, you will see the author, a way to favorite it for future reference, and on the right, you can add your own rating of it.

    Summary:

    Version 8.0 has a few great new improvements over Version 7.0. It is not vastly different than 7.0 but the Recompose, PhotomMerge Exposure and some of the adjustments to the panels are advanced enough to make this a significant improvement if you like to do digital photography. It is quite different from Version 6.0 so if you have not upgraded and these features appeal to you, I think it would be well worth it to get the improved organizer and the improved tools.

    Recommendation: If you are on 6.0 or earlier versions and your PC meets the minimum requirements, do upgrade to 8.0. If you are on Version 7.0 and employ the media organization, upgrade to 8.0

    Joanna Daneman

    Rating: 5 / 5

  4. M. Weekley says:

    Brief history:

    We don’t own previous versions of this program; so if you are an owner of an older edition you may want to consult some of the other reviews on here who upgraded. We consider ourselves amateur photographers who have a digital SLR camera and have used THE Photoshop in the past. Lastly, this review is to give a quick synopsis of the program. There are many reviews already written on the technical specifications and limitations of the product. We are writing this as a summary for those who want to cut to the chase.

    The Rundown:

    Adobe Photoshop Elements 8.0 is a solid program for those who want some of the best aspects of the Daddy of Photoshop, but don’t need the extensive extras (or want to pay for them). My wife and I started off trying to use Photoshop from one of our friend’s computer but were completely overwhelmed. The original Photoshop is an amazing product, but we needed something that reflected our current level of expertise. We have found Photoshop elements to meet and exceed our expectations. There’s a lot of powerful tools in this program that will meet the needs even of some demanding editors out there (in our opinion). Over the past couple of weeks, we have been able to do amazing things with our photos. It’s a program that has some amazing tools in bringing out the best in your pictures. Overall we’re very satisfied.

    In terms of ‘cons’, I think people have to come into this knowing their expertise level. This is a program that has a steep learning curve and requires people to explore through trial and error. Some people want advanced tutorials and there are some that are provided; however this is a program that requires some instruction beyond following a tutorial or ‘wizard’. With more power comes more responsibility from the user. If you are a novice, you will be probably overwhelmed at first with all of the options and some of the terminology (we were and still are in many ways). Photoshop elements requires some training (or exploring) in order to utilize it. People who are willing to do some legwork in learning how to use some of the powerful tools will NOT be disappointed and will grow and learn to do more with the program in the process. This may turn some of you away, but if you’re a novice or intermediate photo editing user who is not at THE Photoshop level but interested in becoming better at it, this is for you.

    For those looking for basic editing of red eye and touch up of photos, there are plenty of cheap (and free) products out there that meet your needs. This is Photoshop Jr. which will push you to go a little deeper to truly get the most out of your digital photography experience. After exploring a lot of what elements has to offer, we feel that this will fill the needs of most photographers. For those of you who may need more power beyond this program…well you have the Daddy of them all (and the price to boot)

    Overall Photoshop Elements is great product if you’re looking to do more than basic editing at a respectable price. It works fine on our Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit version computer and we’ve had no issues.
    Rating: 4 / 5

  5. JB says:

    Shortly after installing Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 and Adobe Premiere Elements 8, I found that all of the JPG files in my photo library had been re-saved. I was more than a bit disturbed by this and began to dig into why this happened.

    It turns out that the new PE8 Organizer has a new feature called Auto-Analyze turned on by default. This feature looks at all of your photo and video files and adds tags which are supposed to help you organize your photos and videos. Unfortunately, Auto-Analyze also takes every file in your library and re-writes them with a new date and time stamp and a size increase of 1 – 2 KB. (EXIF data on when the photo was taken is maintained.) I have not determined exactly what was modified in the files, but to me this is *totally unacceptable* behavior by a program. A photo organizing program should never touch the original JPG files except if the user explicitly gives the OK; Auto-Analyzer is installed and turned on by default when PE8 is installed, so most users will have their JPGs modified without ever knowing what happened.

    There are some great features in the PE8 Editor such as Photomerge (combine the best elements of several photos into a single output) and the Quick Healing Brush (to quickly fix flaws in photos), but I can’t give a positive review to a photo editing program which modified my JPGs without my knowledge and forced me to restore my entire photo library from a backup.
    Rating: 2 / 5

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