Keeping its spot as the most powerful photo and video editing software for casual users, Adobe’s Elements software line meets and exceeds expectations with its latest release. Photoshop Elements 9 and Premier Elements 9 are now available for both the PC and the Mac OS X operating systems.
Both applications are sold at a fraction of their pro-level counterparts, Premier CS5 and Photoshop CS5, and run on the same engines. Although the software shares some of the same features, the Elements line presents them in a much simpler environment.
Of note, Adobe changed the interface, again. They switched to a darker interface in Elements 6, but after users complained, they changed it and again got negative feedback. After evaluating, they found the issue was caused by poor contrast, rather than just the shade of the interface that has been fixed in Elements 9 and looks much better.
Photoshop Elements 9
One of the best crossover features in Photoshop Elements 9 is Adobe’s Content Aware Fill that was among the most anticipated features in Photoshop CS5. It allows users to remove parts of images and auto-fill the blank spot from the surrounding image or fill in missing parts, for example, when stitching together different photos in a panorama that don’t overlap properly. The feature works just as well as it does in CS5.
Photoshop Elements also comes with a brand new feature Photomerge Style Match that can apply the look of one image to another. A user could, for example, upload a landscape image they shot, then one shot by Ansel Adams—the feature could then make the user’s image resemble the Ansel Adams style.
There are a broad range of uses for this, and it can make any photo look like it was shot professionally. It can transfer image tones, color, contrast, and a handful of tools to allow the user to customize how much the effects are applied. There is also a painter and eraser so that the effects can be applied or removed from specific areas.
Photoshop Elements has a handful of other additions. It lets you upload images directly to Facebook and will reduce the image size to Facebook’s preferences on its own to save upload time.
There is a whole new section of guided edits called Fun Edits that guide the user through the process of making some unique effects that would be difficult to create otherwise. There is also a reflections feature that can automatically create a reflection effect on any image.
Premier Elements 9
Premier Elements 9 includes all the features from version 8, a handful of new additions, and support for more video and image files.
Adobe put some time into making some of the different file formats work. This means that rather than transferring or converting to different file formats, it retains the one it was shot in.
There are some great additions to its audio features. Adobe found that although users are shooting with better recording devices—thanks to the boom in HD recorders—audio is still lacking. To fix this, Adobe added six tools to improve and enhance audio quality. One example is a feature to remove background hiss.
There is also an interesting animation effect that can apply a cartoonish look to live action video. It looks interesting and adds a painterly look to the video. This can also be customized to increase or reduce different parts of the effect.
Burning videos onto disks is now easier. Adobe combined its menu features and others with its themed content options, so that they’re all in one place. It also has a Web DVD section that works specifically with video meant to be played online. It includes the full video menu, scene selection, and audio tracks.
The closest competitor on the market is Corel Photo & Video Pro Bundle that sells for the same price as the Adobe Elements 9 bundle. Corel’s bundle comes with PaintShop Photo Pro X3 and VideoStudio Pro X3.
There are some pretty stark differences between the applications. The feature set of the Corel Photo & Video Pro Bundle is weaker than what’s found in the Adobe Elements 9 bundle. Corel focused their energy more on making their software more stable than they did on adding more features.
Both bundles are easy to use, yet Corel’s is a bit simpler as it has fewer features. Adobe’s, on the other hand, is more powerful, as it included some of the best tools found in its pro-level software.
Overall, Elements 9 is a great software bundle that is well worth the cost. It includes some of the best features of Adobe’s pro-level software, but with a much easier to use interface.
For current users of Elements 8 or earlier versions, the update is well worth picking up. The addition of Content Aware Fill does a lot for Photoshop Elements, and other features in the bundle move the whole package onto a new level.