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Whole 9 Yards

March 11, 2011 - Dave Hecei
When you say Adobe, most people think Photoshop. Even those who don't use computers have heard of Photoshop, Adobe's professional photo and image manipulation application used by newspaper and magazine publishers. The current version of Photoshop is CS5 and has a list price of $999, but street priced around $600. This price gets you a top-notch piece of software that has special pre-press features used in offset printing. While great for print shops, CS5 is overkill for most photographers. For just photo editing there is a better and cheaper solution from Adobe called Photoshop Elements.

Released just last fall, Adobe Elements is now at version 9. While the update from 8 to 9 was only minor, there were a few things added but a major update to the Mac version of the Elements suite. This is the version I use, which has both Photoshop Elements 9 and Premiere Elements 9. While Photoshop Elements 9 is an easier to use 'consumer' version of Photoshop, Premiere Elements 9 is the easier to use 'consumer' version of Premiere Pro. Premiere is Adobe's digital video editing application.

While both Elements have been available for the Windows PC world, only Photoshop Elements has been available for the Macintosh. I guess Adobe thought that since everyone who buys a Mac gets a pretty decent video editor in the form of iMovie, why try to compete with that. But Adobe has been watching Apple closely, and when iMovie 8 and now 9 came out in as a completely different type of video editor, they thought now would be a great time to bring Premiere Elements to the Mac.

If you are a PC user, running Windows, and already have Element 8, the upgrade to 9 is probably not worth the cost. There are only minor updates to the software, most of which revolve around social networking. If you are a Mac user and want a great photo editor and a better video editor than iMovie 9, then you should check out the Elements 9 suite. Both programs together in one box has a list price of $149, but the street price is around $120. I have seen it on sale online closer to $100. Even at $120, I think the Adobe Elements 9 suite is a bargain.

Here are some of the features in Photoshop Elements 9 (some have been available for a while) that have improved it over the last few years, some that used to be only available in the 'full' version of Photoshop.

1. Layer Masks. This feature has been in the full Photoshop for quite a while now. This feature allows the user to manipulate an image in amazing ways without permanently changing the original image.

2. Spot Healing Brush. This tool allows the user to quickly and easily remove simple blemishes or dust spots. In PSE 9, this tool is super strength now with the ability to even remove a much larger object, like a car or a person, even from a complex background area.

3. Panoramas. This feature has been around for a while and most Photoshop users know it or have used it regularly. In Elements 9, this tool has been improved to automatically fix (or more precisely, fill-in) the corners and edges.

4. Style Match. Now you can take an image you like and use it as a master to adjust other images. Say you 'borrow' an image you like and use it to make adjustments to your own image to match it.

Premiere Elements 9:

1. Formats. PrE 9 can easily work with many current video formats. What used to be the standard, mini DV tape has been replaced with phones, Flip Cams, and even DSLRs. Most of these new formats are HD and require special handling and faster computers. PrE 9 works with most all of these newer HD formats.

2. Audio fixes. The new PrE 9 has several new audio cleanup tools. These can help clean up noisy footage or even other audio files from old tapes or vinyl records. While not perfect or totally automatic, there are some great tools here with a little work can really help fix most common audio ailments.

3. Web DVD. This is a new idea. Put video online that acts like a DVD with menus and other interactions. PrE 9 allows you to do all this and upload the works to your website. Of course, PrE 9 still has a great DVD authoring tool if you still want to burn your own DVD discs.

4. Social Networking. While the ability to upload your finished video to YouTube is not new, you can now put you finished clip up to FaceBook. This is done through the Organizer application.


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