is an affordable image powerhouse
Alan Zisman (c) 2005 First published in Business
November 8-14, 2005; issue 837
High Tech Office
While best known for its pro-level graphics tools, Adobe has in recent
years offered a few powerful, but affordable, packages aimed at the
rest of us. First off the mark was Photoshop Elements, which offered
about 80 per cent of the features of the full-fledged Photoshop for
about 20 per cent of the price (about $140). Last year's version 3.0 of
Photoshop Elements included a more-accessible interface along with the
photo album and organizing tools that were previously packaged
separately as Photoshop Album. At the same time, the company released
the first version of Premiere Elements (also about $140), a more
affordable downscaling of its professional video-editing software, and
bundled both Elements programs for about $180.
A year later it's followed up with new versions of both Elements
programs again available separately or bundled together.
Perhaps the most dramatic new feature of Photoshop Elements 4.0 is the
slide-show creation tools, now including powerful but easy-to-use Ken
Burns-like panning and zooming across still photos. You can also add
video clips to your slide shows. You can automatically remove red-eye
when importing a set of photos. The import tool is also smart enough to
identify faces in your photos.
A "magic" selection brush does a pretty good job of guessing what
you're trying to select even if you just sort of scribble over an area
- at least if there are clear colour contrasts. A new Adjust Color for
Skin Tone command makes it easy to bring out realistic skin tones in
your photos. Earlier this year, I was disappointed when trying out
several low-end video-editing titles. I had to struggle to import a few
minutes of video from a camcorder, make a few edits and output it in a
viewable form I could use in a DVD player. Premiere Elements is several
steps above any of the applications I tried at that time.
Its Media Downloader can import video not only from camcorders and
digital still cameras, but also from mobile phones, digital video
recorders and other sources. Premiere Elements 2.0 improves on the
original version with a less cluttered interface, resulting in easier
editing and DVD creation.
Still, video editing takes work, both by the user and by the computer.
Working with video requires a lot of RAM, free hard drive space and a
powerful processor. You'll be happier with a large monitor. Even with
all these, Premiere Elements can grind to a halt at times. A
disappointment is the lack of HDV (high-definition video) support.
Tools to work with photos and video abound. You'll have to pay a bit
more for Adobe's pair of Elements programs, but these latest versions
continue the series' tradition of providing near-professional power
with an easier interface at a relatively affordable price. Just be
prepared to take the time to learn to use them.