Photoshop Elements 13
Adobe’s cut-down image editor
Adobe’s cut-down image editor has always offered a heck of a lot of Photoshop for a fraction of the price of the full version. 13 improves on 12 in just a few ways, the largest visible change (apart from the newly-added Retina support) being that upon opening the Editor, an eLive option has appeared alongside Quick, Guided and Expert modes (and, in the Effects menus, the headings have bafflingly swapped positions). This section offers a collection of news articles and guides.
Other additions are refinements of existing tools, such as Group Shot, which takes the best expressions from a series of photos to make the perfect, all-smiling group. There’s a similar tool to move objects from one image to another, and a new ability to create Facebook cover images (a mere three years after they were introduced).
Elements comes in two parts: the Organizer and the Editor. The Organizer is used for importing photos and keeping them tidy on your Mac.
It improves on the software that comes bundled with many digital cameras by not only allowing you to split your imports into discrete Events – and Smart Events will try to do this automatically – but also to tag images with faces and by location. The latter sees you either placing your photos manually on a map, or using embedded GPS data.
The Editor is the heart of this program, though. The app comes with a slimline version of Adobe’s Camera Raw plugin, allowing you to open and adjust raw files from DSLRs and high-end compacts. It’s happy with JPEGs too, dealing with Levels adjustments, clever layer effects and the removal of, say, unwanted photobombers – the Selection Brush has a new refinement option to help with this task, and the Crop tool will now analyse your images to provide composition suggestions.
Elements is a streamlined and powerful program, but it’s also the
You can split your imports into discrete Events, but also to tag images with faces and by (embedded GPS) location data
ideal release to start with, thanks to its beginner-friendly features. Owners of recent versions will only find an upgrade worthwhile if there’s an indispensable new feature, or if a shiny new DSLR isn’t supported by an outdated Camera Raw plugin. Take note: there’s only £35 difference between the RRP of Elements 13 and a year’s subscription to Creative Cloud’s photography plan, which nets you full copies of Photoshop CC and Lightroom 5, a vastly more powerful raw image processor.
Elements’ filters and basic image tweaks are replicated in other apps, but it’s the way that Guided mode teaches you how to use its more advanced features that make this essential software for any enthusiast of photography. Ian Evenden
Great for those looking to go beyond basic photo editing, but not much new for existing owners.
We’ve used the new Photomerge Compose tool to move the open eyes from one bird over the closed eyes of the other.
Guided Mode is great for beginners. It shows you how to create fantastic photo effects.