siblings offer power and economy
Alan Zisman (c) 2010 First published in Business
February 2 - 8, 2010 issue #1058
High Tech Office column
In December (issue 1050;
), this column proposed some high-tech gift
suggestions. Only one software product made the list: the new versions
of Adobe’s Photoshop and Premiere Elements. Some of you may have found
digital cameras or camcorders under your Christmas tree and may have
bumped up against the limitations of the software bundled with your new
gadgets or the Windows or Mac operating systems.
Adobe has been offering Photoshop Elements since around 2001, and from
the outset the software provided about 80% of the power of Adobe’s
pro-level Photoshop for about 20% of its cost.
A few years later, Adobe added a similarly powerful but economical
Elements version of its Premiere video editor. As a bonus, Adobe has
worked hard to make both of the Elements siblings easier to use than
their high-end cousins.
The Elements programs can be bought on their own ($130) or bundled
together ($200) – at least by Windows users. Only Photoshop Elements is
available in a Mac version.
Adobe redid Photoshop Element’s interface for the previous version. The
current generation looks and feels similar. Perhaps its most noteworthy
new feature is a Recompose Photo tool. For instance, based on the
content-aware scaling in Photoshop CS4, it lets you crop unwanted
people from a photo while bringing the remaining people closer together.
Also new: a Photomerge Exposure option blends multiple images letting
you combine under- and over-exposed shots to end up with something that
looks just right.
For photo organizing, Mac users get the powerful Adobe Bridge,
identical to what is included in the professional Adobe CS4 package.
Windows users get a less powerful Organizer, but with improved tagging
that includes face detection. Mac users can choose to ignore Adobe
Bridge and set Apple’s iPhoto to use Photoshop Elements as its editor.
Similarly, Photoshop Element’s File/Open menu can open photos stored in
iPhoto’s library. Like its sibling, Premiere Elements 8 looks pretty
much like the previous version, which is not a bad thing. And like
Photoshop Elements, it now adds face recognition and tagging. The new
SmartFix can automatically cut redundant footage and address shakiness
and lighting issues. The new SmartMix also works with audio tracks to
try to keep the dialogue on top.
Motion Tracking can be used to blur a face in one frame and keep the
subject anonymous even though he or she is moving in subsequent frames.
Similarly, an added thought bubble will move with its subject.
Completed video projects can be output as DVDs or even Blu-ray discs or
exported to YouTube, iPhone or other destinations, including Adobe’s
While offering a well thought out set of features aimed at
non-professional video creators, Premiere Elements 8 sometimes felt
sluggish on my test systems, and owners of Photoshop and Premiere
Elements 7 may find little motivation to upgrade. But both Photoshop
and Premiere Elements 8 continue Adobe’s tradition of offering
near-professional photo and video editing power at an attractive price.