Sunday, April 1, 2007

Is Photoshop Elements good enough?

PRODUCT REVIEW

By David Gewirtz

In light of Adobe's recent release of Photoshop CS3, many readers are wondering whether they need to spend upwards of $650 for the new program. Of course, if you've already got Photoshop CS2, the $195 upgrade is something of a no-brainer.


"You could get a very nice digital camera, a pretty nice digital camcorder, Photoshop Elements, Photoshop Album, Premiere Elements, and a DVD burner for just about the amount you'd pay for the full Photoshop."

But what if you're considering buying your first editing program? Should you spring for the full monty and buy Photoshop? Or is Photoshop's little brother, Photoshop Elements, good enough?

Let's cut to the chase: for most of you, Photoshop Elements is more than good enough. It's great.

Understanding the product

So what is Elements and what is Photoshop, and what's the difference? On the surface, Photoshop Elements 5.0 is a reduced functionality version of the full Photoshop program. But it's not as much Photoshop Lite as it is a program designed and tuned for camera enthusiasts rather than graphics professionals.

With prices starting at $79, it's also a heck of a lot cheaper.

The basic Photoshop Elements program also contains Photoshop Album, which is a nice image organizer. Where things start to get really interesting, though, is if you buy the Photoshop Elements/Premiere Elements bundle.

For those of you interested in motion video, Premiere is, well, the premiere video editing program out there, designed for professional video editors. Premiere Elements is a very strong video editing program, but it, too is optimized for camera enthusiasts rather than people who make their living editing video.

The reason I said this starts to get interesting is that the bundle, which costs $149, is a complete end-to-end solution for managing your photos and your video. Plus, the combination gives you a few interesting features not available in each program separately. Figure A, provided by Adobe, summarizes those added features:

FIGURE A

You can do so much more with both programs. (click for larger image)

If you ever have an interest in producing DVDs, you should undoubtedly get the bundle.

What's missing?

I'm often asked what's missing from Photoshop Elements that's in Photoshop. Let me start by answering it this way. You could get a very nice digital camera, a pretty nice digital camcorder, Photoshop Elements, Photoshop Album, Premiere Elements, and a DVD burner for just about the amount you'd pay for the full Photoshop.