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Digital photo software Reviews
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Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 review

£78 inc VAT. Upgrade from £63 inc VAT.

Manufacturer: Adobe

Our Rating: We rate this 4.5 out of 5

Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 has an updated interface and editing tools – UPDATED 5 OCT 2012

Version 11 of Adobe Photoshop Elements (PSE) finds Adobe once again splitting the workflow in two – the Organiser, where you import, sort and view image files, and the Photo Editor for manipulating and enhancing images. See also: Group test: what's the best photo-editing software?

A substantial redesign is evident when Organiser is opened. The Media view is where all imported files are displayed singly or in grid form, while an enhanced People tab joins new sections for Places and Events. 

While importing from files and folders, Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 will pick up on any existing keywords stored in image metadata, making cataloguing and subsequent sorting of images easier.

Metadata from cameras and smartphones is also fully exploited by the workflow.

The People tab is populated after running the Add People facial-recognition exercise. We’ve seen such facilities before such as in Google’s Picasa, but the recognition algorithm used here is obviously very powerful. It was able to pick up and associate with the correct person younger versions of faces, different hairstyles and even those distorted in an underwater shot. 

It's not always so precise – mistaking a patch of mud in a shot from a festival as a face for example – but on the whole it's a very impressive tool.

Another option prompts you to Download/Update your Facebook Friends list to help name friends.

The Places tab picks up and displays geotagged images along with location stacks on a Google map. You can also click on photos in the Media pane and Add Places in the Action bar manually. 

The Events workflow, as you might expect, lets you organise and find images by date; again there are manual routes available to apply calendar info if required.

The Photo Fix options (red eye, levels, sharpen, smart fix) in Organiser have been simplified through the use of ‘big’ icons and brought to the fore. 

These can perform an instant fix on photos, either singly or in batch mode, and the results are quite acceptable.

Full adjustments can be carried out in Photo Editor. Here you are again presented with a streamlined interface, with the Quick edit (simplified with most common tasks) and Guided edit (step-by-step) options reclothed in the new icon-driven simplicity. 

New Guided options include High Key effect to give a photo a bright, cheery, low-contrast look, or a Low Key effect to darken a photo, adding drama and contrast. 

Some tasks have been streamlined too, such as adding a vignette. This previously involved making selections, creating masks, and feathering the edges of photos. 

In version 11 of Adobe Photoshop Elements, there is a dedicated Vignette Effect Guided Edit to walk you through adding the effect to a photo and fine-tuning afterwards. There’s also a new tilt-shift effect, where the subjects appear miniature.

It doesn't quite replicate the unreal quality that’s achievable with just messing around with filters on your own, but it’s very quick and the effect can be easily edited.

Photoshop Elements lagged behind the competition in terms of image organisation in the past, but with version 11 that disparity has disappeared. On both Mac and Windows platforms Organiser was quick in response times, with Photo Editor slick in applying filters, guided edits and fixes.

NEXT PAGE: Original Macworld review >>

Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 Expert Verdict »
Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 Scores 8.5 out of 10 based on 4 reviews
1.6GHz or faster processor (including single-core support), Multicore Intel processor for Mac
Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack 3, Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Windows 8, Mac OS X v10.6 through v10.8
1GB of RAM (2GB for HD video functions)
4GB of available hard-disk space (additional free space required during installation)
Color monitor with 16-bit color video card
1024x768 monitor resolution
Microsoft DirectX 9 or 10 compatible display driver for Windows, QuickTime 7 software required for multimedia features for Mac
DVD-ROM drive
  • Ease of Use: We give this item 9 of 10 for ease of use
  • Features: We give this item 8 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 9 of 10 for value for money
  • Performance: We give this item 9 of 10 for performance
  • Overall: We give this item 9 of 10 overall

Pros will use the full Adobe Photoshop in any case, but while PSE still has a lot to offer the middle-ground, the big icons, smartphone-friendly workflow and social media integration are shifting the balance further to casual users.

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