Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 + Premiere 8: Still Top Notch.
by Louise Maye Huddelston

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8If you're new to the worlds of digital photography and image manipulation, Photoshop Elements 8 offers everything you need and more. Elements 8 is a powerful, well-balanced consumer photo editing and organizing tools. Photo Recomposition feature as amazing as its larger sibling - Photoshop. Tight integration with on-line services and Premiere 8 and extensive selection of help and tutorials. Users of Elements 7 are unlikely to find a reason to upgrade.

When you open Photoshop Elements 8, you're greeted with a just two real options: Going to the Organizer or opening Photoshop Elements 8 proper. Elements 8 remains the best option for consumer photo editing. It offers more than the competition in a package that's as attractive and unthreatening as this kind of software can be. The novice can rest assured they're getting the tip of the top. This is a very powerful program, though you might not think so with such a friendly face.

The Organizer is a large project folder with shortcuts for handling quick jobs without opening the individual programs. The Organizer bridges both Photoshop and Premiere Elements 8. The Editor has remained largely unchanged from Elements 7. That means it includes a healthy amount of the features found in its more robust and expensive sibling.

Elements 8 boasts a number of new features in an attractive and an intuitive, tabbed interface. Best improvements include an Auto Analyzer to practically automate image tagging and a new People Recognition feature that identifies people in images, plus new one-click image editing tools.

It can't be easy for a software develops keep products fresh year after year. I like the familiarity which actually reduces the learning curve! Because the software remains remarkable for the breadth and depth of its capabilities, it remains my pick. But for the new user, it’s a steal with a breath taking feature/tool set.

The most exciting new addition – is the Recompose Photo tool. A refinement of the astounding content-aware scaling that appeared in Photoshop. It allows you to redefine a photo selectively to fit into a specific size or orientation by choosing which elements of the picture to remove and which ones to keep. This is digital voodoo!

runSlideShow(); Quick Fix previews in Quick Edit mode now let you examine prospective changes, making it a lot easier to get the effect you want.

The biggest changes to PE 8 come in the area of organizing. Tags are even easier to use, with a "tag cloud" to help you rapidly sort or search for files matching your most frequently used criteria. The new Auto-Analyzer can automatically apply Smart Tags to files you import.

Of more immediate usefulness is the software's expanded help section, which includes tutorials that help you learn how to perform certain common tasks. Unfortunately, you can't derive the full benefit from them without paying an extra $40 on a one-year Plus membership.

The new Auto QuickFix tools (Smart Fix, Color, Tone, Contrast, Detail, Color, and Red Eye) in the Organizer's full-screen mode can handle all of the editing that many photos require before you move on to the Create and/or Share tabs. Use Elements' full edit interface for more complex issues.

Among Elements 8's handful of new or extended photo editing tools is PhotoMerge, which now includes an Exposure tool that allows you to combine two nearly identical photos, taken with different exposure values, to attain the optimum exposure.

Those users who want a bit more assistance, you will find yourself pretty well taken care of.. By clicking the down arrow next to Edit, you’ll see an Edit Quick and Edit Guided menu..

Though Edit Guided it presents you with what is at first a fairly intimidating list of options, it actually works quite well by telling and showing you exactly what to do to get the result you want. “Picture too blurry? It pops up with the blur-correction tool itself, instructions, and even an Auto button to see if the software can figure it out by itself.” Very friendly.

The output features of Photoshop Elements 8 include Flickr which is under More Options while UTube is right out front. You share your images via iPhone, e-mail, and web/TV.

System requirements: Adobe has historically been resource hungry and for a reason. Best minimum: Win7 64-bit, at least a 2.1GHz processor and four, preferably six, GB of RAM. It was not worth my time to save a $150 for less RAM and a slower processor.

Users who already have Elements 7 should pass on this "upgrade," since the move will feel lateral. Having said that, if you're in the market for photo editing software, Photoshop Elements 8 has a lot to recommend it, specifically the stripped-down, easily used, implementation of Photoshop proper balances ease of use and flexibility. It's beginner friendly but not oversimplified and remains sophisticated for the experienced user. For more info and updates go to

Louise Maye Huddelston is a HAL-PC family member who is a partner of a graphic outsource company.