Adobe's Elements offers graphic tools for non-pros
First published in Business in Vancouver:
The high-tech office column: Issue #611, July 10, 2001
by ALAN ZISMAN
Two weeks ago, we looked at the new version of Adobe's
Acrobat software, perhaps the most-used product for creating electronic
Adobe Systems' best-known product is Photoshop. This
image editor, aimed
at graphics professionals, has created an entire sub-industry, from
courses in its use, to hardware and software add-ons to enhance its
But its very success leads to a problem.
Nonprofessionals wanting to
work with graphics tend to think they should be using Photoshop. And
software definitely isn't for everyone, due both to its high cost
$1,000) and its complexity.
Adobe has an entry-level graphics program,
Photodeluxe, often bundled
with digital cameras and scanners. But while Photoshop is more than
people need, many users find Photodeluxe too limiting.
Adobe has also, quietly, offered Photoshop LE, a sort
of Photoshop Lite.
It too was more often found packaged with hardware or with other Adobe
products than sitting on a store shelf. But LE never won many fans; its
subset of features frustrated serious graphics users, while its
was too complex for more casual users.
Assuming there's a big, underserved market of users
who have outgrown
the training wheels of Photodeluxe, but don't have the high-end needs,
bottomless pockets or infinite patience of the Photoshop market, Adobe
is trying again with a new product: Photoshop Elements.
As the name suggests, the company has tried to take
the most-used elements
of its high-end product and package them in a way that Adobe hopes will
have a broader appeal with business users, nonprofessional
The $150 price point will be a definite improvement.
And the program
still packs quite a bit of punch for users looking to create or edit
images. While at a casual glance it looks like big sibling Photoshop,
has fine-tuned the interface so nonprofessionals get more help. Menus
been reworked to appeal to Microsoft Office users. A
screen offers a list of common commands and links to tutorials for
operations. Explanations pop up when your cursor points to tools and
a boon for those of us easily confused by too many cryptic icons. (Am I
the only one who sometimes feels like a word can be worth 1,000
at least in software design?)
Also nice are the pull-down palettes that explain and
program's many filters and effects. And a new set of recipes offers
instructions for complex tasks. Only a few recipes ship with Elements,
but more are promised.
One nice feature not available to the pros is
Photomerge, making it
easier to create panoramas from multiple photos. As well, the pros will
envy the ability in Elements to edit text directly on screen, rather
in a dialogue box.
Of course, users of the full Photoshop get features
not available with
Elements. They get much more support for layers, for example. And
lacks any support for CMYK images, which graphics professionals need to
accurately predict how colours will print out; Elements is limited to
the RGB images used on-screen. (If you don't know what any of this
to, you probably don't need this feature.)
Image Ready, Photoshop's Web companion is not
included, although some
of its features are built into Elements, including a nice "Save for
Kudos to Adobe for including extensive printed
I find the manual overly technical for its intended market. Overall,
has produced a subset of Photoshop's tools that, with its increased
and decreased price, should appeal to many users needing to work with
and other graphics.