Adobe Photoshop Elements 7.0 continues to straddle the line between novices and more seasoned users, offering three levels of editing: Full Edit, Quick Fix, and Guided Editing.

Online photo sharing is more popular than ever, with sites such as Flickr and Facebook keeping people connected through photos and blogs - something Adobe is keen to exploit with its forthcoming Photoshop Elements 7.0 release, in the US at least.

In the States, Elements 7.0 provides ties to Adobe's forthcoming online service, Photoshop.com. It also adds enough new features to the desktop app itself to make version 7.0 a worthy upgrade for UK users, too.

We found much to like in the latest iteration. New to version 7.0 of Adobe Photoshop Elements is a Smart Brush tool borrowed from full-fat Photoshop, as well as a handy Scene Cleaner that has been added to the Photomerge tool.

Disgruntled users of Photoshop Elements past will be pleased to learn that Adobe Photoshop Elements 7.0 lets users adjust the background tint from charcoal all the way to stark white. More good news: Photoshop Elements 7.0 has FTP settings, so you can upload galleries directly to your own website.

Unfortunately, Adobe Photoshop Elements 7.0 still lacks the Fade slider tool available in Photoshop that lets you adjust the intensity of a filter immediately after applying it, so you can get exactly the look you want. Considering its many impressive creative filter options, Elements 7.0 would benefit from such a tool.

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Adobe Photoshop Elements 7.0 continues to straddle the line between novices and more seasoned users, offering three levels of editing: Full Edit, Quick Fix, and Guided Editing.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 7.0 continues to straddle the line between novices and more seasoned users, offering three levels of editing: Full Edit, Quick Fix, and Guided Editing. You can switch between the levels by clicking on tabs, and after a while we became familiar with which options are available at each level. Still, the three-level structure feels a bit clunky at times, especially when you're forced to blunder through a combination of menu options and tabbed screens to find more-advanced options such as editing colour curves.

Full Edit provides essential controls similar to those in the full-fledged Photoshop, with advanced editing tools, filters, and layers. Quick Fix offers sliders for common tasks such as brightness, saturation, sharpening, color balance, and red-eye reduction.

A "touch-up" panel makes Smart Brushes available, including a toothbrush for whitening teeth, a brush for saturating dull skies, and a high-contrast black-and-white tool for applying effects to selected areas in your photo.

As in Photoshop, you can customise the brush's size, hardness, and spacing. Adobe Photoshop Elements 7.0's selections were impressively accurate at whitening teeth; and you can also use the "add" or "subtract" tool or adjust feathering to refine your selection.

If you're new to image editing and not up for all of this complicated stuff, Elements 7.0's Guided Editing is for you. In this panel you'll find text-based guidelines that you can select from a list. Guided Editing shows you how to adjust specific image properties such as contrast; or it can walk you through the process of antiquing a photo, showing you various effects. Guided Editing can be a useful educational tool for people new to image editing and for more-seasoned photographers who are learning to use the program. It's also fun to play with.

NEXT PAGE: merging photos, the easy way

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Adobe Photoshop Elements 7.0 continues to straddle the line between novices and more seasoned users, offering three levels of editing: Full Edit, Quick Fix, and Guided Editing.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 7.0's Photomerge capabilities are a boon to anyone who's ever taken a snapshot. With its new Scene Cleaner, the program does an excellent job of removing unwanted interlopers in a photo of your brother in front of the "Rocky" statue.

As it could in Elements 6.0, Photomerge can fuse subjects from several photos into one, creating a scene where everyone is looking at the camera, eyes open. Such compositing used to take hours, but now you can do it in just a few seconds.

The Photoshop.com service is due to launch across the pond in October. Adobe says that the service will supplement its existing Photoshop Express.

According to Adobe, Photoshop.com will have two levels of membership: a free, basic membership; and a $50 per year Plus membership. The free membership provides 5GB of storage and automatic backup of your images to Photoshop.com's servers. You can also access your account and online galleries from any web browser. Adobe says that Photoshop.com membership will be available only in the US. This is the case with Photoshop Express, however, and UK users can access the service, simply by claiming to be from the US. Whether the addition of a pay-for service will affect this remains to be seen.

When you edit pictures with Photoshop.com, the changes you make will be synched up with your home PC. Similarly, changes you make on local photo files will be uploaded and synced to your Photoshop.com storage. Adobe is also working on a mobile uploader that will let you post photos from your mobile phone.

With the Plus membership, you get 20GB of storage, as well as the option to have Adobe send you design advice, new tutorials, tips, seasonal artwork, and templates as these are developed throughout the year.

Kathleen Cullen writes for PC World.

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Adobe Photoshop Elements 7.0: Specs

  • 2GHz or faster processor
  • Microsoft Windows XP SP2/3, Vista
  • 1GB RAM
  • 1.5GB hard disk space
  • colour monitor with 16-bit colour video card
  • 1,024x768 monitor resolution at 96dpi or less
  • Microsoft DirectX 9 compatible display driver
  • CD-ROM drive
  • web features require Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0/7.0, Mozilla Firefox 1.5-3.0
  • 2GHz or faster processor
  • Microsoft Windows XP SP2/3, Vista
  • 1GB RAM
  • 1.5GB hard disk space
  • colour monitor with 16-bit colour video card
  • 1,024x768 monitor resolution at 96dpi or less
  • Microsoft DirectX 9 compatible display driver
  • CD-ROM drive
  • web features require Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0/7.0, Mozilla Firefox 1.5-3.0

OUR VERDICT

For anyone seeking a combination image editor and organiser that doesn't break the bank, Photoshop Elements 7.0 is a powerful contender. The program's new online components permit you to do more from within a familiar interface, and despite the 'US-only' tag applied to the web-based features, Adobe Photoshop Elements 7.0's new desktop tools alone make it worth the upgrade.

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