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Adobe Photoshop Elements 5.0 offers many new and exciting features not included in previous versions to create an end-to-end photography experience. The possibilities for organizing, editing, and sharing photos seem endless as does the time required to get comfortable with the product. For those who are either computer savvy or familiar with previous versions of Elements and have time spend, the program is amazing. For new users or those with fewer computer skills, the software will probably be cumbersome and frustrating. [See Image 1] Once familiar, the available features really are neat and allow the user to make endless creations out of their digital photos.
There are two main workspaces in the application - Organizer and Editor. The Organizer workspace provides the ability to categorize, view, and overall organize digital photos. [See Image 2]
Photos are automatically sorted by date but the user can also apply filters to further organize photos such as, 1) tags - keyword or keywords used to identify photos; 2) events - such as Thanksgiving, First Day of School, etc.; and, 3) places - locations where the photo was taken. The Editor workspace provides the user with digital image editing tools to enhance the photo's color, clarity, composition, layout, and the like. [See image 3]
One of the most notable features is the product's sharing capabilities. This version of Photoshop Elements 5.0 includes Photo Galleries that are specifically geared towards electronic sharing. [See Image 4] Photos grouped in a gallery can be customized with a theme, title, and captions and then shared to a CD or via the web. Another nice feature is the Upload Service which allows the user to upload photos to the web, even if they do not have their own personal website. From here, the photos can be viewed by friends and family. Photo storage functionality is a great fail-safe feature that provides a backup to the user's personal files. Personal photos can be stored online with an online storage provider, such as Kodak Gallery or Snapfish, from whom they can also order prints.
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PerformanceRating What's Hot:
In terms of software's performance, the options are limitless. The user can change the color of a photo, remove an object from a photo or even add an object to a photo that was part of an entirely different photo.
Depending on the number of edits applied to a photo or creation at one time, the processing time can take a minute or two but it isn't that unreasonable.
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Product FeaturesRating What's Hot:
Photoshop Elements 5.0 offers some very neat features that allow the user to take their photo editing to the next level.
- The Magic Extractor is a neat tool that allows the removal of an object from an image. It is different from cropping in that you can draw around the image with a pencil to select what to remove.
- The Map feature allows the user to actually arrange photos by geographic location and navigate to them on a map.
While the editing features are neat and provide a lot of options in terms of creating an end product, the software is difficult to use if you are not familiar with it. The learning curve is substantial which may make some users choose not to experiment with all of the features.
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User InterfaceRating What's Hot:
There is a lot of open space within which to work with photos. On either side of the workspace, there are menus, or palettes, which makes them readily accessible. Across the top are familiar drop down menus from which the user can make additional selections.
Becoming familiar with the overall layout of the application, the location of specific tools / palettes, and how to maneuvre through the functionality takes some time. Some of the icons are small and difficult to decipher. While existing Photoshop Elements users who have a familiarity with the tool may disagree, the overall layout is not very intuitive.
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Help & SupportRating What's Hot:
The Adobe Help Center has two available menu options.
- Help for Elements 5.0 provides support topics for using the application. It is laid out in a standard Windows format with a search box and expandable and collapsible topics.
- Adobe Help Center 2.1 provides a link to learning resources on Adobe.com.
Help Topics are really not all that detailed and may not completely resolve a question for novice users. For the most part Elements 5.0 is not a straightforward product so while there are a lot of help topics, they just do not seem to be detailed enough.
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Installation & SetupRating What's Hot:
The installation is very straightforward and does not require any special skills to complete. Once registered, the user can view online video tutorials that walk through the main components of the application. The videos are to the point and make it much easier for a first time user to become comfortable with the tools.
Once installed, getting started can be a bit cumbersome. For first time use, each specific component, such as the Photo Browser, has to go through an internal setup process. The time requirement is fairly minimal but don't expect to immediately begin creating documents.
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- Simplified user interface and workspace.
- More detailed help topics.
- Larger, more distinguishable, and intuitive system icons.
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ConclusionAdobe PhotoShop Elements 5.0 is a full service photography tool that provides users with tools to organize, edit, store, share, and print photos. For the novice, the tool is a bit overwhelming to get acquainted with. However, for those who have used a similar tool or are really into photography, the language, features and end results will be appreciated. For about $99 and their time, the user can achieve professional looking photo albums, greeting cards, calendars, and even postage stamps.
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