After working with this overhauled application, I found it an appealing change from previous versions that improved my workflow.
Not that there are many new tools compared to version 5.0. There aren’t. However, the latest edition has an efficient interface and quick-edit capabilities to make completing tasks easier.
It’s still split into two parts: an Organizer, which holds and manages the images, and an Editor, where all the editing tools are grouped.
But visually, it now resembles Adobe Lightroom, an application for processing RAW and JPG images, with a charcoal background that makes images pop when you call them up. Like Lightroom, tools are accessed from tabs on the upper right side of the application.
On the other hand, Lightroom doesn’t have Elements’ range of tools, particularly layers for massaging sections of images and creating special effects. Nor does Elements have the sophisticated pre-press abilities of the full Photoshop CS3 suite.
So Elements still fits in the middle for users who have modest photo editing needs, but with enough power to do much of what small businesses need.
It’s still a relatively undemanding application, requiring a CPU with at least 1.3Ghz of power. I tested it on a Windows XP machine powered by an AMD Athlon 64X2 4800+ processor with 2 MB of memory and it ran quite well.
It installed without a hitch. However, you will need to upgrade your catalogue from older versions of Elements, which could take several hours.
You should also be cautioned that Adobe continues to shrink the printed material that comes with Elements, which is now down to an 18-page getting started guide. There is a 464-page online manual, but my advice is to buy a book. Mine was Photoshop Elements 6, The Missing Manual by Barbara Brundage.
I’ve used Elements 4.0 for some time, and while the tools in 6.0 each are virtually identical the new version has them grouped much better. The Organizer, which now shows images like a lightbox, lets you access auto edits. But the Editor is where you’ll spend most of your time. Tools there can be accessed through the Edit, Create and Share tabs. Edit offers either full, quick or the new guided modes, the last
of which will be appreciated by newcomers for its ability to simply help you crop, alter exposure or colour and touch up flaws.
There are a few new tricks in 6.0 that businesses won’t need, but those who process RAW files will appreciate the improved RAW conversion features that brings Elements close to Lightroom.
One regret: Elements doesn’t include the ability to create High Dynmaic Range images by merging several photos with varying exposure into one with great areas of light and dark. It’s one of the few omissions in a fine package.