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Photoshop Elements 10 Review (Old Version)

New Features in Photoshop Elements 10 (Old Version)

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Duplicate Search in Photoshop Elements 10

Duplicate Search in Photoshop Elements 10

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New Features in Photoshop Elements 10 (Old Version)

This review is for an older version of Photoshop Elements. For the current version, see our Photoshop Elements 11 Review.

Elements 10 Organizer New Features

Visual Searches
Visual searches can help you find photos with specific objects in them, identify visually similar objects based on color or shape, and locate and manage duplicate photos in your collection.

Searching for visually similar photos now offers a slider control where you can choose to skew the search results more toward color or shape, and the search results display a similarity ranking as a percentage. The new object search allows you to drag a selection around a specific object and the search will display other photos with objects similar in color and shape to the selection.

The duplicate finder doesn't just display potential duplicates but also lets you delete them, or manage them by putting them into photo stacks. It will find exact duplicates as well as edited versions of the same photo and visually similar photos in your collection. I wasn't blown away by the accuracy of visual searches, but it's just one more tool that can be helpful in managing a large photo collection.

Facebook Friends Tagging
The face tagging feature in the Organizer has now been integrated with Facebook so you can tag faces directly from your personal friends list. When you upload photos to Facebook, the tags will transfer to the Facebook service so you no longer have to tag people in two different places. Facebook users should appreciate this time-saving integration.

YouTube has been added for video upload.

Elements 10 Editor New Features

Photoshop Elements 9 Orton Effect Guided Edit

Photoshop Elements 9 Orton Effect Guided Edit (click for full size)

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Text on a Path
Text on a path is probably the most interesting new addition to the editor, particularly for digital scrapbookers. There are three ways to do text on a path in Photoshop Elements 10--Text on Shape, Text on Selection, and Text on Custom Path.

Unfortunately, the text flow on some of the more complex shapes (like butterfly) tends to look rather sloppy. I also found that for some shapes the text would flow outside of the outline, and for other shapes it would appear inside the shapes' outline--and I could find no way to predict or control this. When working with text on a custom path, the line can moved and adjusted after placing text, to fine-tune the text flow.

Frankly, all of these text on a path methods are rather crude, difficult to work with, and not up to the quality I would expect from Adobe. Even some simple automatic smoothing on the custom path tool would have gone a long way toward making this feature seem more polished. I also felt that a tool for flowing text inside of a shape (to fill the shape instead of going along its outline) would have been a nice companion to the text on a path features, but this is not available.

Crop Guides
The crop tool in Photoshop Elements now has grids and guides to help you create more pleasing compositions. You can choose to display an overlay for standard grid lines, a "rule of thirds" grid, or one based on the golden ratio.

All of these are intended to help you crop your photos more accurately and to create more aesthetically-pleasing compositions when you crop. Though I am pleased to see this addition, I'm a little surprised it took Adobe until version 10 to add a basic rule of thirds cropping guide to the editor.

New Guided Edits
Several new Guided Edits have been added to the Photoshop Elements Editor. Guided Edits are semi-automated tasks that walk you through the steps to create a specific effect. The new Guided Edits in Elements 10 are:

  • Depth of Field (to add emphasis to the subject of a photo by blurring the background).
  • Orton (for creating a soft, dreamy effect).
  • Picture Stack (for turning a single photo into something that looks like a scrapbook-style collage of many photos splayed out in a pile).

New Smart Brush Effects
The Smart Brush tool has been enhanced with 30 new effects and filters. These are effects that can be painted directly onto a photo with an edge-detecting brush so you don't have to spend time making complicated selections. Some of the new effects are: pencil sketch, snow, oil pastel, and satin ripples.

PDF and JPEG Export for Creations
Creations can now be exported to PDF and JPEG file formats, to make sharing and printing easier.

Summary and Conclusion

Photoshop Elements 10 Smart Brush

Photoshop Elements 10 brings 30 new effects to the Smart Brush tool, including the satin ripples background shown here. (click for full size)

© Adobe
I'm pretty sure that most people purchase Photoshop Elements for its excellent Editor, rather than for its less-than-stellar Organizer. Photoshop Elements Editor makes Photoshop's powerful tools and technologies accessible and easy-to-use for beginners, while leaving enough flexibility in the program so that more advanced users have the freedom to take their projects farther.

To illustrate this point, Guided Edits allow less-advanced users to produce photo effects that would otherwise involve advanced knowledge and skill, while still allowing knowledgeable users to switch to full edit mode in order to further refine and customize the effect. Most tools in Photoshop Elements offer options to choose from automatic adjustments, one-click presets, or full manual controls.

Where version 9 brought significant benefits to upgraders, Photoshop Elements 10 is a little less compelling. Most of what's new simply builds on existing features--the enhancements are welcome, but there is little to make it a must-have upgrade for version 9 users. The one truly new feature, text on a path, turns out to be a bit of a letdown. However, users of version 8 and lower will certainly see some value in jumping up to version 10. Adobe now offers an upgrade discount for owners of any previous version, where upgrade discounts were previously only available through mail-in rebates.

If I was rating only the Editor portion of the Photoshop Elements package, it would merit 5 stars without a doubt. But since I do have to rate the entire package as a whole, factoring in the Organizer brings my rating down to a 4. The Organizer may do well for users with smaller collections, however; I'm not suggesting you dismiss it altogether. As a complete photo solution, Photoshop Elements is one of the best values in its price range.

This review is for an older version of Photoshop Elements. For the current version, see our Photoshop Elements 11 Review.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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