Review: Photoshop Elements 15

What can Adobe's affordable image editor offer the social media-savvy?

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Our Verdict

A great package for beginners and hobbyists, but maybe not enough improvements to make it worth upgrading from Photoshop Elements 14.

For

  • Revamped Organiser
  • Instant photo fixes and effects
  • New filters panel
  • Facial features adjustment

Against

  • Varied results from effects

Photoshop Elements has evolved from its beginnings as a stripped-down version of Photoshop to focus on easy photo-editing and sharing with social media. Its interface and degrees of functionality make it clear that the program's aimed at beginners and hobbyists who frequent Facebook, Flickr or Twitter, rather than professionals who will likely want to take advantage of the higher-spec tools in the Creative Cloud.

Elements Photo Editor has three main workspaces: Quick, Guided and Expert. In the Quick workspace it's possible to make simple photo edits and corrections such as adjusting exposure and lighting, or removing red eye. Expert gives you free reign, with access to all tools and functions – these remain mostly unchanged from previous versions of Elements, with some minor exceptions such as improved access to Filters.

Elements 15's true strength lies in the speed and ease of applying photo edits

Via the Guided workspace, Elements can apply a range of common effects to your images, giving you a limited amount of control over the final result. Effects range from basic colour boosting to novelty effects. New additions include the ability to create photo text from your images, add a speed pan effect or create an effects collage by applying multiple effects on different parts of an image.

Many of these will appeal to hobbyists and the quality of results varies. However, the photographic effects work well and make some common photo edits much quicker. Switching easily between the workspaces means you can be creating a scene in Expert mode, then with a few clicks apply a Tilt Shift effect in the Guided workspace, before switching back to Expert to continue editing.

For digital drawing, the Brush Tool has some limited customisation

Another notable addition to Elements' arsenal is facial feature adjustment. A relatively new development by Adobe, it's great to see this already appearing in Elements and it complements the other main functions of the program well.

The Organiser, Elements' built-in photo manager, offers some new nifty tricks to speed up your work flow. It now automatically analyses the contents of your images and applies smart tags. This is a great time-saver if you have a large library of stock images, and is ideal for quickly finding photo resources for your artwork, such as paper textures or clouds.

Elements is all about simplifying the photo-editing process and facilitating sharing via social media. For the relatively low cost, it has a lot to offer. Depending on your requirements, it could be a good, cheaper alternative to expensive photo-editing software.

Organiser's Smart Tags yielded good results when searching for 'paper' and 'texture'

So should you upgrade from Elements 14? The revamped Organiser is certainly a big draw; however, the Editor itself may not provide enough incentive. Unless the new facial feature adjustment and extra guided effects are something you would benefit from, in which case, consider a purchase.

This article originally appeared in ImagineFX issue 142; buy it here!

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The Verdict

8

out of 10

Review: Photoshop Elements 15

A great package for beginners and hobbyists, but maybe not enough improvements to make it worth upgrading from Photoshop Elements 14.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Co-founder of the illustration company Cool Surface, Sarah produces photo composite art for magazines and other clients.